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January 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Benh Zeitlin’s critically applauded Beasts of the Southern Wild has won the top Grand Jury Prize for drama at the Sundance Film Festival. The fantasy/reality film, picked up by Fox Searchlight for a reported $2 million, had been favored to win following adulatory reviews by many critics attending the festival, several of whom used the term “magical” to describe it. (Manohla Dargis of the New York Times called it “among the best films to play at the festival in two decades.” Damon Wise in Britain’s Guardian said that it was “a film so far beyond buzzwords such as ‘ambitious’ and ‘bold’ that it stands out like a whirling peyote-crazed medicine man in this year’s lineup … so completely unique that it’s hard to imagine how it was even made.”) Taking the Grand Jury award for documentaries was Eugene Jarecki’s anti-war (on drugs, that is) The House I Live In. Peter Debruge in Daily Variety described as “a ballsy mix of interviews and editorializing that’s daring enough to question a costly crackdown that has long had the public’s support.” The top Audience Award went to Ben Lewin’s The Surrogate, which Fox Searchlight also nabbed (for a whopping $6 million, according to reports). The Audience Award for documentaries went to Kirby Dick’s The Invisible War, about sexual assault in the military. On its website, the Sundance Film Festival has posted a list of the winners in each category, along with a thumbnail description, and a video of the closing ceremonies.