Nicole LaPorte

Nicole LaPorte is the senior West Coast reporter for The Daily Beast. A former film reporter for Variety, she's also the author of The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company Called DreamWorks.

Sundance 2011 = Officially Over

Sundance 2011 = Officially Over

(Photo by Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images)
It’s been a long week—exhilarating, grueling, and never, ever dull—but Sundance 2011 is officially over. The stars, the studio executives, and the filmmakers have all packed up their North Face gear and headed home, wherever that may be.

Looking back on the last several days, there were some amazing, quintessentially Sundance-ian moments. We got to meet Robert Redford! We got to talk to young, idealistic, and extremely talented new artists (Brit Marling, Mike Cahill, for instance) whom we will certainly be hearing more from, and who are a reminder of Sundance’s real purpose (beyond an excuse to see a lot of great movies in the middle of a snowy paradise). As Marling told us, just following the premiere of ANOTHER EARTH, “I feel so lucky to be a part of this. Sundance is bringing together all these people and you know, brings them all into this little, this tiny town in the middle of the snow, and everyone can just talk and revel in ideas and make them into realities. It’s pretty awesome.”

And the winner is… Drake Doremus' LIKE CRAZY

And the winner is… Drake Doremus' LIKE CRAZY

Director Drake Doremus accepts the Grand Jury Prize: U. S. Dramatic for ‘Like Crazy’ at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival Awards Night Ceremony at Basin Recreation Field House on January 29, 2011 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Fred Hayes/Getty Images)
And the winner is… Drake Doremus’ LIKE CRAZY, which was just awarded the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s awards ceremony.

The film arrived at Sundance with tremendous buzz—Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan was particularly laudatory—and went on to be rapturously received. It was quickly picked up for distribution by Paramount Pictures and Indian Paintbrush for $4 million, a sale that kicked off a week-long flurry of deals and acquisitions, the likes of which haven’t been seen in Park City since the 1990’s.

Along the way, there were other films that captured audiences’ hearts—MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE; HIGHER GROUND; THE GUARD—but LIKE CRAZY, which stars up-and-comers Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones as college students in Los Angeles whose romance is interrupted by the INS (Jones plays a Brit who overstays her visa), was a persistent favorite throughout the week, thus its win is not much of a surprise.

Isabelle Fuhrman shines in SALVATION BOULEVARD

Isabelle Fuhrman shines in SALVATION BOULEVARD

Actress Isabelle Fuhrman attends ‘Salvation Boulevard’ Preimiere on January 24, 2011 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Colby D Crossland/Getty Images)

For a number of young ladies, this year’s Sundance was a kind of coming-out party, during which they were declared the latest “It” girls to prance through Park City. Among them: Elizabeth “Lizzie” Olsen, Brit Marling, and now, as the festival begins to wind down, Isabelle Fuhrman, the star of SALVATION BOULEVARD, George Ratliff’s adaptation of Larry Beinhart’s comic novel about a mega-church community. The film, which was just picked up for distribution by IFC Films and Sony Pictures, also stars Pierce Brosnan and Marisa Tomei.

Just 12-years-old, Fuhrman was until now best-known as the haunting face staring down from posters for the 2009 horror film ORPHAN. (You remember: the pale white face; the ribboned pig tails; the death stare.)

Over the past few days in Utah, she’s been understandably a much more happy camper. Sundance Channel caught up with Fuhrman getting ready for the SALVATION BOULEVARD premiere, and she’s been keeping fans up to date on what it’s like to be a tween star at Sundance via Facebook and Twitter.

Miranda July's bleak but charming THE FUTURE

Miranda July's bleak but charming THE FUTURE

Miranda July (Photo credit: Yvan Rodic/FaceHunter).
One of the latest films to land a distribution deal is Miranda July’s THE FUTURE, the filmmaker’s much-anticipated follow-up to 2005’s ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW. On Friday, it was announced that Roadside Attractions will be releasing THE FUTURE.

But despite Indiedom’s worship of all things July, and the mania stirred by ME AND YOU, THE FUTURE was one of those films that scratched, as opposed to scorched, the Earth in Park City. Reviews were mixed—”bleak but charming” was an oft-heard refrain—with much fuss made over the fact that the film is narrated by a cat; a device that people we spoke to, anyway, found either brilliantly imaginative or bizarre.

The WINTER'S BONE Effect

The WINTER'S BONE Effect

Still from Debra Granik’s WINTER’S BONE. As the number of movie deals at Sundance continues to add up–there have been about 30 so far–and the indie film world rejoices that the hard times are over, there’s one film that’s been hovering in the ether in Park City. It’s crept up on blogs, and in conversation,…

Emerging Theme of Teenage Angst: LITTLE BIRDS, PARIAH, CIRCUMSTANCE

Emerging Theme of Teenage Angst: LITTLE BIRDS, PARIAH, CIRCUMSTANCE

Still from LITTLE BIRDS. If there’s one thing this year’s festival has seen lot of of, it’s teenage girls grappling with being teenage girls. There is Alike (Adepero Oduye), the coming-of-age lesbian in Dee Rees’ gritty, Bronx tale, PARIAH. There is Iranian teen Atafeh (Nikohl Boosheri), rebelling against her parents’ traditionalism and experimenting with her…

James Franco's World Domination

James Franco's World Domination

Actor James Franco attends the ‘Homework’ Premiere at the Library Center Theater during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2011 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Sonia Recchia/Getty Images)
James Franco’s world domination, or at least his Where’s Waldo-like ubiquity continues unabated in Park City. Today he’s featured on a banner ad on the cover of the Salt Lake Tribune: Six Oscar Noms for 127 HOURS! (Lotta hometown pride for that film, which is set in Utah.) And even though he doesn’t have a film at Sundance, the actor-documentarian-performance-artist-PhD-student-Oscar-co-host does have, naturally, an art exhibit.
Actor James Franco (right) hosts the Playboy Party on January 21, 2011 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Tiffany Rose/WireImage)
It’s called Three’s Company: The Drama, and it is not (in the vein of his General Hospital-MOCA shenanigans) performance art. No. We were quickly corrected upon entering the New Frontier space-where dozens of multi-media, and every other kind of media (“transmedia,” “new media”) exhibits are on display-that Three’s Company is “immersive” media. As the placard on the wall outside of the installation explains: “By pulling apart the individual story elements of the show Three’s Company, and reconstituting them into a fully immersive (see?) experience, Franco allows viewers to activate the body in the act of remembering and reliving the iconic sitcom.”

Brit Marling's Low-Budget Success Story

Brit Marling's Low-Budget Success Story

Brit Marling (Photo credit: Yvan Rodic / Face Hunter)

An economics major and an internship at Goldman Sachs as the path to Sundance? For Brit Marling, who stars and co-wrote not one but two films premiering here (ANOTHER EARTH and SOUND OF MY VOICE), and who’s been tagged as one of this year’s “It” girls

Just a few summers ago, the blonde, ethereal actress was studying economics at Georgetown University, which led to a summer on Wall Street. This led to disillusionment, which led to dropping out of school and moving to Cuba. Which led to making a documentary (BOXERS AND BALLERINAS) with a friend from school. Which led to going back to school, graduating, and moving to LA. Which led to more disillusionment.

“The things I would go read for, as a young, unknown actor, were pretty awful,” Marling said yesterday, curled up on a sofa, wearing a clingy floral dress and leather boots. “And people keep telling you, ‘Just do this stuff,’ this, like, horror film where you’re the girl in the bikini running from the man with the axe.”

Kevin Smith: Indie King or God Complex?

Kevin Smith: Indie King or God Complex?

Kevin Smith protests the Westboro Baptist Church.
First there was the hype, then there was the letdown, and now, a day after Kevin Smith screened his latest film, RED STATE at Sundance, there is the residual anger. On Sunday, the CLERKS writer-director stunned audiences and film buyers alike by announcing that he was not, as promised, going to auction off the distribution rights to RED STATE, a movie he touted as a “horror movie” inspired by Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps.

Instead, Smith bought the rights himself, for twenty bucks, and said that in an act of anti-studio-system protest, he’d sell his own film, starting things off with a 15-city tour this summer. Smith’s disingenuousness was made all the worse by the overload of characteristic Smith hype that preceded RED STATE’s screening. (The protest/counter-protest outside the Eccles Theater being just one piece of his elaborate fabric.) Not helping matters is that the film, though loved by certain Smith die-hards, is generally considered a disappointment.

Biggest Sundance sale makes Emily Mortimer feel good

Biggest Sundance sale makes Emily Mortimer feel good

So far the biggest movie deal at Sundance is the $6 million Harvey Weinstein paid for Jesse Peretz’s comedy MY IDIOT BROTHER. The deal happened hours after the film premiered, and the filmmakers and cast have been swooning around the festival every since, understandably pleased.

“It feels so good, and it’s not something that I’m used to at all,” Emily Mortimer, who stars in the film, said on Monday afternoon, sitting in a media lounge swarming with publicists in skinny jeans and tall boots, who could periodically be heard cooing over the starlets waltzing in and out. (“Ooh, she looks so cute,” whispered one upon sighting Zooey Deschanel, who also stars in MY IDIOT BROTHER).

Cory Booker Brings BRICK CITY to Park City

Cory Booker Brings BRICK CITY to Park City

Forest Whitaker and Newark Mayor Cory Booker (Photo Credit: Michael Buckner/Getty Images). For more images from this party, check out the photo gallery.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker was “in the house” on Sunday, which is how he was introduced at a screening of the documentary series BRICK CITY, whose second season premieres next Sunday on Sundance Channel.

Wearing jeans, hiking shoes, and a black zipper-neck sweater, Booker was in non-politician mode as he spoke with the show’s executive producer Forest Whittaker, and co-directors Marc Levin and Mark Benjamin in front of a small audience gathered at the Bing Bar on Main Street. Also in the house: Isabella Rossellini and Rosie O’Donnell, who before the screening was posing with a small rescue dog wrapped up in a snow-suit. “It’s going to be a photo spread, me and my puppy,” O’Donnell joked.

This season of BRICK CITY, which feels like a docu-version of The Wire, focuses more singularly on Booker as he fights for re-election, and faces severe budget-cuts, a rising crime rate, and a faith-losing constituency.

The year “was a battle for him,” Benjamin said of Booker. “Because every incumbent in America is suffering a lot of pushback because of government and dwindling funds and resources for everything… It’s been a tough year for him.”

Sunday Morning Deal Making

Sunday Morning Deal Making

By Sunday morning, with the snow taking a break and the sun shining, the deal-making aspect of Sundance finally kicked into high gear. Woohoo!

Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions announced that they’d closed a deal for MARGIN CALL, the Kevin Spacey financial thriller that excited early interest from buyers and is considered one of the more broad-reaching films here.

Lizzie Olsen is this year's "It" Girl

Lizzie Olsen is this year's "It" Girl

Lizzie Olsen at Sundance Channel HQ. A week ago, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Olsen was just another 21-year-old senior at NYU who happened to have two very famous half-sisters: the TV-movie-fashion-and-overall-marketing phenomenon known as Mary Kate and Ashley. This week, thanks to the Sundance Film Festival, where she’s starring in two much-buzzed about films (MARTHA MARCY MAY…

Morgan Spurlock Does It Again

Morgan Spurlock Does It Again

Morgan Spurlock (Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage).

There aren’t many people who can figure out how to make a documentary featuring both Noam Chomsky and Ben Silverman, but Morgan Spurlock is one of them. In his new film, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, which premiered on Saturday afternoon, having already picked up distribution from Sony Pictures Classics, Spurlock sits down with both the cognitive scientist and bad boy former TV exec to talk about branding.

The film is a documentary-within-a-documentary experiment in which Spurlock sets out to make a movie about our marketing and advertising-addled culture, and yet have that culture (i.e., sponsors) pay for it.

Gleeson delivers as schlubby, corrupt cop

Gleeson delivers as schlubby, corrupt cop

With everyone fussing about who the new, fresh faces are at Sundance, not much has been said about one of the older, less fresh faces who is nonetheless emerging as one of the festival’s early delights: Brendan Gleeson, the 56-year-old Irish actor who was once told by a Hollywood agent that he was “too old…

Interview: Robert Redford

Interview: Robert Redford

“O.K., what’s up?” This is how Robert Redford, i.e. The Most Important Person on The Planet, as far as the Sundance Film Festival is concerned, starts a conversation. It’s Friday afternoon, and he’s just finished an interview for Sundance Channel, is about to dash off to do God knows what (judging by the number of…

Belafonte and Bobby Fischer at Sundance

Belafonte and Bobby Fischer at Sundance

Harry Belafonte at the Sundance Channel HQ with his daughter, Gina Belafonte Still not much deal news, but the cinema-going aspect of Sundance is in full swing. A 9:30 a.m. screening of the Harry Belafonte documentary SING YOUR SONG was filled with early-rising fest go-ers and volunteers who were inordinately friendly (“Hello!” “Welcome!”) considering the…

Chimp caught in tragic human love triangle

Chimp caught in tragic human love triangle

Who knew that a chimp could get in the middle of a human love triangle? And enjoy the pleasures of marijuana? 2008 Sundance Grand Jury (and 2009 Oscar) winner Director James Marsh, evidently, whose new documentary, PROJECT NIM, is about the chimpanzee (Nim), who in the 1970’s was taken from his mother and sent to…

Sundance Sales Force Is Out

Sundance Sales Force Is Out

First reaction upon landing in this snow-covered oasis, where we couldn’t help but think of the back-drop of that Mormon reality TV show Sister Wives (not that we watch): It’s cold! Like, really, cold. Quite a shocker for our L.A. blood, and I imagine everyone else who was on the plane ride over feels the…

Sundance Film Festival 2011 – indie mecca or Hollywood extravaganza?

Sundance Film Festival 2011 – indie mecca or Hollywood extravaganza?

It must be January. Having packed the Golden Globes, the AFI luncheon, the Broadcast Critics Film Association awards, and a zillion other galas and parties into one weekend, it’s now on to the next thing: Sundance, which kicks off on Thursday, meaning Hollywood has exactly three days to get over their hangovers, charge a few more North Face puffy jackets to the AmEx, and figure out how, exactly, to fit in three movies, four dinners, and two after-parties into one Saturday night.