Although the shimmering wave of industry bigwigs and cinematic glitterati won’t roll into Park City for a few more days, the Sundance Film Festival business deals have already begun. Last week, HBO announced that it had acquired the U.S. television rights to New York-based Argentinean filmmaker Nicolas Entel’s feature documentary SINS OF MY FATHER.
An image from 7 DAYS.
Four words of advice for film-loving humble folk who aren’t packing up their parkas and heading to the Sundance Film Festival this year — and especially for the even humbler folk who aren’t near any of the eight theaters around the country that will screen Festival films and host filmmaker Q&As on January 28 as part of the Sundance Film Festival USA audience initiative: Turn on the TV.
Some people vow to lose weight and start exercising in the New Year. I resolve to whip my Netflix queue in shape, trimming out last year’s worthy crap and replacing it with this year’s best offerings, which I have 12 months to get through before they turn into last year’s worthy crap. Aiding me in this task are the nation’s critics, who dutifully spend all year watching movies and the last few weeks in December compiling “best of” lists. Many of these lists tend to look more or less the same, but some offer the occasional surprise. These critical taste quirks are the spice of list reading.
So here, in the spirit of 10 best lists, are the 10 best “10 best movie” lists of 2009. I must warn you that, as a parent of two small children who only rarely leaves the house to sit in the dark with cinematically minded strangers, I have seen very few of the movies on these lists. (Thus the great importance of proper Netflix queue maintenance.) Then again, given how many kid-friendly movies made it onto the lists this year, that excuse may be a bit flimsy. Too bad. It’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. On to the list of lists!
Was 2009 the best of times or the worst of times for Hollywood? That probably depends on whom you ask: the scads of people who lost their jobs at studios, networks and production companies over the last year or the audiences who hightailed it to the movies in increasing number, looking for a fantasy escape from bleak economic realities.
What does it mean to be an artist today — and what can artists look forward to in the next decade? Will we be overwhelmed with information, stymied by Tweets and status updates, emails and IMs and an ever-faster news cycle? Will we throw up our hands (and put down our paintbrushes and mouses) in the face of economic woes? Or will we find inspiration in it all, a renewed sense of art’s importance and role in our lives — as well as distribution opportunities we never thought possible?
Responding to the last-minute addition of three films to the Sundance Film Festival lineup this week, New York Times’ Carpetbagger blogger Melena Ryzik noticed something that, I confess, I overlooked: All three of the newly added films — Gurinder Chadha’s “It’s a Wonderful Afterlife,” Lisa Cholodenko’s “The Kids are Alright” and Galt Niederhoffer’s “The Romantics” — are from young female directors. In fact, there are several other women directors who will be presenting films in the festival’s Premieres category: Sam Taylor Wood, Nicole Holofcener, Floria Sigismondi and Shari Springer Berman among them.
This week, the Sundance Film Festival announced that it would be adding three world premieres to its out-of-competition lineup, all of them from directors who’ve shown films at Sundance before: Lisa Cholodenko’s THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT, starring Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo and Annette Benning; Gurinder Chadha IT’S A WONDERFUL AFTERLIFE, starring Shabana Azmi, Goldy Notay and Sally Hawkins; and Galt Niederhoffer’s THE ROMANTICS, starring Katie Holmes, Anna Paquin, Elijah Wood, Candice Bergen and Josh Duhamel.
When it premiered in January 2009 at the Sundance Film Festival, Joe Berlinger’s documentary CRUDE opened many filmgoers’ eyes to the plight of 30,000 people from five indigenous tribes in Ecuador. These residents of what had been a beautiful, biodiverse rain forest were suffering the effects of what has become known as the “Amazon Chernobyl,” in which, they and others contend, 18 billion gallons of toxic oil waste had been dumped in their rivers and on their land. The water they drank, bathed and played in had been poisoned, and their children, siblings and parents were sick and dying in alarming numbers.
In the days between the announcements of the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations this week and the handing out of the awards themselves next month, much time will be spent parsing who’s gotten a nod, who’s been overlooked, what it says about the state of cinema today and what it portends for…
The 2010 Sundance Film Festival won’t kick off for a few weeks, but the press is already dusting off its snow boots and readying for action. (“Should the Bagger rent a car in Sundance, or are the shuttles where all the good gossip is?” wonders The New York Times’ Melena Ryzik, the new Carpetbagger blogger and a festival first-timer. One reader suggests a Norwegian kicksled.)