Sundance Film Festival

The year of the Bummer at Sundance '12

The year of the Bummer at Sundance '12

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.

Sony Pictures Classics' Tom Bernard on Sundance '12

Sony Pictures Classics' Tom Bernard on Sundance '12

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).

Hay! It’s a Sundance Film Festival LGBTQ round up!

Hay! It’s a Sundance Film Festival LGBTQ round up!

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.

Watch the latest from Park City: Only on Sundance Channel

Watch the latest from Park City: Only on Sundance Channel

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.

Heading to the Sundance Film Festival? Check out Sundance Channel HQ

Heading to the Sundance Film Festival? Check out Sundance Channel HQ

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.

Sometimes NIMBY is good: ATOMIC STATES OF AMERICA

Sometimes NIMBY is good: ATOMIC STATES OF AMERICA

“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.

Welcome to Sundance 2012 & The Daily Beast's Marlow Stern

Welcome to Sundance 2012 & The Daily Beast's Marlow Stern

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.

Sort out your Festival schedule

Sort out your Festival schedule

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:

LUV – Common comes to Sundance's U.S. Dramatic Competition

LUV – Common comes to Sundance's U.S. Dramatic Competition

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.

Can't make it to Park City? Sign up for Festival Updates!

Can't make it to Park City? Sign up for Festival Updates!

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.

The LCD Soundsystem funeral and James Murphy's Sundance takeover

The LCD Soundsystem funeral and James Murphy's Sundance takeover

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.

Parker Posey to host 2012 Sundance Film Festival awards ceremony

Parker Posey to host 2012 Sundance Film Festival awards ceremony

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.

Beasts and Saints: environmental drama at Sundance 2012

Beasts and Saints: environmental drama at Sundance 2012

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.

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.

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…

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.