Sundance Jury Gives Screenwriting Award to Film Without Script

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Photo: Courtesy of Paper Hearts productions

Sticking around all ten days of the Sundance Film Festival meant foolhardy survivors got to listen to actress-juror Virginia Madsen at the Saturday-night awards ceremonies talk longer while presenting awards than the winners accepting them. Madsen gushed about the mostly maligned Paper Heart, featuring stand-up comic Charlyne Yi as she travels across the country interviewing people about love (while falling in it with Michael Cera). "I'm sweaty, I smell bad, I don't know what to say," Yi said, joining her director and co-writer Nicholas Jasenovec onstage to accept the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, which ostensibly is awarded to the Sundance film with the best script. The only problem, Jasenovec told us at the awards after-party, was that Paper Heart didn't have one.

"It was the one award we didn't expect because we didn't actually write this film with a paper and pen," Jasenovec said, fighting laryngitis, a common festival ailment for Sundance filmmakers. "Shocking but a very nice surprise." The other shock was that not everyone loved the movie: "We did get really hit hard by some people, and I never thought that was a possibility. But it is what it is. We wanted to make a movie that would put a smile on people's faces …. Everyone has a love story or wants one." It's also the type of story you don't even need a screenplay for, though Jasenovec still plans to keep his award.