'Umrika' Wins Audience Award At Sundance Film Festival

01/02/2015 2:44 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST
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PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 24: Actor Suraj Sharma (L) and director Prashant Nair attend the 'Umrika' Premiere during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2015 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Sundance)

Independent filmmaker Prashant Nair's "Umrika" has won the audience award in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition section of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, which concluded Sunday.

Sundance film festival's Twitter handle shared the news on its page.

"Umrika" is jointly produced by Manish Mundra ("Ankhon Dekhi") and Swati Shetty. This is Nair's second feature film after the critically acclaimed "Delhi in a Day".

"Umrika," the Hindi word for America, follows Ramakant (Sharma), a rural Indian boy whose older brother Udai mysteriously vanishes after he embarks for a new life in America.

But soon, detailed letters come from Udai, through which Ramakant and his sheltered rural community live and learn vicariously about "Umrika," a foreign land that embodies the notion that anyone can make their dreams a possibility.

"The story for Rama is about finding this identity which is set apart from the identity that is put upon him, so it's overshadowing what is the truth," Sharma told Reuters.

"Umrika" is the only Indian entry at this year's Sundance Film Festival, where it competed in the world drama competition.

"I was confronted with a lot of cliches growing up abroad, so I wanted to playfully turn that around and create a portrait of America as an exotic place through the eyes of these villagers," said writer-director Prashant Nair.

While Sharma had the benefit of having Hindi as his native language, Revolori learned the Hindi dialect of Bundeli from scratch for "Umrika," in which he plays Ramakant's best friend Lalu.

"I'm Hispanic and I don't have a lot of those head movements. It's a lot of those things you'll see in the film which you won't even notice, but I had to get it right," he said.

Despite breaking out with high-profile films roles, both Sharma, 21, and 18-year-old Revolori said they have encountered challenges as actors of color.

Other winners Saturday:

- U.S. drama, grand jury prize: "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl"

- U.S. drama, audience award: "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl"

- U.S. drama, directing: "The Witch," Robert Eggers

- U.S. drama, special jury award for cinematography: "Diary of a Teenage Girl," Brandon Trost

- U.S. drama, special jury award for collaborative vision: "Advantageous"

- U.S. drama, special jury award for editing: "Dope," Lee Haugen

- U.S. documentary, grand jury prize: "The Wolfpack"

- U.S. documentary, audience award: "Meru"

- U.S. documentary, directing: "Cartel Land," Matthew Heineman

- U.S. documentary, special jury award for social impact: "3 1/2 Minutes"

- U.S. documentary, special jury award for verite filmmaking: "Western"

- U.S. documentary, special jury award for cinematography: "Cartel Land," Matthew Heineman, Matt Porwoll

- U.S. documentary, special jury award for breakout first feature: "(T)error"

- Alfred P. Sloan feature film prize: "The Stanford Prison Experiment"

- Waldo Salt screenwriting award: "The Stanford Prison Experiment," Tim Talbott

- World cinema drama, grand jury prize: "Slow West"

- World cinema drama, directing: "The Summer of Sangaile," Alante Kavaite

- World cinema drama, special jury award for cinematography: "Partisan," Germain McMicking

- World cinema drama, special jury award for acting: "The Second Mother," Regina Case and Camila Mardila

- World cinema drama, special jury award for acting: "Glassland," Jack Reynor

- World cinema documentary, grand jury prize: "The Russian Woodpecker"

- World cinema documentary, audience award: "Dark Horse"

- World cinema documentary, directing: "Dreamcatcher," Kim Longinotto

- World cinema documentary, special jury award for unparalleled access: "The Chinese Mayor"

- World cinema documentary, special jury award for impact: "Pervert Park"

- World cinema documentary, special jury award for editing: "How to Change the World," Jim Scott

With Agency Inputs

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