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 Film Festival
Kim Kardashian’s gaudy fairytale nuptials lasted just 72 days.
Louis XIV, in all his decadence, ruled France for just over 72 years, making him the longest-reigning monarch in European history.
Somewhere in between lies Jackie Siegel, the wonderfully tacky, basketball-bosomed protagonist of Lauren Greenfield’s rags-to-riches-to-rags documentary, QUEEN OF VERSAILLES, which made its world premiere the opening night of the Sundance Film Festival.
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.
A still from CLEAR CUT: THE STORY OF PHILOMATH, OREGON
Sundance Institute announced thirteen films supported by the Institute that are for the first time available to rent, download and stream. Look for the films on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, SundanceNOW and YouTube. Films will be available on Netflix on March 1. For a full list of titles and where they are available, visit sundance.org/nowplaying or join Sundance Institute’s social media communities on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Kickstarter.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.