Sundance is nearing a close. Yes, the films are still screening, but much of the industry - and all of the Filmmaker staff - are on their way home. I got into New York late last night, but judging from his Facebook posts, Nick Dawson is having a tougher time. The Salt Lake City airport was shut down this morning due to ice on the runway and it's unclear if he'll be re-booked today.
So, in lieu of an extended consideration of the festival, I thought I'd make this a link letter, pointing out some of the best pieces we've published this week from the festival. We've put up dozens of posts this week, and they moved on and off the home page fairly quickly. You can read all of our Sundance coverage here, and below are links to a few highlights.
The film that got the most attention at Sundance this year was Randy Moore's out-of-nowhere Escape from Tomorrow, a guerrilla-film shot surreptitiously at Walt Disney World. Here, Dan Schoenbrun interviews Moore and I also weigh in on the film and the clearance and trademark issues it contains.
Enabled by social media like Twitter, Sundance viewers can constitute a vast, teeming hive mind, their opinions aggregated and disseminated across the 'net in seconds. Alicia Van Couvering looks at this phenomenon in the context of the New Frontiers program, Computer Chess, and Google and the World Brain.
I mentioned Nick Dawson's difficult return to New York. He's had a tough festival. And I don't know whether it's empathy or schadenfreude, but his quite funny account of his attempt to make it to the emergency room during the festival has racked up a lot of views.
Each year we ask all the Sundance feature filmmakers a question, and this year it was, "What did you sacrifice to make your film?" You can read all the responses here, and check out James Ponsoldt's beautiful reply here.
A breakout at Sundance was Oakland-based filmmaker Ryan Coogler, whose Fruitvale moved audiences and has been sold to the Weinstein Company. Coogler was selected for our 25 New Faces this summer, and a number of people have been checking out that old post. Coogler answered five questions for us here.
Tom Hall reported from the Art House Convergence on all the issues facing specialty theater owners this year. If you want to know where theatrical is going, you need to read this.
Finally, our Winter issue should be on the stands any day now. On the cover is Shane Carruth, whose Upstream Color is amazing and mystifying Park City moviegoers as we speak. He reveals all (or most, or some) for us, and talks about its distribution as well. In addition we've got Harmony Korine, Rodney Ascher, Pablo Larraine and more. It should be on the iTunes store next week too.
That's all for now. You'll next hear from me from Rotterdam. If you'll be there, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming at IFP
IFP's 2013 Independent Filmmaker Labs Open for Submissions
IFP's Independent Filmmaker Labs are a year-long fellowship supporting independent filmmakers when they need it most: through the completion, marketing, and distribution of their first features. The Labs provide community, mentoring, and film-specific strategies to help filmmakers reach their artistic goals, support the film's launch, and maximize exposure in the global marketplace. Drawing from a national candidate pool, 20 projects (10 documentaries and 10 narratives) are selected. Recent Lab projects include current Sundance premieres Blue Caprice, directed by Alexandre Moors, and Stacie Passon's Concussion (just acquired by RADiUS-TWC); Penny Lane's Our Nixon and Visra Vichit-Vadakan's Karaoke Girl, both upcoming at Rotterdam; Alex Meillier and Tanya Ager Meillier's Alias Ruby Blade, recently premiered at IDFA; as well as earlier Lab alums such as Dee Rees' Pariah (Focus Features), Lucy Mulloy's Una Noche (Sundance Selects), Ryan O'Nan's Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best (Oscilloscope); Michael Collins' Give Up Tomorrow (POV); and Terence Nance's An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (Variance Films). Lab submission is open to all first-time documentary and narrative feature directors with films in post-production. As part of IFP's ongoing commitment to diversity, the Independent Filmmaker Labs seeks to ensure that at least half of the participating projects have an inclusive range of races, genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, and physical abilities in key creative positions. Upcoming deadlines for the 2013 Labs are March 8 (Documentary) and April 5 (Narrative). More info here.
New In Theaters
John Dies at the End
What started as a craze for a new street drug (dubbed "Soy Sauce") that sends its users across time and space turns ugly when some of the said "travelers" return as something other than human. Adapted from David Wong's novel of the same name, John Dies at the End tells the misadventures of two college dropouts, John and David, as they try to save the world from an otherworldly invasion. Genre legend Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep) directs the film version, which premiered at last year's Sundance Film Festival. John Dies at the End stars Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti and Clancy Brown.
Beware of Mr. Baker
Ginger Baker is a singular drummer in the annals of rock music, and an equally singular human being. His prowess on the kit is exceeded only by his eccentricity and incendiary temper and the legendary status of his meteoric path from stardom through drug-fueled descent. Jay Bulger's Beware of Mr. Baker, which won the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at 2012's SXSW Film Festival, catches up with Baker four decades after his heyday as the curmudgeonly backbone to the '60s supergroup Cream. Bulger lived with Baker for six months (the first three chronicling the drummer for a Rolling Stone article that preceded the film) in his South African gated community alongside Baker's herd of polo ponies and his 27-year-old trophy wife, as well as getting the input from iconic musicians (including Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce as well as members of Rush and Metallica) that have been touched, and sometimes damaged, by Baker's indelible influence
The Taste of Money
Sexual intrigue and tangled webs of familial feuding interlace in Sang-soo Im's The Taste of Money. The patriarch has an affair with the maid; the matriarch seduces her assistant and airs the families dirty laundry in public; the assistant enables the clan's immoral, and illegal, activity and is torn between his continuing ambition and growing love for the daughter. It all comes to a head in this erotic thriller. Centering on the schemes and tribulations of one of the richest and most prominent families in Seoul, The Taste of Money stirred up controversy with its caustic depiction of the rich and famous, and the greed and ambition that it often takes to claw to the top.
This Week on FilmmakerThis week on the blog, Alicia Van Couvering explores the effect of technology on the audiences and films at Sundance, Nick Dawson unveils the other side of Sundance (pictured left), Brandon Harris attends Slamdance, Mark Harris returns with Part 3 of his immersive storytelling series, and Scott Macaulay introduces us to the faces and places at Sundance.
To read more, click here.
Newest Web Article
Daniel Schechter, Supporting CharactersBy Brandon Harris
A genuine meditation on male friendship, the absurdities of indie moviedom and many different kinds of loyalty, Daniel Schechter's Supporting Characters, a surprise hit at last year's Tribeca Film Festival, sneaks up on you, its seeming limitations becoming its strengths over the course of its easy-going 87 minutes. Despite being shot in a fashion that recalls a comedy you might find on FX, Supporting Characters maintains an old-fashioned, craftsman-like quality about it; it's written with feeling and humor that rings with truth, offering us characters whose lives are as complicated and full of ambiguity as our own.Alex Karpovsky and newcomer Tarik Lowe have great chemistry as film editors Nick and Darryl, who are doing a "save job" on a feature for a depressive director played by a never-less-than-terrific Kevin Corrigan. Although our Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's optimism and good humor gives way to potential conflicts over future prospects and formulaic romantic trouble (Melonie Diaz's character just ain't that into Tarik; should Alex stay with good girl Sophia Takal or fuck the needy blonde movie starlet-to-be Arielle Kebbel?), the picture has a true lightness; it isn't ambitious in any sense and does its best to be honest to its intentions and kind to its audience. It also includes perhaps the last time you'll ever see Lena Dunham as a supporting character, so hurry. Read more
Festival DeadlinesNewport Beach Film Festival
WAB Extended Deadline: January 25
Festival Dates: April 25 - May 2
Sonoma International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: January 28
Festival Dates: April 10 - 14
Asian American International Film Festival
Early Deadline: January 25
Final Deadline: February 15
Work-in-Progress Deadline: March 15
Festival Dates: July 24 - August 3