For those who weren’t paying close attention, Anne Sewitsky’s HAPPY, HAPPY may have seemed to come out of nowhere when it collected the World Cinema Jury Prize for a dramatic film at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday night. But, in fact, the Norwegian film about love and infidelity had been quietly gathering glowing reviews.
The Sundance Film Festival jury obviously found much to admire about Peter D. Richardson’s HOW TO DIE IN OREGON, a documentary about physician-assisted suicide in a state where it is legal. After all, it presented the film with the festival’s Grand Jury Prize in the Documentary category on Saturday night. But audiences outside of Park City may not have heard a whole lot about the film.
Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam (L) and Director Doug Liman attend the Skoll Closing Dinner at the High West Distillery during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 2011 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
Filmmaker Doug Liman has tackled tough topics before: His recent film FAIR GAME, inspired by the experiences of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose cover was blown by a White House press leak, looks at the devastating consequences of unchecked political power.
In RECKONING WITH TORTURE: MEMOS AND TESTIMONIES FROM THE ‘WAR ON TERROR,’ the special performance he teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union and PEN American Center, as well as the Sundance Film Festival, to present at this year’s festival, Liman again considers those consequences. In the hectic run-up to the event, he took a few minutes to answer SUNfiltered’s questions via email, sharing his thoughts on torture, secrecy and taking a stand.
If you missed the Sundance Film Festival awards ceremony last night, no matter. You can experience it, minute by minute, for the first time or all over again, on the Sundance Film Festival’s blog. Writer Eric Hynes fills you in not only on who won the awards, but who presented them, what award presenters and winners said, and even, in some cases, what they wore.
As the 2011 Sundance Film Festival heads into its awards ceremony tonight and then, tomorrow, its final day, the festival-film trends are still emerging. The Los Angeles Times’ Steven Zeitchik has spotted another one: economic hardship, which he calls “a veritable through-line” in many of this year’s selections.
The Sundance Film Festival is defined not only by the movies and parties and deals that so often grab headlines, but also by its social conscience. The festival provides an opportunity for the independent-film community to come together, to harness its power and creativity, to make a difference in the world, often in profound ways.
In that spirit, filmmaker Doug Liman (THE BOURNE IDENTITY, MR. AND MRS. SMITH, FAIR GAME) has teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union and PEN American Center, as well as the Sundance Film Festival, to present a special performance of RECKONING WITH TORTURE: MEMOS AND TESTIMONIES FROM THE ‘WAR ON TERROR.’
Many worthy non-fiction films are vying for attention at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, tackling subjects as wide-ranging as extreme environmentalism (Marshall Curry’s IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY OF THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT), pre-Web viral culture (Matthew Bate’s SHUT UP LITTLE MAN!: AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE), terminally ill people who legally choose to end their…
While the majority of Sundance Film Festival observers have likely been focused on the emotional and artistic impact of this year’s festival films, as well as the larger the cultural implications, with brief pauses to note the deals being made, Bloomberg, understandably, is more interested in the money: the films that focus on it and the financing behind them.
Article: Sundance Film Festival Deals: PARIAH
Focus Features has acquired the worldwide rights to PARIAH, Dee Rees’ coming-of-age film about a lesbian teenager in Brooklyn struggling to find her identity and a sense of belonging, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. (The film was executive produced by Spike Lee.) The deal, reportedly under $1 million,…
Mike Cahill’s ANOTHER EARTH, which he co-wrote with Brit Marling, who also stars in the film, has been awarded the 2011 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the Sundance Institute announced Friday. The prize is given to an outstanding feature film focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer or mathematician as a major character and has been awarded at the festival every year for the last nine years.
Article: LIFE IN A DAY: The Filmmakers
If you missed LIFE IN A DAY, the Kevin Macdonald-directed, Ridley Scott-coproduced, global-input film about life all over the world on a single day, when it was screened on YouTube Thursday night, it looks like, if you live in the United States, you won’t be able to see a rebroadcast on Friday night at 7…
The Sundance Film Festival and the American indie film scene it represents have endured ups and downs, flush times and lean, Hollywood love and industry belt-tightening. In recent years, as major studios shut or trimmed down their art house divisions and smaller companies went belly up, things were looking pretty bleak. But now, notes New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis, the indie film world seems to have bounced back, and may be than ever.
“Crisis was the name of the game, and then suddenly it wasn’t,” Dargis writes, continuing:
Sometimes, love is all you need.
“Watching two movies in a row in which adolescent girls cut their bodies with a razor was a reminder of all the dark places the Sundance Film Festival takes you,” writes Ruthe Stein in the San Francisco Chronicle. “This time there were movies featuring drug addicts, abusive cults, a drunken driver who wipes out a family and Saddam Hussein’s sadistic son.”
Stein says she found “a welcome reprieve” from all that in three festival movies about love: Drake Doremus’ LIKE CRAZY, Braden King’s HERE and Miranda July’s THE FUTURE.
Article: LIFE IN A DAY Is Starting Soon!
Don’t forget to check out the LIFE IN A DAY screening and post-screening Q&A, which the Sundance Film Festival is live-streaming on YouTube starting at 8 p.m. EST Thursday night (tonight — in just a few minutes!). The 90-minute documentary, directed by Kevin Macdonald and executive produced by Ridley Scott, is a product of more…
The critical response to Jacob Aaron Estes’ dark comedy THE DETAILS, starring Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks and Laura Linney, among others, has been decidedly mixed. A sampling of reviews:
“Writer-director Jacob Aaron Estes’ real accomplishment is successfully moving the tone of the movie from broad comedy to some serious business. THE DETAILS was picked up at Sundance by the Weinsteins, who should be able to use the picture’s star power and savvy marketing to make it a date night conversation piece.” — James Greenberg, The Hollywood Reporter
Lots of critics are scrambling to tell you which films are poised for success following the Sundance Film Festival this year. Deadline.com’s Nikki Finke has compiled a list of heretofore under-the-radar directors whose names you might hear a lot more often from now on. On the list: ANOTHER EARTH director Mike Cahill; Paddy Considine, whose…
Looks like it just got easier for new filmmakers to raise money and promote their projects. The Sundance Institute has announced plans to team up with online crowdfunding company Kickstarter to help the Institute’s artists and alumni – including lab participants, grant recipients and festival filmmakers – place their projects on Kickstarter.com with Sundance branding…
One notable trend amongst the films in this year’s Sundance Film Festival: faith.
The Los Angeles Times’ John Horn writes:
Among the roughly 120 features playing at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, a surprisingly large number use faith — and specifically Christianity — as either a critical narrative fulcrum or a key expositional backdrop. And the dramas do not always take a neutral stance.
The filmmakers behind the more than two dozen documentary films being showcased at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival may have different reasons for being there, notes Reuters’ Christine Kearney. “Some are competing for prizes and aiming to score distribution deals, others are seeking media hype to gain traction with audiences, and still more simply want…
The Sundance Film Festival deal-making continues. Recent acquisitions: IFC Films has nabbed the North American rights to director David Mackenzie’s romantic thriller PERFECT SENSE, starring Ewan McGregor and Eva Green, which debuted at the festival in the Premieres section on Monday night. (Just announced; see trailer below) The Weinstein Company has picked up the worldwide…
Article: Raves for Miranda July's THE FUTURE
What is the Sundance Film Festival’s “buzziest film (so far)”? Miranda July’s THE FUTURE, according to The Week. These three rave reviews alone would seem to prove the point: “Miranda July’s THE FUTURE is narrated by a stray cat that mid-thirties couple Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater) take in, and like that fragile kitty,…
Article: Ed Helms, Now and Then
“Is it too early to declare 2011 as the year of Ed Helms?” wonders the Hollywood Reporter, citing the former Daily Show correspondent’s first starring role in the warmly received comedy CEDAR RAPIDS, which just debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, as well as roles in the forthcoming HANGOVER sequel and what is sure to…
Article: Robert Redford on Career 'Irony'
You might be surprised to learn, as we were, that Sundance Film Festival founder Robert Redford, who has nurtured the work of countless filmmakers over the years, doesn’t have a scrum of those filmmakers clamoring to cast him in meaty roles. “I ask the question — I say, ‘Hey I’d like to be [in that…
Article: CEDAR RAPIDS: A Film With Heart
Miguel Arteta’s CEDAR RAPIDS, which premiered Sunday night at the Sundance Film Festival, is garnering positive, if not rapturous, reviews. General consensus: The insurance-industry fish-out-of-water comedy, which stars Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche and Isiah Whitlock Jr., is slight, but sturdy, sweet and funny, with a lot of heart. A sampling of responses:…