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.
Sundance Film Festival
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.
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.
Article: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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:
Article: 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Article: 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.
Elizabeth Olsen, aka the younger sister of the Olsen twins, may be poised to upstage her famous older sisters with a performance in MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE that critics are calling “a tour de force, full of depth and complexity.” It’s kind of amazing that her first film credit, one of the Olsen twins’ childhood capers, HOW THE WEST WAS FUN, was made less than ten years ago. In the meantime, she graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School, and now she’s back at the tender age of 22 to show us what she’s got.
But Olsen isn’t the only fresh new face…
With today’s release of SHUT UP, LITTLE MAN and OUR IDIOT BROTHER, it’s officially a Sundance festival weekend! Regardless of my obvious affiliation and personal bias, I’m pretty darn excited for these two, so excited, in fact, that I actually used an exclamation mark to express myself (I never do that). I didn’t go to the festival last January and aside from these two trailers, not a teaser or clip have I seen.
In 1977 Joyce McKinney, a Miss Wyoming beauty queen, flew to England, kidnapped her former boyfriend, Kirk Anderson – a Mormon missionary – and drove him to a cottage where she tied him to the bed and raped him repeatedly in an attempt to become pregnant. According to McKinney, however, Kirk left with her willingly and the two proceeded to have the best weekend of their lives. She didn’t get pregnant either way, a failing she attributes to the evil Mormon brainwashing that made Anderson impotent. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you haven’t seen TABLOID, the latest from veteran documentary filmmaker Errol Morris (FOG OF WAR, THE THIN BLUE LINE). Extensive interviews with the very camera un-shy McKinney, as well as with the tabloid reporters who followed the case, a young ex-Mormon and even a Korean dog cloner, make this hands down the most entertaining documentary I’ve seen all year. And since Anderson refused to be interviewed (no surprise there), you’re naturally left puzzling over what really happened long after.
It’s kind of puzzling to me that ANOTHER EARTH is billed as a science fiction/fantasy/drama. The story of Rhoda (Brit Marling), a young woman who kills a man’s wife and child in a car accident and then tries to atone for her mistake, is more like a quietly played drama set against a backdrop of space travel to a second, identical planet Earth. Still, it’s that backdrop as well as the film’s deftly handled inclusion of the complicated physics and math involved in the exciting multiuniverse theory that made it a shoe-in for the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at Sundance earlier this year. And all science aside, the muted way the film portrays the moral dilemma Rhoda is faced with made it an only all too worthy winner of the festival’s Special Jury Prize as well.
Article: Sundance ShortsLab
Last summer the Sundance Institute brought the first-ever ShortsLab to Los Angeles, where, for a single day, short filmmakers participated in an immersive workshop experience with some of cinema’s leading producers and directors. The goal of ShortsLab is “to empower the next wave of emerging artists by giving them first-hand insight into the basics of developing their idea, making their film and getting it seen by audiences.” Because that’s the hardest part, right? You may have made the most amazing short film the world has ever known but how do you get anyone to see it? Answering that burning question, as well as all the other unknowns fledgling directors may have are what ShortsLab is all about.
The term eco is thrown around a lot these days, preceding a mind-numbingly long stream of words like -friendly, -chic, -tourism, and the ubiquitous -tote. But rarely do we hear it in conjunction with terrorism, as in eco-terrorism, the subject of Sam Cullman and Marshall Cury’s documentary IF A TREE FALLS, which won the U.S. Documentary Editing Award at Sundance this year.
Paul Rudd in this summer’s OUR IDIOT BROTHER. The time has come for summer film releases, and we wouldn’t dream of a better way to spend the hot days. Summer, great films, and air conditioned movie theaters simply go together. From notable directors to surefire blockbusters to Sundance Festival favorites, we’ve got your Alternative Summer…