Melonie Diaz has become part of Sundance Film Festival history…
The 28-year-old Puerto Rican actress’ latest project, Fruitvale, has become the first Sundance film to win the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for U.S. Dramatic film since Precious in 2009.
First-time director Ryan Coogler was inspired to write the film after 22-year-old Oscar Grant was shot in the back and killed by Oakland transit police on New Year’s Day morning 2009. Fruitvale tells the story of Grant’s last 24 hours alive, as he attempts to become a better father, a better boyfriend and a better son and friend.
“It’s about human beings and how we treat each other,” said Coogler, “how we treat people that we love and how we treat people that we don’t know.”
Diaz portrays Sophina in the film, which sparked a bidding war after its premiere. Rights for the film were ultimately acquired by The Weinstein Company for approximately $2 million.
Meanwhile, Sebastián Silva’s earned the Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic for helming the Chilean film Crystal Fairy, which centers on two people who clash during a road trip to Chile.
Who is Dayani Cristal?, a film produced by Gael García Bernal and Marc Silver, won the Cinematography Award, World Cinema Documentary. The film, directed by Silver and featuring García in some dramatic reenactments, centers on an anonymous body found in the Arizona desert sparks the beginning of a real-life human drama. The search for its identity leads the audience across a continent to seek out the people left behind and the meaning of a mysterious tattoo.