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Robert Redford talks Sundance Channel and our 'independent spirit'

Robert Redford talks Sundance Channel and our 'independent spirit'

Robert Redford didn’t just create the Sundance Film Festival, he also started Sundance Channel (thanks for that, btw). So when he stopped by to catch up (and make sure we were all doing our jobs correctly) he opened up about the challenges starting a channel pose for someone so rooted in the indie world. It all worked out and now Sundance Channel is expanding the audience for the types of films Sundance was started to foster. It’s always nice to hear the boss say you are on the right track. Check out all of what Redford has to say on representing the ‘independent spirit’ over on our video page, or right here:

The Sundance Review Revue: DETROPIA

The Sundance Review Revue: DETROPIA

Indie directors looking to shoot a post-apocalyptic film on the cheap: head to Detroit. The reviews — mostly ecstatic reviews — are pouring in for Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s DETROPIA, and they are awash with heartbreaking descriptions of the once-great city’s crumbling infrastructure. At Film Threat, Don R. Lewis describes Detroit as looking like something “from a parallel universe that was hit by an Armageddon.” Others describe how absurdly cheap real estate has become in the area; you can buy a downtown loft for $25,000 because demand is so incredibly low. A director needs to take advantage of this sort of free production value.

Cillian Murphy and Rodrigo Cortés Go Paranormal

Cillian Murphy and Rodrigo Cortés Go Paranormal

Filmmaker Rodrigo Cortés caused a feeding frenzy among buyers when his last film, BURIED, premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. The film starred Ryan Reynolds as an Iraq-based American truck driver who’s attacked, and finds himself buried alive in a coffin with only a lighter, flask, flashlight, knife, glowsticks, pencil and a mobile phone. His captor torments him via cell phone, making him perform a series of sadistic funny games in order to win his freedom.

Day 4: Elizabeth Olsen, Traci Lords, Ice-T & the cast of SMASHED stop by Sundance Channel HQ

Day 4: Elizabeth Olsen, Traci Lords, Ice-T & the cast of SMASHED stop by Sundance Channel HQ

In one day we met a porn star, an ingenue and the first couple of TV comedy. One of the beauties of Sundance is the wide variety of cinematic choices you get as a film fan and that same spectrum of folks stops by our humble abode on Main Street. Today we met with Josh Radnor and Sundance Sophomore Elizabeth Olsen of LIBERAL ARTS. The amazing cast of SMASHED also stopped by and, believe me, getting Octavia Spencer, Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul in one room is both tough and hysterical. Tim & Eric, along with folks from WEST OF MEMPHIS and EXICISION, also stopped by, so check out all of the galleries below to make sure you don’t miss any of the action from Main Street:

Rashida Jones & Elijah Wood talk CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER

Rashida Jones & Elijah Wood talk CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER

CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER tells the story of one couple whose relationship is managing to outlive their divorce. It’s a sweet story written by one of the film’s stars, Rashida Jones and her best friend/writing partner/actor/ex Will McCormack. Everyone always says how great it is to marry your best friend, but sometimes the relationship can tap out on the romantic level and settle in on that more comfortable territory. And that’s the story behind the film. But, the story behind the making of the film might be even more interesting. Rashida Jones, Elijah Wood and Andy Samberg are definitely names that have some clout in Hollywood, but CELESTE AND JESSE is still a true indie. As Jones points out, there ain’t no middle ground in Hollywood these days. Your movie is either big budget or DIY. But for Wood, who is used to big budgets and epic shoots, the indie process was really exciting. I guess there is something to be said for wearing stolen socks.

Sundance '12 acquisitions round-up #1: THE WORDS, BLACK ROCK, and more

Sundance '12 acquisitions round-up #1: THE WORDS, BLACK ROCK, and more

Some in the industry predicted Sundance ’12 would be a “wild” year for sales, but so far it hasn’t turned out that way. As of this morning (four days into the festival), just two films, both from opening night, had managed to secure distribution deals. Things do seem to be heating up a little today in the snowy climes of Park City, with a, ahem, flurry of acquisitions coming over the wire in just the last few hours.

2012 Sundance Film Festival filmmakers brunch

2012 Sundance Film Festival filmmakers brunch

Every year Sundance Film Festival Founder and President Robert Redford invites all of the filmmakers to a classy brunch at his Sundance Resort just down the road from Park City. It’s every filmmaker’s dream meal, a chance to hobnob with other emerging talent and check out the inner sanctum of Sundance. It’s also a great opportunity to talk shop and enjoy a great party. As one filmmaker pointed out, “This party cost more than my film.”

The Sundance Review Revue: TIM AND ERIC'S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE

The Sundance Review Revue: TIM AND ERIC'S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE

The Sundance Film Festival is known as a haven for indie filmmakers, but over its history it’s also been a very welcoming venue for indie-minded TV-makers as well. A surprising number of films spun off from television shows have premiered in Park City over the years, from WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER (from the creators of The State) to RUN RONNIE RUN (from the creators of Mr. Show) to STRANGERS WITH CANDY (from the creators of either Temptation Island or Strangers With Candy, I forget.). To that great tradition, we now add TIM AND ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE, written and directed by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, and made in the style of their beloved cult Adult Swim series, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! If you’re not familiar with Tim and Eric, I’m not inserting superlatives into the title; that’s the name of the show. And if you’re not familiar with Tim and Eric at this point, you probably don’t need to rush out to see their BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE, as word out of Park City indicates it’s largely a for-die-hard-fans-only affair.

Drake lights up Park City, eventually (Aziz Ansari, not so much)

Drake lights up Park City, eventually (Aziz Ansari, not so much)

Two years ago, Microsoft’s search engine Bing occupied the basement of Cisero’s off of bustling Main Street, where it played host to the after party of the Sundance hit WAITING FOR SUPERMAN—a documentary about the failings of the U.S. public education system. In the restaurant’s cramped, caliginous basement, John Legend, the film’s co-producer, teamed up with The Roots to perform an intimate show for about one hundred-plus people. To the right of the stage, behind a VIP rope flanked by three colossal security guards, stood a bespectacled middle-aged white guy in a fleece, cradling a beer and doing the Macarena. It was Bill Gates.

“We love the spirit of independence at Sundance, encouraging up-and-coming filmmakers, and the indie nature around it,” said Bing director Lisa Gurry. “Our first year at Sundance, we had such a great reception from the Sundance community that we decided last year to make a bigger investment.”

“WHERE THE F–K IS DRAKE?”

Check us out on Instagram & Tumblr — Nick Offerman & Megan Mullally did!

Check us out on Instagram & Tumblr — Nick Offerman & Megan Mullally did!

Do you like pretty pictures? We sure do. That’s why we’ve got a kick-ass Instagram situation out here in Park City. Make sure to download the app follow sundancechannel for the latest snappy-snaps of folks like Lizzie Olsen, Rashida Jones and Elijah Wood. Don’t have Instagram? Check out our best pictures over on our Tumblr. We’ve got some gems below:

The Sundance Review Revue: THE RAID

The Sundance Review Revue: THE RAID

Just because a film plays well at a festival doesn’t mean it’s going to play well everywhere. We can all think of examples of movies that made big impressions on the crowds in Park City, or Cannes, or wherever, and didn’t make a similarly big impressions on mainstream audiences. So when you see a movie receive wild, ecstatic praise at a festival, you always have to keep that in the back of your mind. Was some part of the positive response a reaction to the combination of too little sleep and too much alcohol? Or will this thing travel?

YOUR SISTER’S SISTER: The funniest comedy at Sundance (so far)

YOUR SISTER’S SISTER: The funniest comedy at Sundance (so far)

There were a plethora of highly touted comedies boasting heavy-hitting casts that had buyers—and audiences—salivating prior to the festival, but a little indie shot in just over ten days has emerged as the dark horse candidate for funniest film of Sundance 2012.

YOUR SISTER’S SISTER comes courtesy of “mumblecore” filmmaker Lynn Shelton, whose last film, HUMPDAY, premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival en route to a Special Jury Prize and critical raves for its uproarious portrait of two best friends locked in a no-holds-barred game of macho one-upmanship that leads to them agreeing to shoot a gay porn together.

Day 3: Rashida Jones, Elijah Wood & Emily Blunt stop by Sundance Channel HQ

Day 3: Rashida Jones, Elijah Wood & Emily Blunt stop by Sundance Channel HQ

We’re dealing with blizzard conditions here in Park City. And no, that isn’t a coastal overreaction to mountain weather. We almost lost a busload of filmmakers on the way back from Robert Redford’s brunch this morning and they’re shutting down roads left and right! But, have no fear, plenty of stars managed to snowshoe on over to Sundance Channel HQ. Perhaps it’s because we’ve got plenty of hot drinks and love to snuggle. Rashida Jones charmed everyone and Emily Blunt is still one of our favorite indie darlings, so check out the full roster of smiling faces and pretty pictures:

The Sundance Review Revue: WEST OF MEMPHIS

The Sundance Review Revue: WEST OF MEMPHIS

The tragic case of the West Memphis Three, three teenagers accused, tried, and convicted of a crime they did not commit, is a story that simply must be told. But it already has been told: in a trilogy of superb documentaries entitled PARADISE LOST by directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. Over the course of almost twenty years, Berlinger and Sinofsky chronicled the lives of the West Memphis Three — Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, and Jason Baldwin — and systematically disproved the case against them. So the news of a brand-new documentary on the subject entitled WEST OF MEMPHIS was met by many with skepticism and confusion. Even with its impressive creative pedigree — it was produced by Peter Jackson (THE LORD OF THE RINGS) and directed by Amy Berg (DELIVER US FROM EVIL) — some observers worried this documentary would simply rehash elements from the other three films. As a follower of the West Memphis Three’s case and a fan of the PARADISE LOST series (you can read my review of the last film here), I know I was.

Robert Redford, Sundance and the State of the Union

Robert Redford, Sundance and the State of the Union

America has got some issues and this year’s slate of Sundance films is full of stories about ‘em. Festival founder Robert Redford stopped by to talk with Sundance Channel about those issues, and he’s got some valuable insights into the role independent cinema has to play in sharing stories about them.

ARBITRAGE hopes to sell high at Sundance '12

ARBITRAGE hopes to sell high at Sundance '12

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “arbitrage” is “the nearly simultaneous purchase and sale of securities or foreign exchange in different markets in order to profit from price discrepancies.” I don’t really understand what that means, so I am providing an alternate definition for the intelligence impaired. ARBITRAGE is “a dramatic thriller set in the world of high finance that is also one of the most buzzed about titles at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.” That’s a lot easier to understand, right? I think so. Let’s give Mr. Merriam and Lord Webster or whoever it is a ring and tell them it’s time to update that book.

Pretty faces in Park City and a tour of Main Street

Pretty faces in Park City and a tour of Main Street

Pretty girls in parkas! Crazy dudes in cowboy boots! It must be Main Street, Park City in the midst of the Sundance Film Festival. Take a look at how the stylish set are keeping warm with our gallery of Street Style on Main Street and get the logistics down on the best spots to find your favorite indie stars sipping hot cocoa…or perhaps something a bit stronger.

The Sundance Review Revue: BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD

The Sundance Review Revue: BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD

On my computer at home, I keep a running list of every movie I watch (in a related story: I didn’t have a girlfriend until I was 18. Can you believe it?). Beneath that list, I keep a second running list of all the movies I need to watch. When I can’t make it to a festival like Sundance, I look at reviews and tweets and take note of the stuff that I need to keep on my radar. This morning I added the first Sundance ’12 movie to that second running list: BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD.

Andy Samberg on CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER, Sundance and Lana Del Rey

Andy Samberg on CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER, Sundance and Lana Del Rey

It was by all accounts a momentous occasion. Harvey Weinstein loitered in the hallway. Seth Rogen politely acknowledged some overzealous fans with his trademark chuckle. Shailene Woodley, with a gaggle of girlfriends in tow, waited patiently out in the cold to be let inside. The stars were aligned for the world premiere of CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER on Friday evening at the Sundance Film Festival’s 1,270-seat Eccles Theater.

Directed by Lee Toland Krieger (THE VICIOUS KIND, Sundance ’09), the film follows Celeste (Rashida Jones, who co-wrote the screenplay), a branding exec, and Jesse (Andy Samberg), an unemployed artist who, after a life-long friendship and six years of marriage, decide to split and see other people. Both parties, however, struggle to close the book on their storied past and start new, separate chapters in life.

Day 2: Take a look at who stopped by Sundance Channel HQ

Day 2: Take a look at who stopped by Sundance Channel HQ

So far, everybody has politely knocked the snow off their boots before they’ve tromped through Sundance Channel HQ out here in Park City. It was a busy day, with guests ranging from Mr. Sundance himself, Robert Redford, to Blythe Danner and Melanie Lynsky of HELLO I MUST BE GOING and the folks behind the gripping documentary about rape in the military THE INVISIBLE WAR stopping in for a chat. Check out all of those galleries and more:

Five winners & losers from Sundance 2011

Five winners & losers from Sundance 2011

The 2011 Sundance Film Festival was banner year, introducing many awards-bait films into the fold, and one unique box office hit. There were, however, also some incredibly hyped films acquired at Sundance that, whether it be faulty marketing, a poor release strategy, or general disinterest, failed to connect with audiences. Here are the five winners (MARGIN CALL) and losers (LIKE CRAZY) among the films that were purchased at last year’s Sundance Film Festival. We’ve already seen one sale at Sundance 2012 (Sony Pictures Classics just picked SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN), so it will be interesting to see if there were any lessons learned from this lot:

The Sundance Review Revue: HELLO I MUST BE GOING

The Sundance Review Revue: HELLO I MUST BE GOING

Every year at Sundance there are the actors and actresses who “break out.” Last night, Melanie Lynskey made a strong early play for the title of Breakout Star of the 2012 festival, earning ecstatic reviews for her performance in the U.S. Dramatic Competition film HELLO I MUST BE GOING. After her impressive debut in Peter Jackson’s HEAVENLY CREATURES eighteen years ago, Lynskey embarked on a long and successful career as a character actress. HELLO I MUST BE GOING pushes her into the spotlight in a leading role that is garnering raves from critics across the board.

Warm up and get down: Sundance 2012 opening night party

Warm up and get down: Sundance 2012 opening night party

After four fabulous premieres, the crowds in Park City headed over to Legacy Lounge for the first real party of the Sundance Season.

The Sundance Review Revue: WISH YOU WERE HERE

The Sundance Review Revue: WISH YOU WERE HERE

If you watched THE HANGOVER and thought it would work better as a thriller, then last night’s opening night premiere from Sundance 2012′s World Dramatic Competition, WISH YOU WERE HERE, will be right up your alley. Numerous critics out of Park City, including David Rooney from The Hollywood Reporter and Steven Zeitchik from The Los Angeles Times, have drawn comparisons between the blockbuster American comedy about a bunch of buddies who wake up after a night of partying they can’t remember to find one of their ranks missing, and this Australian import from writer/director Kieran Darcy-Smith about two couples who wake up after a night of partying they can’t remember to find one of their ranks missing. In other words, throw in Zach Galifianakis and a Mike Tyson tattoo, and we’re in Todd Phillips territory.

THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES: Watch the throne

THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES: Watch the throne

Kim Kardashian’s gaudy fairytale nuptials lasted just 72 days.

Louis XIV, in all his decadence, ruled France for just over 72 years, making him the longest-reigning monarch in European history.

Somewhere in between lies Jackie Siegel, the wonderfully tacky, basketball-bosomed protagonist of Lauren Greenfield’s rags-to-riches-to-rags documentary, QUEEN OF VERSAILLES, which made its world premiere the opening night of the Sundance Film Festival.