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indieWIRE@Sundance: Rounding Up the Fest

indieWIRE@Sundance: Rounding Up the Fest

The 2010 Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals have come to a close here in Park City, Utah, and indieWIRE has rounded up all our coverage over the course of the fest (and will continue to add articles until the fest ends). Features, reviews, news and interviews are all listed below for your convenience and enjoyment:


10 Things You Want To Know About Joan Rivers
““If you’re doing a documentary,” she said. “Then it should be a documentary. If you want to see everybody ass-kissing you, go watch Bravo.”

From the Sundance Vaults: “Poison” & “Metropolitan,” 20 Years Later
Along with Whit Stillman’s “Metropolitan” (1990) and Hal Ashby’s “Harold and Maude,” “Poison” is one of three archival films screening at this year’s Sundance, part of the festival’s commitment to “safeguarding the tradition of independent cinema”.

Discovery | “Last Train Home” Director Lixin Fan
He edited the 2003 doc, “To Live is Better Than to Die,” a tough look at AIDS in rural China, and on the advice of a friend living in the U.S., they submitted it to Sundance.

“Kids” More Than All Right: Cholodenko Shines At Sundance
The performances are across the board fantastic, and it would not be a surprise if a year from now Bening, Moore and Ruffalo all find themselves in contention for Oscar nominations.

3 from Focus’ Africa First Initiative Screening at Sundance
Africa First is a program in which eligible and participating filmmakers are given the chance to be awarded $10,000 in financing for pre-production, production, and/or post-production on their narrative short film made in continental Africa.

The Doctors Are In: Sundance Ponders New Distribution Solutions
Inspired by an indieWIRE article last fall, the forum featured some 15 panelists speaking to the changing nature of independent film distribution and offering solutions and information for the near future.

Queers, Tears and Cheers: Prop 8 Doc Rallies Sundance Audience
One woman got an intense round of applause as she stood up and admitted that, although she was practicing Mormon, she fully supported same-sex marriage and suggested there was hope for her church.

Kristen Stewart and “The Runaways” Hit Park City
“Very surreal. But in a good way.” That’s how rock icon Joan Jett summed up seeing her story brought to the big screen at the premiere of Floria Sigismondi’s “The Runaways” last night at the Sundance Film Festival.

Lynette Howell: “Are we looking at every option, or are we taking the easy way out?”
Independent producing is not a job you can interview for, nor does anyone really give us a road map.

Duplass Brothers Score at Sundance With Bizarrely Hilarious “Cyrus”
“We came here first in 2003 with a short film called ‘This is John’ that we shot for three dollars in our kitchen in Austin, Texas,” they said. “And now we’re here with this movie. It’s awesome.”

Holofcener Brings Life Experience & Dynamic Words to “Please Give”
Holofcener’s smart and entertaining script deftly combines sass, issues of self-esteem, commitment, body issues and contradicting moral ambiguity, which brings dynamism and sparks to the crowd pleaser.

“happythankyoumoreplease” Is a Sundance Crowd Pleaser
As for Radnor, he appeared to relish the feedback as anyone would at Sundance following a great screening, and he credited his actors for the film’s great play.

James Franco: “I Never Thought I Would Be Playing Allen Ginsberg”
“But I never thought I would be playing Allen Ginsberg. I thought I would be playing one of the other ones but [Epstein and Friedman’s] approach seemed so great and I guess I thought if they have faith that I can do it, I guess I’ll give it a shot.”

In “The Oath,” Poitras Poignantly, Quietly Questions Her Country
Yet, the more you ponder “The Oath,” the clearer its message becomes: America imprisoned a man with little apparent connection to the 9/11 attacks and swiftly released an Al Qaeda recruiter who claims a close connection to Osama bin Laden while driving his taxi in Yemen.

Messy “Hesher” Disappoints in Sundance Debut
Representatives from numerous distributions – from Focus Features to Summit Entertainment – were in attendance, though reaction might suggest a buyer’s frenzy is not on the horizon.

Sundance Shorts: Thirteen Must-See Student Films
Actor-turned-NYU-student James Franco wrote and directed “Herbert White,” a 14-minute rural tale of mystery and deception that officially world premieres in Shorts Program III after previewing at Sundance’s Down and Dirty Los Angeles screening a few months earlier.

Redford & Cooper Eye Future as Sundance Opens
“My films are all about America – my country fascinates me. That’s who I am,” Redford said, “[And] the festival is enormously pleasing and there’s some legacy there I guess, but the most satisfying thing is actually ‘doing it.’”

Into the Future: Anticipating the Good & Bad of Sundance 2010
Confusing times call for desperate measures. Sundance’s programmers, undoubtedly acting with the best of intentions, have provided a whimsical category to help boost the stature of smaller movies less likely to catch the wave of festival buzz.

Sundance Roundtable, Parts 3 & 4: “Who’s the audience?”
“Who’s the audience,” she heard people wonder. “It kind of pisses me off,” she said during a roundtable conversation with a leading group of producers at Sundance ‘09.

Sundance Roundtable, Parts 1 & 2: Movies and Movie Screens, Large and Small
Success earlier in the decade is what hurt smaller independent films later in the decade,” veteran producer and executive Maud Nadler told a group of colleagues last year, during a roundtable at the Sundance Film Festival.


Highs & Lows of Sundance: “Gift Shop,” “GasLand” Lead Critics Poll
As the 2010 Sundance Film Festival closes in on its final weekend, indieWIRE‘s poll of dozens of Park City-present critics and bloggers is quickly making clear the best and worst of this year’s fest.

REVIEW | The Toxic Avenger: Josh Fox’s “GasLand”
osh Fox’s “GasLand” is the paragon of first person activist filmmaking done right.

REVIEW | Drama in Absence: “Winter’s Bone”
An elegant, soft spoken noir, Debra Granik’s “Winter’s Bone” exudes desolation. Adapting Daniel Woodrell’s novel of the same name, Granik simultaneously develops a dreary backwoods environment while situating her layered story of deceit within it.

REVIEW | Cholodenko’s “All Right” with Forward Moving Family Film
Although at times predictable, the movie never loses its forward momentum, mainly due to its precise focus on familial stability.

REVIEW | When Social Media Attack: Arial Schulman and Henry Joost’s “Catfish”
While “Catfish” takes an sensationally engaging twist within the first fifteen minutes, leading to a bizarre and completely unpredictable mystery that practically defies conventional expectations of nonfiction cinema, part of the movie’s underlying appeal comes from its progression of enigmas.

REVIEW | Cinema of Attraction: Derek Cianfrance’s “Blue Valentine”
Gosling and Williams put on some of the best performances of their careers, conveying a series of complex sentiments with subtle movements and gestures.

REVIEW | “Smash His Camera”: Capturing the Phantom of Twentieth-Century Show Business
“Smash His Camera” exposes less about its subject than it first seems; instead, he emphasizes the mythology surrounding Galella’s work.

REVIEW | Almost a Masterpiece: “Four Lions” an Explosive Comedy
Shot with a handheld documentary style, “Four Lions” contains an engine of rapid-fire dialogue reminiscent of last year’s hit British satire, “In the Loop.”

REVIEW | Waititi’s Remarkably Insightful “Boy” Succeeds On Many Levels
Like the British director Shane Meadows, Waititi demonstrates a keen ability to tap into the whims of the adolescent male mind and take them at face value.

REVIEW | Counterculture Fetishization With Familiar Faces: Sundance’s “Howl”
Although “Howl” technically didn’t provide Sundance with its opening night film—it was one of two competition films screened on opening night—it reeks of the stigma associated with the aforementioned slot: Poorly executed, socially relevant counterculture fetishization executed with a few familiar faces.


“Winter’s Bone,” “Restrepo” Lead Sundance Award Winners
Closing its 2010 edition in Park City, the Sundance Film Festival presented its annual awards.

Roadside Warms to “Winter’s Bone”
Roadside Attractions has picked up all North American rights Sundance 2010 U.S. Dramatic Competition feature “Winter’s Bone” by Debra Granik.

IFC Buys Controversial Winterbottom Movie
Michael Winterbottom’s “The Killer Inside Me”, a film that stoked controversy when it debuted here at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this week, has been acquired for U.S. distribution by IFC Films.

UPDATED: Weinstein Deal for “Blue Valentine”
An acclaimed entry from the dramatic competition at the Sundance Film Festival, Derek Cianfrance’s “Blue Valentine,” has been acquired by The Weinstein Company, a film rep confirmed this morning.

Focus Seals “Kids” Deal at Sundance
Nine films, including Sundance 2010 feature “One Too Many Mornings,” have allied with The Film Collaborative, a new non-profit group that aims to provide a range of services, including distribution and social networking services.

UPDATE: New Non-Profit Aims to Rep & Support Indie Films
Nine films, including Sundance 2010 feature “One Too Many Mornings,” have allied with The Film Collaborative, a new non-profit group that aims to provide a range of services, including distribution and social networking services.

Sundance and NHK Announce 2010 Filmmaker Awards
Sundance Institute and NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) announced the winners of the 2010 Sundance / NHK International Filmmakers Awards.

“Drunk History” Leads Sundance Shorts Winners
The Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking was awarded to “Drunk History: Douglass & Lincoln,” directed by Jeremy Konner, written by Derek Waters, and starring Don Cheadle andWill Ferrell.

Sundance Surprise: Banksy’s “Gift Shop”
“‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’ is one of those films that comes along once in a great while, a warped hybrid of reality and self -induced fiction while at the same time a totally entertaining experience,” said John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival, in a statement.

Five Sundance Films, 3 From This Year’s Fest, Coming to YouTube This Week
YouTube, which is sponsoring the Festival’s new NEXT section for lower-budget indie films, reached out to filmmakers in the sidebar and signed non-exclusive revenue share deals with the filmmakers, making their movies available only during the festival for a $3.99 three-day rental price

3 More Sundance Films Set for Immediate VOD Debut
Dubbed, “Direct from the Sundance Film Festival,” the Sundance Selects initiative will make the three films available to 40 million cable households for thirty days, starting on the day that each movie debuts at the festival.


“Snow and Ashes” & “American Jihadist” Top Slamdance
“Slamdance 16 celebrated, as always, the best in independent film and emerging talent,” said Peter Baxter.

DISPATCH FROM SLAMDANCE | Against Contrived Road Movies and Meet-Cute Romanticism
With these low budget features, Slamdance succeeds at demonstrating the capacity for strong cinematic storytelling with an economy of means—the alleged intent of Sundance’s recently launched “NEXT” section.


U.S. Dramatic Competition

Sundance ‘10 | “Blue Valentine” Director Cianfrance On the Film’s 11 Year Road
“I implemented a rigorous process during the preparation and making of the film – everything from writing a manifesto which laid out separate rules to filming each of the two threads of the film to living with the actors in their characters’ home during a hiatus in our production. The goal of this process was to make a film that allowed for surprises and captured fleeting moments with the performers.”

Sundance ‘10 | Drake Doremus Talks “Douchebag”
“I think the biggest challenge was not having a locked script that I was going out to execute. It’s freeing in a way to just go get great stuff but it all has to fit into the story I am telling and it was scary at times knowing I was going out without a safety net.”

Sundance ‘10 | “The Dry Land” Director Ryan Williams Focuses on Authenticity
“After I wrote my script, I asked many soldiers to read it and comment on the authenticity of it. They helped me tremendously in making even the small details feel true to a soldier’s life.”

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Sundance ‘10 | Josh Radnor Steps Behind the Camera for “happythankyoumoreplease”
“P.T. Anderson gives me a lot of courage to go wherever my imagination takes me – I mean, come on: frogs falling from the sky!”

Sundance ‘10 | Kevin Asch Talks “Holy Rollers”
“There was always uncertainty while developing the material but we endlessly researched every point. The film is very nonjudgmental in its approach to the closed culture. We were very explicit to everybody involved about our desire to not exploit the Hassidic community.”

Sundance ‘10 | Zeina Durra Explores Cultural Identity in “Imperialists”
“There are two main things that affect you when you’re related to the Middle East and living outside of it. The first is the threat of being suspected of being some sort of extremist, and thus facing rendition, harassment, the second is the ongoing political instability over there and being affected by war in countries where you have family and friends and the destruction of places you know and love.”

Sundance ‘10 | Poyser Brings Sibling Rivalry in “Lovers of Hate”
“Austin has a very unique, supportive and vibrant film community (I don’t call it an “industry” because that suggests people are making money at it) that I’ve been lucky enough to be part of for pretty much my entire adult life.”

Sundance ‘10 | Director Tanya Hamilton’s “Night Catches Us” Cuts Close to Home
“I hope the experience of this film offers viewers a peek into a world underrepresented on screen—a vision of the American Black Panther Party that I knew and isn’t often shown.”

Sundance ‘10 | Diane Bell’s “Obselidia” Makes Sure Nothing Goes Out of Style
“There are so many challenges every day (and on a microbudget movie much of these have to do with money, or lack thereof), but the biggest one definitely was about faith – having faith in myself and in my instincts, despite not having experience as a film-maker, and keeping faith when the going got tough, as of course it does.”

Sundance ‘10 | “Skateland” Director Anthony Burns on Cutting Up His Film Baby
“We hired the super talented Robert Hoffman to cut our baby into pieces and when he was done blood splatter drenched every inch of the room.”

Sundance ‘10 | Eric Mendelsohn Shoots in Color for “3 Backyards”
“I also had this idea to get microscopic with the camera (intense tight shots of bugs and leaves and such) and to contrast that against high angle shots- wides from overhead, ‘aerial’ shots when the location allowed.”

Sundance ‘10 | “Welcome to the Rileys” Director Jake Scott’s Filmmaking Blood Runs in the Family
“I was appalled at the bizarre ‘currency’ of casting and what a certain actor ‘means,’ especially when we were a smaller project. To me, these were the right actors for the roles and that was that.”

Sundance ‘10 | “Winter’s Bone” Director Debra Granik Keeps It Real
“I’m fascinated by other people’s lives, especially when their circumstances differ a lot from my own. My first camera job was filming workplace safety videos, which involved months of watching and videotaping people doing their jobs.”

U.S. Documentary Competition

Sundance ‘10 | “Bhutto” Producer Duane Baughman on His Portrait of the Fallen Leader
“I had been approached about the possibility of my firm helping Benazir Bhutto regain power, but we obviously never got that far. I knew the minute Benazir was assassinated that the best hope for democracy and stability in Pakistan was gone.”

Sundance ‘10 | Alex Gibney Talks Scandal with Doc Competition Film “CASINO JACK”
“… try telling Congressional representatives or Senators that you would like to talk about the Abramoff scandal. It’s like bringing a flashlight into a dark New York City bathroom – there’s a sudden, desperate skittering sound followed by a deafening silence.”

Sundance ‘10 | Chico Colvard Examines His Troubled Past in “Family Affair”
“I believe that “Family Affair” is a story that will resonate with anyone who’s found themselves making accommodations for a parent that was abusive, neglectful or simply unavailable when they were a child.”

Sundance ‘10 | “GASLAND” Director Josh Fox on Being a One Man Crew
“It’s just the most bizarre thing you can imagine. To see someone light their water on fire right out of the sink, it just turns the world upside down.”

Sundance ‘10 | Tamra Davis Revisits the Life of Jean-Michel Basquiat
“It was hard for me to keep myself so open emotionally and make the movie from my heart. That was my challenge in coming up with the film.”

Sundance ‘10 | Stern & Sundberg Take On “Joan Rivers” Doc
“Joan Rivers’ persona has been exploited widely and she can be a polarizing figure, so our task was to peel away layers and expose the self-driven, work obsessed, perfectionist and inspiration in a way that would surprise audiences.”

Sundance ‘10 | Jeffrey Blitz: “Lucky” Director’s Upside Down Exploration of the American Dream
“After “Spellbound,” I wanted to do another kind of American exploration. Sean and I poured over ideas for a year before we got an email out of the blue from Rebecca Morton, a total stranger to us at the time. It was like an over-the-transom email. Rebecca pitched us on the lottery idea and right away it clicked with us as a great companion piece to “Spellbound”: an upside-down exploration of the American Dream.”

Sundance ‘10 | Robin Hessman Goes Behind the Iron Curtain in “My Perestroika”
“I hope Sundance audiences will enjoy seeing a film about real people in Russia that is warm and personal and not a sweeping abstract look at a country and its politics from afar. I think it will be refreshing to have an intimate look at contemporary Moscow, as well as to hear perspectives on childhood and adolescence from the other side of the Iron Curtain.”

Sundance ‘10 | “The Oath” Director Laura Poitras On Her Portrait of Post-9/11 America
“Themes of family, guilt, betrayal, regret, loyalty, absence, etc, are not typically things that come to mind when we imagine a film about al Qaeda and Guantanamo, so the story compelled me.”

Sundance ‘10 | Filmmaking in Afghanistan’s Deadliest Valley: “Restrepo”
“I guess what unifies my work for the last ten years has been a focus on young men and war. Sebastian and I work together as contributors for Vanity Fair – he’s the writer, I’m the photographer – so the initial impetus to cover the story evolved out of Sebastian’s idea for the magazine assignment.”

Sundance ‘10 | “A Small Act” Director Jennifer Arnold: “Be Prepared for Anything”
“Kenya fell into unexpected conflict, something which changed the original script completely. So the original approach was “be prepared,” but ultimately the reality was more like “be prepared… for anything.”

Sundance ‘10 | Doc Legend Leon Gast Eyes a Paparazzo Superstar
“I asked him about all the stories I’d heard and read: Jackie Kennedy and the false arrest, a raft of court cases, Marlon Brando knocking out five of his teeth, Richard Burton and his bodyguard breaking his ribs, Brigitte Bardot and her friends chasing him into the Mediterranean—and all the other abuses he had to endure during his career as the self-proclaimed “Paparazzo Superstar.”

Sundance ‘10 | Grady & Ewing’s Pro-Life/Choice Corner “12th & Delaware”
“Most people believe that the pro-life movement uses its resources and energy into pressing for more legal restrictions to eventually overturn Roe V. Wade. But the real action for pro-lifers is one-on-one contact with women that takes place day in and day out in thousands of unassuming pregnancy centers that sit quietly on corners like 12th & Delaware.”

Sundance ‘10 | Amir Bar-Lev Deconstructs the Hero Myth in “Tillman Story”
“It’s been talked about so much it’s already a little cliché, but I do think there’s some truth to this notion that documentary films have picked up where conventional journalism has failed over the past years.”


Sundance ‘10 | “Bass Ackwards” Director Linas Phillips on His non-Road Movie Road Movie
“Bass Ackwards” is a story that most everyone can relate to. It’s about someone re-finding their way.”

Sundance ‘10 | Sultan Sharrief’s “Stand” – A 4 Year Project
“We worked with over 500 hundred community volunteers, media outlets, local business, and community organizations. People donated food, time, services, locations, and even a casket (unused).”

Sundance ‘10 | Katie Aselton’s Hubby Convinced Her to Make a Movie About Open Relationships
“I am an actor and this project came about by my wanting to work. I was so frustrated my phone wasn’t ringing with amazing job offers and after months (maybe years) of complaining, my husband, Mark Duplass, told me to shut up and just make my own movie.”

Sundance ‘10 | Adam Bowers Mines His Love Life, Reaches “New Low”
“We had a lighting kit the first week of the shoot because an old professor lied about needing equipment from the school so we could use it. But, he got in trouble and we had to give it back, so we had to scramble and figure out how else to light our shots.”

Sundance ‘10 | “One Too Many Mornings”: Going Rogue and Growing Up
“This took an incredibly long time. The instant you start using dolly track and lights, but with a crew of sometimes three people – the time it takes increases exponentially. We ended up spending just under 2 years shooting this film.”

Sundance ‘10 | Rookie Director Eyad Zahra’s “The Taqwacores”: “A Muslim Film”
“In dealing with “The Taqwacores”, we realized that we were dealing with the depiction of two communities that would scrutinize the hell out of us… punks and Muslims.”

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