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Film Festival News and Reviews: Sundance, Cannes and more

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    iW NEWS | "The New Year Parade," "Song Sung Blue" Lead Slamdance's Awards

    The 14th annual Slamdance Film Festival has announced 15 film and screenplay prize winners in three categories who will share more than $200,000 in cash and prizes, plus, for one winner, guaranteed production of a feature film. The just-concluded festival received over 3,500 submissions from 25 countries for less than 100 programming slots. Notable winners include Tom Quinn's "The New Year Parade," which was awarded the Grand Jury Award for best narrative feature, and Greg Kohs' "Song Sung Blue," which won the Grand Jury Award for best documentary feature. Audience awards were given to Ryan Piotrowicz's "The Project" in the narrative feature...

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    PARK CITY '08 DISPATCH | Name Actors Not Needed: "Baghead," "Ballast," "Momma's Man" Shine in Park C

    Back in 2005 at the Sundance Film Festival, The Duplass Brothers' "The Puffy Chair" debuted rather quietly here in Park City. At the time, the low-budget indie reminded many of the sort of sleeper that specialty companies would have quickly plucked from the festival a few years earlier, yet it took ...

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    iW NEWS | "Sleep Dealer" Takes Sundance Prize

    The 2008 Sundance Film Festival announced that Alex Rivera's "Sleep Dealer" is the winner of this year's Alfred P. Sloan Prize. The prize carries a $20,000 cash award for the filmmakers, and is presented to "an outstanding feature film focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a sci...

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    PARK CITY '08 REVIEW | Up, Up and Away: Paul Schneider's "Pretty Bird"

    Smart, sharp and lovely to watch, "Pretty Bird," premiering in dramatic competition at the Sundance Film Festival, is all one can hope for from an actor making the transition to feature filmmaking. Paul Schneider may not be a household name due to his starring role in another Sundance film, David Gordon Green's 2003 romance "All the Real Girls," or supporting roles in studio films "Elizabethtown," "The Family Stone" and "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford." But by stepping behind the camera, writing and directing the lively huckster tale "Pretty Bird," Schneider enters a new chapter in his film career, one of promise, ...

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    PARK CITY '08 NOTEBOOK | Under Construction: The Nonfiction New Wave Takes Root at Sundance

    At the end of a recent blog posting, Premiere film critic Glenn Kenny wondered aloud about some of the documentaries he'd seen at the Sundance Film Festival. Summing up his thoughts on Nanette Burstein's hit "American Teen" Kenny wrote "Burstein's trim, fast-moving film utilizes tricks and technique...

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    PARK CITY '08 REVIEW | Hope Despite A Cold Despair: Tom Hines's "Chronic Town"

    A constant haze of icy mist and cigarette smoke brings director Tom Hines' emotionally raw relationship drama "Chronic Town" beautiful grimness and undeniable power. Yet, just as the sliver of a moon hanging over cold, harsh Fairbanks, Alaska is a sign of welcome beauty, there's also a sliver of hop...

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    PARK CITY '08 DISPATCH | Queer Cinema Then and Now at Sundance '08

    A rather staggering forty-four films with either GLBT themes or a GLBT director are screening at this year's Sundance Film Festival, including new works from directors Tom Kalin ("Savage Grace"), Isaac Julien's "Derek"), Bruce LaBruce ("Otto; Or Up With Dead People"), producer Christine Vachon, as well as a screening of Gregg Araki's remastered "The Living End." The films inspired a reunion of sorts at this year's festival, anchored on Saturday night with a dinner celebrating the group of queer films. In remarks during dinner B. Ruby Rich, who coined the term "New Queer Cinema" at a Sundance panel in 1992, emotionally proclaimed the room as "...

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    iW NEWS | Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Awards Winners Announced

    The Sundance Institute and NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) announced the winners of the 2008 Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Awards. The four winners were selected from 12 finalists by an international jury which included Gregg Araki, Jeremy Pikser, Erin Cressida Wilson, Martin Rejtman, Andrucha Waddington, Shekhar Kapur and Anand Tucker. The winners were Alejandro Fernandez for "Huacho," Braden King for "Here," Aiko Nagastu for "Apoptosis" and Radu Jude for "The Happiest Girl in the World." These annual awards were created in 1996 to honor and support visionary film directors from four global regions (Europe, Latin America, the Un...

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    PARK CITY '08 SHORTS COLUMN | International Shorts and Five-Minute-or-Less Flicks Dominate Sundance

    In 2007, the Sundance Film Festival programmed 28 international short films. This year, a record number of 42 international shorts make up the 2008 Sundance Film Festival roster. While world cinema representation has expanded, running time of the 83 official short film selections has shrunk, with 25% clocking in at five minutes or less. And with only eight films exceeding the twenty-minute mark, it's clear that extremely-short shorts are enjoying a comeback in Park City. "I've always felt that anyone who is truly interested in independent film should pay attention to shorts," notes Sundance founder Robert Redford in this year's festival ca...

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    PARK CITY '08 DISPATCH | Immigration and Water Make a Sundance Splash

    Filmmakers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck returned this week to the very same podium at the Sundance Film Festival's Racquet Club Theater where two years ago they first introduced their acclaimed "Half Nelson." Boden and Fleck's latest film, "Sugar," which had its world premiere Monday at the venue, is the noble immigrant story of Miguel Santos, played by Algenis Perez Soto, an aspiring Dominican baseball player who hopes to succeed in the major leagues in the U.S. At 19, he receives a break, winning a place in the minor leagues with a team in Iowa. But, after initial success, his pitching begins to falter and he starts to question his life's ambi...

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