PARK CITY 2002: Sundance Rounds Out 2002 Lineup; Premieres, World, Native, Midnight, Frontier and Special Screenings Revealed
with articles by Eugene Hernandez and Anthony Kaufman/indieWIRE
>> Sundance 2002 to Open With “Laramie Project”; Premieres Boast Directors Malkovich, Nunez, Van Sant, Broomfield, Nair and More
(indieWIRE: 11.28.01) — Moises Kaufman‘s HBO production “The Laramie Project” will kick off the Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City with a serious edge. Abandoning past family-friendly openers like “Cookie’s
Fortune” and “My First Mister,” “Project” promises to be a potent film
adaptation of Kaufman’s play about the murder of gay student Matthew
Shepherd. Opening night in Park City will also tackle a political subject:
actor (now director) John Malkovich‘s “The Dancer Upstairs” stars Javier Bardem as a policeman struggling to apprehend an infamous guerilla leader.
Malkovich’s directorial debut, produced in part by Spanish major Lolafilms,
is one of many mini-major movies looking to Park City to launch their films
in the North America market. According to Sundance’s Geoff Gilmore, the 2002
Premieres section was flooded with contenders, most likely a result of the
glut of Indiewood features that were rushed into production this year to
avoid the feared actor’s union strikes last summer.
A number of auspicious Sundance veterans will come back to Park City this
year in the Premieres section. Chris Eyre, director of 1998’s Audience Award winner “Smoke Signals,” returns with the story of two Indian brothers, “Skins“; Victor Nunez, winner of the 1993 Grand Jury Prize for “Ruby in Paradise,” will unveil his love triangle thriller “Coastlines“; director Miguel Arteta and writer Mike White of “Chuck and Buck” fame, return with their adultery fable “The Good Girl“; controversial doc filmmaker Nick (“Kurt and Courtney“) Broomfield will showcase his gangsta-rap document “LA Story“; and indie icon Gus Van Sant screens his $7 million budget “Jerry,” starring Matt Damon and Casey Affleck, being sold by FilmFour International.
Also returning to the fest in 2002 is the Jodie Foster-produced “The
Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys,” which was originally set to screen last
year, but was withdrawn at the last moment because it wasn’t finished. The
dynamic documentary duo of Brett Morgen and Nanette Burstein, winners of the Special Jury Prize in 1999 for “On the Ropes,” will show their latest “The
Kid Stays in the Picture,” a chronicling of the life of Hollywood producer
Robert Evans, already acquired by USA Films.
Also on tap is Mira Nair‘s latest film, hot on the heels of her Venice
winner “Monsoon Wedding,” “Hysterical Blindness,” an HBO production
featuring Cassavetes vets Ben Gazzara and Gena Rowlands. Cinematographer Ernest Dickerson premieres his debut “Our America” and George Hickenlooper‘s star-studded “The Man from Elysian Fields” will try again after a scheduled premiere at the Toronto Film Festival on September 13th.
Distributor-propelled Indiewood features that will be launched at Sundance
include the UK Nicole Kidman vehicle “Birthday Girl” (Miramax), the Greg the Bunny feature “Run, Ronnie, Run” (New Line), music video director Mark Romanek‘s Robin Williams dramedy “One Hour Photo” (Fox Searchlight), Peter “The Full Monty” Cattaneo‘s “Lucky Break” (Paramount), Michel Gondry‘s Cannes premiere “Human Nature” (Fine Line), and John McKay‘s Andie McDowell starrer, “Crush” (Sony Pictures Classics). [Anthony Kaufman]
>> Around the World at Sundance; World Cinema 2002
(indieWIRE: 11.28.01) — Twenty-seven international films will screen in the
World Cinema sidebar at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002. Continuing the
festival’s devotion to Latin cinema, a bulk of the features come from Spain
and Latin America. “Lovers of the Arctic Circle” director Julio Medem‘s “Sex and Lucia” and up-and-comer Juan Carlos Fresnadillo‘s thriller “Intacto” hail from Spain, while Veronica Chen‘s sexy “Smokers Only” is the latest arrival from Argentina. Noted Cuban director Humberto Solas (“Lucia“) is present with “Honey for Oshun,” and Mexican productions include Andres Wood‘s “Loco Fever,” and “De La Calle” (“Streeters“) from Gerardo Tort, winner of the San Sebastian Film Festival‘s Best New Director prize.
New films from the UK, Australia and New Zealand often fair well in Park
City; a past entry like Britain’s “Saving Grace” drew the largest domestic
distribution deal and an Audience Award, for example, in Sundance 2000. UK
outfits FilmFour and Channel Four will unveil, respectively, “Theory of
Flight” director Paul Greengrass‘ tragic retelling of “Bloody Sunday” and Marc Munden‘s romantic thriller “Miranda,” which stars Christina Ricci. From Down Under, there’s Paul Goldman‘s coming-of-ager “Australian Rules” and New Zealand Cannes stunner “Rain” from first-timer Christine Jeffs, the latter acquired for U.S. distribution by Fireworks Pictures. British actor Bob Hoskins will also appear at this year’s fest, but in Polish newcomer Tomasz Wiszniewski‘s “Where Eskimos Live,” the European winner of the Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award.
Straight from the Toronto Film Festival come two Perspective Canada
favorites, Andre Turpin‘s “Un Crabe dans la Tete,” and Carl Bessai‘s “Lola.” French titles include Laurent Cantet‘s auspicious second film “Time Out” (acquired by new distrib ThinkFilm, see today’s related story below), Sandrine Ray‘s “Vivante,” and two French-African titles, Locarno winner “L’Afrance” and the Senegalese version of Bizet’s Carmen, “Karmen Gei.”
Other film festival favorites finding Sundance backing include Austria’s
horribly precise “Dog Days,” a winner at Venice 2001; “The Inner Tour,” best documentary at Vancouver 2001; the majestic Himalayan Toronto premiere “Samsara“; Hong Kong notable Stanley Kwan‘s “Lan Yu” (a Strand Releasing acquisition), Zhang Yang‘s Venice premiere “Quitting” (from Sony Pictures Classics), and “Tears of the Black Tiger,” the much talked about Thai western which is finally reemerging after Miramax‘s purchase at Cannes.
Also in the lineup is “The Trespasser” from Brazil’s Beto Brant (1998’s
“Belly Up“), Iranian festival favorite, “Under the Skin of the City,”
Italy’s 2001 local awards sweeper “The Last Kiss,” and Russian experimental
Rotterdam premiere “Lubov and Other Nightmares.” [Anthony Kaufman]
>> Sundance Special Screenings, Native Forum, Midnight, Frontiers
(indieWIRE: 11.28.01) — Sundance isn’t all about the competition and the
premieres, even though that’s what the press, the public, the industry, the
drivers, the waiters, and the ski instructors will tell you. The festival
also features essential, but sometimes neglected sections devoted to Native
America, midnight, experimental, and classic independent cinema. The latter
will be represented by two legends of the indie movement in the Sundance
Collection: John Sayles‘ “Brother from Another Planet,” and John Cassavetes‘ first film, “Shadows.”
2002’s Native Forum sidebar, now a staple of the festival and an example of
its continued commitment to Native cinema, is Sundance’s biggest ever, with
15 titles, heralding mostly from Canada, New Zealand, and the U.S. Notables
in the section are Merita Mita‘s “Hotere,” a portrait of artist Ralph
Hotere, which played at Hawaii’s International Film Fest; Montreal shorts winner “Still Life” from up-and-comer Sima Urale; “One Night the Moon,” from Aussie newcomer Rachel Perkins (“Radiance“); Dennis Jackson‘s claymation Aboriginal children’s story, “Christmas at Wapos Bay“; and Darlene Naponse‘s “Retrace,” who showed at Sundance last year with “Abandoned Houses on the Reservation.” Also worth a look from Spain comes San Sebastian prizewinner and Rotterdam competitor “Caminantes,” from Fernando Leon de Aranoa, who showed his skillful “Barrio” at Sundance in ’99.
When you’ve had enough important indigenous work, there’s always Park City
at Midnight to help the viewer unwind. From Ludi Boeken‘s “Britney Baby –
One More Time,” a look at one filmmaker’s interview with Britney Spears
look-alike Robert Stephens to “The Pigeon Egg Strategy” director Max
Makowski‘s return to Sundance with “Taboo,” you never know what to expect.
Also included in the section is Asian maven Fruit Chan‘s Venice 2001 entry,
“Hollywood Hong Kong,” Canadian editor and shorts director Michael Dowse‘s “Fubar,” David Velo Stewart‘s Cleveland-set narrative debut feature “HipHopBattle.com: Hip-Hop for Life,” and Ed McKee‘s “May.”
Pushing the aesthetic edge in Park City like no one else are the Frontier
filmmakers; this year’s group are Bill Morrison (with “Decasia“), Russian
auteurist Artur Aristakisjan (with Cannes 2001 Directors Fortnight entry, “A Place on Earth“), John T. Caldwell (present with “Rancho California,” a document of the hundreds of farm labor camps that exist in Southern
California suburbs), and video game writer J.T. Petty (with Nantucket Film
Festival premiere short “Soft for Digging“).
There will also be two special screenings at the event, Miramax‘s “Texas,” a
documentary about Russell Crowe‘s band, directed by a person or thing known
as Circumstance and John Zarisky‘s “Ski Bums.” The festival will also screen NHK films, named for the Japanese company which provides production grants in association with Sundance: Yasue Nobusawa “Go Heat Man!” and Mori Junichi‘s “Laundry.” [Anthony Kaufman]
>> ThinkFilm to Launch Three-Film Slate at Sundance 2002
(indieWIRE: 11.28.01) — Perfectly timed to the release of the lineup for
the 2002 Sundance Film Festival is the announcement by ThinkFilm of its
first three film acquisitions, all Sundance entries. The company’s launch at
Sundance will precede the United States theatrical debut of its inaugural
slate of pictures early in 2002.
President Jeff Sackman and Head of U.S. Distribution Mark Urman, veterans of Sundance in part from their days together at Lions Gate, have nabbed North American rights to music video director Peter Care‘s “The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys.” The film had been scheduled to screen at Sundance 2001, but was
pulled; it will have its world premiere at the Festival in January. Produced
by Jodie Foster, the movie features Foster, Kieran Culkin, Jena Malone, Emile Hirsch and Vincent D’Onofrio. It is described in the Sundance lineup announcement as, “the story of a group of junior high school friends who are caught drawing an obscene comic book and who, in turn, plan a heist that will outdo all their previous stunts and make them local legends in the process.”
ThinkFilm also nabbed the U.S. rights to Bart Freundlich‘s “World Traveler,” which had its world premiere at the 2001 Toronto International Film
Festival. The movie is described by Sundance as the story of “an architect
[who] simply walks out of his life, leaving his wife and child. He hits the
road and encounters a cast of characters that make him realize the
importance of family.” It features Billy Crudup and Julianne Moore, along
with Karen Allen, David Keith, Mary McCormack, Cleavant Derricks, James LeGros, and Liane Balaban.
Finally, the company recently acquired the U.S. rights to Laurent Cantet‘s
“Time Out” (L’Emploi Du Temps),” an acclaimed new French-language film from
the director of “Human Resources.” It debuted at the Venice Film Festival
where it won the special “Lion of the Year” award. The picture is described
by Sundance as, “The story of a man’s attempt to lead a double life in an
attempt to free himself from financial and social traps. His ideal life ends
up a tense tangle of lies and betrayal.”
The company announced that it intends to unveil all three movies after the
festival, later in the Winter or early in their Spring, following screenings
at other festivals. [Eugene Hernandez]