SFF 2011

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:

Sundance documentaries get no love

Sundance documentaries get no love

An image from Andrew Rossi’s Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times

One thing that has been nagging us as we consider this year’s Sundance, now that we have time to gather a bit of perspective, is this: for all the talk of movie deals; and all the hooplah made over more commercial-minded films like My Idiot Brother, which, though a very good film, and a very fun film, is not by no measure a great film; why was there so little discussion about the documentary entries at the festival? A category, which in our humble estimation, was exceedingly superior to the feature film category.

A Banner Year for Sundance Film Festival Deals

A Banner Year for Sundance Film Festival Deals

On the final day of the Sundance Film Festival, the scorecard stands at 30. That’s how many films were picked up for domestic distribution during the festival.

“This is probably the best in the last three years for films that actually sell during the festival,” Arianna Bocco, head of acquisitions for Sundance Selects/IFC Films in New York, told Crain’s New York Business. “It’s clear that it went from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market.”

Sundance Film Festival: Praise for HAPPY, HAPPY

Sundance Film Festival: Praise for HAPPY, HAPPY

For those who weren’t paying close attention, Anne Sewitsky’s HAPPY, HAPPY may have seemed to come out of nowhere when it collected the World Cinema Jury Prize for a dramatic film at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday night. But, in fact, the Norwegian film about love and infidelity had been quietly gathering glowing reviews.

Why Didn't You Hear More About HOW TO DIE IN OREGON?

Why Didn't You Hear More About HOW TO DIE IN OREGON?

The Sundance Film Festival jury obviously found much to admire about Peter D. Richardson’s HOW TO DIE IN OREGON, a documentary about physician-assisted suicide in a state where it is legal. After all, it presented the film with the festival’s Grand Jury Prize in the Documentary category on Saturday night. But audiences outside of Park City may not have heard a whole lot about the film.

Director Doug Liman Takes Our Questions

Director Doug Liman Takes Our Questions

Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam (L) and Director Doug Liman attend the Skoll Closing Dinner at the High West Distillery during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 2011 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
Filmmaker Doug Liman has tackled tough topics before: His recent film FAIR GAME, inspired by the experiences of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose cover was blown by a White House press leak, looks at the devastating consequences of unchecked political power.

In RECKONING WITH TORTURE: MEMOS AND TESTIMONIES FROM THE ‘WAR ON TERROR,’ the special performance he teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union and PEN American Center, as well as the Sundance Film Festival, to present at this year’s festival, Liman again considers those consequences. In the hectic run-up to the event, he took a few minutes to answer SUNfiltered’s questions via email, sharing his thoughts on torture, secrecy and taking a stand.

Sundance Film Festival Awards: Who Won? What Did They Say?

Sundance Film Festival Awards: Who Won? What Did They Say?

If you missed the Sundance Film Festival awards ceremony last night, no matter. You can experience it, minute by minute, for the first time or all over again, on the Sundance Film Festival’s blog. Writer Eric Hynes fills you in not only on who won the awards, but who presented them, what award presenters and winners said, and even, in some cases, what they wore.

Sundance Film Festival Trend: Hard Times

Sundance Film Festival Trend: Hard Times

As the 2011 Sundance Film Festival heads into its awards ceremony tonight and then, tomorrow, its final day, the festival-film trends are still emerging. The Los Angeles Times’ Steven Zeitchik has spotted another one: economic hardship, which he calls “a veritable through-line” in many of this year’s selections.

Sundance Film Festival Awards!

Sundance Film Festival Awards!

Park City, UT–The Jury, Audience, NEXT! and other award-winners were announced tonight at the award ceremony for the 2011 Sundance Film Festival which was hosted by Tim Blake Nelson

Grand Jury Prize, Dramatic:
Like Crazy

Grand Jury Prize, Documentary:
How To Die In Oregon

Sundance Film Festival: RECKONING WITH TORTURE

Sundance Film Festival: RECKONING WITH TORTURE

The Sundance Film Festival is defined not only by the movies and parties and deals that so often grab headlines, but also by its social conscience. The festival provides an opportunity for the independent-film community to come together, to harness its power and creativity, to make a difference in the world, often in profound ways.

In that spirit, filmmaker Doug Liman (THE BOURNE IDENTITY, MR. AND MRS. SMITH, FAIR GAME) has teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union and PEN American Center, as well as the Sundance Film Festival, to present a special performance of RECKONING WITH TORTURE: MEMOS AND TESTIMONIES FROM THE ‘WAR ON TERROR.’

Sundance Film Festival: Surveying the Documentaries

Sundance Film Festival: Surveying the Documentaries

Many worthy non-fiction films are vying for attention at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, tackling subjects as wide-ranging as extreme environmentalism (Marshall Curry’s IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY OF THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT), pre-Web viral culture (Matthew Bate’s SHUT UP LITTLE MAN!: AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE), terminally ill people who legally choose to end their…

Backstage with Isabelle Fuhrman before the premiere of SALVATION BOULEVARD

Backstage with Isabelle Fuhrman before the premiere of SALVATION BOULEVARD

SUNcovered joins actress Isabelle Fuhrman for the premiere of SALVATION BOULEVARD. Want to see more? Check out clips from the festival here. Be sure to satisfy all your festival needs with the latest buzz, top stories, and celebrity interviews from Sundance Channel’s coverage of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Irons on MARGIN CALL

Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Irons on MARGIN CALL

The cast of MARGIN CALL sits down for an interview at the Honda Power of Dreams Studio, Sundance Channel HQ. Want to see more? Check out clips from the festival here. Be sure to satisfy all your festival needs with the latest buzz, top stories, and celebrity interviews from Sundance Channel’s coverage of the 2011…

Vera Farmiga, Amy Wendel, Tiffany Shlain nominated for Women of Vision Award

Vera Farmiga, Amy Wendel, Tiffany Shlain nominated for Women of Vision Award

L’Oreal awards a female filmmaker for her work. Let’s see who wins! Want to see more? Check out clips from the festival here. Be sure to satisfy all your festival needs with the latest buzz, top stories, and celebrity interviews from Sundance Channel’s coverage of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Sundance Film Festival: The Money Angle

Sundance Film Festival: The Money Angle

While the majority of Sundance Film Festival observers have likely been focused on the emotional and artistic impact of this year’s festival films, as well as the larger the cultural implications, with brief pauses to note the deals being made, Bloomberg, understandably, is more interested in the money: the films that focus on it and the financing behind them.

Sundance Film Festival Deals: PARIAH

Sundance Film Festival Deals: PARIAH

Focus Features has acquired the worldwide rights to PARIAH, Dee Rees’ coming-of-age film about a lesbian teenager in Brooklyn struggling to find her identity and a sense of belonging, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. (The film was executive produced by Spike Lee.) The deal, reportedly under $1 million,…

Sundance Film Festival: ANOTHER EARTH Wins Sloan Prize

Sundance Film Festival: ANOTHER EARTH Wins Sloan Prize

Mike Cahill’s ANOTHER EARTH, which he co-wrote with Brit Marling, who also stars in the film, has been awarded the 2011 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the Sundance Institute announced Friday. The prize is given to an outstanding feature film focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer or mathematician as a major character and has been awarded at the festival every year for the last nine years.

LIFE IN A DAY: The Filmmakers

LIFE IN A DAY: The Filmmakers

If you missed LIFE IN A DAY, the Kevin Macdonald-directed, Ridley Scott-coproduced, global-input film about life all over the world on a single day, when it was screened on YouTube Thursday night, it looks like, if you live in the United States, you won’t be able to see a rebroadcast on Friday night at 7…

Dargis: The Indie-Film Crisis Has Passed

Dargis: The Indie-Film Crisis Has Passed

The Sundance Film Festival and the American indie film scene it represents have endured ups and downs, flush times and lean, Hollywood love and industry belt-tightening. In recent years, as major studios shut or trimmed down their art house divisions and smaller companies went belly up, things were looking pretty bleak. But now, notes New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis, the indie film world seems to have bounced back, and may be than ever.

“Crisis was the name of the game, and then suddenly it wasn’t,” Dargis writes, continuing:

Sundance Film Festival Tells Stories of Love

Sundance Film Festival Tells Stories of Love

Sometimes, love is all you need.

“Watching two movies in a row in which adolescent girls cut their bodies with a razor was a reminder of all the dark places the Sundance Film Festival takes you,” writes Ruthe Stein in the San Francisco Chronicle. “This time there were movies featuring drug addicts, abusive cults, a drunken driver who wipes out a family and Saddam Hussein’s sadistic son.”

Stein says she found “a welcome reprieve” from all that in three festival movies about love: Drake Doremus’ LIKE CRAZY, Braden King’s HERE and Miranda July’s THE FUTURE.

Interview: Paul Rudd and Zooey Deschanel on MY IDIOT BROTHER

Interview: Paul Rudd and Zooey Deschanel on MY IDIOT BROTHER

MY IDIOT BROTHER director Jesse Peretz, Paul Rudd and Zooey Deschanel visit the Honda Power of Dreams Studio, Sundance Channel HQ Want to see more? Check out clips from the festival here. Be sure to satisfy all your festival needs with the latest buzz, top stories, and celebrity interviews from Sundance Channel’s coverage of the…

LIFE IN A DAY Is Starting Soon!

LIFE IN A DAY Is Starting Soon!

Don’t forget to check out the LIFE IN A DAY screening and post-screening Q&A, which the Sundance Film Festival is live-streaming on YouTube starting at 8 p.m. EST Thursday night (tonight — in just a few minutes!). The 90-minute documentary, directed by Kevin Macdonald and executive produced by Ridley Scott, is a product of more…

Sundance Film Festival Review Roundup: THE DETAILS

Sundance Film Festival Review Roundup: THE DETAILS

The critical response to Jacob Aaron Estes’ dark comedy THE DETAILS, starring Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks and Laura Linney, among others, has been decidedly mixed. A sampling of reviews:

“Writer-director Jacob Aaron Estes’ real accomplishment is successfully moving the tone of the movie from broad comedy to some serious business. THE DETAILS was picked up at Sundance by the Weinsteins, who should be able to use the picture’s star power and savvy marketing to make it a date night conversation piece.” — James Greenberg, The Hollywood Reporter

Sundance Film Festival Directors Poised to Break Through

Sundance Film Festival Directors Poised to Break Through

Lots of critics are scrambling to tell you which films are poised for success following the Sundance Film Festival this year. Deadline.com’s Nikki Finke has compiled a list of heretofore under-the-radar directors whose names you might hear a lot more often from now on. On the list: ANOTHER EARTH director Mike Cahill; Paddy Considine, whose…

Sundance Institute Connects With Kickstarter, Facebook

Sundance Institute Connects With Kickstarter, Facebook

Looks like it just got easier for new filmmakers to raise money and promote their projects. The Sundance Institute has announced plans to team up with online crowdfunding company Kickstarter to help the Institute’s artists and alumni – including lab participants, grant recipients and festival filmmakers – place their projects on Kickstarter.com with Sundance branding…