Sundance Film Festival 2015: …

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

11 forgotten Sundance Film Festival gems you can watch right now.

Over the next 10 days, more than 100 new films will screen at the Sundance Film Festival — and if history is any guide, most of them will never be heard from again. The importance of Sundance’s film marketplace and what’s considered “Sundance bait” depends on whether you’re asking a seller, distributor, director, producer, talent agent or the heads of the fest itself.

A lucky few, however, may follow in the steps of Little Miss Sunshine, Napoleon Dynamite, and Whiplash and find mainstream fame; a couple dozen will find limited success within arthouse circles; and the rest will fade into obscurity. It’s also a testament to the fact that lots of talented comedians are dipping their toe into the world of darker, more dramatic films.” “i wrote Grandma (premiering Jan. 30) with Lily Tomlin’s voice, but I didn’t tell her I was writing it for her,” says writer-director Paul Weitz of the 75-year-old icon. “She’s so smart and scabrous and funny. If this year’s market is a bit less frenzied, one reason (apart from 2014 pickups’ modest box office) might be that some of the best bait is being taken away before the fest. “Several buyers have been more aggressively pursuing pre-buys this year, so that they can avoid having to compete for titles at festivals,” says Micah Green, co-head of CAA’s film finance & sales group, which is repping titles including Keanu Reeves starrer “Knock Knock,” “Strangerland” and “Cop Car.” Sony Pictures Classics co-prexy Tom Bernard (whose “Whiplash” has earned $7 million worldwide, the biggest B.O. among last year’s pickups) agrees, saying pre-buys are a way distribs “are starting to empower themselves. The festival, known for helping to launch the careers of Jennifer Lawrence, Boyhood director Richard Linklater and many others, celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Independent film used to define the cutting edge in entertainment, but the indie crowd has lately ceded ground to television, which is turning out risk-taking shows like Amazon’s “Transparent,” created by a Sundance film alumna.

As opposed to some other actors and creative people who fall into stereotypical depictions, Lily’s always got an edge, her humor is always questioning. A lot of people are showing films (before the fest), talking about what they can do for the film and trying to match it with the right distributor.” If you pre-buy, develop a marketing plan and manage the press you want initially vs. what you want for its release, he says, “you can launch a movie that will end up at the Oscars next year.” Another reason for healthy sales expectations, CAA’s Green adds, is “the influx of distributors into the marketplace this year, and the remarkable success stories in both traditional and progressive releasing models.” He cites such new outfits as STX, Broad Green, Bleecker Street and Saban, along with traditional rollouts like last year’s premiere “Boyhood” and multiplatform releases such as “Snowpiercer.” “There are a lot more specialty distributors and a lot of arguments about this: are we saturated?” says Mark Duplass, who’s coming to Sundance as the exec producer of three films — “The Overnight,” “Tangerine” and “The Bronze” — under his Duplass Bros. Stars can visit the McDonald’s McCafe Lounge, Stella Artois Lounge, the WireImage/Getty Studio, and the IMDB & Amazon Instant Video Studio with drinks provided by Dark Horse Wine.

Hundreds of thousands of abortion rights opponents are expected to join in the annual March for Life in Washington D.C. to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Exactly 4,105 features, more than half of them originating overseas, applied this time, and only 123 were selected, making the festival tougher than ever to get into. Also realistic.” Sundance regular Mark Duplass is pitching three comedic films (and a TV series), including The Bronze, starring Melissa Rauch and Gary Cole, which screens on Thursday’s opening night. “It looks at what do we do in this country with our leftover Olympic athletes once we’re done with them,” says Duplass. “It’s like a female counterpart to Napoleon Dynamite, with a big, grounded heart.” A more intense approach also seems to typify the 118 films on the schedule, says festival director John Cooper. “I think it’s going to be a very wild ride for audience members,” with films that “go the full distance in emotion and impact.” Among the humor-related films is Kevin Pollack’s documentary Misery Loves Comedy, which is dedicated to Robin Williams and features comedians including Jimmy Fallon, Tom Hanks, Whoopi Goldberg and Amy Schumer, who examine whether pain is essential to comedy. In 2015, if you have a really great movie, it might sell for $50,000 to a small distributor.” Duplass embodies every phase of Sundance talent over the past decade: an indie filmmaker-actor who launched his career (2005’s “The Puffy Chair”) and biggest critical hits (“Safety Not Guaranteed”) at the fest before moving to TV for FX’s comedy “The League” and HBO series “Togetherness” that he and his brother Jay are launching. Give a few of these forgotten gems a chance, and get the experience of Sundance without waiting in line: The charismatic Nick Cannon is surprisingly good in this authentic-feeling drama about a Marine spending 96 hours at home in Bakersfield, California, before being shipped off to Iraq.

Showing up along with the films are all manner of big-name brands, companies like Bang & Olufsen, Eddie Bauer, Whole Foods (part of something called EcoLuxe Lounge) and, yes, Merrell footwear, firms that hang out for only a few days in way-expensive Main Street rental space and hope for the best. And in a move that may signal the future of Sundance sales, he’ll be shopping the animated series they produced and he voiced, “Animals,” showing two of 10 completed episodes in the Special Events section. “I don’t know that people have made an entire series (to sell at a film fest) before. Realistic touches abound, and Cannon’s performance, despite being the work of careful rehearsal, feels loose and informal — cavalier in one scene, terrified in the next. Jemaine Clement, one-half of HBO’s Flight of the Conchords duo, stars in People, Places, Things, as a graphic novelist and father of two young girls who is struggling with a painful divorce. Ryan Gosling wowed audiences and critics alike in his first major film role, playing a disaffected, self-loathing Jewish boy who becomes a violent neo-Nazi skinhead.

The House had planned to vote on a bill Thursday to coincide with the march that would ban virtually all abortions after 20 weeks, but GOP leaders were forced to abruptly drop the bill due to objections from female House Republicans. During the day, the Acura Studio is open to the public from 11am-6pm and guests can enjoy complimentary Intelligentsia coffee and Stella Artois while listening to L.A. public radio station KCRW’s live festival coverage. Top-notch KCRW radio hosts Jason Bentley and Anne Litt will “curate” some music programming, and the Sunset Strip Irish pub Rock & Reilly’s will offer a party venue. The searing, provocative drama won the Grand Jury prize but had trouble finding a distributor, preventing it from garnering the post-Sundance acclaim it would surely have gotten otherwise.

That’s not all, Acura is bringing in a fleet of over 100 Acura MDX’s to serve as special Sundance Uber’s for celebrities and festival-goers on the move! The first two animated episodes, about lovelorn New York rats and gender-questioning pigeons, will make their debut at Sundance on Monday as a special event. Even as prestigious a place as CalArts sent out a press release announcing that films by students and alumni make up no less than 43% of the animated shorts in Park City’s genial rival festival, Slamdance. In both films, Clement says, “the people are very real, with very relatable experiences, things that have happened to you or your friends.” “The Stanford Prison Experimentand Experimenter both are based on real-life scientists who conducted experiments with humans about how far people are willing to go when given power,” says Groth. “There’s no single story about what happened, there are many perspectives,” says Stanford star Billy Crudup, who plays Philip Zimbardo, the psychology professor who devised the study. “It has the feeling of a thriller: 20 people locked in a hall with a moral dilemma, and what happens to all those individuals as pressure increases.” The festival’s slate of documentaries feature topical subjects, including campus rape in The Hunting Ground, and a young black man shot for playing his music too loudly in 3 and 1/2 Minutes.

Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, the top U.S. diplomat for Latin America, and her Cuban counterpart — Josefina Vidal, head of the Foreign Ministry´s North American affairs division — continue Thursday. But finally it is all those Sundance films that hold our attention, and this year the dramatic and documentary offerings across all sections are notable for their diversity. •”Brooklyn.” Taken from the Colm Tóibín novel, this persuasively emotional film features Saiorse Ronan as a young woman who faces romantic complications as she makes her way from Ireland to Brooklyn in the 1950s.

Self-proclaimed “Sundance baby” Rodrigo Garcia, who made his 2000 debut here with “Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her” and returns this year with the Jesus Christ pic “Last Days in the Desert,” notes that he met his debut’s producer, Jon Avnet, in the Directors Lab, and that similar TV connections are being made in the new Episodic Story Lab. The fest will feature nine virtual-reality film experiences, including one called Birdly, which explores flight. “You’ll be strapped into a machine that simulates flying, has wings and flies over San Francisco,” says Cooper. “Your body will be suspended at the same time. Submarine Entertainment’s Josh Braun has ridden the growing wave of interest in docs with Sundance sales like “Searching for Sugar Man” and new titles like the daredevil doc “Being Evel,” and seen changes in deals along the way. “In the past few years, a lot have included bumps on VOD where there used to be only box office bumps,” he says. “Certain players like Netflix potentially buy all (online) rights worldwide, a model that didn’t exist a couple years ago.” It’s one reason he launched the Submarine Deluxe theatrical distrib label, reflecting another change in Sundance: the crowded, complex landscape has led some to self-release films. It is not as strange as it sounds, at a time when analysts estimate that digital and video-on-demand services are replacing art houses as the primary outlet for more than 90 percent of independent films. Set in the 1970s amid the raging hormones of Catholic schoolboys, this humorous, insightful coming-of-age story stars Emile Hirsch and Kieran Culkin as mischievous lads with an imaginative streak, and Jodie Foster as the strict teacher who’s the target of their mischief.

The 14-year-old snowboarding star took the winter sports world by storm, winning a silver medal at last year’s games at just 13. “I didn’t really like snowboarding in the beginning,” Kim says. “Now, I just love it. A young Irish girl is torn between two men and two countries, in a film based on the novel by Colm Toibin and adapted by Nick Hornby, and starring Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent. • Digging for Fire. I’m in love with it.” The games, which last through the weekend, will also mark the debut of something a little more, err, random: a marijuana-infused sex spray for women. Nightclub 1 OAK Los Angeles will be taking over the Rockwell for a three day pop-up starting January 23, and are teaming up with Tinder for a VIP event that night.

A married couple take a weekend away from each other in a comedy directed by Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies) and starring Jake Johnson, Rosemarie Dewitt, Anna Kendrick, Orlando Bloom, Brie Larson and Sam Rockwell. • The End of the Tour. And like Braun, he’s found success with docs that allow “specific social media targeting and grassroots promotion,” noting that the right political doc is now an especially attractive draw. “I think it’s a bit harder for quiet, quotidian American dramas,” says Roadside Attractions co-prexy Howard Cohen, but adds that these these stereotypical “Sundance films” “usually weren’t the ones that went on to big glory. An uplifting, heartbreaking documentary about the struggle between religious faith and homosexuality, viewed through the eyes of a handful of gay Christians whose stories will touch and inspire you.

Scientists will let us know Thursday whether or not the minute hand of the historic “Doomsday Clock” will be adjusted for the first time since a minute closer to midnight in 2012. These include: •”The Wolfpack.” Six movie-crazed brothers, virtual prisoners in their Manhattan apartment, spend their childhood making meticulous re-creations of films like “Reservoir Dogs.” Even stranger than it sounds. •”Meru.” An attempt to climb the Shark’s Fin of India’s Mt. Most of the breakouts from Sundance have had name actors and commercial elements.” He picked up the 2014 comedies “The Skeleton Twins” (with Lionsgate & Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, last year’s top sale at $3.5 million) and “Dear White People” (with Lionsgate). There are theologians, biblical scholars, and even Desmond Tutu, discussing what the Bible actually says about homosexuality (spoiler: not much), and how those verses have been interpreted over the years. The filmmakers Mark and Jay Duplass, long Sundance darlings, have recently been busy creating the series “Togetherness” for HBO. (They are also executive producers of “Animals.”) Woody Allen, who was indie before indie was a thing, is making a digital series for Amazon, where Jill Soloway — who directed the 2013 Sundance entry “Afternoon Delight” — is the creative force behind “Transparent.” On the one hand, festival organizers are thrilled about the rise of television as fertile ground for the independent-cinema crowd.

The documentary by Alex Gibney (The Armstrong Lie), is based on Lawrence Wright’s best seller and delves beneath the surface of Scientology. • Mistress America. Before Friday Night Lights, there was this colorful documentary about an Ohio town where high school football reigns supreme, dominating every aspect of local life. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the clock in 1947 using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero), to convey threats to humanity and the Earth. A spooky documenting of an event that has never happened … yet. •”Listen to Me Marlon.” Using unheard audio archives and a carefully curated collage of home movies, newsreels and TV interviews, this is a revelatory, strikingly emotional look at the complex, troubled, enormously gifted Marlon Brando. •”What Happened, Miss Simone?” We go behind the scenes of the tumultuous, at times tragic life of the exquisite vocal stylist Nina Simone, who battled her own demons as well as the world’s injustice.

Honest and heartbreaking. •”Chuck Norris vs Communism.” The charming and unexpectedly important story of the role that bootleg tapes of Hollywood movies, including but not limited to Mr. Carlson lets both points of view — the one that says these people are crazy, and the one that says it’s good for the community — have a presence in the film. Putnam said. “This feels like a very natural expansion of our work.” Similarly, the Tribeca Film Festival in New York last year started a program dedicated to online series, and the more commercially oriented South by Southwest festival in Texas added a television section. Norris’ exemplary work, played in the downfall of communism in Romania. •”Being Evel.” The most famous daredevil of his time is revealed as a self-created man who was as hard on the people around him as he was on himself. •”Dennis Rodman’s Big Bang in Pyongyang.” Screening at nearby Slamdance, this takes you to the still perplexing meeting of cage star Rodman with North Korea’s ruling elite. This light and loopy comedy, starring Steve Zahn and Jeremy Northam as escaped convicts who hide out in a small town while posing as a gay couple, is only remembered for the wrong reasons: It’s often held up as a cautionary tale about Sundance exuberance.

But Robert Redford, Sundance’s founder, and his crew also want to protect their movie base, which is one reason they work so hard to stage world premieres (106 this time around, out of 123 features total). As always with Sundance, films about social issues were strongly represented, with the best of these dealing with women and sexual violence and abuse. An awkward, funny and potentially sinister tale follows a pair of personal trainers (Cobie Smulders and Guy Pearce) and their wealthy client. • True Story. The feel-good hit of Sundance 1999, it sold to Miramax for a record $10 million… then recouped less than $2 million when it hit theaters in the fall. Dream Hotels has partnered with Nylon to host a star-studded Après Ski invite-only party that will feature live art by Brooklyn Street Artist, AV ONE and a VIP lounge.

When film executives no longer need to make the trek to Utah to see new offerings — when everyone can simply view them on Vimeo link from New York and Los Angeles, as some already do — Sundance stops being a must-attend event. These include: •”Censored Voices.” Candid conversations, repressed by the Israeli government at the time, with Israeli soldiers who felt deeply troubled after returning from 1967’s Six-Day War. •”3 1/2 Minutes.” An in-depth examination of how and why an unarmed black teenager came to be killed in a Florida gas station for playing rap music too loud.

The drama explores the unsettling real-life relationship between murderer Christian Longo (James Franco) and discredited journalist Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill). • A Walk in the Woods. Since then, it’s been tainted by its box-office gross, remembered as a poor financial investment instead of the charming, sunny morsel it actually is. Bobcat Goldthwait is behind the camera with a very personal and harrowing story, [Call Me Lucky], about a friend of his who was a comedian who was very influential. In 2013, the festival screened Jane Campion’s seven-hour “Top of the Lake” mini-series in its entirety, billing it as a “cinematic event.” Last year, the festival’s experimental New Frontier section included Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s “HitRECord on TV,” a variety-show outgrowth of a website. The same is true of “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” a six-part documentary series headed to HBO next month; Sundance will screen the first episode on Tuesday. “Animals,” in contrast, is being dangled for sale by agents at ICM Partners, alongside films like “People, Places, Things,” a potential crowd-pleaser about a newly single graphic novelist with twin daughters.

Rand Luxury will host exclusive cocktail receptions for the cast and crew of films such as Z for Zachariah and The Mask You Live In at The Luxury Lounge in the St. This Australian claymation production is sweet and bizarre, telling the story of a curious-minded Aussie girl who becomes pen pals with a neurotic American (voiced by Philip Seymour Hoffman), whom she chooses randomly from the New York City phone book.

The festival’s heat has always come from the money changing hands. “We truly have no idea what to expect,” said Mike Luciano, who wrote and directed “Animals” with Phil Matarese. “It could end up on traditional TV. That is the new trend in documentaries that I think is really amazing — going from the informational to the cinematic in their approach to the subject. [Documentary filmmakers] really think about how the audience responds, not just to the information but to how it’s presented. The ChefDance Dinner Series is a five-night engagement, each night hosting a cocktail reception and 4-course gourmet meal cooked by guest celebrity chefs from Bravo’s America’s Best New Restaurant. In the old days, you put films that already had distribution in the Premieres section, but so many of the Premieres are now also looking for sales, so we had to push the rollout into Tuesday.

Actress Brittany Snow is hosting an exclusive VIP Concert Celebration featuring a live performance by American Authors at the Lipton Sparkling Iced Tea lounge Friday, January 23. Pure Barre, a popular strength-training work out, will host a pop-up this year providing a series of classes that begin on January 23 through January 26. The Keratin Complex team of stylists will be providing dry styling including blow-outs, touch-ups and a braid bar so your hair can look good whether you’re on the slopes or at a party!

Debbie Durkin’s EcoLuxe Lounge will serve festival goers all day buffets from Cisero’s Ristorante, Modern Oats, Sartori Cheese a coffee bar from Repurpose Compostables, glueten-free cocktails from Titos’s Vodka, Belgian beer and Cidre from Stella Artois, luxury vacations courtesy of Caribbean Living Magazine to Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort in Cancun, make-up touchups by J. The Eddie Bauer Adventure House is a lounge where celebrities can try out the indoor rock-climbing wall, enjoy live DJ sets and snap photos in the photo booth.

And I feel that in Salt Lake City, you can now go there any time of the year and audiences are so film literate and accepting of the broadest range of subjects. This immersive journey transports guests from to a basecamp high in the mountains for a thrilling outdoor experience where adventurers scramble along rock ledges and navigate a wood suspension bridge between peaks. The Indiegogo Lounge on Main Street will gift celebrities and filmmakers with the coolest gadgets available and coming soon from Indiegogo, the world’s largest crowdfunding platform including: Ghost Drone aerial filming drones, SkyBell video doorbells, Sprayable Energy, Pavlok wearables, ChargeAll portable charging stations and much more.

Kari Feinstein’s Sundance Style Lounge will feature brands such as Eb5 skincare treatments, Coolway clothing, Netgear home security cameras, Innergie portable chargers, LunchBox wax and body care, Jelt Belt belt’s, GNU/Libetch designer snowboards, and The Third Piece hand knit winter accessories. The Stein Eriksen Lodge at Utah’s Spa at the Stein Lodge is offering beauty treatments and styling by OC Hair & Makeup, Glamping vacations by Under Canvas, and BULA Snow Sports Accessories.

Partly from technology, but partly because the filmmakers themselves as they sort of form this movement or community are setting a bar themselves that gets higher and higher each year. Guests will enjoy a daily hot and cold organic buffet from Whole Foods Market along with Tito’s Handmade Vodka Bloodies Bar, Stella Artois, GoGo SqueeZ and Repurpose. Assuming that Robert Redford may step away from the festival in the future, have you begun to take on a bigger role as the public face of the festival?

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