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Sundance Film Festival follow up: LIKE CRAZY

Sundance Film Festival follow up: LIKE CRAZY

Appropriately for a movie about a long distance relationship, LIKE CRAZY has come a long way since its Park City debut almost one year ago. It was acquired by Paramount Pictures as “the first big sale” of last year’s Sundance Film Festival, then went on to receive the fest’s Grand Jury Prize from a group that included filmmakers Jason Reitman and Kimberly Peirce. After Sundance, it hit the festival circuit, playing Toronto, Vancouver, Amsterdam, Savannah, and Stockholm, then opened in limited release last fall. In ten weeks, without ever playing on more than 150 screens, it’s already recouped most of the reported $4 million Paramount paid to acquire the film. All in all, that’s, like, crazy. (An obvious joke, but I promise that’s the only time in this post I’ll make it. Maybe. I still have a few paragraphs to go.)

FILLY BROWN – Hustlers & flow in the story of rising rap artist

FILLY BROWN – Hustlers & flow in the story of rising rap artist

The Sundance Film Festival is one of the world’s premiere venues for independent artists. If you’ve got a film playing Sundance, that means you had something to say and you begged, borrowed, and stole in order to say it. I suspect that’s a big reason why movies about independent artists — not just filmmakers, but painters, writers, and especially musicians — have done so well over the years in Park City. If you’re at Sundance, odds are you understand that story. Hell, if you’re at Sundance, you probably are that story.

Indie cred: The cast of Parks and Recreation

Indie cred: The cast of Parks and Recreation

So many Parks and Recreation cast members have films at Sundance ’12 you’d think the Pawnee Parks Department was holding a winter company retreat in Park City. Ann, April, Ben, and the great Ron Swanson all appear in Sundance selections this January, though if you bump into any of them walking down Main Street they probably would appreciate it if you referred to them by their real names.

SAVE THE DATE – Mark your calendars for a Sundance premiere with Lizzy Caplan and Alison Brie

SAVE THE DATE – Mark your calendars for a Sundance premiere with Lizzy Caplan and Alison Brie

Life is full of weird synchronicities. As I sat down to write this preview of the Sundance ’12 U.S. Dramatic Competition film SAVE THE DATE, I popped on Pickin’ Up the Pieces by Fitz and the Tantrums. Toes tapping as I researched, I looked up SAVE THE DATE director Michael Mohan. His first feature, ONE TOO MANY MORNINGS, premiered at Sundance in 2010. In intervening years he made a short film, EX-SEX, and a bunch of music videos for bands including — you guessed it — Fitz and the Tantrums. What’s that? You won’t believe me until you see the video embedded in this post right now? Well, okay.

Film intelligence: An online home for Sundance films and more

Film intelligence: An online home for Sundance films and more

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. Sundance Alumni Head Upstream for Distribution

Thousands of movies have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival over the years, but only a comparative handful of those movies ever find theatrical distribution. Now a new partnership between the Sundance Institute and film distributor New Video will offer hope to festival filmmakers whose work has fallen through the cracks of the studio system. Soon any director that’s ever played Park City will have the opportunity to release his or her film through Sundance/New Video onto one (or all) of six web portals: Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, iTunes, YouTube and SundanceNOW. Let the reconsideration of forgotten 90s indie gems begin. [The New York Times]

One to watch at Sundance: Lizzy Caplan

One to watch at Sundance: Lizzy Caplan

She’s been working steadily in film and television since the early aughts, but Party Down star Lizzy Caplan first caught my eye in director Matt Reeves’ 2008 film CLOVERFIELD. She played Marlena, the girl who gets bitten by one of the weird bug aliens and then — SPOILER ALERT! — explodes. 2012 looks to be the year Caplan’s career does likewise, with a bunch of high profile starring roles including two at this month’s Sundance Film Festival.

Sundance Film Festival Follow Up: PARIAH

Sundance Film Festival Follow Up: PARIAH

It’s hard to believe it has been almost a year since PARIAH premiered at Sundance. The Brooklyn based, coming-out story impressed audiences in Park City and is now in theaters (well, theaters in certain cities). It’s the end of an extensive Sundance cycle for writer/director Dee Rees, who premiered a short version of the semi-autobiographical story at the festival back in 2007 and was chosen as a 2008 Sundance Screenwriting & Directing Lab Fellow.

Tim and Eric bring the drama to Sundance with THE COMEDY

Tim and Eric bring the drama to Sundance with THE COMEDY

If Las Vegas was taking bets on the breakout stars of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, the short odds would belong to Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. The perennial cult favorites from the subversive Cartoon Network series Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job! (which is so subversive, it’s — GASP!! — not even a cartoon) head to Park City this month with two brand new projects in tow. They wrote, directed, and starred in TIM AND ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE, which is part of this year’s Midnight slate, and they both appear in Rick Alverson’s competition film THE COMEDY.

Dirty hippies and ice: green docs at this year's Sundance Film Festival

Dirty hippies and ice: green docs at this year's Sundance Film Festival

If filmmakers are poets, than documentarians stand out for their use of synecdoche: the most powerful docs almost always rely on stories that point to issues bigger than themselves. AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH isn’t just about climate change, but also about human shepherding of resources. GASLAND isn’t just about fracking, but corporate power, and its effects on the lives of individuals.

Two documentaries premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival not only follow in this poetic tradition, but even revel in it.

NOBODY WALKS — Journey to Sundance 2012 with Ry Russo-Young & Lena Dunham

NOBODY WALKS — Journey to Sundance 2012 with Ry Russo-Young & Lena Dunham

Because writer/director Lena Dunham cast herself in the lead role of her impressive breakout film TINY FURNITURE and because she picked her real life mother and sister to play her character Aura’s mother and sister, and because she shot the whole thing in their family’s Tribeca loft, there was a tendency to assume it was an intensely autobiographical film. Maybe not. Aura was a directionless slacker. Dunham is anything but. Her new HBO series, Girls, debuts in April, while her first work as a co-writer, Ry Russo-Young’s NOBODY WALKS premieres later this month in competition at the Sundance Film Festival.

We prefer New Year's Eve songs — Just like Zooey Deschanel & Joseph  Gordon-Levitt

We prefer New Year's Eve songs — Just like Zooey Deschanel & Joseph Gordon-Levitt

The 500 DAYS OF SUMMER festival faves may have not made it together on the big screen, but they’ve been good friends for years. Now, they are stepping out as musical collaborators with a charming (OK, adorkable) cover of Nancy Wilson’s “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve“? New Year’s Eve songs are so much…

Sundance Film Festival follow up: TAKE SHELTER

Sundance Film Festival follow up: TAKE SHELTER

It’s no secret that Jessica Chastain has had a breakout year. You probably saw her in THE HELP, perhaps saw her in THE DEBT or TREE OF LIFE, and should definitely head out to see her in TAKE SHELTER. It was one of the few films that went into the 2011 Sundance Film Festival with a distribution deal and between powerhouse performances Chastain and the film’s star Michael Shannon (REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, Boardwalk Empire), it’s easy to see why.

Tracy Morgan, Sean Penn & Frances McDormand star in late additions to 2012 Sundance Film Festival

Tracy Morgan, Sean Penn & Frances McDormand star in late additions to 2012 Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Institute announced today the selection of four additional films for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The Festival will be January 19 through 29 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. The complete list of films is available at www.sundance.org/festival.

Miranda July on the allure of strangers

Miranda July on the allure of strangers

Sundance fave Miranda July’s latest book It Chooses You will probably end up in a few cool kids’ stockings Sunday morning. And why shouldn’t it? The book had its own SoHo storefront! Check out what the filmmaker-writer-performance artist has to say on theme at the heart of It Chooses You, meeting strangers.

5 (other) Sundance films that would make awesome cartoons

5 (other) Sundance films that would make awesome cartoons

When I heard that Sundance Film Festival alum and total cult classic NAPOLEAN DYNAMITE was going to be made into a Fox cartoon, the first thing that came to mind was ‘Holy 2004, did I time travel back to high school?!’ However, when I found out that the show was going to feature the exact same cast as the movie, I thought: hey, this might be pretty funny, I’m glad Jon Heder has nothing else to do but voice a character he played eight years ago. I like Jon Heder, especially when he played that psychic in that Mark Ruffalo flop “Here On Earth.” He deserves to have some more fame and fortune (and hopefully he will with his return trip to Sundance in FOR ELLEN)! So does that guy Pedro. Sure, the movie might be a bit aged, but it still has enough one-liners and catch phrases to be quoted on Facebook profiles, and I still laugh sadly every time I think about a liger, so hey, why not? And why stop there? Here are some other cartoon ideas for past Sundance Film Festival hits, because you never know what might be adapted next:

2012 Sundance Film Festival selects DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST and REALITY BITES for 'From the Collection' screenings

2012 Sundance Film Festival selects DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST and REALITY BITES for 'From the Collection' screenings

Park City, UT – Sundance Institute announced today that DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST(1991) and REALITY BITES (1994) have been selected for the From the Collection screenings at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Both titles are part of The Sundance Collection at UCLA (The Collection), a film preservation program designed to archive work that has been supported by a Sundance Institute program. The Festival takes place January 19 through 29 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. Ticket information is available at www.sundance.org/tickets.

Michael Cera and Shannyn Sossamon return to Sundance with END OF LOVE

Michael Cera and Shannyn Sossamon return to Sundance with END OF LOVE

One of the best features of the Sundance Film Festival are the actors who made trips there early in their careers…and come back again even when they could be resting on their mainstream, Hollywood laurels. Mark Webber’s END OF LOVE is one of those films that brings some of those festival faves back to Park City. Michael Cera (PAPER HEARTS), Amanda Seyfried (ALPHA DOG), Jason Ritter (THE DRY LAND), and Shannyn Sossamon (WRISTCUTTERS) join Webber on screen for the story of a young father struggling with the death of his son’s mother.

Sundance Institute announces films for Sundance Film Festival USA on Jan. 26

Sundance Institute announces films for Sundance Film Festival USA on Jan. 26

Park City, UT — Sundance Institute announced today the films from the 2012 Sundance Film Festival that will screen in independent theaters in nine different cities around the country. The screenings are part of Sundance Film Festival USA, a program designed to bring the Festival experience to film-loving audiences nationwide. The 2012 Sundance Film Festival takes place January 19 through 29 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah.

On January 26, the second Thursday of the Sundance Film Festival, nine filmmakers will each travel from Utah to one of the following cities: Ann Arbor, MI; Boston, MA; Brooklyn, NY; Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; Nashville, TN; Orlando, FL; San Francisco, CA; and Tucson, AZ. Their travel is courtesy of Official Airline Sponsor Southwest Airlines. In each city, the filmmaker will introduce and screen their film and participate in a Q&A with the audience. A video featuring highlights from this year’s Sundance Film Festival will precede each screening.

The Sundance Film Festival USA initiative was established in 2010.

THE SURROGATE: John Hawkes as a paraplegic poet

THE SURROGATE: John Hawkes as a paraplegic poet

THE SURROGATE is, so far, one of the most anticipated films for Sundance 2012. To the list of best-known actors in this year’s festival, including John Krasinski, Bruce Willis, Michael Cera, Amanda Seyfried, Danny Glover and Common, THE SURROGATE adds Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, and Oscar nominee John Hawkes. Hawkes, whose recent turns at Sundance have included a cult leader and a Meth addict, now plays a paralyzed journalist and poet. The film is based on the true story of how polio survivor Mark O’Brien, who spent much of his life on an iron lung, eventually lost his virginity with help from his priest and a sex surrogate. O’Brien’s relationship with the surrogate, played by Helen Hunt, changes both of their lives. Ben Lewin, himself a polio survivor, writes and directs.

The simple photographic approach of MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE

The simple photographic approach of MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE

I finally saw Sean Durkin’s Sundance standout MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE, and I too found it absolutely deserving of the awards and accolades it has recently garnered. It’s a wonderfully compelling flashback narrative, the likes of which we really haven’t seen since SHINE, wherein the dramatic tension comes from the audience discovering the past and watching its inevitable collide with the present. But even more interesting than that, the film is lean and beautiful in its simplicity, specifically in the way in which it’s covered, or filmed from different angles.

Don't miss the short side of Sundance: Festival announces short film program

Don't miss the short side of Sundance: Festival announces short film program

Sundance Institute announced today the program of short films selected to screen at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. This year’s Short Film program is comprised of 64 short films selected from a record 7,675 submissions, up 16% over submissions for the 2011 Festival. The Festival will be January 19 through 29 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah.

Sundance Film Festival follow up: HELL AND BACK AGAIN

Sundance Film Festival follow up: HELL AND BACK AGAIN

Well, the Oscars got something right. Though they overlooked Sundance 2011’s other top doc HOW TO DIE IN OREGON, HELL AND BACK AGAIN is on this year’s shortlist.

Director Danfung Dennis documents the story of 25-year-old Nathan Harris, a Marine Corps sergeant who was severely injured in Afghanistan. The film follows his recovery and transition back to life back home in North Carolina. Cut jarringly with Dennis’s own footage from behind enemy lines in Afghanistan, HELL delivers a violent jolt back home. This winner of Sundance’s World Cinema Jury Prize and World Cinema Cinematography Award is still in theaters, so if you haven’t seen it yet, go now.

Get your Sundance premieres right here: From Spike Lee to Bruce Willis and Lizzie Olsen to Ice-T

Get your Sundance premieres right here: From Spike Lee to Bruce Willis and Lizzie Olsen to Ice-T

Sundance Institute announced today the films selected to screen in the out-of-competition Premieres and Documentary Premieres sections of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The Festival will be held January 19 through 29 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. The complete list of films is available at www.sundance.org/festival.

Sundance Film Festival Announces Films in Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, Next & New Frontier

Sundance Film Festival Announces Films in Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, Next & New Frontier

Sundance Institute announced today the films selected to screen in the 2012 Sundance Film Festival out-of-competition sections Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, NEXT and New Frontier. The Festival takes place from January 19 through 29 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. The complete list of films is available at www.sundance.org/festival.

Dramatic and Documentary Competition Films Announced for Sundance Film Festival 2012

Dramatic and Documentary Competition Films Announced for Sundance Film Festival 2012

Sundance Institute announced today the films selected for the U.S. and World Cinema Dramatic and Documentary Competitions of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The Sundance Film Festival will take place January 19 through 29 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. The complete list of films is available at www.sundance.org/festival.

Robert Redford, Founder and President of Sundance Institute remarked, “We are, and always have been, a festival about the filmmakers. So what are they doing? What are they saying? They are making statements about the changing world we are living in. Some are straight-forward, some novel and some offbeat but always interesting. One can never predict. We know only at the end, and I love that.”

John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival, said, “In these challenging economic times, filmmakers have had to be more resourceful and truly independent in their approaches to filmmaking. Looking at this year’s submissions, the result is more fully realized visions and stronger stories; we are proud to see the Festival emerging as a key indicator of the health and creativity of our filmmaking community. The overall quality of the films in the 2012 Competition section will make for an exciting Festival and a remarkable year ahead for independent film audiences everywhere.”

For the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, 110 feature-length films were selected, representing 31 countries and 46 first-time filmmakers, including 26 in competition. These films were selected from 4,042 feature-length film submissions composed of 2,059 U.S. and 1,983 international feature-length films. 88 films at the Festival will be world premieres.