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Sundance 2008.5: Death or Glory

Sundance 2008.5: Death or Glory

Well, so far, it seems the documentary selection at Sundance is what has people talking. American Teen is a certified festival hit, earning raves from the public, press, and distributors. Only time will tell if the film will manage the first major theatrical deal at Sundance 2008. Meanwhile, doc entries such as Anvil!, Made in America, Trouble the Water and Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, have kept people satisfied amid the bitter cold weather. Personally, I’m in love with Margaret Brown’s documentary The Order of Myths. Full disclosure: Margaret is a friend and fellow Austinite and one of my bosses, Louis Black, is an associate producer on the film. That said, I was blown away, and it sounds like I’m not alone. Margaret’s portrait of the disturbing rituals surrounding Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama is a stirring examination of race relations in modern America. Plus, it’s top-notch filmmaking.

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(SXSW co-founder Louis Black, left, poses with The Order of Myths director Margaret Brown following the film’s world premiere on Saturday afternoon. Everyone is so proud of Margaret, and her long line of friends and supporters congratulated her after the packed Prospector screening.)

It was appropriate, then, that Margaret participated in Sunday’s announcement of nominees for the first annual Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking. Like I said, it’s been a big weekend for documentaries at Sundance. Who knows if things will change after the weekend (that’s what happened at Sundance 2007), but most of the fiction features seem to have fallen on deaf ears, except for new titles such as Ballast and The Wackness. I’m very eager to see how the next few days play out, as original and impressive features like Goliath, Baghead, and Anywhere, USA unspool How will the second half of Sundance play out? More on that, as it happens. Here are some new pics from this weekend:

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(At the reception announcing the nominees for the Cinema Eye doc awards, are: doc filmmaker/blogger AJ Schnack, Toronto Film Festival doc programmer Thom Powers, and once again, Margaret Brown.)

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(Three of Sundance’s finest: programmers Trevor Groth, Mike Plante, and John Nein, hanging out at the annual documentary filmmakers’ reception at New Frontier.)

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(Also at the Sundance documentary reception, I ran into Trouble the Water cinematographer PJ Raval, right, and he introduced me to Glenfield Payne, who did sound on the acclaimed doc.)

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(At the Cinema Eye reception, I ran into shorts filmmakers Matthew Lessner and Leah Meyerhoff. Lessner’s terrific short, By Modern Measure, screened at SXSW 2007 and is in the shorts lineup at Sundance this year. Earlier in the day, Leah and I were on a Slamdance panel together, discussing social networking for filmmakers.)

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(Over at the Treasure Moutain Inn, aka Slamdance HQ, I ran into filmmaker Tom Quinn, who directed the fantastic feature film, The New Year Parade. Its screening in competition at Slamdance this year.)

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(On Sunday night, the San Francisco Film Society held its annual soiree on Main Street. That’s where I ran into fellow fest programmers Basil Tsiokos of NewFest, Bill Guentzler of the Cleveland Film Festival, and Brian Gordon of the Nashville Film Festival.)

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(Enjoying the fun American Teen party this weekend, we found Cactus Three’s Julie Goldman and Krysanne Katsoolis, as well as AJ Schnack and former A&E exec but current Gucci Doc Fund chief Ryan Harrington.)

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