Category Archives: Fests & Sundance

Distributing Your Indie Film

In the past six years, I’ve helped with the distribution of two indie docs and one indie feature. Over the years, we’ve developed a set of practices and resources that might help other indie filmmakers. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing what I know to help other indie filmmakers!

Here is my point of view:

In the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, there were 4,057 feature films submitted for consideration and 8,161 short films. Of those 12,217 submissions, there were only 119 features and 66 shorts that were actually accepted. Of the accepted 119 features, 45 were eventually picked up for distribution. So, if you are one of the 2.9% chosen for Sundance, you have a 38% chance for successful distribution. (Entertainment Media Partners and Cultural Weekly)

Other film festivals have their own set of statistics. some are easier to get into, some have lower distribution success. Overall, for the indie filmmaker, a RESPECTED film festival is still the best route (use WITHOUTABOX.COM and Chris Gore’s film festival guide book to maximize your chance of success. If you are unsuccessful on the festival route, we’ll be covering these other avenues.

Theatrical Distribution
Producer’s Rep
IMDb Pro
Film Festival Exhibition and Sale
Without A Box
Press Kit
Promo Reel

International Distribution
http://www.americanfilmmarket.com/
IMDb Pro
Original deal is all you will get

Video on Demand (VOD)
Aggregators
Muso for Torrent Takedowns

Theater on Demand (TOD)
Gathr, Tugg, Eventful, OpenIndie, Four-walling

Direct to DVD/BluRay
VES for production
PreSales
Post Sales
Merchandise Incentive Sales
Shirts, Beanies, Hats, Swag

Ancillary Products
Soundtracks, Alternate Versions
TuneCore for Soundtrack Production

Social Media Marketing
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit
Wordpress Film Site
Promotional Items and Freebies
Wallpapers Stills

Financial Essentials
Authorize.Net for Order Processing and Banking
Formsite for Secure Ordering and Forms

Sundance 2013 Competition Lineup Announced

U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION

Afternoon Delight / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jill Soloway) — In this sexy, dark comedy, a lost L.A. housewife puts her idyllic hipster life in jeopardy when she tries to rescue a stripper by taking her in as a live-in nanny. Cast: Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor, Jane Lynch.
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: David Lowery) — The tale of an outlaw who escapes from prison and sets out across the Texas hills to reunite with his wife and the daughter he has never met. Cast: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Nate Parker, Keith Carradine.
Austenland / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Jerusha Hess, Screenwriters: Jerusha Hess, Shannon Hale) — Thirtysomething, single Jane is obsessed with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice. On a trip to an English resort, her fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman become more real than she ever imagined. Cast: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge, Georgia King, James Callis.
C.O.G. / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kyle Patrick Alvarez) — In the first ever film adaptation of David Sedaris’ work, a cocky young man travels to Oregon to work on an apple farm. Out of his element, he finds his lifestyle and notions being picked apart by everyone who crosses his path. Cast: Jonathan Groff, Denis O’Hare, Corey Stoll, Dean Stockwell, Casey Wilson, Troian Bellisario.
Concussion / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Stacie Passon) — After a blow to the head, Abby decides she can’t do it anymore. Her life just can’t be only about the house, the kids and the wife. She needs more: she needs to be Eleanor. Cast: Robin Weigert, Maggie Siff, Johnathan Tchaikovsky, Julie Fain Lawrence, Emily Kinney, Laila Robins.
Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Francesca Gregorini) — Emanuel, a troubled girl, becomes preoccupied with her mysterious, new neighbor, who bears a striking resemblance to her dead mother. In offering to babysit her newborn, Emanuel unwittingly enters a fragile, fictional world, of which she becomes the gatekeeper. Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Jessica Biel, Alfred Molina, Frances O’Connor, Jimmi Simpson, Aneurin Barnard.
Fruitvale / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ryan Coogler) — The true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family and strangers on the last day of 2008. Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz, Ahna O’Reilly, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray.
In a World… / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lake Bell) — An underachieving vocal coach is motivated by her father, the king of movie-trailer voice-overs, to pursue her aspirations of becoming a voiceover star. Amidst pride, sexism and family dysfunction, she sets out to change the voice of a generation. Cast: Lake Bell, Demetri Martin, Rob Corddry, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, Fred Melamed.
Kill Your Darlings / U.S.A. (Director: John Krokidas, Screenwriters: Austin Bunn, John Krokidas) — An untold story of murder that brought together a young Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs at Columbia University in 1944, providing the spark that led to the birth of an entire generation – their Beat revolution. Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHann, Ben Foster, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston, Elizabeth Olsen.
The Lifeguard / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Liz W. Garcia) — A former valedictorian quits her reporter job in New York and returns to the place she last felt happy: her childhood home in Connecticut. She gets work as a lifeguard and starts a dangerous relationship with a troubled teenager. Cast: Kristen Bell, Mamie Gummer, Martin Starr, Alex Shaffer, Amy Madigan, David Lambert.
May in the Summer / U.S.A., Qatar, Jordan (Director and screenwriter: Cherien Dabis) — A bride-to-be is forced to reevaluate her life when she reunites with her family in Jordan and finds herself confronted with the aftermath of her parents’ divorce. Cast: Cherien Dabis, Hiam Abbass, Bill Pullman, Alia Shawkat, Nadine Malouf, Alexander Siddig. DAY ONE FILM
Mother of George / U.S.A. (Director: Andrew Dosunmu, Screenwriter: Darci Picoult) — A story about a woman willing to do anything and risk everything for her marriage. Cast: Isaach De Bankolé, Danai Gurira, Anthony Okungbowa, Yaya Alafia, Bukky Ajayi.
The Spectacular Now / U.S.A. (Director: James Ponsoldt, Screenwriters: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber) — Sutter is a high school senior who lives for the moment; Aimee is the introvert he attempts to “save.” As their relationship deepens, the lines between right and wrong, friendship and love, and “saving” and corrupting become inextricably blurred. Cast: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kyle Chandler.
Touchy Feely / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lynn Shelton) — A massage therapist is unable to do her job when stricken with a mysterious and sudden aversion to bodily contact. Meanwhile, her uptight brother’s foundering dental practice receives new life when clients seek out his “healing touch.” Cast: Rosemarie DeWitt, Allison Janney, Ron Livingston, Scoot McNairy, Ellen Page, Josh Pais.
Toy’s House / U.S.A. (Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Screenwriter: Chris Galletta) — Three unhappy teenage boys flee to the wilderness where they build a makeshift house and live off the land as masters of their own destiny. Or at least that’s the plan. Cast: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Alison Brie.
Upstream Color / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Shane Carruth) — A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives. Cast: Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth, Andrew Sensenig, Thiago Martins.

U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

99% – The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film / U.S.A. (Directors: Audrey Ewell, Aaron Aites, Lucian Read, Nina Kristic) — The Occupy movement erupted in September 2011, propelling economic inequality into the spotlight. In an unprecedented collaboration, filmmakers across America tell its story, digging into big picture issues as organizers, analysts, participants and critics reveal how it happened and why.
After Tiller / U.S.A. (Directors: Martha Shane, Lana Wilson) — Since the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in 2009, only four doctors in the country provide late-term abortions. With unprecedented access, After Tiller goes inside the lives of these physicians working at the center of the storm.
American Promise / U.S.A. (Directors: Joe Brewster, Michèle Stephenson) — This intimate documentary follows the 12-year journey of two African-American families pursuing the promise of opportunity through the education of their sons.
Blackfish / U.S.A. (Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite) — Notorious killer whale Tilikum is responsible for the deaths of three individuals, including a top Sea World trainer. Blackfish shows the devastating consequences of keeping such intelligent and sentient creatures in captivity.
Blood Brother / U.S.A. (Director: Steve Hoover) — Rocky went to India as a disillusioned tourist. When he met a group of children with HIV, he decided to stay. He never could have imagined the obstacles he would face, or the love he would find.
Citizen Koch / U.S.A. (Directors: Carl Deal, Tia Lessin) — Wisconsin – birthplace of the Republican Party, government unions, “cheeseheads” and Paul Ryan – becomes a test market in the campaign to buy Democracy, and ground zero in the battle for the future of the GOP.
Cutie and the Boxer / U.S.A. (Director: Zachary Heinzerling) — This candid New York love story explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of famed boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko. Anxious to shed her role as her overbearing husband’s assistant, Noriko finds an identity of her own.
Dirty Wars / U.S.A. (Director: Richard Rowley) — Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill chases down the truth behind America’s covert wars.
Gideon’s Army / U.S.A. (Director: Dawn Porter) — Gideon’s Army follows three young, committed Public Defenders who are dedicated to working for the people society would rather forget. Long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads are so common that even the most committed often give up.
God Loves Uganda / U.S.A. (Director: Roger Ross Williams) — A powerful exploration of the evangelical campaign to infuse African culture with values imported from America’s Christian Right. The film follows American and Ugandan religious leaders fighting “sexual immorality” and missionaries trying to convince Ugandans to follow biblical law.
Inequality for All / U.S.A. (Director: Jacob Kornbluth) — In this timely and entertaining documentary, noted economic-policy expert Robert Reich distills the topic of widening income inequality, and addresses the question of what effects this increasing gap has on our economy and our democracy.
Manhunt / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Greg Barker) — This espionage tale goes inside the CIA’s long conflict against Al Qaeda, as revealed by the remarkable women and men whose secret war against Osama bin Laden started nearly a decade before most of us even knew his name.
Narco Cultura / U.S.A. (Director: Shaul Schwarz) — An examination of Mexican drug cartels’ influence in pop culture on both sides of the border as experienced by an LA narcocorrido singer dreaming of stardom and a Juarez crime scene investigator on the front line of Mexico’s Drug War.
Twenty Feet From Stardom / U.S.A. (Director: Morgan Neville) — Backup singers live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight. Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we’ve had no idea who these singers are or what lives they lead – until now. DAY ONE FILM
Valentine Road / U.S.A. (Director: Marta Cunningham) — In 2008, eighth-grader Brandon McInerney shot classmate Larry King at point blank range. Unraveling this tragedy from point of impact, the film reveals the heartbreaking circumstances that led to the shocking crime as well as its startling aftermath.

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION

Circles / Serbia, Germany, France, Croatia, Slovenia (Director: Srdan Golubovic, Screenwriters: Srdjan Koljevic, Melina Pota Koljevic) — Five people are affected by a tragic heroic act. Twenty years later, all of them will confront the past through their own crises. Will they overcome guilt, frustration and their urge for revenge? Will they do the right thing, at all costs? Cast: Aleksandar Bercek, Leon Lucev, Nebojsa Glogovac, Hristina Popovic, Nikola Rakocevic, Vuk Kostic. World Premiere
Crystal Fairy / Chile (Director and screenwriter: Sebastián Silva) — Jamie invites a stranger to join a road trip to Chile. The woman’s free and esoteric nature clashes with Jamie’s acidic, self-absorbed personality as they head into the desert for a Mescaline-fueled psychedelic trip. Cast: Michael Cera, Gabby Hoffmann, Juan Andrés Silva, José Miguel Silva, Agustín Silva. World Premiere. DAY ONE FILM
The Future / Chile, Germany, Italy, Spain (Director and screenwriter: Alicia Scherson) — When their parents die, Bianca starts to smoke and Tomas is still a virgin. The orphans explore the dangerous streets of adulthood until Bianca finds Maciste, a retired Mr. Universe, and enters his dark mansion in search of a future. Cast: Manuela Martelli, Rutger Hauer, Luigi Ciardo, Nicolas Vaporidis, Alessandro Giallocosta. World Premiere
Houston / Germany (Director and screenwriter: Bastian Günther) — Clemens Trunschka is a corporate headhunter and an alcoholic. Drinking increasingly isolates him from his life and leads him away from reality. While searching for a CEO candidate in Houston, his addiction submerges him into his own darkness. Cast: Ulrich Tukur, Garret Dillahunt, Wolfram Koch, Jenny Schily, Jason Douglas, Jens Münchow. World Premiere
Jiseul / South Korea (Director and screenwriter: Muel O) — In 1948, as the Korean government ordered the Communists’ eviction to Jeju Island, the military invaded a calm and peaceful village. Townsfolk took sanctuary in a cave and debated moving to a higher mountain. Cast: Min-chul SUNG, Jung-won YANG, Young-soon OH, Soon-dong PARK, Suk-bum MOON, Kyung-sub JANG. International Premiere
Lasting / Poland, Spain (Director and screenwriter: Jacek Borcuch) — An emotional love story about two Polish students who fall in love with each other while working summer jobs in Spain. An unexpected nightmare interrupts their carefree time in the heavenly landscape and throws their lives into chaos. Cast: Jakub Gierszal, Magdalena Berus, Angela Molina. World Premiere
Metro Manila / United Kingdom, Philippines (Director: Sean Ellis, Screenwriters: Sean Ellis, Frank E. Flowers) — Seeking a better life, Oscar and his family move from the poverty-stricken rice fields to the big city of Manila, where they fall victim to various inhabitants whose manipulative ways are a daily part of city survival. Cast: Jake Macapagal, John Arcilla, Althea Vega. World Premiere
Shopping / New Zealand (Directors: Mark Albiston, Louis Sutherland, Screenwriters: Louis Sutherland, Mark Albiston) — New Zealand, 1981: Seduced by a charismatic career criminal, teenager Willie must choose where his loyalty lies – with a family of shoplifters or his own blood. Cast: Kevin Paulo, Julian Dennison, Jacek Koman, Alistair Browning. World Premiere
Soldate Jeannette / Austria (Director: Daniel Hoesl) — Fanni has had enough of money and leaves to buy a tent. Anna has had enough of pigs and leaves a needle in the hay. Cars crash and money burns to shape their mutual journey toward a rising liberty. Cast: Johanna Orsini-Rosenberg, Christina Reichsthaler, Josef Kleindienst, Aurelia Burckhardt, Julia Schranz, Ines Rössl. World Premiere
There Will Come a Day / Italy, France (Director: Giorgio Diritti, Screenwriters: Giorgio Diritti, Fredo Valla, Tania Pedroni) — Painful issues push Augusta, a young Italian woman, to doubt the certainties on which she has built her existence. On a small boat in the immensity of the Amazon rain forest, she faces the adventure of searching for herself. Cast: Jasmine Trinca, Anne Alvaro, Pia Engleberth. World Premiere
Wajma (An Afghan Love Story) / Afghanistan (Director and screenwriter: Barmak Akram) — A young man in Kabul seduces a girl. When she tells him she’s pregnant, he questions having taken her virginity. Then her father arrives, and a timeless, archaic violence erupts – possibly leading to a crime, and even a sacrifice. Cast: Wajma Bahar, Mustafa Abdulsatar, Haji Gul, Breshna Bahar. World Premiere
What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love / Indonesia (Director and screenwriter: Mouly Surya) — Mouly Surya’s film explores the odds of love and deception among the blind, the deaf and the unlucky sighted people at a high school for the visually impaired. Cast: Nicholas Saputra, Ayushita Nugraha, Karina Salim, Anggun Priambodo, Lupita Jennifer. World Premiere

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

Fallen City / China (Director: Qi Zhao) — Fallen City spans four years to reveal how three families who survived the 2008 Sichuan earthquake to embark on a journey searching for hope, purpose, identity, and to rebuild their lives in a new China torn between tradition and modernity. North American Premiere
Fire in the Blood / India (Director: Dylan Mohan Gray) — In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Western governments and pharmaceutical companies blocked low-cost antiretroviral drugs from reaching AIDS-stricken Africa, causing 10 million or more unnecessary deaths. An improbable group of people decided to fight back. North American Premiere
Google and the World Brain / Spain, United Kingdom (Director: Ben Lewis) — In the most ambitious project ever conceived on the Internet, Google has been scanning the world’s books for 10 years. They said the intention was to build a giant digital library, but that involved scanning millions of copyrighted works. World Premiere
The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear / Georgia, Germany (Director: Tinatin Gurchiani) — A film director casting a 15-23-year-old protagonist visits villages and cities to meet people who answer her call. She follows those who prove to be interesting enough through various dramatic and funny situations. North American Premiere
The Moo Man / United Kingdom (Directors: Andy Heathcote, Heike Bachelier) — A year in the life of heroic farmer Steve, scene stealing Ida (queen of the herd), and a supporting cast of 55 cows. When Ida falls ill, Steve’s optimism is challenged and their whole way of life is at stake. World Premiere
Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer / Russian Federation, United Kingdom (Directors: Mike Lerner, Maxim Pozdorovkin) — Three young women face seven years in a Russian prison for a satirical performance in a Moscow cathedral. But who is really on trial: the three young artists or the society they live in? World Premiere
A River Changes Course / Cambodia, U.S.A. (Director: Kalyanee Mam) — Three young Cambodians struggle to overcome the crushing effects of deforestation, overfishing, and overwhelming debt in this devastatingly beautiful story of a country reeling from the tragedies of war and rushing to keep pace with a rapidly expanding world. World Premiere
Salma / United Kingdom, India (Director: Kim Longinotto) — When Salma, a young girl in South India, reached puberty, her parents locked her away. Millions of girls all over the world share the same fate. Twenty-five years later, Salma has fought her way back to the outside world. World Premiere
The Square (El Midan) / Egypt, U.S.A. (Director: Jehane Noujaim) — What does it mean to risk your life for your ideals? How far will five revolutionaries go in defending their beliefs in the fight for their nation? World Premiere
The Stuart Hall Project / United Kingdom (Director: John Akomfrah) — Antinuclear campaigner, New Left activist and founding father of Cultural Studies, this documentary interweaves 70 years of Stuart Hall’s film, radio and television appearances, and material from his private archive to document a memorable life and construct a portrait of Britain’s foremost radical intellectual. World Premiere
The Summit / Ireland, United Kingdom (Director: Nick Ryan) — Twenty-four climbers converged at the last stop before summiting the most dangerous mountain on Earth. Forty-eight hours later, 11 had been killed or simply vanished. Had one, Ger McDonnell, stuck to the climbers’ code, he might still be alive. International Premiere
Who is Dayani Cristal? / United Kingdom (Director: Marc Silver) — An anonymous body in the Arizona desert sparks the beginning of a real-life human drama. The search for its identity leads us across a continent to seek out the people left behind and the meaning of a mysterious tattoo. World Premiere. DAY ONE FILM
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Blue Caprice / U.S.A. (Director: Alexandre Moors, Screenwriters: R.F.I Porto, Alexandre Moors) — An abandoned boy is lured to America and drawn into the shadow of a dangerous father figure in this film inspired by the real life events that led to the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks. Cast: Isaiah Washington, Tequan Richmond, Joey Lauren Adams, Tim Blake Nelson, Cassandra Freeman, Leo Fitzpatrick.
Computer Chess / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Andrew Bujalski) — An existential comedy about the brilliant men who taught machines to play chess – back when the machines seemed clumsy and we seemed smart. Cast: Patrick Riester, Myles Paige, James Curry, Robin Schwartz, Gerald Peary, Wiley Wiggins.
Escape from Tomorrow / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Randy Moore) — A postmodern, surreal voyage into the bowels of “family” entertainment; an epic battle begins when an unemployed, middle-aged father loses his sanity during a close encounter with two teenage girls on holiday. Cast: Roy Abramsohn, Elena Schuber, Katelynn Rodriguez, Annet Mahendru, Danielle Safady, Alison Lees-Taylor.
I Used to Be Darker / U.S.A. (Director: Matthew Porterfield, Screenwriters: Amy Belk, Matthew Porterfield) — A runaway seeks refuge with her aunt and uncle in Baltimore, only to find their marriage ending and her cousin in crisis. In the days that follow, the family struggles to let go while searching for things to sustain them. Cast: Deragh Campbell, Hannah Gross, Kim Taylor, Ned Oldham, Geoff Grace, Nick Petr.
It Felt Like Love / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Eliza Hittman) — On the outskirts of Brooklyn, a 14-year-old girl’s sexual quest takes a dangerous turn when she pursues an older guy and tests the boundaries between obsession and love. Cast: Gina Piersanti, Giovanna Salimeni, Ronen Rubinstein, Jesse Cordasco, Nick Rosen, Case Prime.
Milkshake / U.S.A. (Director: David Andalman, Screenwriters: David Andalman, Mariko Munro) — In mid-1990’s America, we follow the tragic sex life of Jolie Jolson, a wannabe thug (and great-great-grandson of legendary vaudevillian Al Jolson) in suburban DC as he strives to become something he can never be – black. Cast: Tyler Ross, Shareeka Epps, Georgia Ford, Eshan Bay, Leo Fitzpatrick, Danny Burstein.
Newlyweeds / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Shaka King) — A Brooklyn repo man and his globetrotting girlfriend forge an unlikely romance. But what should be a match made in stoner heaven turns into a love triangle gone awry in this dark coming-of-age comedy about dependency. Cast: Amari Cheatom, Trae Harris, Tone Tank, Colman Domingo, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Adrian Martinez.
Pit Stop / U.S.A. (Director: Yen Tan, Screenwriters: Yen Tan, David Lowery) — Two working-class gay men in a small Texas town and a love that isn’t quite out of reach. Cast: Bill Heck, Marcus DeAnda, Amy Seimetz, John Merriman, Alfredo Maduro, Corby Sullivan.
A Teacher / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Hannah Fidell) — A popular young teacher in a wealthy suburban Texas high school has an affair with one of her students. Her life begins to unravel as the relationship comes to an end. Cast: Lindsay Burdge, Will Brittain, Jennifer Prediger, Jonny Mars, Julie Phillips, Chris Dubeck.
This is Martin Bonner / U.S.A.(Director and screenwriter: Chad Hartigan) — Martin Bonner has just moved to Reno for a new job in prison rehabilitation. Starting over at age 58, he struggles to adapt until an unlikely friendship with an ex-con blossoms, helping him confront the problems he left behind. Cast: Paul Eenhoorn, Richmond Arquette, Sam Buchanan, Robert Longstreet, Demetrius Grosse.

Sundance 2012 U.S. Documentary Competition

The world premieres of 16 American documentary films.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry / U.S.A., China (Director: Alison Klayman) — Renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has garnered international attention as much for his ambitious artwork as his political provocations and increasingly public clashes with the Chinese government.

The Atomic States of America / U.S.A. (Directors: Don Argott, Sheena M. Joyce) — In 2010, the United States announced construction of the first new nuclear power plant in more than 32 years. A year later, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck the Fukushima Power Plant in Japan sparking a fierce debate in the U.S. over the safety and viability of nuclear power.

Chasing Ice / U.S.A. (Director: Jeff Orlowski) — Science, spectacle and human passion mix in this stunningly cinematic portrait as National Geographic photographer James Balog captures time-lapse photography of glaciers over several years providing tangible visual evidence of climate change.

DETROPIA / U.S.A. (Directors: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady) — The woes of Detroit are emblematic of the collapse of the U.S. manufacturing base. This is the dramatic story of a city and its people who refuse to leave the building, even as the flames are rising.

ESCAPE FIRE: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare / U.S.A. (Directors: Matthew Heineman, Susan Froemke) — What can be done to save our broken medical system? Powerful forces are trying to maintain the status quo in a profit-driven medical industry, but a movement to bring innovative methods of prevention and healing is finally gaining ground – potentially saving the health of a nation.

Finding North / U.S.A. (Directors: Kristi Jacobson, Lori Silverbush) — A crisis of hunger looms in America and is not limited to the poverty stricken and uneducated. Can a return to policies of the 1970s save our future?

The House I Live In / U.S.A. (Director: Eugene Jarecki) — For over 40 years, the War on Drugs has accounted for 45 million arrests, made America the world’s largest jailer and damaged poor communities at home and abroad. Yet, drugs are cheaper, purer and more available today than ever. Where did we go wrong and what is the path toward healing?

How to Survive a Plague / U.S.A. (Director: David France) — The untold story of the intensive efforts that turned AIDS into a manageable condition – and the improbable group of (mostly HIV-positive) young men and women whose amazing resilience broke through a time of rampant death and political indifference.

The Invisible War / U.S.A. (Director: Kirby Dick) — An investigative and powerfully emotional examination of the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the U.S. military, the institutions that cover up its existence and the profound personal and social consequences that arise from it.

Marina Abramović The Artist is Present / U.S.A. (Director: Matthew Akers) — Marina Abramović prepares for a major retrospective of her work at The Museum of Modern Art in New York hoping to finally silence four decades of skeptics who proclaim: ‘But why is this art?’

ME at the ZOO / U.S.A. (Directors: Chris Moukarbel, Valerie Veatch) — With 270 million hits to date, Chris Crocker, an uncanny young video blogger from small town Tennessee, is considered the Internet’s first rebel folk hero and at the same time one of its most controversial personalities.

The Other Dream Team / Lithuania, U.S.A. (Director: Marius Markevicius) — The 1992 Lithuanian National Basketball Team went from the clutches of Communism to the Summer Olympics in Barcelona – a testament to the powerful role of sports as a catalyst for cultural identity.

The Queen of Versailles / U.S.A. (Director: Lauren Greenfield) — Jackie and David were triumphantly constructing the biggest house in America – a sprawling, 90,000-square-foot palace inspired by Versailles – when their timeshare empire falters due to the economic crisis. Their rags-to-riches-to-rags story reveals the innate virtues and flaws of the American Dream.

Slavery By Another Name / U.S.A. (Director: Sam Pollard) — As slavery came to an end with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, a new system of involuntary servitude took its place with shocking force, brutalizing, terrorizing and ultimately circumscribing the lives of hundreds of thousands of African Americans well into the 20th century.

Love Free or Die: How the Bishop of New Hampshire is Changing the World / U.S.A. (Director: Macky Alston) — One man whose two defining passions are in conflict: An openly gay bishop refuses to leave the Church or the man he loves.

We’re Not Broke / U.S.A. (Directors: Karin Hayes, Victoria Bruce) — As American lawmakers slash budgets and lay off employees, leaving many people scrambling to survive, multibillion-dollar corporations are concealing colossal profits overseas to avoid paying U.S. income tax. Fed-up Americans are taking their frustration to the streets.

Sundance 2012 World Dramatic Competition

Fourteen films from emerging filmmaking talents offer fresh perspectives and inventive styles.

4 Suns / Czech Republic (Director and screenwriter: Bohdan Sláma) — Immature Fogi attempts to straighten up and accept his responsibilities as a new husband and father, as well as role model to his troubled son from a previous relationship, but finds himself unable to change his nature, leaving him to watch haplessly as his family begins to crumble. Cast: Jaroslav Plesl, Aňa Geislerová, Karel Roden, Jiří Mádl, Klára Melíšková. World Premiere

About the Pink Sky / Japan (Director and screenwriter: Keiichi Kobayashi) — A high school girl finds a wallet full of money and tracks down its owner, leading to unexpected consequences for the girl and her friends. Cast: Ai Ikeda, Ena Koshino, Reiko Fujiwara, Tsubasa Takayama, Hakusyu Togetsuan. International Premiere

Can / Turkey (Director and screenwriter: Rasit Celikezer) — A young married couple live happily in Istanbul, but their decision to illegally procure a child threatens their future together. Cast: Selen Ucer, Serdar Orcin, Berkan Demirbag, Erkan Avci. World Premiere

Father’s Chair (A Cadeira do Pai) / Brazil (Director: Luciano Moura, Screenwriters: Elena Soarez, Luciano Moura) — Following the trail of his runaway teen son, Theo confronts his own identity as a son, a father and a man along the way. Cast: Wagner Moura, Mariana Lima, Lima Duarte, Bras Antunes. . World Premiere

L / Greece (Director: Babis Makridis, Screenwriters: Efthimis Filippou, Babis Makridis) — A man who lives in his car gets caught up in the undeclared war between motorcycle riders and car drivers. Cast: Aris Servetalis, Makis Papadimitriou, Lefteris Mathaios, Nota Tserniafski, Stavros Raptis. World Premiere

The Last Elvis (El Ultimo Elvis) / Argentina (Director: Armando Bo, Screenwriters: Nicolás Giacobone and Armando Bo) — A Buenos Aires Elvis impersonator who believes that he is the reincarnation of the King struggles to shake free from reality and live his musical dream. Cast: John McInerny, Griselda Siciliani, Margarita Lopez. World Premiere

Madrid, 1987 / Spain (Director and screenwriter: David Trueba) — The balance of power and desire constantly shifts during the meeting of an older journalist and a young student, of two generations completely foreign to one another. Cast: José Sacristán, María Valverde, Ramon Fontserè. International Premiere

My Brother the Devil / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Sally El Hosaini) — A pair of British Arab brothers trying to get by in gangland London learn the extraordinary courage it takes to be yourself. Cast: James Floyd, Saïd Taghmaoui, Fady Elsayed. World Premiere

Teddy Bear / Denmark (Director: Mads Matthiesen, Screenwriters: Mads Matthiesen, Martin Pieter Zandvliet) — Dennis, a painfully shy 38-year-old bodybuilder who lives with his mother, sets off to Thailand in search of love. Cast: Kim Kold, Elsebeth Steentoft, Lamaiporn Sangmanee Hougaard, David Winters, Allan Mogensen. World Premiere

Valley of Saints / India, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Musa Syeed) — Gulzar plans to run away from the war and poverty surrounding his village in Kashmir with his best friend, but a beautiful young woman researching the dying lake leads him to contemplate a different future Cast: Gulzar Ahmad Bhat, Mohammed Afzal Sofi, Neelofar Hamid. World Premiere

Violeta Went to Heaven (Violeta se Fue a Los Cielos) / Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Spain (Director: Andrés Wood, Screenwriters: Eliseo Altunaga, Rodrigo Bazaes, Guillermo Calderón, Andrés Wood) — A portrait of famed Chilean singer and folklorist Violeta Parra filled with her musical work, her memories, her loves and her hopes. Cast: Francisca Gavilán, Thomas Durand, Luis Machín, Gabriela Aguilera, Roberto Farías. International Premiere

Wish You Were Here / Australia (Director: Kieran Darcy-Smith, Screenwriters: Felicity Price, Kieran Darcy-Smith) — Four friends embark on a carefree holiday, but only three return home. Who knows what happened on that fateful night? Cast: Joel Edgerton, Teresa Palmer, Felicity Price, Antony Starr. World Premiere.

WRONG / France (Director and screenwriter: Quentin Dupieux) — Dolph searches for his lost dog, but through encounters with a nympho pizza-delivery girl, a jogging neighbor seeking the absolute, and a mysterious righter of wrongs, he may eventually lose his mind… and his identity. Cast: Jack Plotnick, Eric Judor, Alexis Dziena, Steve Little, William Fichtner. World Premiere

Young & Wild / Chile (Director: Marialy Rivas, Screenwriters: Marialy Rivas, Camila Gutiérrez, Pedro Peirano) — 17-year-old Daniela, raised in the bosom of a strict Evangelical family and recently unmasked as a fornicator by her shocked parents, struggles to find her own path to spiritual harmony. Cast: Alicia Rodríguez, Aline Kuppenheim, María Gracia Omegna, Felipe Pinto. World Premiere

Sundance 2012 World Documentary Competition

Twelve documentaries by some of the most courageous and extraordinary filmmakers working today.

1⁄2 REVOLUTION / Denmark, Egypt (Directors: Omar Shargawi, Karim El Hakim) — In January 2011, two filmmakers captured the reality of the Egyptian revolution as it occurred out of view from the world’s media in the alleyways and streets away from the square – and in the process were arrested by the secret police. North American Premiere

5 Broken Cameras / Palestine, Israel, France (Directors: Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi) — A Palestinian journalist chronicles his village’s resistance to a separation barrier being erected on their land and in the process captures his young son’s lens on the world. International Premiere

THE AMBASSADOR / Denmark (Director: Mads Brügger) — What happens when a very white European man buys his way into being a diplomat in one of Central Africa’s most failed nations? Welcome to the bizarre and hidden world of African diplomacy, where gin and tonics flow and diamond hustlers and corrupt politicians run free. North American Premiere

BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!* / Sweden (Director: Fredrik Gertten) — The behind-the-scenes story of a full-scale attack on freedom of speech. When Dole set its sights on the WG Film production Bananas!* in May 2009, confusion was the method, aggression was the tactic and media control was the story. North American Premiere

China Heavyweight / Canada, China (Director: Yung Chang) — In central China, where a coach recruits poor rural teenagers and turns them into Western-style boxing champions, the top students face dramatic choices as they graduate – should they fight for the collective good or for themselves? A metaphor for the choices everyone in the New China faces now. World Premiere

Gypsy Davy / Israel, U.S.A., Spain (Director: Rachel Leah Jones) — How does a white boy with Alabama roots become a Flamenco guitarist in Andalusian boots? A tale of self-invention and the pursuit of happiness, regardless of the cost to others. International Premiere

The Imposter / United Kingdom (Director: Bart Layton) — In 1994 a 13-year-old boy disappears from his home in San Antonio, Texas. Three and a half years later he is found alive thousands of miles away in Spain with a shocking story of kidnap and torture. But all is not what it seems in this tale that is truly stranger than fiction. World Premiere

Indie Game: The Movie / Canada (Directors: Lisanne Pajot, James Swirsky) — Follow the dramatic journeys of indie game developers as they create games and release those works, and themselves, to the world. World Premiere

The Law in These Parts / Israel (Director: Ra’anan Alexandrowicz) — Israel’s 43-year military legal system in the Occupied Palestinian Territories unfolds through provocative interviews with the system’s architects and historical footage showing the enactment of these laws upon the Palestinian population. International Premiere

Payback / Canada (Director: Jennifer Baichwal) — Based on Margaret Atwood’s best-selling book, Payback explores how debt is a central organizing principle in our lives – influencing relationships, societies, governing structures and the very fate of this planet. World Premiere

Putin’s Kiss / Denmark (Director: Lise Birk Pedersen) — 19-year-old Marsha is a model spokesperson in a strongly nationalistic Russian youth movement that aims to protect the country from its enemies. When she starts recognizing the organization’s flaws, she must take a stand for or against it. North American Premiere

Searching for Sugar Man / Sweden, United Kingdom (Director: Malik Bendjelloul) — Rodriguez was the greatest ‘70s US rock icon who never was. Hailed as the greatest recording artist of his generation he disappeared into oblivion – rising again from the ashes in a completely different context many miles away. World Premiere.

Sundance 2011: Participant Snags CIRCUMSPECT

Participant Media has picked up North American rights to the dramatic competition film CIRCUMSTANCE. The film is about a wealthy Iranian family that struggles to contain a teenager’s growing sexual rebellion and her brother’s dangerous obsession. Cast: Nikohl Boosheri, Sarah Kazemy, Reza Sixo Safai, Soheil Parsa, Nasrin Pakkho.

Paradigm Motion Picture Finance Group repped the filmmakers in the deal.

Sundance 2011: Fox Searchlight Picks Up Third Film

One of the Sundance Sections that doesn’t usually get as much attention is the World Cinema. This year, Philip Cox saw his World Dramatic Cinema competition film, THE BENGALI DETECTIVE, be acquired for worldwide remake rights by Fox Searchlight. The Bengali Detective stars chubby, dance-obsessed private-detective Rajesh Ji and his motley band of helpers as they tackle poisonings, adultery and the occasional murder on the frenzied streets of Kolkata.

In the last two days, Searchlight has also purchased rights to the dark competition drama MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE for about $2 million and worldwide rights to the high school comedy HOMEWORK for a little more than $3 million.

Sundance 2011: MARGIN CALL is Big Deal

 

PARK CITY, UTAH – My beloved HEROES anti-hero, Zachary Quinto (the wicked Sylar), has helped carry the Sundance Premiere MARGIN CALL to the first major deal of the festival! The Lionsgate imprint Roadside will distribute and director J. C. Chandor’s inked deal includes two more pictures through Warner Brothers. Way to come out of the gate!!

The deal was negotiated by UTA and Cassian Elwes (who Exec Produced) from a script that was on the 2010 Black List. The film is based on the final 24 hours at Lehman Brothers. Zachary Quinto’s Before the Door Pictures helped finance the film (talk about put your money where your mouth is!), along with Michael Benaroya and Joe Jenckes and Taggart Pictures.

It joins the two early documentary sales (BECOMING CHAZ to OWN and Morgan Spurlock’s THE GREATEST STORY EVER SOLD) which were made early in the festival.

MARGIN CALL Catalog Detail
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: J.C. Chandor U.S.A., 2010, 109 min.
Set in the high-stakes world of the financial industry, Margin Call is a thriller entangling the key players at an investment firm during one perilous 24-hour period in the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis. When entry-level analyst Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto) unlocks information that could prove to be the downfall of the firm, a roller-coaster ride ensues as decisions both financial and moral catapult the lives of all involved to the brink of disaster. Expanding the parameters of genre, Margin Call is a riveting examination of the human components of a subject too often relegated to partisan issues of black
and white.

Propelled by a stellar cast that includes Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Stanley Tucci, and Demi Moore, writer/director JC Chandor’s enthralling first feature is a stark and bravely authentic portrayal of the financial industry and its denizens as they confront the decisions that shape our global future.

ExP: Cassian Elwes, Laura Rister, Josh Blum Pr: Neal Dodson, Zachary Quinto, Corey Moosa, Michael Benaroya, Robert Ogden Barnum, Joe Jenckes Ci: Frank DeMarco Ed: Pete Beaudreau Mu: Nathan Larson Principal Cast: Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci

Sundance 2011: Vachon Interviews Olsen

PARK CITY, UTAH – Producer Christine Vachon is a golden film goddess and by keeping track of her, one keeps track of the indie film work AND break-out film hits and stars. She (and Ted Hope) sat down to interview Elizabeth Olsen (sister of the infamous Olsen twins). She stars in TWO Sundance films (she has, in fact, only been in three films in her entire career — this gal is white hot). The films are MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE and SILENT HOUSE. It’s a wonderful interview with Sundance veterans and a Sundance newbie.

MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE Detail
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Sean Durkin U.S.A., 2011, 110 min.
Haunted by painful memories and suffering from increasing anxiety, Martha escapes an abusive cult and returns home to live with her older sister, Lucy, and Lucy’s husband, Ted. With no other family to lean on, Martha tries desperately to assimilate into Ted and Lucy’s upper-middle-class lifestyle. But nightmares of the cult that brainwashed her into living
as Marcy May prevent her from connecting with the only people who may be able to save her. As Martha’s isolation grows, her severe paranoia escalates. Ultimately, she descends into a dizzying state of panic as the growing fear that she is being hunted grips her every move.

Giving a breakout performance as Martha (Marcy May), Elizabeth Olsen, sister of the famous Olsen twins, exhibits a depth of character reminiscent of a young Maggie Gyllenhaal. A stunning follow-up to his short Mary Last Seen, a 2010 Cannes award-winner, writer/director Sean Durkin’s chilling first feature puts him on the map as a filmmaker to watch.

ExP: Ted Hope, Matt Palmieri, Alexander Schepsman, Saemi Kim, Saerom Kim Pr: Josh Mond, Antonio Campos, Patrick Cunningham, Chris Maybach CoP: Andrew Corkin Ci: Jody Lee Lipes Ed: Zac Stuart-Pontier PrD: Chad Keith Principal Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Brady Corbet, Hugh Dancy, John Hawkes, Sarah Paulson

SILENT HOUSE Detail (which was added late to the festival) Filmmakers Chris Kentis and Laura Lau return to the Sundance Film Festival with their latest feature, Silent House, which will have its world premiere in the out-of-competition Park City at Midnight section.

Following OPEN WATER, which screened at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, filmmaking duo Chris Kentis and Laura Lau once again confront the face of fear in this enthralling psychological thriller. Impressively captured with a continuous camera shot, SILENT HOUSE tracks the growing panic of its enigmatic lead, Elizabeth Olsen, who’s trapped in an unnerving nightmare. Never ones to be limited by a challenging production, Kentis and Lau mastermind a truly unique horror experience with immediate intimacy and unsettling terror.

Directors: Chris Kentis & Laura Lau; Screenwriter: Laura Lau – A hauntingly choreographed descent into madness based on the Uruguayan film La Casa Muda. Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Julia Taylor Ross, Haley Murphy, Adam Barnett. World Premiere

Sundance 2011: Day One Opens

This is the FIRST year that ALL of the Sundance Film Festival’s competition sections kicked off the 10-day celebration, with films from the U.S. AND World Cinema Dramatic AND Documentary competitions, ALONG with one program of shorts. Last year, Festival Director john Cooper broke from tradition by opening the Festival with more than one film screening on Day One; this year, Day One extended its global reach by including international films and shorts to Thursday’s nights offerings.

The opening nights films were:

U.S. DRAMATIC: Pariah (Director and screenwriter: Dee Rees) – When forced to choose between losing her best friend or destroying her family, a Bronx teenager juggles conflicting identities and endures heartbreak in a desperate search for sexual expression. Cast: Adepero Oduye, Pernell Walker, Kim Wayans, Charles Parnell, Aasha Davis. According to Variety: “Vivid photography, true-to-life moments and a wonderful lead performance compensate for some first-timer missteps in debutante writer-director Dee Rees’ “Pariah,” a low-budget coming-out and coming-of-age piece set in the predominantly black neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Pic will surely strike a chord with fests, and an especially resonant one for those with an LGBT bent.” Read the Variety review.

U.S. DOCUMENTARY: Sing Your Song (A film by Susanne Rostock) – Most people know the lasting legacy of Harry Belafonte, the entertainer; this film unearths his significant contribution to and his leadership in the civil rights movement in America and to social justice globally. When reviewed in Variety, John Anderson said the film would be a natural fit for PBS or cable. Read the Variety review. The Hollywood Reporter was kinder, saying, “with the enthusiasm of a revival meeting at the screening of Susanne Rostock’s “Sing Your Song,” which views the extraordinary career of entertainer Harry Belafonte through the prism of his tireless social activism. Full Hollywood Reporter review here.

WORLD DRAMATIC: The Guard / Ireland (Director and screenwriter: John Michael McDonagh) – A small-town cop in Ireland has a confrontational personality, a subversive sense of humor, a fondness for prostitutes and absolutely no interest whatsoever in the international drug-smuggling ring that has brought a straight-laced FBI agent to his door. However, a surreal chain of events pulls him into the action. Cast: Don Cheadle, Brendan Gleeson, Mark Strong, Liam Cunningham, David Wilmot, Dominique McElligot. Variety’s review was mixed (“A crusty jewel of a performance by Brendan Gleeson goes a long way toward enlivening an otherwise routine tale of murder, blackmail, drug trafficking and rural police corruption in “The Guard.” Rudely funny and faintly melancholic, both qualities stemming from the atmospheric backdrop of Ireland’s west coast, screenwriter John Michael McDonagh’s directorial debut is a stylish lark whose many disparate elements somehow manage to go down as smoothly as Guinness. Casting of Don Cheadle in a buddy-cop role opposite Gleeson should translate into a healthy theatrical profile abroad, though some of the caustic rogues-with-brogues dialogue would benefit from subtitles.) Variety review.

WORLD DOCUMENTARY: Project Nim / United Kingdom (Director: James Marsh) – From the Oscar-winning team behind Man on Wire comes the story of Nim, the chimpanzee who was taught to communicate with language as he was raised and nurtured like a human child. According to Variety: “Researchers may have taught a chimp named Nim to communicate via sign language back in the mid-’70s, but it was humans who learned the most from the experiment, as detailed in director James Marsh’s “Project Nim.” A provocative and surprisingly emotional saga that ranges from wrenching to downright hilarious as it spans more than a quarter-century of unpredictable twists, “Nim” reaches far beyond mere scientific curiosity to become compelling human drama. Marsh’s impressive post-Oscar follow-up (acquired by HBO just before Sundance) has strong theatrical potential, raising big questions about ethics, parenting strategies and what separates man from animal.” Variety review.

Shorts Program One

Deeper Than Yesterday Director: Ariel Kleiman Australia, 2009, 20 Min., Color
The External World Director: David Oreilly Germany/Ireland, 2010, 15 Min., Color & B/W
Fight For Your Right Revisited Director: Adam Yauch U.S.A., 2011, 2o Min., Color
The Strange Ones Directors: Christopher Radcliff, Lauren Wolkstein U.S.A., 2011, 15 Min., Color
The Terrys Directors: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim U.S.A., 2010, 15 Min., Color
Worst Enemy Director: Lake Bell U.S.A., 2010, 13 Min., Color

Sundance Film Festival 2011: Premieres

This is the comprehensive list of the films premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The Premiere films are NOT in competition. They tend to have bigger budgets and more well known talent. They are often films made by returning Sundance alums. (They also give you a clue as to the celebrity sightings you may have in Park City … especially for the first screening! Study the cast lists.)

DRAMATIC PREMIERES

Cedar Rapids / U.S.A. (Director: Miguel Arteta; Screenwriter: Phil Johnston) – A wholesome and naive small-town Wisconsin man travels to big city Cedar Rapids, Iowa to represent his company at a regional insurance conference. Cast: Ed Helms, John C Reilly, Anne Heche, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Alia Shawkat, Sigourney Weaver.

The Convincer / U.S.A. (Director: Jill Sprecher; Screenwriters: Jill Sprecher & Karen Sprecher) – An insurance salesman, caught in a caper involving a rare musical instrument, sets off a series of dramatic consequences. Cast: Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, Billy Crudup, David Harbour.

The Details / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jacob Aaron Estes) – When a family of hungry raccoons begin feasting on the worms living under the sod of a young couple’s backyard, the pest problem sets off a wild and absurd chain reaction of anxiety, infidelity, organ donation and other assorted mayhem. Cast: Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney, Ray Liotta, Dennis Haysbert, Kerry Washington.

The Devil’s Double / Belgium (Director: Lee Tamahori; Screenwriter: Michael Thomas) – An extraordinary chapter in recent history providing a chilling vision of the House of Saddam comes to life through the eyes of the man who knew too much. Cast: Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier, Mimoun Oaissa, Raad Rawi, Philip Quast.

I Melt with You / Canada, U.S.A. (Director: Mark Pellington; Screenwriter: Glenn Porter, based on the story by Glenn Porter and Mark Pellington) – Four friends gather every year to celebrate their friendship. This year they are unexpectedly forced to confront a forgotten promise they made 25 years earlier. As they examine choices they’ve made, they realize that what they said they would do with their lives and what they have done are entirely different. Cast: Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, Christian McKay, Carla Gugino.

Life in a Day / United Kingdom (Director: Kevin Macdonald) – Life in a Day is a historic global experiment to create the world’s largest user-generated feature film. On July 24, 2010, professional and amateur filmmakers captured a glimpse of their lives on camera and uploaded the footage to YouTube, serving as a time capsule for future generations.

Margin Call / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: JC Chandor) – Over a 24-hour period during the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis, the key people at an investment bank struggle to decide how to handle an emergency business situation while examining the personal and moral implications of every action they take. Cast: Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Demi Moore, and Stanley Tucci.

The Music Never Stopped (Director: Jim Kohlberg; Screenwriters: Gwyn Lurie and Gary Marks, based on the story “The Last Hippie” by Oliver Sacks) – A father struggles to bond with his estranged son who suffers a brain tumor that prevents him from forming new memories. He learns to embrace his son’s choices and to try to connect with him through the power of music. Cast: J.K. Simmons, Julia Ormond, Cara Seymour, Lou Taylor Pucci, Mia Maestro.

My Idiot Brother / U.S.A. (Director: Jesse Peretz; Screenwriters: Evgenia Peretz and David Schisgall) – After serving time being conned into selling pot, Ned successively moves in with each of his three sisters as he tries to get back on his feet. His best intentions quickly bring the family to the cusp of chaos and ultimately the brink of clarity. Cast: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer.

Perfect Sense / United Kingdom (Director: David Mackenzie; Screenwriter: Kim Fupz Aakeson) – A poetic and magnetic love story about two people who start to fall in love just as the world begins to fall apart. Cast: Ewan McGregor, Eva Green, Ewen Bremner, Stephen Dillane, Denis Lawson and Connie Nielsen.

Red State / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kevin Smith) – A group of misfits encounter extreme fundamentalism in Middle America. Cast: Michael Parks, Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner, John Goodman, Melissa Leo.

Salvation Boulevard / U.S.A. (Director: George Ratliff; Screenwriters: Doug Max Stone and George Ratliff, based on the novel by Larry Beinhart) – An evangelical preacher who has captivated a city with his charm frames an ex-hippie for a crime he did not commit. Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Greg Kinnear, Marisa Tomei.

The Son of No One / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Dito Montiel) – Two men in post-9/11 New York are forced to relive two murders they committed as young boys. Their lives start to unravel by the threat of the revelation of these shocking and personal secrets. Cast: Channing Tatum, Al Pacino, Katie Holmes, Tracy Morgan, Ray Liotta, Juliette Binoche. CLOSING NIGHT FILM

Win Win / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Tom McCarthy, based on the story by Tom McCarthy and Joe Tiboni) – When a disheartened attorney moonlighting as a high school wrestling coach stumbles across a star athlete, things seem to be looking up. That is, until the boy’s mother shows up fresh from rehab and flat broke, threatening to derail everything. Cast: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor.

DOCUMENTARY PREMIERES

Becoming Chaz / U.S.A. (Directors: Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato) – Born biologically female, Chastity Bono invites the viewer into a deeply personal journey as he transitions from female to male, embracing his true self, which is Chaz.

Bobby Fischer Against the World / U.S.A. (Director: Liz Garbus) – The drama of late chess-master Bobby Fischer’s career was undeniable,as he careened from troubled childhood, to World Champion and Cold War icon, to a fugitive on the run.

Granito / U.S.A. (Director: Pamela Yates) – A documentary film intertwines with Guatemala’s turbulent history and emerges as an active player in a nation’s struggle to heal itself and serve up justice.

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold / U.S.A. (Director: Morgan Spurlock) – A documentary about branding, advertising and product placement is financed and made possible by branding, advertising and product placement.

The Interrupters / U.S.A. (Director: Steve James) – From the award-winning director of Hoop Dreams comes a story of ex-gang members who are now protecting their communities from the violence they themselves once employed.

Reagan / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Eugene Jarecki) – Reagan examines the enigmatic career of one of the revered architects of the modern world – icon, screen star, and two-term president Ronald Reagan.

Rebirth / U.S.A. (Director: Jim Whitaker) – Weaving together five stories of individuals whose lives were profoundly altered by the 9/11 attack with unprecedented time-lapse footage of Ground Zero composed over ten years, what emerges is a chronicle of grief’s evolution and a nation healing.

These Amazing Shadows / U.S.A. (Directors: Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton) – The history and importance of the National Film Registry unfolds in a roll call of American cinema treasures that reflects the diversity of film, and indeed the American experience itself.

Morgan Spurlock Feels the Sundance Heat

Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has snapped up the North American rights to Morgan Spurlock’s documentary THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD. The documentary is about the world of product placement and was one of the titles with a good deal of heat leading up to the fest. The film will go through Sony Pictures Classics with the distribution planning for an April launch. The deal was negotiated by SPWA’s Scott Shooman and Micheal Helfand of CAA.

I loved Spurlock’s SUPERSIZE ME which was at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. (I still have my poster with the little fat Ronald McDonald.) The guy totally knows how to market his product and get people interested in what he’s making. Undoubtedly, he brought a unique understanding to the concept of the underbelly of selling that infuses filmmaking. Like SUPERSIZE, I’m sure THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD will be rabidly consumed by documentary film lovers.

Oprah’s OWN Acquires BECOMING CHAZ

So, I’m happy to let you know that Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood is reporting that Oprah Winfrey’s cable network OWN has acquired BECOMING CHAZ, the Fenton Bailey/Randy Barbato-directed feature documentary that will make its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and follows the gender reassignment journey that transformed Cher’s and the late Sonny Bono’s daughter Chastity into their son, Chaz Bono. In my youth, I was always delighted that Chastity was an “out” lesbian and gay rights activist. It was nice to have such a public role model. When Chastity began her transition, I was shocked (and perhaps a tad disappointed to lose prominent lesbian) AND, at the same time, I was amazed at what it was going to take to be such a public figure going through such a personal transformation. Read more coverage on Deadline Hollywood.

At the same time, OWN’s Chief Creative Officer Lisa Erspamer is announcing that Rosie O’Donnell will be a collaborator for the OWN Documentary Film Club, selecting key films and hosting specials that inspire deeper conversations following their on-air premiere. OWN will air a one-hour special hosted by Rosie O’Donnell following the world television premiere of BECOMING CHAZ in May, featuring Chaz Bono, his girlfriend Jennifer Elia and filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. Premiering on OWN, Becoming Chaz will be the first documentary film to air as part of the OWN Documentary Film Club. Read the full press release on OWN.

Sundance Film Festival 2011: U.S. Dramatic Jury

America Ferrera

America Ferrera made her Sundance Film Festival debut in 2002 with Real Women Have Curves, which earned her a Special Jury Prize for Acting. Since then, she has starred in the Festival films How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer, Steel City, La Misma Luna, and The Dry Land (also an Executive Producer). America is well-known for her Emmy, Golden Globe, and SAG Award winning role as Betty Suarez in the hit television series Ugly Betty. She has starred in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 1 & 2, Our Family Wedding, and voiced Astrid in How to Train Your Dragon. She currently serves as an Artist Ambassador for the global humanitarian organization Save the Children, most recently helping to build an elementary school in Diassadeni, Mali. She is also a member of the 2011 Sundance Institute Alumni Advisory Board.

Todd McCarthy

Todd McCarthy is chief film critic for The Hollywood Reporter and for many years held the same position at Variety. He has made several documentary films, including the award-winning Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography and won an Emmy for writing Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer. He is currently a member of the selection committee of the New York Film Festival.

Tim Orr

A native of North Carolina, Tim Orr studied cinematography at the North Carolina School of the Arts. He was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for David Gordon Green’s first feature George Washington, and has directed photography on all of Green’s films, including Sundance Award winner All the Real Girls; as well as Undertow; Snow Angels, Pineapple Express and the upcoming Your Highness. Orr also served as director of photography on Mike White’s, Year of the Dog; Peter Sollett’s Raising Victor Vargas, and Mark Milgard’s Dandelion for which Orr was again nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.

Kimberly Peirce

Kimberly Peirce staked her place as a director of singular vision and craft with her unflinching debut feature, Boys Don’t Cry, which she developed at the Sundance Institute Feature Film lab and went on to earn numerous honors including the Best Actress Oscar for the film’s star, Hilary Swank, Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Awards for Chloe Sevigny, and National Board of Review and Boston Film Critics Directing Awards for Peirce. Peirce’s most recent film, Stop-Loss, is a topical and emotionally penetrating drama inspired by real-life stories of American soldiers, including her own brother, fighting in Iraq and coming home.

Jason Reitman

Jason Reitman made his directorial debut with the short film Operation at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. He has directed three other films that have screened at the Festival including the short films In God We Trust and Gulp, and the feature film Thank You for Smoking. Jason has received four Academy Award nominations, two of which are for Best Director for the films Juno (2007), and Up in the Air (2009). He was also a member of the Sundance Film Festival’s 2008 Short Film Jury. Jason is currently in post production on his latest directorial endeavor Young Adult. He is also a member of the 2011 Sundance Institute Alumni Advisory Board.

Sundance Film Festival 2011: U.S. Dramatic Competition

PARK CITY, UTAH – The festival is on and this year’s 16 films were selected from 1,102 submissions. Each is a world premiere.

Another Earth (Director: Mike Cahill; Screenwriters: Mike Cahill and Brit Marling) – On the eve of the discovery of a duplicate Earth, a horrible tragedy irrevocably alters the lives of two strangers, who begin an unlikely love affair. Cast: William Mapother, Brit Marling, Jordan Baker, Robin Lord Taylor, Flint Beverage.

Another Happy Day (Director and screenwriter: Sam Levinson) – A pair of reckless siblings are dragged into a chaotic family wedding by their overwrought mother. Cast: Demi Moore, Kate Bosworth, Jeffrey DeMunn, Ellen Barkin, Ellen Burstyn, Thomas Haden Church.

Benavides Born (Director: Amy Wendel; Screenwriters: Daniel Meisel and Amy Wendel) – A high school senior in a forgotten town has earned admission to the University of Texas at Austin but can’t afford to go. Her one shot is a scholarship for winning the State Powerlifting Championship. Cast: Corina Calderon, Jeremy Ray Valdez, Joseph Julian Soria, Julia Vera, Julio César Cedillo.

Circumstance / U.S.A., Iran (Director and screenwriter: Maryam Keshavarz) – A wealthy Iranian family struggles to contain a teenager’s growing sexual rebellion and her brother’s dangerous obsession. Cast: Nikohl Boosheri, Sarah Kazemy, Reza Sixo Safai, Soheil Parsa, Nasrin Pakkho.

Gun Hill Road (Director and screenwriter: Rashaad Ernesto Green) – After three years in prison, Enrique returns to the Bronx to find his wife estranged and his teenage son stumbling towards a transformation that will put the fragile bonds of their family to the test. Cast: Esai Morales, Judy Reyes, Harmony Santana, Vincent Laresca, Miriam Colon.

HERE (Director: Braden King; Written By: Braden King and Dani Valent) – On assignment to create a new, more accurate satellite survey of Armenia, an American cartographer forms a powerful bond with an Armenian expatriate and art photographer. Cast: Ben Foster and Lubna Azabal with Narek Nersisyan, Yuri Kostanyan and Sofik Sarkisyan.

Higher Ground (Director: Vera Farmiga; Screenwriters: Carolyn S. Briggs and Tim Metcalfe) – A frustrated young mother turns to a fundamentalist community for answers, but after years of dogma and loss, she must find the courage to ask the questions that will help her reclaim her life. Cast: Vera Farmiga, Joshua Leonard, John Hawkes, Dagmara Dominczyk, Norbert Leo Butz, Donna Murphy.

Homework (Director and screenwriter: Gavin Wiesen) – Quirky, rebellious George has no ambitions other than to cut his next class. But one day, one girl gives him the perfect reason to figure out who he really is. Cast: Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts, Michael Angarano, Elizabeth Reaser with Rita Wilson and Blair Underwood.

The Ledge (Director and screenwriter: Matthew Chapman) – Perched on a ledge, a man says he must jump by noon, while a cop races against time to get to the bottom of it. Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Liv Tyler, Patrick Wilson and Terrence Howard with Christopher Gorham.

Like Crazy (Director: Drake Doremus; Screenwriters: Drake Doremus and Ben York Jones) – A young American guy and a young British girl meet in college and fall in love. Their love is tested when she is required to leave the country and they must face the challenges of a long-distance relationship. Cast: Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston.

Little Birds (Director and screenwriter: Elgin James) – Amidst the stark landscape of the Salton Sea, two 15-year-old girls test the limits of their friendship when one follows the other to Los Angeles. Cast: Juno Temple, Kay Panabaker, Leslie Mann, Kate Bosworth, Kyle Gallner.

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Director and screenwriter: Sean Durkin) – Haunted by painful memories and increasing paranoia, a damaged woman struggles to re-assimilate with her family after fleeing an abusive cult. Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Brady Corbet, Hugh Dancy, John Hawkes, Sarah Paulson.

On the Ice (Director and screenwriter: Andrew Okpeaha MacLean) – On the snow-covered Arctic tundra, two teenagers try to get away with murder. Cast: Josiah Patkotak, Frank Qutuq Irelan, Teddy Kyle Smith, Adamina Kerr, Sierra Jade Sampson.

Pariah (Director and screenwriter: Dee Rees) – When forced to choose between losing her best friend or destroying her family, a Bronx teenager juggles conflicting identities and endures heartbreak in a desperate search for sexual expression. Cast: Adepero Oduye, Pernell Walker, Kim Wayans, Charles Parnell, Aasha Davis.

Take Shelter (Director and screenwriter: Jeff Nichols) – A working-class husband and father questions whether his terrifying dreams of an apocalyptic storm signal something real to come or the onset of an inherited mental illness he’s feared his whole life. Cast: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon, Kathy Baker.

Terri (Director: Azazel Jacobs; Screenwriters: Patrick deWitt) – Terri is a story about a big boy who feels alone in a small town. After his high school’s vice-principal takes Terri under his wing, he comes to learn there are others that feel the same way he does. And when Terri defends the honor of his secret crush, lonely worlds collide. Cast: Jacob Wysocki, John C. Reilly, Creed Bratton, Olivia Crocicchia, Bridger Zadina.

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