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Revisiting Sundance Predictions List. The Festival Is Over; What Films Are Left To Look Forward To?

Revisiting Sundance Predictions List. The Festival Is Over; What Films Are Left To Look Forward To?

Revisiting the list I started the year with… not an all-inclusive list certainly; rather films that I predicted would screen at the Sundance 2012 Film Festival specifically.

The festival has come and gone, with other prominent festivals unveiling their lineups in recent days (Berlin, RotterdamSXSW and PAFF notably). I decided to go through the list and check off those films that either did screen at the Sundance Film Festival, or that have been announced to screen at one of the other upcoming festivals, and see what we’re left with, as the first quarter of festivals for the year is almost halfway done.

Again, this isn’t an exhaustive list; this is the list I started with at the beginning of the year; there certainly have been new announcements of films at some stage of production since I created it (and we’ve covered all those announcements – those that we are aware of anyway). The list will be updated with new titles at the end of the current quarter – so, sometime soon after the SXSW Film Festival ends in late March.

Here’s what’s left from the Quarter 1 list – meaning, they haven’t screened commercially yet, nor have there been any announcements (I’m aware of) that they will screen at some upcoming festival:

1. Julius Onah’s The Girl Is In Trouble (photo above). Columbus Short stars in this New York City-set crime caper, exec produced by Spike Lee. We’ve been ontop of the film since it was announced back in 2010, and I actually thought it would debut at one of the major festivals this year, but it didn’t. I’ve reached out to Julius a number of times, and he certainly doesn’t give anything away, except to say that he’s plugging away at it. But given how long it’s been since it completed production, and that it didn’t debut at any of last year’s majors, nor did it screen at Sundance; no Berlin, Rotterdam, or PAFF, either; and it doesn’t look like it’ll debut at SXSW (although there are some more announcements coming). I expect it’ll debut sometime THIS year… where exactly, I don’t know.

2. Rodney Evans’ The Happy Sad. Another film and filmmaker we’ve featured on S&A. Principal photography wrapped on July 30th, and within a matter of 2 or 3 days, post-production began on what will be his second feature film. His feature debut, Brother To Brother, won the Special Jury Prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. However, Rodney announced on Facebook the night before Sundance unveiled its lineup that he didn’t even submit his film to the festival, and he’s chosen to take his time in post production, instead of rushing to get it into the festival, and that the film will surely be better for it! Good move! I expect a latter half of the year debut – possibly Toronto. 

3. Brandon Harris’ Redlegs. Our last post on it was many months ago, when Brandon was trying to raise money for it via Kickstarter (he did raise the money, by the way). I know that as of July/August or so, Brandon was pretty much done with post-production. Just in time to meet the festival’s submission deadline too. Brandon’s midwest-set Redlegs is his feature film debut. Long-time readers of S&A will recall that we posted his short erotic thriller Evangeleo on the old S&A site. Redlegs, as described, is “a comedic drama set amongst grieving twenty-something man-boys in the industrial Midwest who’s black friend was recently murdered in a historically troubled part of Cincinnati, Ohio.” I’ve been in touch with Brandon in the last couple of months, and he’s exploring his options. I actually thought SXSW would be its debut, but that doesn’t look like it’ll happen.

4. Andrew Dosunmu’s Ma’George. His feature directorial debut, the mesmerizing New York City-set immigrant tale, Restless City, debuted at Sundance 2011, and we’ve covered it quite a bit here on S&A. I was actually surprised Restless City debuted at Sundance; its aesthetics suggested it was better suited for a Berlin or even Cannes debut. Alas, Sundance got it first, and it’s played at a handful of festivals since then. I’m still not certain how it will eventually be officially released, but I hope it doesn’t get forgotten. It needs to be seen, and I don’t say that very often. Ma’George co-stars Isaach De BankoléYaya DaCosta, amongst others. And like his feature film debut, I’ll look for a potential Cannes debut; if not, Venice or Toronto.

5. RZA’s The Man With The Iron Fists. The rapper turned actor/director’s feature film directorial debut, and the highest profile project on this list. It stars RZA himself, Russel Crowe, Pam Grier and others; Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth served as producers on this $20 million project. Production ended earlier last year (shot on location in China), and it went into post-production soon after. This was all during the first 3 months of the year. So, I expect the film is already complete or nearing full completion. We haven’t seen a single frame of it, which I find odd. Not a still image, not a clip, nada. But I think RZA’s deliberately taking his time with it, so that he gets it just right. It’s a film that could pop up at anytime. It could even bypass film festival play altogether.

6. Byron Hurt’s Soul Food Junkies. The director of the classic 2006 documentary, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes, which looked at manhood, sexism, and homophobia in hip-hop culture, returns with another eye-opener, that, this time, asks the question, “Is African American culture a culture of soul food junkies?” Further, it explores “the dark side of the food industry and the growing food justice movement that has been born in its wake.” A trailer and extended preview of the doc circulated the web earlier this year, with good results. I’d say it’s a film many are anticipating in 2012. Our most recent post on the film was on a post-production fundraiser. Byron was trying to raise $25,000 to help fund a portion of the costs for editing, motion graphics, sound design and other expenses. And if I recall correctly he surpassed that amount, so good for him. Where might it debut? Really not sure. It could be one of those films that bypasses festival play and gets picked up. The subject matter is topical and Hurt has proven that he can be provocative with his work.

7. Joshua Sanchez’ Four, which stars Wendell Pierce and Yolanda Ross (and others), 2 names you all should be familiar with. Based on the film’s synopsis, I’m guessing it will be one of those titles that’s heavily-discussed amongst S&A readers; “On the 4th of July in Hartford, CT, June, a 16-year-old white boy, meets up with Joe, a closeted, married black man he met on the Internet. On the same night, in the same city, the black man’s 16-year-old daughter Abigayle, agrees to go out with Dexter, a white 20-year-old low-level drug dealer. In and around the city, on the American night of Independence, these 2 couples get to know each other, moving from strangers to intimates. In lonely landscapes of movie theaters, fast food restaurants, darkened churches and public parks, they discover the limits of desire and the possibilities of transcendence. Four juxtaposes the relationships of the 2 couples struggling with their desires and demons.” ‘Nuff said ;) Principal photography wrapped in July, and post-production is well underway. Nothing to show yet though. But I suspect it’s either been completed or nearing completion by now. I expected a SXSW debut, but that doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen. 

8. Tina Gordon Chism’s We The Peeples: Tyler Perry is a producer on this, and it stars Kerry Washington, Craig Robinson and other notables; it’s likely not a festival film, but, who knows; Tyler Perry’s name is on it, but only as producer; he didn’t write nor direct it. It’s Chism’s directorial debut; previously, she penned the screenplays for Drumline and ATL). Lionsgate announced earlier this year that the film would open in theaters in March of 2013, which I thought was really odd, given how long it’s been since it went into production. I’ve asked Lionsgate for reasons why it’s been pushed so far back, but no response yet. So, make of that what you will. We haven’t seen anything of it yet; no stills, no clips, no interviews with the director about the project; nada. And now we have to wait until March 2013? *Shrug*

9. The “black/white buddy” French dramedy Intouchables which stars Omar Sy (an actor we’ve written about a lot). It’s screened mostly in Europe, though the Weinstein Company picked up USA rights and remake rights. So I don’t know if they’ll release the original in the States, or if they’ll bury the original and go for the remake and release that. I figured if they planned to release the original in the USA, they’d give it some local film festival exposure first to build buzz and support for it before opening it in theaters, and I thought Sundance would be a good fit for that intro. But it didn’t happen.  

And that”s about it! 

Once again, for the 3rd time (because I know some of you will post comments asking, what about this film, or that film; or you missed this one, or that one)… I’m using the list I created late last year predicting what *black films* would screen at Sundance 2012. And from the original list, I deleted those that did screen, as well as those that have since been announced to screen during one of the major first quarter festivals (Jan, Feb, Mar), and the above list is what remains, each title updated with any current info I have.

I will update the list with new titles once a quarter; so look for a refreshed list sometime soon after the end of March.

Are we clear on that?

Of course, feel free to email me (obensont@gmail.com) if you’re a filmmaker with a film that we haven’t covered on S&A, so that I can add you to my watchlist.

I’ll be at the PAFF in exactly 2 weeks from today, followed by SXSW in March. 

A luta continua my friends…

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