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Film Festival News and Reviews: Sundance, Cannes and more

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    PARK CITY '08 REVIEW | Bittersweet Dreams: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's "Sugar"

    No one-hit wonders, "Half Nelson" writer-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck have created another stunning, subtle achievement with "Sugar," a deeply resonant story about a Dominican baseball talent recruited for America's minor leagues. If "Half Nelson" showed off the duo's skillful attention to ch...

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    PARK CITY '08 DISPATCH | Buying Heats Up At Sundance; 3 Films Quickly Nabbed As Insiders Ponder The

    Way back in October, sellers began speculating that with the looming Writer's Guild strike, this year's Sundance Film Festival would see booming business. For months, buyers, sellers, and journalists set the stage: narrative films would catch fire as the strike continued and docs would face tough times in the wake of a bad year at the box office. At Sundance Film Festival industry parties on Monday, a number of buyers and sellers alike seemed genuinely surprised that Sundance '08 hasn't followed the approved script and a narrower roster of narrative films than expected were in play by the festival's midpoint. But, late Monday, many seemed con...

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    PARK CITY '08 NOTEBOOK | Docs Shine at Sundance; "Teen," "Polanski," and "Myths" Among Hyped Titles

    The buying frenzy that has engulfed a number of nonfiction films at Sundance 2008 is all the more remarkable for the fact that 'A,' everyone was predicting a hands-off approach to docs after a lackluster 2007 for theatrical documentary and 'B,' not a single narrative film -- as of this writing early on Tuesday -- had landed a distribution deal. While it's a well-worn idiom that the Documentary Competition lineup at Sundance is usually superior to the Dramatic Competition, that gulf feels especially profound this year. In fact, a number of industry insiders have been saying that many of the nonfiction titles in the Slamdance lineup are superio...

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    PARK CITY '08 2:25 a.m. | Pix Most LIkely to Click: "Hamlet 2," "Teen," "Henry Poole"

    Buzz from the annual Cinetic party... Cinetic's John Sloss, "American Teen" director Nanette Burstein, A&E Indie Film's Molly Thompson and others huddled upstairs at Zoom on Monday night. A deal for the doc, being brokered by Cinetic and CAA, is expected on Tuesday. Meanwhile, attendees buzzed about...

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    PARK CITY '08 REVIEW | Pretty Vacant: Rawson Marshall Thurber's "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh"

    Special performance awards are common at the Sundance Film Festival and here's an idea for this year's jury: Best Undressing - Sienna Miller in "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh." As Jane, the arty beauty at the core of a confused love triangle between her thug boyfriend Cleveland (Peter Sarsgaard) and their new friend Art (Jon Foster), Miller flashes a toothy smile, freckly cheeks and strawberry blonde hair. She's the type of woman men die to have, the key plot point in writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber's "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh," premiering in dramatic competition at Sundance. "Pittsburgh" is an off-target, surprisingly weightless ada...

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    PARK CITY '08 REVIEW | A Dazzling Journey: Alex Rivera's "Sleep Dealer"

    True originality and artistic verve push filmmaker Alex Rivera's future drama "Sleep Dealer," above other films in Sundance's dramatic competition. Comparisons to popular sci-fi fare like "The Matrix" are understandable but "Sleep Dealer" has more in common with the utopian politics of Fritz Lang's silent epic "Metropolis." Rivera is not content to simply dazzle with "Sleep Dealer," although he and his crew have crafted the most beautiful of films. "Sleep Dealer" is a film with lofty dramatic aspirations, an ambitious visual palette and a folksy heart. To their credit, Rivera and co-writer David Riker have come up with something unique and ye...

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    PARK CITY '08 NOTEBOOK | Slamdance Offers Refreshing Alternative: "Paranormal"; "Fix"; "Project", "T

    Compact in terms of programming and scale, the Slamdance Film Festival offers a refreshing grassroots alternative to the Sundance Film Festival's glamour. This year's program includes several markedly similar attempts to tell fictional stories within a documentary framework. These aren't lighthearte...

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    Reuters: Emily Blunt works double shift at Sundance

    British actress Emily Blunt wants nothing better than to laze around on the couch, but at the Sundance Film Festival she is working double time to promote two movies in which she plays a pothead and a publicist. Mary Milliken reports.

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    PARK CITY '08 DISPATCH | Docs Continue to Stir Sundance: "Teen," "Water," "I.O.U.S.A."

    There's no question that documentaries have dominated the first weekend of the Sundance Film Festival; critically and business-wise, docs seem to be stirring the most talk. "No fiction films have sold yet?" one leading independent film producer emailed indieWIRE this morning, "That is crazy." While later, the head of a leading distribution outlet -- chatting with iW -- noted that documentaries and international narrative films have been the best of Sundance so far, while American dramatic features are lagging behind. Insiders are watching to see if the tide turns for narrative features in the dramatic competition and Spectrum sections of Sund...

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    PARK CITY '08 10:51 a.m. | "Polanski" & HBO?; Buzz Docs: "Teen," "Secrecy," "Recruit" Closing In

    Docs remain the hot on day four of Sundance... Marina Zenovich's "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired" seems likely to land at HBO, according to insiders, but contacted this morning HBO said that nothing is confirmed yet. Following an international deal with The Weinstein Company, HBO's high six-figure offer tops a combined ThinkFilm/History Channel/Netflix proposed pact, in a deal being brokered by Submarine and Cinetic. A theatrical run for the film is being considered but indieWIRE is awaiting more details from any official annoncement. Warner Independent Pictures and Roadside Attractions were also apparently in the running for the Polanski...

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