I remember the first time I went to Sundance, in 1993. You would stroll up Main Street, stopping to hang out with fellow filmmakers at Z Place, and when the distributors came for just the second week of the festival they asked you what they should see. I remember the next year, when Robin O'Hara and I won the Grand Jury Prize for Tom Noonan's What Happened Was. After our first screening, Mark Amin from Trimark came up to me, said he loved the film and would buy the video rights if someone else did theatrical. Wow, this is easy, I thought. (Later I learned it's not.) James Schamus and Ted Hope were our executive producers and sales agents, and James was at the Golden Globes when we premiered. I remember him calling me and saying, "Did people laugh?" "Yes," I replied. "Great, we'll sell the film!" Tom was starring and directing in his play Wifey in New York the night of the awards, so he told Robin and me to accept, and our beaming mugs were blasted all over the world via the Associated Press. (My parents bought that photo and had it framed.) I remember standing with Robin outside the party afterwards, not being able to get in because we didn't have the right ticket, and Geoff Gilmore running over to pull us past the doorman.
I remember other years, when films I produced didn't win the Grand Jury Prize, or didn't even get in at all, and those accompanying flashes of alienation and despair. I remember the year I was escorted from the Holiday Cinema and the screening of Jesse Peretz's First Love, Last Rites because I had given my ticket to the lead actress's sister, foolishly thinking that I, as the producer, could talk my way in. That was the same year the Monica Lewinsky story broke during Sundance, and I remember watching it unfold on TV at the condo. I remember another year wondering if Val Kilmer would show up for his press. Contractually he didn't have to, his agent kept telling us. (He did, and he couldn't have been nicer.) I remember being there for the first screenings of Kids, and Ruby in Paradise, and Exit to the Gift Shop, and Beasts of the Southern Wild, and thinking each time, right here, right now, this is the place to be. I remember going to a crazy party up in Deer Valley and walking in on Perry Farrell having sex with two women. This was during the dotcom boom, and I remember a few years later, after the crash, being with a group of people that included Perry Farrell and not being able to get into a party because fire marshalls said it was at capacity. I remember the year my plane to Sundance hit a bird, and the windshield cracked, and the sight of all the fire trucks lining the runway as we returned back to LaGuardia. I remember things I was able to say directly to people I don't often see in person because they live somewhere else, and those things said were more meaningful because they weren't in the form of a tweet or a Facebook post. I remember last year, all the talk and camaraderie around friendship and health and mortality as we remembered Bingham Ray. And I remember that feeling every year, on the last day of my stay, as I'm walking down Park Avenue back to my condo to pick up my bag and get on the shuttle home. It's a feeling of both exhaustion and satiation, my head buzzing over all I've seen and everyone I've met. I'm ready to go home and already looking forward to next year.
Hope to see some of you at Sundance 2013.
Upcoming at IFP
IFP Project Alumni at Sundance
Twelve program-supported IFP Alumni begin an important dance today as the 2013 Sundance Film Festival begins. The Sundance line-up includes Audrey Ewell, Aaron Aites, Lucian Read and Nina Kristic's 99% - The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film; Martha Shane and Lana Wilson's After Tiller; Zachery Heinzerling's Cutie and the Boxer; Dawn Porter's Gideon's Army; and Roger Ross Williams' God Loves Uganda in the US Documentary Competition, and Jason DaSilva's When I Walk in Doc Premieres. Narrative films include David Lowery's Ain't Them Bodies Saints and Stacie Passon's Concussion in the US Dramatic Competition; Alexandre Moors' Blue Caprice, Shaka King's Newlyweeds, and Chad Hartigan's This is Martin Bonner in NEXT; and Rama Burshtein's Fill the Void in Spotlight. Blue Caprice and Concussion are alums of IFP's 2012 Independent Filmmaker Labs; Cutie and the Boxer, God Loves Uganda, and This is Martin Bonner are fiscally sponsored by IFP; and all of the other films (and Cutie) were selections of Independent Film Week's Project Forum in 2011-2012. Congratulations and good luck to all!
New In Theaters
Armed with exclusive interviews with pirates, hostages and their relatives, ship-owners, negotiators and experts, Stolen Seas takes a stunning look at the growing phenomenon of Somali piracy, going beyond preconceived notions to explore all facets of this multi-million dollar growth industry. Director Thymaya Payne spent three years traversing the world's most violent locations to gain unparalleled access to real-life pirates and through audio recordings and found footage, Payne gets right in the middle of the hostage negotiation involving the Danish ship, CEC Future. Over the course of the 70-day dealing, a surprising relationship develops between Per Gullestrup, the ship's owner, and Ishmael Ali, the pirate negotiator.
Bruno Dumont continues to build upon his reputation as one of the most respected, yet complex, auteurs of modern European cinema with Hors Satan. The film centers on a drifter (David Dewaele) living in a ramshackle shelter on the shore and his odd relationship with a young girl (Alexandra Lemâtre) from a nearby town. She brings him bread, they lounge in meadows and then grow closer following his murder of her stepfather (for vaguely alluded to sexual abuse). Yet the man is shrouded in mystery as his startling capacity for violence is contrasted by his apparent spirituality and somewhat mystical abilities. Divine or demonic, the juxtoposition is never clearly resolved as Dumont continues to explore religion, morality and reality through his films.
Read Damon Smith's interview with Dumont here.
A member of Filmmaker's 2011 "25 New Faces," Sheldon Candis made his feature-length directorial debut this time last year at Sundance with LUV. Described by Candis as, "Training Day from an 11-year-old's point of view," the film centers on Woody (Michael Rainey, Jr.) as he spends a day with his Uncle Vincent (Common) on the streets of Baltimore. Though dealing with the harsh realities of drugs and violence, Candis manages to balance darkness and beauty in the city and blur the line between good and bad via the rounded-out portrayal of his ensemble cast of characters.
This Week on FilmmakerThis week on the blog, Tom Hall dissects Upsteam Color as a case study of evolving distribution strategy at the 2013 Art House Convergence, Craig Begonzoni recommends seven no-budget post-production tools, Scott Macaulay presents a new music video by Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva (pictured left), and Filmmaker rolls out its 2013 Sundance responses.
To read more, click here.
Newest Web Article
Second-Time Director: Kyle Patrick Alvarez and C.O.G.By Kishori Rajan
Industry veterans and fresh faces alike are descending onto Park City this week, and for filmmakers with premieres it's a heady mixture of excitement and anxiety. Writer/director Kyle Patrick Alvarez is among this crowd, ready for not only his film's first screening, but his personal festival debut. It's a significant career-high for the second-time director, but Alvarez is approaching the week with the well-worn wisdom his first feature brought.
Alvarez wasted little time in launching his industry career. Immediately after graduating from University of Miami's film program, Alvarez moved straight to Los Angeles and landed a job as Warren Beatty's personal assistant. It was a position with specific challenges - "a pavement pounding-getting coffee kind of job," - but a valuable education for someone new to the L.A. scene. Perhaps the biggest benefit of the gig was meeting producer Cookie Carosella during this period. "I don't seek out emerging talent," Carosella wrote over email. "I was fortunate to meet Kyle early in his career," adding she watched his student shorts and they were "well written, directed and shot, and one was hilariously funny. It was clear to me that Kyle was very talented and would have a great career ahead of him." After a year of working with Beatty, Alvarez took stock of where he was and what he was doing. "A year doing the job - it propelled me to ask myself, 'Why am I in this city?'" Soon after, Alvarez handed in his two-week's s notice, and less than a year later Carosella had a script for Easier with Practice in her hands.Read more
Festival DeadlinesNewport Beach Film Festival
Late Deadline: January 18
WAB Extended Deadline: January 25
Festival Dates: April 25 - May 2
Frameline: The San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival
Regular Deadline: January 22
Late Deadline: February 15
Festival Dates: June 20 - 30
SAFILM - San Antonio Film Festival
Regular Deadline: January 18
Late Deadline: February 8
Extended Deadline: March 1
Festival Dates: June 19 - 23