If you’re a fan of independent film, there’s nothing better than being at the Sundance Film Festival. And if you’re a fan of independent film, there’s nothing worse than not being at the Sundance Film Festival. The future of indie cinema is unspooling before the eyes of your fellow cinephiles, and all you can do is sit back and read about it on Facebook. The Internet is a double-edged sword in this regard. Social media gives you instant and constant access to festival buzz — but for a long time you couldn’t act on that buzz until those buzzy movies found distribution and made their way to your local theater. Slowly but surely, though, the Internet is starting to bring Sundance films, old and new, right into your home. Now while Park City’s bustling, you can do a lot more than just refresh your Twitter feed for hours on end while you cry into a pint of ice cream (not that I would, y’know, do something like that. I have a very rich and full life of, uh, other things).
Going to Sundance is exciting for everyone from film lovers to those of us click-clacking away behind keyboards. But it must be a whole different ballgame for filmmakers who’ve gotten their projects into competition. To find out what that’s like we sat down with some of the folks behind this year’s slate of competition films:
First things first: at 75, actor, director, and Sundance Film Festival founder Robert Redford is as virile and dashing as ever.
Named after his character from BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, Sundance was known as the U.S./Utah Film Festival when he founded it in 1978. In 1981, the festival moved to Park City, and in 1984, it was renamed the Sundance Film Festival. It soon became the premier showcase for independent film.
From time travel to Chinese dissidents and Australia to the Middle East, the films in competition this year have got just about every topic and locale covered. The first films premiere tonight, but to make sure we’ve got you ready for the next ten days, we’ve got photos for each one of the films in the running:
Well, it has started. So, what should we be looking forward to at Sundance this year? Besides, y’know, festival flu, exhaustion, and malnutrition.
Even before the festival officially began, The New York Times had already figured out this year’s Sundance. It’s basically The Year of the Bummer at Park City. “If the Sundance Film Festival is a mirror of America,” writes The Times’ Brooks Barnes, “this year’s installment depicts an unusually stark image of a broken place filled with broken people.” There are four films about corporate greed and more than a dozen movies about what Brooks terms “moral decay.” I hope you remembered to pack your sense of outrage along with your ear muffs, because it sounds like you’re going to need it to appreciate this year’s lineup. Trevor Groth, director of programming at Sundance, agreed, telling Barnes, that much of Sundance ’12 paints a picture of our “midlife crisis as a country.” Suddenly that Ferrari I saw Sundance driving around in last week makes a lot more sense.
Ever since he co-founded Sony Pictures Classics, an autonomous division of Sony Pictures that specializes in independent films, back in 1991, SPC co-president Tom Bernard—along with co-president Michael Barker—has been a regular fixture at the Sundance Film Festival.
Over the past twenty years, his company has acquired 36 titles at Sundance, including WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE; JUNEBUG, which helped launch the career of Amy Adams; the British crime drama LAYER CAKE, which introduced the world to Daniel Craig; and the bildungsroman AN EDUCATION, which racked up three Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actress (Carey Mulligan).
It’s that time of the year, kids, where Hollywood and its satellite equivalents convene on a small piece of American paradise—Park City, Utah—to peacock around in the latest pieces of après-ski fashion. And also to discuss cinema or film, or whatever’s currant, before they leave. This year’s selections are looking especially intense, with a hot list of LGBTQ films and shorts in the mix. For the past thirty-four years the Sundance Film Festival has been one of the most inviting opportunities for Queer cinema. Check out some of the highlights from this year’s schedule, and place bets as to which one you think will be the next PARIAH.
Have you filled all your travel size bottles of Purell? Looked online to find out how many packets of Emergen-C a human being can safely ingest without overdosing on potassium? Bought enough Powerbars to qualify as a minority investor in the company? Good, then you’re ready for Opening Night of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Which is fortunate, cause it starts in, like four hours.
By now you know that Sundance Channel is set to have Park City locked down over at our Sundance Film Festival site. But, you can also catch coverage on-air by tuning into 10 DAYS OF SUNDANCE, a program that will provide viewers with unparalleled access to the films, celebrities, events and buzz from the festival. 10 DAYS OF SUNDANCE kicks off on January 20th and continues through January 29th, airing nightly from 6-8P E/P.
Fans who can’t attend this year’s festivities can enjoy exclusive festival coverage online at www.sundance.tv/festival which will include Acura’s Festival VIP interview video series featuring exclusive talent, photos by acclaimed NYC photographer Dmitri Gudkov, and full festival coverage of by movie writer Matt Singer.
Sundance Channel will present the network’s largest ever multimedia experience at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival with robust on air, on site and online activities in order to provide unprecedented access to those attending the festival and for fans at home. “Sundance Channel HQ” will offer a one-stop shop for exclusive Festival media coverage, insider events, musical performances, celebrity news, and guests can unwind and recharge while enjoying the many Sundance Channel HQ events. Highlights include meeting the cast of the new original non-fiction series PUSH GIRLS at Sundance Channel’s Festival Party and an intimate Artist Talk with INVISIBLE WAR soundtrack performer Mary J. Blige. The HQ will be located at the Hope Gallery, 268 Main Street, in the heart of Park City, Utah.
As one of the stars of Breaking Bad, if Aaron Paul’s acting like he’s under the influence of a controlled substance, it’s usually meth. But in the Sundance ’12 U.S. Dramatic Competition film SMASHED, Paul trades in the crank for the drank. He plays Charlie, one half of a young married couple who love to have a good time and get absolutely hammered. But when Charlie’s wife Kate (SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD’s Mary Elizabeth Winstead) realizes she needs to get sober, it not only changes her life, it changes their marriage as well.
“Not in my backyard” – it’s an attitude environmentalists frequently encounter when proposed renewable energy installations move closer to becoming real ones. The Cape Wind project, for instance, has encountered stiff resistance from wealthy part-time residents of Cape Cop who, while supporting renewable energy in general, don’t want their view spoiled. That’s a fairly easy example of the NIMBY attitude to dismiss, as are those involving resistance to most wind projects.
But what if a coal or nuclear plant was planned for nearby? Would you want to be “downstream” from either of those? Would the label NIMBY seem fair for those who protested such development? If you think so, you may want to check out ATOMIC STATES OF AMERICA, which premieres on January 23rd at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
Hello! My name is Marlow Stern and I’m the assistant culture editor of Newsweek and The Daily Beast. I am very excited to be providing full (read: expansive) coverage of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for its entirety, from January 19th through the 29th, for Sundance Channel.
HELLO I MUST BE GOING is a true Sundance film, and not just because it’s premiering later this week at Sundance ’12’s U.S. Dramatic Competition. Screenwriter Sarah Koskoff and director Todd Louiso — himself a Sundance alum from his 2002 feature directorial debut, LOVE LIZA — first developed the project at the Sundance Institute’s 2009 Screenwriters Lab and the 2010 Screenplay Reading Series. Then, as Louiso explains in his Meet the Artists interview below, Louiso went to the 2011 Sundance Film Festival looking to find a producer. On January 19th he gave the screenplay to Mary Jane Skalski. One year later, on January 19th, 2012, the film — produced by Skalski — makes it world premiere at the Eccles Theatre at Sundance.
If the sudden influx of smart crime films from Australia is any indication of the quality of life in Oz, it might be time to start worrying about our friends down under. Hopefully it’s just an indication of the quality of cinema in Oz — which has risen sharply, along with the cinematic crime rate, in the last few years. In 2009, we were blown away by THE SQUARE, a sharp neo-noir from Aussie stuntman-slash-director Nash Edgerton. In 2010, David Michôd brought us ANIMAL KINGDOM, an epic tale of a Melbourne crime family in freefall; it won the World Cinema Jury Prize at that year’s Sundance Film Festival. This year’s Sundance’s World Dramatic competition features WISH YOU WERE HERE from writer/director Kieran Darcy-Smith, who appeared in both THE SQUARE and ANIMAL KINGDOM. All three films and all three filmmakers are part of an Australian collective called Blue-Tongue Films that also includes Luke Doolan and HESHER director Spencer Susser. Edgerton and Darcy-Smith’s partnership goes all the way back to the 1990s, when the duo co-directed their first short film together. It was called LOADED. And, hey, lookee! Here it is!
So many films, so little time. I know, 10 days sounds like more than enough time to see your fill of films, but there are 117 feature-length films in the festival this year (not to mention a whole bunch of shorts)! Plus, you need to mix in some time to mingle, look fabulous and get your party on (did we mention Drake and Deer Tick are playing the Bing Bar?). Fortunately, everyone on the internet loves lists and there are tons of good ones out there rounding up what films you shouldn’t miss. And because we’re all about being service-y, we’ve decided to list some of the best ones here:
In interviews, LUV co-writer/director Sheldon Candis likes to describe his film as a “driller” — part drama, part thriller. Candis, a USC grad and one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film for 2011, based the film’s coming of age story on his own life growing up on the streets of Baltimore. Looking for a father figure, he found one in an uncle — not realizing that, as he puts it in his Sundance ’12 Meet the Artists interview (see below), the man he idolized was “one of the most infamous and feared drug dealers” in the entire city.
We’re packing up our snow boots and getting ready to hit the cinematic slopes next week, but if you can’t make it out to the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, fear not! We’ve got you covered. Sign up for our Festival Updates and get the latest news from Park City delivered straight to your inbox. Trust us, you won’t want to miss what everyone is saying about the latest premieres, the newest breakthrough stars and whatever the hell James Franco is up to.
Every week there are dozens of film news stories. Every week, we read them all and bring you the five most important ones in the single most important blog post you’ll ever read (today [at this moment]).
1. Documenting Big Changes for the Best Documentary Oscar
Every year the movies that do and do not get nominated for the Best Documentary Academy Award become a huge source of contention. In 2011, popular and acclaimed documentaries THE INTERRUPTERS, SENNA, and BEING ELMO — and JUSTIN BIEBER: NEVER SAY NEVER, cried ten thousand beleaguered Beliebers — all missed the doc Oscar shortlist. To rectify the situation, the Academy announced this week they are overhauling the nomination process for the Best Documentary category: among the changes, films will now need a one-week commercial release in New York and Los Angeles and a review from the New York Times or Los Angeles Times. Hopefully these changes will help the best and most important docs get the recognition they deserve and we’ll never hear about Oscar documentary controversies again. On the other hand, you never say never. [Indiewire]
By now, you’ve probably seen the trailer for SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS, the LCD Soundsystem documentary about their last show/the greatest funeral ever. Yeah, it is pretty much the only thing anyone on the internet is talking about. We can’t wait, either and are gearing up for the big premiere on Sunday, January 22nd at the Egyptian Theater. It’s sold out, but you can also catch Mr. Murphy in the Tim and Eric helmed drama THE COMEDY.
Re: Sundance Preparedness List
Your people asked my people to ask me to write up a list of things to remember before you head to the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. They know you’ve been to Sundance before — back in 2008, you walked the red carpet in support of Barry Levinson’s WHAT JUST HAPPENED — but they’re apparently a little worried you might be a little “What just happened?” about the whole experience and need a Park City refresher. You may decide you want to fire your people for that. That’s between you and them. I just do as I’m told. Don’t blame this on me and then drive a car into a helicopter into my living room, or run barefoot with a machine gun through my kitchen. Thanks.
Sundance Institute announced today the 22 members of the six juries awarding prizes at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, as well as the host of the Awards Ceremony on January 28. The Festival takes place January 19 through 29 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah.
The September/October 1997 issue of Backwoods Home Magazine featured a curious classified ad. It read:
“WANTED: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 322, Oakview, CA 93022. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.”
Environmentally-themed drama generally takes one of two directions: the apocalyptic horror (think THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW) or the docu-drama (i.e. ERIN BROCKOVICH). In other words, if environmental issues are going to play a role in a fictional film, they’ve got to play a big, central role. Two films in competition this year at the Sundance Film Festival play with that dramatic tradition, and incorporate “the environment” into the story in either genre-bending, or even mind-bending, ways.