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PARK CITY ’07 DAILY DISPATCH | Sundance/NHK Pick Pix, Glass Brings “This American Life” to TV, and M

PARK CITY '07 DAILY DISPATCH | Sundance/NHK Pick Pix, Glass Brings "This American Life" to TV, and M

At a late afternoon reception on Thursday, the Sundance Institute and NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) announced the four winners of the 2007 Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Awards, selected by an international jury from 12 finalists. The winning filmmakers and projects are: Lucia Cedron for “Agnus Dei” from Latin America; Caran Hartsfield for “Bury Me Standing” from the United States; Tomoko Kana for “Two By The River” from Japan; and Dagur Kari for “The Good Heart” from Europe.

These annual awards were created eleven years ago to “honor and support visionary film directors from four global regions (Europe, Latin America, the United States, and Japan) in realizing their next projects.” Each director receives a $10,000 award as well as a guarantee from NHK to purchase the Japanese TV broadcast rights upon completion of their film. Sundance staff will work closely with the recipients throughout the year to provide support and assistance. This year’s honorees will be presented their prizes at the Sundance Film Festival awards ceremony on Saturday night.

“Agnus Dei” (Argentina) is a drama about a woman’s grandfather who is kidnapped for ransom during the crime wave that took place during Argentina’s economic crisis of 2002, while “The Good Heart” (Iceland) follows the story of an ailing bar owner and a young man recovering from a suicide attempt who become friends during their stay in hospital. “Two By The River” (Japan) is the story of an elderly man who has an increasingly hard time caring for his infirm wife until finally, with only memories of their life together to offer solace, he feels compelled to make a very difficult choice. And, “Bury Me Standing” (USA) centers on a random act of violence that triggers a change within a bizarre family dynamic, as each member re-examines the ignored, the hidden and the things left unsaid.

“Our winners’ projects represent incredibly unique work by filmmakers from around the world and we are especially proud to be supporting three extraordinary women directors among them this year,” commented Alesia Weston, associate director of the Feature Film Program, International in a statement. Michelle Satter, director, Sundance Institute Feature Film Program added, “The Sundance/ NHK award is part of the Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program which provides year-round creative and strategic support to U.S. and international filmmakers. We are thrilled by the vision and diversity of the winning directors.” [Brian Brooks]

“The Devil Came on Horseback” Co-Director Annie Sundberg interviews “This American Life” host Ira Glass. Photo by Scott Solary.

Radio on the TV

After years of planning and a few false starts, Ira Glass‘ popular public radio program “This American Life” is finally coming to television. The documentary series will premiere on Showtime this Spring and will undoubtedly lure Glass’ loyal listeners who currently have him atop the podcast download rankings on iTunes. Glass, series director Chris Wilcha, and DP Adam Beckman were in Park City yesterday for a special event at the Sundance Film Festival, screening segments from the new series and talking about adapting the radio show for television.

Holding a pair of iPods connected to the sound system at the Prospector Theater, Glass demonstrated how he melds audio clips, music and his own voice as a way of underscoring the challenges of adapting Glass’s signature style to TV.

“We wanted to find a way to show that Ira was bringing people together through the story,” explained Adam Beckman, “The camera had to be the benevolent guide that Ira is.”

As director Chris Wilcha explained, “We thought and talked a lot about what it was we loved about the show…the voices and music. One of the simple commitments for us was that the photography had to have the same beauty.”

A key issue was the role of the omnipresent narrator, a crucial aspect of the radio program that proved to be a challenge for Glass and the filmmakers. “One of the things that we struggled with was what to do with you,” Chris Wilcha said, turning to look at Glass. The group considered various options, from a faceless voiceover, to on-camera green screens. In the end, Glass is seen on air in a rather creative way, behind a mobile desk that travels to the locales of the various segments.

“Ira bought it, and so did the network,” Wilcha beamed, “Much to my surprise… thank you Showtime!” [Eugene Hernandez]

iW Video Link: Ira Glass, interviewed by “Devil Came on Horseback” co-director Annie Sundberg, talks about the Showtime series in indieWIRE’s latest video episode, which will be posted later this evening.

Inside indieWIRE On the Scene: Park City

PARK CITY ’07 SLAMDANCE NOTEBOOK | Moving to a New Level with Some Quirks Along the Way

Michael Lerman cover the 2007 Slamdance Film Festival, where he reports that “the shining moment of the narrative competition selection is Baran bo Odar’s “Under the Sun”. This German featurette follows a young boy and his weekend vacation to his aunt’s house where he develops a sexual fascination with his older cousin while simultaneously tormented by nightmares of being attacked by his neighbor’s dogs a few years prior.”

REVIEW | Romeo and Juliet, Only Nuttier: Dan Klores’ “Crazy Love”

Steve Ramos reviews“Crazy Love,” which was directed by Dan Klores and is screening in Sundance’s Documentary Competition category. “The fact that their story made newspaper headlines for many years is clear in the first minutes of Klores’ rollicking film, his finest effort yet. Despite the sadness, crimes and terrible actions, the story of Burt and Linda is the best time at Sundance.”

REVIEW | Indian Job: Chris Smith Works Quiet Wonders with “The Pool”

Anthony Kaufman reviewsThe Pool,” which was directed by Chris Smith and is screening in Sundance’s Dramatic Competition category. “‘The Pool’ is an admirable continuation of Smith’s interests in the social conditions that define us, and the desire to transcend them.”

REVIEW | Drowned Man: Sterlin Harjo’s “Four Sheets to the Wind”

Susan Gerhard reviewsFour Sheets to the Wind,” which was directed by Sterlin Harjo and is screening in Sundance’s Dramatic Competition category. “‘Four Sheets to the Wind’ is an identity film with a lower-case ‘i'”, she writes. “It seeks, and sometimes finds, universal emotional appeal within a story that’s rich in regionalism.”

INTERVIEW | Donal MacIntyre: “The head of the Noonan crime family casually told me that a known hit-man had been offered a contract to kill me.”

The Sundance World Documentary Competition director of “A Very British Gangster” (Donal MacIntyre) discusses his background in investigative reporting, and what fueled his desire to make this project in his interview in today’s indieWIRE.

INTERVIEW | Mitchell Lichtenstein: “It became clear very quickly that — mainly because of the outrageous premise — no company was going to help us make ‘Teeth'”.

The Sundance Dramatic Competition director of “Teeth” (Mitchell Lichtenstein) talks about what helps his writing and directing, and how his story grew out of a “what if…” premise in his interview in today’s indieWIRE.

INTERVIEW | Jason Kohn: “I really thought of ‘Manda Bala’ as a non-fiction ‘RoboCop’ depicting a very real broken and violent society.”

The Sundance Documentary Competition director of “Manda Bala” (Jason Kohn) describes the hardest part of making “Manda Bala,” why he treats non-fiction subjects with the same amount of care as fictional subjects, and his definition of independent filmmaking in his interview in today’s indieWIRE.

INTERVIEW | David Sington: “At the end of 90 minutes the audience does feel it really knows these remarkable men.”

The Sundance World Documentary Competition director of “In The Shadow of the Moon” (David Sington talks about his favorite aspect of filmmaking, and why finding astronauts to interview was the biggest challenge during production 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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