At their annual retreat, the traditional internal kick-off for the big Sundance Film Festival this January, programmer Charlie Reff was able to take some
time to talk with me about NEXT FEST.
My colleague Carlos Aguilar has already written about this big L.A. event here, so I will cover
other areas and fill in on the music components of the film program.
Each film is its own event so that audiences will go to one film and not necessarily all films. Though the series package is selling well, the individual
ticket sales are significant not only selling out but in bringing in new audiences. Getting L.A. people’s attention is not an easy task, but the pairing of
movies and music in the unique way NEXT is creating, plus the spectacular venue, the Theatre at the ACE Hotel, one of L.A.’s most lavish and historic film
venues, downtown at 9th and Broadway, will also bring out new audiences who care about preservation of our art deco landmarks.
This year more than half the films that showed in Sundance came out quickly theatrically this spring and summer followed by their VOD releases. If they did
not get released theatrically then they were eligible to be chosen for NEXT if they were sufficiently “renegade” in the best spirit of indie filmmakers,
like past films “Obvious Child”, “Compliance”, “Appropriate Behavior”, “Tangerine” and “Escape from Tomorrow”.
Out of the six films chosen for the unconventional and forward thinking of their narrative styles – including one doc — there is a full range of
experience to be had.
Four films showing in the evening are paired with live musical acts which somehow fit the film in mood or in ideas and are new and next in film and music.
In addition there will be three world premiere music videos and a full-body, mind-blowing virtual reality flight simulator, Birdly which was shown
this past Sundance in the New Frontier exhibition. You can experience being a bird from a first-person perspective through a full-body virtual reality set
up….it’s free, in the mezzanine of The Theatre of the Ace Hotel and available through an onsite waitlist system.
The world premiere music videos are Superhumanoid’s music video for “Anxious in Venice”,
premiering Friday along with Noah Baumbach’s out of the mold “Mistress America” (Fox Searchlight) followed by a live performance by Sky Ferreira.Health’s album trailer for “Death Magic” as part of Saturday evening’s screening of “ Entertainment“ (Magnolia Releasing) starring Michael Cera will be followed by a solo performance
by Sharon Van Etten. “Death Magic” is directed by acclaimed graphic designer, title
designer, and editor Pablo Ferro, who has worked alongside some of the
most respected filmmakers of all time including Stanley Kubrick, Hal Ashby and Tim Burton. An experimental short film by Eddie Alcazar with soundtrack by Flying Lotus, “FUCKKKYOUUU”, will premiere Sunday at the “Turbo Kid” (Epic Pictures Releasing) screening with a back-to-back DJ battle between Neon Indian and Toro Y Moi.
Pairing music audiences with movie audiences aims to bring new awareness of new art canvasses to people who do not have a lot of crossover knowledge of
film on one hand or of music on the other. Musicians often want to make movies and both they and filmmakers have had the carpets pulled out from under them
and are struggling to find their way amidst digitization. It seems self-evident that fimmakers appreciate music since soundtracks and even the most
incidental music in a film can make or break it. By pairing “Mistress America” with Sky Ferreira, Charlie is sure Sky’s fans will love “Mistress America”
which will result in new discussions and will perhaps begin to define how to make sense of movies to music audiences. The cross-pollination of audiences
The two daytime films, “Cronies” by Michael Larnell and “Finders Keepers” will be followed by conversations, paired respectively with Robert Townsend, one of the Godfathers of the Independent Film World, actor, writer,
director and producer of first of “Hollywood Shuffle” followed by many other films; and Saturday’s “Finders Keepers” directors Bryan Carberry and Clay
Tweel with Thomas Middletich (“Silicon Valley” ) along with the film’s subject John Wood himself! Speakers were chosen by the filmmakers who were told to
ask who was influential them them and who would they want to see their film.
Among the filmmakers, cast and musicians expected to attend Sundance NEXT FEST are Rick Alverson, Noah Baumbach, Bryan Carberry, Munro Chambers, Greta
Gerwig, HEALTH, Tim Heidecker, Lola Kirke, Michael Larnell, François Simard, Superhumanoids, Gregg Turkington, Clay Tweel, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl
Attendance is expected to be around 10,000 judging by lat year’s numbers. Last year all three film with music event was sold out. The opening screening in
the Hollywood Forever Cemetery was huge and the screenings over three days had about 1,000 at each event.
NEXT is not just a film festival; it is an EVENT.
Sundance NEXT FEST is supported by Principal Sponsors – Acura and Adobe; Major Sponsor – Kickstarter; Media Sponsor – KCRW; and Supporting Sponsors –
Beachside Films, Dolby, FilmL.A., Inc., ShopHouse, Shudder, Skullcandy®, Southwest Airlines, Stella Artois®, The Theatre at Ace Hotel and the Utah Film
Commission. As part of their presence at the festival, Adobe and Kickstarter will host panels open to the public on Saturday and Sunday afternoons;
Below is the full program in detail. Even more details and tickets ($15-25) now on sale can be found at sundance.org/next.
Friday, August 7, 8:00 p.m.
“Anxious in Venice”
(Band: Superhumanoids, Director: Taylor Cohen) — It’s 4:37 a.m. and someone straps a camera to your chest. Nearby, your hungover bandmate sips gas station
coffee and the director yells about missing the sunrise. You hate performance music videos but you’re sure this one will be different. Then again, when
you’ve been up all night and are shooting without a permit — you can’t be sure of anything. Welcome to ANXIOUS IN VENICE. Music Video. WORLD PREMIERE
/ U.S.A. (Director: Noah Baumbach, Screenwriters: Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig) — Tracy is a lonely college freshman in New York, having neither the
exciting university experience nor the glamorous metropolitan lifestyle she envisioned. But when she is taken in by her soon-to-be stepsister, Brooke – a
resident of Times Square and adventurous gal about town – she is rescued from her disappointment and seduced by Brooke’s alluringly mad schemes. Cast: Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke. LOS ANGELES PREMIERE
— Sky Ferreira has quickly established herself as one of today’s most exciting new faces in music, film and fashion. She first signed to Capitol Records at
the early age of 15 where she eventually wrote & executive produced her critically acclaimed debut album, Night Time, My Time. As an actress,
she has worked with many independent filmmakers including Eli Roth, Liza Johnson & Matthew Porterfield. Sky is currently recording her highly
anticipated new album, Masochism.
Saturday, August 8, 3:30 p.m.
/ U.S.A. (Directors: Bryan Carberry, Clay Tweel) — Recovering addict and amputee John Wood finds himself in a stranger-than-fiction battle to reclaim his
mummified leg from Southern entrepreneur Shannon Whisnant, who found it in a grill he bought at an auction and believes it, therefore, to be his rightful
property. LOS ANGELES PREMIERE
Followed by a conversation between directors Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel, subject John Wood and
special guests Aubrey Plaza and Thomas Middleditch.
Saturday, August 8, 8:00 p.m.
(Band: HEALTH, Director: Pablo Ferro) — The sun slowly sets; its beauty soundtracked by a serene yet melancholy sound. As the last rays of light slip
behind the clouds, a violent transformation takes place. The music, ever-changing and explosive, creates the imagery… supergraphic and never seen before!
The quick cuts in sync with the music, introduce the emotional range and complexity of HEALTH’S new album DEATH MAGIC. Album Trailer. WORLD PREMIERE
/ U.S.A. (Director: Rick Alverson, Screenwriters: Rick Alverson, Gregg Turkington, Tim Heidecker) — In an attempt to revive his dwindling career and
reunite with his estranged daughter, a broken, aging comedian plays a string of dead-end shows in the California desert. Cast: Gregg Turkington, John C. Reilly, Tye Sheridan, Michael Cera, Amy Seimetz, Lotte Verbeek. LOS ANGELES PREMIERE
Sharon Van Etten
— Singer/songwriter Sharon Van Etten writes from free-flowing emotional honesty and vulnerability, creating a bond with the listener that few contemporary
musicians can match. Following her 2012 break-through Tramp, last year’s follow up Are We There and her new EP I Don’t Want to Let You Down, Van Etten finds herself in full stride, writing, producing and performing.
Sunday, August 9, 3:30 p.m.
/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michael J. Larnell) — Twenty-two-year-old Louis doesn’t know whether his childhood friendship with Jack will last
beyond today. Cast: George Sample III, Zurich Buckner, Brian Kowalski. LOS ANGELES PREMIERE
Followed by a conversation between director Michael J. Larnell and special guest Robert Townsend.
Sunday, August 9, 8:00 p.m.
(Director: Eddie Alcazar, Music: Flying Lotus) — With the ability to travel in time, a lonely girl finds love and comfort by connecting with her past self.
Eventually faced with rejection she struggles with her identity and gender, and as time folds onto itself only one of them can remain. Cast: Jesse Sullivan, Charles Baker. Experimental Short / Music Video. WORLD PREMIERE
/ Canada, New Zealand (Directors and screenwriters: Anouk Whissell, François Simard, Yoann-Karl Whissell) — Set in a post apocalyptic year of 1997, this
nostalgic tribute to ’80s action-adventure films follows an orphaned teenager who goes on an adventure to save his female-robot companion from the hands of
the evil warlord who controls the only water supply. Cast: Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside, Aaron Jeffery, Edwin Wright. LOS ANGELES PREMIERE
Neon Indian (DJ set) B2B Toro Y Moi (DJ set)
— Neon Indian, the brainchild of Alan Palomo, is defined by a unique electro-mangled sound which has attracted fans and opening slots before acts like
Massive Attack, The Flaming Lips, Phoenix and Chromeo. Toro Y Moi, the guise of Chaz Bundick, channels a wide swath of stylistic influences into his
electronics-incorporating music and cites Big Star, Talking Heads and Todd Rundgren as some of his inspirations.