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The major motion picture Fruitvale has become the sleeper hit of the Sundance Film Festival. The film, which is based on the life and death of Oscar Grant, nabbed the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award, the first for U.S. project to do since Precious,  in 2009.

Fruitvale’s two big awards came after it was praised by critics screenings the film.

Grant was gunned down by Bay Area police in the early morning of New Year’s Day in 2009. First time filmmaker, Ryan Coogler, who wrote and directed the movie, expressed pride in the honor. “The project was about humanity, about human beings and how to treat each other; how we treat the people we love the most, and how we treat the people that we don’t know,” he said upon accepting the grand prize.

Fox Searchlight executive Tom Rothman, who announced the award, noted that Fruitvale is “For anyone out there who thinks for one second that movies don’t matter and can’t make a difference in the world.”

Other big winners of the night included the documentary Blood Brother about an American man who visits India, and decides to stay to work with HIV-positive orphans. Blood Brother was honored with the U.S. Grand Jury Prize award for documentaries.

The film A River Changes Course, about three young Cambodians working to overcome the effects of deforestation, overfishing and debt, won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize. Also taking home an award in the World Cinema category but for a dramatic work was the film South Korean film, Jiseul.

Photo: Getty

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