'Stranger Things' wins at Slamdance

'Without' nabs Special Jury Mention


"Stranger Things" has won the Grand Jury "Sparky" award at the Slamdance Film Festival for best narrative film for director-writers Eleanor Burke and Ron Eyal.  "Things," inspired by the life of Burke's grandmother, centers on a woman who returns to her mother's house on the south coast of England after the mother dies. She meets a homeless man and allows him stay in a shed on the property.

The Slamdance kudos were presented Thursday night in ceremonies at the Treasure Mountain Inn in Park City, Utah. The fest, now in its 17th year, received over 5,000 submissions and programmed 83 films this year.  Feature competitions are limited to first-time filmmakers working with production budgets of $1 million or less. Slamdance donated 10% of Park City box office proceeds back to filmmakers.

"Not every filmmaker is going home with a Sparky award but like never before it seems everyone is a winner at Slamdance," said Peter Baxter, co-founder and president.

In the narrative feature competition, Special Jury Mention went to "Without," written and directed by Mark Jackson. The Slamdance jury also recognized Joslyn Jensen with a special jury award for her performance in "Without."  Grand Jury award for documentary film went to "Bhopali" directed by Van Maximillian Carlson, which also won the audience award for documentary.  Special Jury Mention was given to the documentary "Fordson," directed by Rashid Ghazi. "The Slamdance jury was moved by this great American story about life, liberty and the pursuit of football," it added.

Grand Jury award for best animated short went to "Bottle," written and directed by Kirsten Lepore. Grand Jury award for best narrative short was given to "Bird," written and directed by Petr Stupin with Special Jury Mention to "Son of None," written and directed by Todd Looby.

Grand Jury award for documentary short was given to "Oaks," directed by Charles Wittenmeier Audience award for best narrative film went to "Silver Tongues," written and directed by Simon Arthur.

The Spirit of Slamdance award went to "Shunka," directed by C.J. Gardella. "Shunka" also won the Kodak Vision Award for Best Cinematography.  The Panasonic AF100 award for best "Road to Park City" short film went to "The Road to Park City Is Paved with Artists," written and directed by Kevin Brennan and Doug Manley.  The Slamdance/Adobe Re-cut award went to Nelson Vunda.

The Slamdance Theatrical Release Offer Award went to "Superheroes," directed by Michael Barnett; written by Michael Barnett & Theodore James. The short winner was "Hello Caller," directed by Andrew Putschoegl and written by Tom Lenk.