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PARK CITY ’07 DAILY DISPATCH | Doc Deals Dominate Sundance So Far

PARK CITY '07 DAILY DISPATCH | Doc Deals Dominate Sundance So Far

Among the first deals to emerge from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Magnolia Pictures will likely make a pact for Dan Klores‘ doc “Crazy Love,” which had its world premiere in Park City on Friday evening. Though the film was rumored to have been screened for some buyers prior to the festival’s opening, in addition to a scheduled press and industry screening earlier on Friday, a few distributors sent reps to the official public showing last night and the screening was met with strong applause. Magnolia is the company most likely to score the “Crazy Love” deal, on the heels of what has been a robust start for documentaries at this year’s Sundance.

The doc dealmaking began well ahead of the festival with ThinkFilm announcing their early involvement in Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine‘s “War/Dance” as well as Robinson Devor‘s “Zoo,” both of which are in this year’s doc competition line-up here at Sundance. Also pre-fest, A&E announced a TV rights partnership for Amir Bar-Lev‘s doc competition film “My Kid Could Paint That” and the company is looking to sell the film theatrically at Sundance. Meanwhile, Sundance Channel took television rights for Jennifer Fox‘s “Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman,” which is having its North American debut at Sundance this week and Laura Dunn‘s “The Unforeseen,” screening in the Spectrum section.

If Friday night’s Sundance screening of “Crazy Love” is any indication of how audiences will take to the film, the New York-based distributor should have a winner. The audience let out audible gasps at several moments during the film, which recalls the dangerously obsessive “love story” between New Yorkers Burt Pugach and Linda Ross that spanned decades and riveted the press with their wildly sensational ups and downs.

“Crazy Love” documentary subjects Burt Pugach and Linda Riss. Image courtesy of the Sundance Institute.

“At first I figured [the film] was just a fluke and nothing would come of it,” commented Miss Riss at the post-screening Q&A. “I figured it would die like things do, but it didn’t.”

“It’s a story about overcoming terrible adversity…,” said Burt Pugach about the tumultuous life he has shared with Ms. Riss. “I had a horrible night the night I first saw it, seeing the enormity of harm I caused, but Klores [told the story] with great artistry.”

Documentaries are solidly in the spotlight at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Brett Morgen‘s hybrid doc “Chicago 10” opened the festival this year and is eyeing buyer response after a number of screenings and Robert Redford touted the role of non-fiction film at the festival.

“We really are making a statement about what we feel about the importance of documentary,” Redford said during a press conference earlier this week, reflecting on the festival’s rare decision to open its event with a documentary. He noted how “entertaining a sharp-edged truth can be” and also singled out the educational nature of such work.

Inside indieWIRE On the Scene: Park City

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Anthony Kaufman reviews the film “Rocket Science,” which is screening in Sundance’s Dramatic Competition in today’s indieWIRE. He finds that the film “bristles with sharply written dialogue, a fresh-faced cast and an offbeat tone somewhere between Wes Anderson, Alexander Payne and ’80s John Cusack movies.”

REVIEW | Quiet Anger: David Gordon Green’s “Snow Angels”

Steve Ramos reviews David Gordon Green’s latest film, Snow Angels, which is screening in Sundance’s Dramatic Competition. Ramos applauds Green’s “bravery for tackling unique storytelling” and notes that “the undeniable truth of Green’s filmmaking is that there is no ambivalence about his movies.”

INTERVIEW | Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman: “I felt that the words ‘holocaust’ and ‘forgotten’ should never be in the same sentence…”

The Sundance Documentary Competition directors of “Nanking” (Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman) talk about why they wanted to avoid making a typical historical documentary, why several crew members quit the project, and the challenges of weaving a storyline with separate and stark points of view in their interview in today’s indieWIRE.

INTERVIEW | Pernille Rose Gronkjaer: “I have always been fascinated by strong old people with a good strong character.”

The Sundance World Documentary Competition director of “The Monastery: Mr. Vig and the Nun” (Pernille Rose Gronkjaer) discusses why she is fascinated with old people, the challenges of beginning production on her own, and her unique approach to making this film in her interview in today’s indieWIRE.

INTERVIEW | Sterlin Harjo: “I wanted to make a film about Indian characters that suffer through the things that all humans do.”

The Sundance Dramatic Competition director of “Four Sheets to the Wind” (Sterlin Harjo) talks about how his project evolved from a “love letter of a film” to something much bigger, and what it was like to bring an LA crew to Oklahoma in his interview in today’s indieWIRE.

INTERVIEW | Taika Waititi: “On one hand this is an art film with funny moments, on the other it is a romantic comedy with a soul and no stars attached.”

The Sundance World Dramatic Competition director of “Eagle vs. Shark” (Taika Waititi) discusses how the idea for his unique film came together, the people that really make up his cast, and his transition from acting to directing in his interview in today’s indieWIRE.

Get the latest coverage of Park City ’07 in indieWIRE’s special section here at indieWIRE.com

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