PARK CITY, Utah  - Dramas “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “The Surrogate” won big at the Sundance Film Festival over the weekend, giving the event a burst of energy after early movies with grim sagas and star names failed to impress critics.
“Beasts of the Southern Wild,” a poetic, mystical tale of the bond between a father and daughter, set in impoverished Louisiana with a cast of non-actors, won the jury prize for best U.S. drama and another for its cinematography.
“The Surrogate” claimed the audience award for US drama with its witty and inspirational look at a man’s quest to lose his virginity while confined to an iron lung, and it could prove to be the bigger winner at box offices when it reaches cinemas.
The film, based on the life of poet and journalist Mark O’Brien, fetched what may be the highest selling price at the festival by the time all the deal-making ends — a reported $6 million from Fox Searchlight, the studio behind current Oscar hopeful “The Descendants.”
“Surrogate” stars Helen Hunt as an oft-naked sex therapist, John Hawkes as O’Brien and William H. Macy as a priest, and together they picked up a special Sundance jury prize for ensemble acting.