Two especially intriguing mysteries at this year’s Sundance are the arrival of A24 and Picturehouse. A24, co-founded by Oscilloscope Laboratories’ David Fenkel, grabbed rights to Sally Potter’s “Ginger and Rosa” out of Toronto and Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring” earlier this week. Depending on whom you ask, the new company is either gunning to compete with arthouse heavy hitters SPC, TWC and Searchlight; in the market for the wide-release projects Open Road and FilmDistrict target; or a hybrid that retains the flexibility of IFC, Magonlia and RADiUS. Regardless, Fenkel is aiming bigger than the fare he was able to deliver through Oscilloscope, and sellers expect A24 to be hungry in Park City.
And there may be no greater sign of the indie industry’s rebound than the reboot of Picturehouse, Bob and Jeanne Berney’s art shop that turned out “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “La vie en rose” before being shuttered in 2008. This time, they’re heading into Sundance with renewed energy and an output deal with Netflix.
The Weinstein Co. and Fox Searchlight laid low throughout Toronto, so they are likely to be active, as well as Cinedigm, which began ramping up its buys there. Focus snatched up “The Place Beyond the Pines” at Toronto, so it may be even more hesitant than usual at Sundance this year. But the roster of active distributors has widened and deepened to such an extent that the quantity of pick-ups out of the festival is likely to continue growing.
“It will be an active market,” says Lacy.
Among the hottest available titles are Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s writing-directing debut “Don Jon’s Addiction,” Lynn Shelton’s “Touchy Feely,” Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s comedy “The Way, Way Back,” David Gordon Green’s “Prince Avalanche,” James Ponsoldt’s “The Spectacular Now,” John Krokidas’ “Kill Your Darlings” and David Lowery’s “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” which is at the top of many players’ must-see lists. The horror anthology “S-VHS” is sure to find a home, as is “Lovelace,” which even if critically drubbed will find a willing buyer who can spin its titillating content to pleasant grosses on VOD.
As with last year’s program, there is also an incredible cross-section of work from women directors telling female-centric stories that could end up breaking out: Liz W. Garcia’s “The Lifeguard,” Hannah Fidell’s “A Teacher,” Naomi Foner’s “Very Good Girls,” Stacey Passon’s “Concussion,” Francesca Gregorini’s “Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes,” Jill Soloway’s “Afternoon Delight,” Jerusha Hess’s “Austenland,” Lake Bell’s “In a World…,” Alicia Scherson’s “The Future” and Eliza Hittman’s “It Felt Like Love.”
Along with other strong, original filmmakers such as Drake Doremus (“Breathe In), Matthew Porterfield (“I Used to Be Darker”), Andrew Bujalksi (“Computer Chess”), Sebastian Silva (“Magic Magic,” “Crystal Fairy”) and Calvin Lee Reeder (“The Rambler”) the Sundance cupboard is overstocked and ready to deliver some of the freshest voices in cinema throughout the year.