Each day at the Sundance Film Festival (January 20-30), indieWIRE is publishing a frequently updated dispatch from Park City.
7:45PM: Oprah and Rosie Take Sundance: “It is my intention to do for documentaries what we have done for books,” Oprah Winfrey proclaimed at the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) party tonight in Sundance.
OWN has been acquiring documentaries for some time, including Sundance titles “Becoming Chaz.” But at this evening’s event, Winfrey officially announced the OWN Documentary Club, and announced that Rosie O’Donnell would act as host and chief collaborator of it.
“I’m thrilled on levels I can’t even express,” O’Donnell said about joining the network.
indieWIRE will have video from the event up tomorrow. [Peter Knegt]
7:30PM: Quick Tweet From “Terri” Premiere: @peterknegt says: “Poignant, unexpected and quietly profound, a jacobs’ “terri” is the best film I’ve seen so far at #sundance.” More from the premiere tomorrow.
7:10PM: Daily Links: Every day at Sundance, indieWIRE posts a rundown of news from our blog network as well as other outlets. Included today: “Hobo With a Shotgun” impresses, Reverse Shot offers their first dispatch and Anne Thompson reports on buyer interest surrounding “Margin Call.” For full story click here.
7:00 PM: indieWIRE Hits Up the Airwaves!: indieWIRE’s Nigel M. Smith hit up the KPCW radio station in Park City to dish on all the latest buzz coming out of the festival, along with Marian Masone from The Film Society of the Lincoln Center. Check out the podcast of The Daily Buzz from Sundance hosted by Eugene Hernandez here.
5:30 PM: “Greatest Movie Ever Sold” Hits Sundance: Morgan Spurlock’s flashy, funny and engaging doc, “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold,” debuted to a packed house at Sundance this afternoon. As the first film to get acquired during the course of the festival (with Sony Pictures Classics), there was a feeling among the audience that this film better deliver. Judging by the raucous laughter and cheers throughout the screening, Spurlock’s latest was a crowd-pleaser.
“Greatest Movie” follows Spurlock on a quest to make a documentary that examines product placement, by exclusively funding his film through advertising. As Jimmy Kimmel says in the film, “It’s like the ‘Inception’ of docs!”
Following the screening, Spurlock took to the stage outfitted in a suit that listed every sponsor used to make the film. He then proceeded to invite members from every company to the front of the theater. Included among them: Merrel, POM, Ban Antiperspirant and Amy from Amy’s Pizza.
“The best I can say about these companies,” Spurlock said, “is that these people thought we were smart. I applaud these guys for being a part of this.”
An audience member shouted immediately after, “I fully intend to buy more of these products now, honestly!” — which in turn caused a man in the front row to get up and offer Spurlock a 20 dollar bill, saying, “I wondered, could this be the greatest question ever asked?”
Spurlock’s reply in accepting the money? “You’ll be in the end credits once this hits theaters. I promise you that.” [Nigel M. Smith]
5:15 PM: TLA Scores Deal Out of Sundance: TLA has acquired world-wide rights to “Blackmail Boys,” a new drama from the Shumanski Brothers that stars Joe Swanberg (“Hannah Takes the Stairs”) in his first gay role. Billed as a “tender sexploitation flick,” “Blackmail Boys” tracks two boys and their quest to find a state that will legally marry them.
A spring theatrical release is in the works, to be followed by DVD and VOD. [Nigel M. Smith]
4:21 PM: Ticket Troubles at Sundance? Many around Park City have been noting troubles getting into screenings this year.
“Just barely got into ‘The Music Never Stopped,'” indieWIRE Editor-in-Chief Dana Harris just mentioned via e-mail. “Encountered severe pushback. Express badge, hard ticket, film publicist in person to vouch – none of it did any good. Woman kept saying I had to go to the back of a massive line. Only when PR person got her supervisor was it ok.”
Does anyone have similar stories? Feel free to leave in the comments section.
3:40 PM: Long Distance Love Story “Like Crazy” Goes Over Well: A solid indie love story, Drake Doremus’s “Like Crazy” was very well received at its Eccles premiere this afternoon. The film follows “Douchebag” as Doremus’s second film a row to screen in competition at the festival.
“I really do feel like part of the family now,” Doremus said upon introducing the film. “And it’s the best family to be a part of so thank you so much. But unfortunately we didn’t get the film done, so we’re just going to show outtakes of ‘Douchebag.’ If that’s alright with you guys…”
Clearly kidding, Doremus’ “Douchebag”-follow up would indeed screen instead. The film follows Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones), who meet at college in Los Angeles and quickly, madly fall in love. But this is problematized when Anna – who is British – gets sent back to London because of visa issues and the two begin to attempt a long distance relationship. Though a bit overlong, “Crazy” works in large part due to the very affecting performances of Jones and Yelchin (not to mention a great supporting cast that includes Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston, and Oliver Muirhead), and because of Doremus and co-writer Ben York Jones’s script. Though Doremus said that the film – like “Douchebag” – was actually 50% improvised, which definitely aided in its realism.
“The movie is mostly improvised from a 50 page outline that Ben and I wrote together,” he said at the Q&A. “We were very specific in the outline and then these wonderful actors brought it to life. We rehearsed it a lot to sort of find the beats to the story. Felicity and Anton especially really trusted me and just delved into it. They did an amazing job improvising.”
The audience definitely seemed to agree. Up for sale, “Crazy” should have no trouble finding U.S. distribution and definitely confirms Doremus as a filmmaker to watch in the future.
Watch the full Q&A here. [Peter Knegt]
3:15 PM: Web Savvy Sundance GLAAD Panel on Future of Independent FIlm: The internet was all the rage at yesterday’s kick-off to the Sundance 2011 GLAAD panel series, held at the Sundance Filmmaker Lodge on Main Street in Park City. New York magazine film editor Kyle Buchanan moderated “The E-Cinema Migration: Is the Internet Reshaping Film?,” which focused on how the internet is changing the landscape of independent film. Guests included Christine Vachon (Producer, Killer Films), Joe Swanberg ( IFC.com, Writer/Director “Uncle Kent”), David Courier (Sundance Film Festival Senior Programmer), Madeleine Olnek (Writer/Director, “Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same”), Bryan Safi (Current TV) and Mark Friedlander (SAG, National Director of New Media). Read all about the panel here
2:57PM: “We Were Here”: Co-directors David Weissman and Bill Weber received a tearful reception to their gut-wrenching AIDS documentary “We Were Here” at the Temple Theater. The film tracks the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco during the 70s and 80s through the accounts of survivors from that time, several of whom joined the filmmakers for the post-screening Q&A. “I’m hoping it gives an understanding of the history of how we got to where we are,” said Weissman. One audience member, activist Jim Farad, said, “You’ve told the story of how our community came and took care of each other. So thank you, thank you, thank you.” [Eric Kohn]
12:30PM: “The Future” Reviewed: Eric Kohn offered his takes on Miranda July’s follow up to “Me and You and Everyone We Know.” “As they did with “Me and You and Everyone We Know,” July’s idiosyncratic sensibilities are destined to divide people,” wrote Kohn, “although mostly strong critical reactions and a hip appeal among artsy crowds may elevate its profile. The movie’s best hope lies with a smallish distributor that can tap into that niche audience and drive their support to a healthy life on VOD.” For full review click here.
12:00PM: A “Knuckle” Deal: Acquisition news! ContentFilm picked up international rights to Sundance World Cinema Documentary Competition film, “Knuckle,” directed by Ian Palmer. For full story click here.
10:45AM: Follow indieWIRE on Twitter: Just a reminder to follow the @indiewire team at Sundance for updates throughout the days and nights: @BrooksId @theknife @peterknegt @erickohn @feelingsoblahg and @nigelmfs.
10:30AM: Miranda July’s “The Future” Premieres: “I couldn’t think of a more perfect film to start the ‘Premieres’ section of the festival,” John Cooper said on stage at the Eccles last night before the premiere of Miranda July’s “The Future.” “I love it when filmmakers return to Sundance. I’ve been waiting for this film for a long time. I didn’t even know what the film was, but when Miranda July is making a film, I pay attention. I think she’s one of the great poets of our time, even if she works in the medium of film.”
Cooper then introduced July herself, who joked about the size of the Eccles, Sundance’s largest screening venue.
“When they tell you you’re going to premiere in the Eccles for your first screening,” July said. “All the first conversations seem to have this number: 1,200. ‘It’s a 1,200 seater… 1,200 people… 1,200, 1,200…’ So I’ve been carrying you around – all of you – since November. As far as I’m concerned we’re all already incredibly close.”
July’s 1,200 new friends would spend the next 90 minutes in her world. “The Future” – a whimsical take on a couple (played by July and Hamish Linklater in an impressive and potentially breakout performance) in the midst of mid-thirties – should easily please fans of the artist and filmmaker. Layered and often quite abstract, it’s a film that likely takes time or even multiple viewings to fully digest.
“I always feel like it’s hard to think of questions right away and usually your questions come to you the next day or even night,” July said after the film. “So one option is that we could do the Q&A after another movie at the same time tomorrow night? Which might be confusing for that movie but I bet your questions would be really good.”
Despite July’s suggestion, the Q&A did indeed occur last night. Watch it in its entirety here. [Peter Knegt]
9:30AM: “Martha Marcy May Marlene” Reviewed: Eric Kohn on Sean Durkin’s competition title: “Appearing fragile and terrified from her first scene until her last, Elizabeth Olsen brings an alarming quality to writer-director Sean Durkin’s quietly unsettling ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene.’ Durkin focuses on alienated young Martha during the immediate aftermath of her decision to escape a cult in the Catskill Mountains, probing her anxieties with keen cinematic skill. Using a patient, non-linear approach, the filmmaker constructs his character’s psychological disarray in a series of fragments from Martha’s brutal experience.” Read the full review here.
9:00AM: indieWIRE Chats Up “The Ledge” Cast (VIDEO): Following yesterday’s world premiere of Matthew Chapman’s thriller “The Ledge,” the cast and crew hit hit up Bing Bar on Main Street for the official after party. The film’s three main leads – Patrick Wilson, Liv Tyler and Terrence Howard – hit up the red carpet before partying the night away and spoke with indieWIRE’s Nigel M. Smith about the state of the independent film industry and how they came onto the project.
Watch the video below:
And also check out video from the Q&A here.
8:30 AM: Interviews From Today’s Competition Titles: It’s a big day for competition titles at Sundance, with over a dozen films making their debuts in Park City today. indieWIRE previously published interviews with many of them:
Also check out this comprehensive guide to all of films playing at Sundance . Divided into individual programs, this guide offers (or will offer) links to reviews, interviews and criticWIRE grades from dozens of critics and bloggers heading to Park City this year. [Peter Knegt]