Notes From Sundance 2013/2014

 


 

More Sundance Film Festival News

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Sundance 2013: Festival Awards Announced

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Sundance - H 2013
Joseph Gordon-Levitt

UPDATED: Grand jury prizes go to “Fruitvale” (drama) and “Blood Brother” (documentary) during a ceremony near Park City Saturday.

The Sundance Film Festival honored its top entries during a ceremony Saturday night near Park City, where 26-year-old Ryan Coogler’s drama Fruitvale was honored with both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize.

 

 

 

 

Sundance: Screenwriters Lab Alumni ‘Ad Inexplorata’ Heading Into Production

By DOMINIC PATTEN | Friday January 25, 2013

EXCLUSIVE: Another script developed at the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters Lab is being made into a movie. TideRock Media and Taggart Productions  said today that they’re taking Mark Elijah Rosenberg’s feature debut Ad Inexplorata into production this summer. The film, which Rosenberg will also direct, is about an American astronaut on a one-way mission to Mars. The project also received support from Creative Capital, San Francisco Film Society and the Indian Paintbrush Fellowship. Josh Penn, Matthew Parker, Jason Michael Berman and Thomas B. Fore will produce Ad Inexplorata. Penn and Parker were producers on Beasts Of The Southern Wild, which was one of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival’s breakout films and is now up for multiple Academy Awards including Best Picture. Parker also produced Mother Of George, which was at this year’s Festival. Berman and Fore produced LUV, which played during last year’s Sundance. Michael Nardell will serve as executive producer.

 

 

 

 

 

Sundance’s ‘Manhunt’: Three CIA Agents Who Hunted Bin Laden Tell All

The documentary ‘Manhunt’ chronicles the CIA’s 20-year hunt for Osama bin Laden. Three CIA agents featured in the film tell Marlow Stern about ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ torture, Bill Clinton’s culpability, and more

Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s compendious, riveting film chronicling the CIA’s decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden, has received harsh criticism from officials over its veracity.

130122-Stern-Manhunt-tease

“Manhunt: The Search for Osama Bin Laden” (HBO/Sundance)

It’s just a movie, people.

 

 

 

 

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints

Ain't Them Bodies Saints

David Lowery

 

Marking the feature directorial debut of David Lowery, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints follows Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck) and Ruth Guthrie (Rooney Mara), two young outlaw lovers who, in true Bonnie and Clyde fashion, are wreaking havoc in rural Texas. Four years after being arrested, Muldoon breaks out of prison to find his lost love and their daughter he’s never laid eyes on—only to discover that Guthrie has given up the outlaw racket and settled down with a sheriff, played by Ben Foster, from their past. The film marks Mara’s first onscreen appearance since her stellar, Oscar-nominated turn as punk-hacker Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

 

 

 

 

Before Midnight

Before Midnight

Despina Spyrou

 

The third movie in filmmaker Richard Linklater’s triptych, following Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, Before Midnight takes place nine years after the previous, Paris-set film. Jesse (Ethan Hawke), an American, and Celine (Julie Delpy), a Frenchwoman, cross paths once again in Greece and, after sharing their thoughts on life, love, death, and everything in between, have until midnight to decide if they want to be a lasting part of each other’s lives. The previous entry, 2004’s Before Sunset, was a heartbreaking love story that received universal critical acclaim, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

 

 

 

 

Don Jon’s Addiction

Don Jon's Addiction

Thomas Kloss

 

In addition to emceeing this year’s festival awards ceremony, indie darling–cum–Hollywood megastar Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who’s wowed Sundance audiences with past gems Brick and (500) Days of Summer, will unveil his debut feature behind the camera, Don Jon’s Addiction. Written and directed by Gordon-Levitt, the film stars the dimpled actor as Jon “Don Jon” Martello, a porn-obsessed, modern-day Don Juan who beds a revolving door of women. One day, the disillusioned lothario decides to go on a journey in search of a more meaningful sex life and is shown the light by a pair of different women, played by Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore.

 

Jobs

Jobs

Glen Wilson

 

The closing-night film of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, JOBS, is directed by Joshua Michael Stern (Swing Vote) and tells the real-life tale of the late Steve Jobs’s rise from college dropout to co-founder and CEO of Apple, and his transformation into one of the most legendary and endlessly creative entrepreneurs of the 20th century. In a controversial choice, the title role of Jobs is played by actor-entrepreneur Ashton Kutcher, who is joined by The Book of Mormon’s Josh Gad as Jobs’s cohort Steve Wozniak. This film is not to be confused with Sony Pictures’s upcoming Jobs biopic being scripted by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network).

 

 

 

Kill Your Darlings

Kill Your Darlings

Reed Morano

 

Marking the feature-filmmaking debut of writer-director John Krokidas, Kill Your Darlings tells the real-life tale of David Kammerer’s (Michael C. Hall) murder by Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) in 1944. Kammerer, an English professor and childhood friend of William S. Burroughs, had allegedly been pursuing the younger Carr, a prominent Beat Generation member, for quite some time. The shocking murder draws together Beat poets Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), Burroughs (Ben Foster), and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston). The film marks another entry in Radcliffe’s post–Harry Potter ­oeuvre, and also stars Elizabeth Olsen, Kyra Sedgwick, ?and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

 

 

 

 

Lovelace

Lovelace

Dale Robinette

 

Filmmaking duo Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (Howl) have crafted this biopic chronicling the rough-and-tumble life of Linda Boreman—better known by her stage name, Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried). The film’s story, told in flashbacks via a trio of interviews, follows the titular porn star’s life from the ages of 20 to 32, including her rapid ascent to ’70s porn icon, manipulation by her abusive husband-manager (played by Peter Sarsgaard), and reinvention in the ’80s as a conservative religious crusader. James Franco, Adam Brody, Chloë Sevigny, and Sharon Stone round out the movie’s impressive ensemble cast.

 

 

 

 

Pussy Riot—A Punk Prayer

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

Roast Beef Productions

 

Filmmakers Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin have made a documentary chronicling one of the biggest news stories of the past year: the plight of the Russian feminist punk-rock outfit Pussy Riot, which has attracted support from musical celebrities such as Paul McCartney and Madonna. Known for staging guerrilla per­form­ances in public locations, obscuring their faces with multicolored balaclavas, and performing protest songs targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, the band held an anti-Putin event in a cathedral in Central Moscow last Feb. 21. As a result, three of the group’s members were eventually charged with hooliganism and, in late October, two of them were sentenced to do time in remote Russian prisons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sundance 2013: CAA ‘Regrets’ Risque Burlesque Party Performance

 1/21/2013
CAA Party Photo Watermarked - P 2013
A dancer with a strap-on male member (obscured by THR) sits on a bed after a performance at the CAA party

An event held on Main Street on Sunday night featured at least one sexually explicit dancer.

PARK CITY — On a night packed with talent agency parties, CAA found a racy way to distinguish itself Sunday at Sundance — though the agency says its invited performers went a little further than expected.

CAA’s packed event at the Claim Jumper space on Main Street included a team of pole-shimmying, barely-dressed burlesque dancers from Simon Hammerstein’s The Act LV, a risque revue based at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas. At least one of them upped the ante by dancing with a strap-on penis, which sources say she used during an extended routine to tease the photo-snapping crowd of CAA clients, film executives and other festival-goers (party guests included Nicole Kidman and Evan Rachel Wood, among others). Two dancers also performed what was described by a source as a simulated sex act on a bed in the party space.

PHOTOS: Sundance’s Greatest Hits: The Movies That Broke Through

Explicit burlesque shows are popular in New York and Los Angeles clubs, but the act was too suggestive for at least one female party-goer who tells The Hollywood Reporter she was offended and left the event. A source with knowledge of the party-planning says the dancers were told in advance to tone down the raunch but didn’t. The crowd on the whole apparently didn’t seem to mind, though, and the CAA party became a buzzy topic of conversation on a night crowded with rival festivities.  

“The performance by Simon Hammerstein’s The Act LV was more explicit than intended,” a CAA rep tells THR. “We regret if this created an uncomfortable setting for any of our guests.”

Elsewhere on Main Street on Sunday night, WME hosted clients at Wahso, where the crowd didn’t die down until about 2:40 a.m. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara stopped by, as did Mia Wasikowska and Breathe In supporting player Kyle MacLachlan. 

 

 

 

 

 

Sundance 2013: Female directors to make their mark at indie festival

TOUCHY-FEELYImage Credit: Eliza Truitt

Cannes, take note.

Call it feminist, call it a full shift in the zeitgeist, call it the seeds of a movie industry revolution, but the Sundance Film Festival has shoved Hollywood into the 21st century when it comes to the inclusion of women filmmakers.

Last May, the Cannes Film Festival’s competitive Palme D’Or line-up sparked controversy over its dearth of female directors. This year’s annual Sundance fest in Park City, Utah, which runs from Jan. 17-27, for the very first time features an equal number of male and female directors in its 16-film U.S. Dramatic Competition category, ranging from Lynn Shelton’s Touchy Feely, starring Rosemarie DeWitt (pictured in the exclusive photo above), to Liz Garcia’s The Lifeguard, featuring Kristen Bell, Francesca Gregorini’s Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes, starring Jessica Biel, Jerusha Hess’s Austenland with Keri Russell, Lake Bell’s In a World, also starring the actress-director, and Stacie Passon’s Concussion.

EW connected with Shelton, Garcia, Gregorini, Hess, Passon, and Bell, as well as actresses Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael, who co-wrote the saucy Sundance Midnight screening selection Ass Backwards, and Richard E. Robbins, who directed the CNN Films documentary Girl Rising, which will have scenes shown at Sundance. Absolute joy and excitement resonated through phone and email conversations with the filmmakers, who touted the bright future for women directors — Kathryn Bigelow’s name may be the biggest out there these days, but many more are on the horizon.

“As a woman navigating through a traditionally male dominated field, I have often felt like more of an oddity than an artist,” says Shelton, whose Touchy Feely marks her third film at Sundance. “In addition to a gratifying sense of justice in this ‘Finally!’ kind of moment, I also hope that this year’s gender parity among competition filmmakers at Sundance means we can look forward to a time (hopefully soon) when the quality and content of our work will be considered on its own terms without regard for what happens to be (or not to be) in our pants.”

 

 

 

 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes his writing and directing debut with a tale about a party boy obsessed with sex, porn and Scarlett Johansson

Sundance: Joseph Gordon-Levitt on Love and Porn

If there’s one thing Joseph Gordon-Levitt would like you to know about his Sundance directorial debut Don Jon’s Addiction, it’s that the film wasn’t inspired by Jersey Shore … despite the fact that he cast himself as a bulked-up, waxed-down New Jersey guido whose main mission in life is to “smash” young hotties at the club. “It honestly wasn’t!” he insisted to me after the film’s crowd-pleasing premiere. “I mean, I’m aware of it, but I had never seen an episode of it when I wrote this.” And since? “I’ve since watched an episode of it,” he admitted, “but I could only ever get through one of them.”

Still, you’ve got to wonder what the Situation might make of a film like Don Jon’s Addiction, which takes that time-honored Saturday Night Fever narrative — a young guy on the make pursues his elusive dream girl (Scarlett Johansson), somehow growing up along the way — and slices it wide open. The movie opens with a hypercut montage of Gordon-Levitt’s character masturbating to online porn, waxing ecstatic about “those tits, that ass, the doggie, the blowjob,” and at first, you think it’s just another symptom of his relentless skirt-chasing. Soon, though, the character confides in his narration that he prefers porn to the real thing, and when he’s challenged by Johansson to ditch the pornhub.com time-wasters entirely, he finds out just how hard it is to be in the moment with an actual woman instead of jacking off to a three-minute fantasy.

But even there, the movie circumvents your expectations. Johansson’s slinky Jersey girl tries to make Gordon-Levitt a better man, but she’s actually steamrolling him, strategically withholding sex until she can mold him into the male lead of the rom-coms she’s constantly watching. (Gordon-Levitt called in favors from friends like Channing Tatum and Anne Hathaway — rom-com staples both — to appear in one of Don Jon’s chick-flicks-within-the-flick.) It isn’t until Julianne Moore appears as a wounded widow in Gordon-Levitt’s night class that he learns what a real connection with a woman could be like.

The movie has already inspired plenty of conversation at Sundance, and when I caught up with Gordon-Levitt, Moore, and Tony Danza (who plays JGL’s father) after the premiere, they had a lot to say about it, too. Of course, it’s no wonder that three good-looking actors might find plenty to mine in a story about the perils of sexual objectification; the trio had just finished up a photo shoot, and “That’s where it really happens the most,” said Gordon-Levitt. “That’s just pure objectification.”

Continued the actor, “I think there’s an important distinction to be made here, because you can view someone sexually without objectifying them.”

Danza cleared his throat. “I objectify Julianne,” he offered.

“Hopefully, in real life, you don’t want to objectify or imprint your own ideas onto someone else, but in film? Sometimes, that’s part of the deal,” said Moore. “And then we get back to the movie: What expectations do we bring to relationships that are not real, that are based on images we’ve seen? That’s where you get into trouble.”

“And I find that shit hilarious!” shouted Gordon-Levitt. “People who have those expectations always makes me laugh. It can be sad and it can ruin relationships, but to me, it’s head-slappingly funny. That’s where the idea for the movie came from.”

And who picked the porn clips that are liberally sprinkled throughout Don Jon, and earn every bit of the film’s sure-to-be-restricted rating? “Oh, I did that,” teased Moore.

“Good job, Julianne,” said Danza. “Really wonderful.”

“Thank you very much!” replied the redhead. “It was all from my personal library.”

 

 

 

 

Park City prepares for the onslaught film critics, movie lovers and the media as the Sundance Film Festival gets under way.

 

 

Park City

 

Get the scoop on the breakout films and biggest stars at the Sundance Film Festival, featuring photos, video, and daily dispatches from your critic….

 

 

 

Naomi Watts, Robin Wright in Sundance Mama Drama

Sundance: Naomi Watts and Robin Wright Are Cougars Who Keep It In the Family

 

It’s only the second day of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and a friend texted me tonight to ask, “What’s the best and worst of the fest so far?” Normally I wouldn’t have an answer because so few movies have actually screened by this point, but as it happened, I had just come from watching the best movie and the worst movie. In fact, they were the same movie. It’s called Two Mothers and it’s imperative that you close all your other browser windows and memorize everything I tell you about it, because it is a doozy.

Literally 95% of the movie is comprised of the following: swimming, staring, and sex-having. (Often, some of those actions are combined or follow each other in rapid succession.) The dialogue is terse and feels more like it was pulled from foreign language subtitles than anything resembling actual conversation. A pivotal exchange between Lil and Roz, scripted by Oscar winning screenwriter Christopher Hampton, after the two women have just learned that they’re, you know, boning each other’s sons: “How are you feeling?” Long pause. “Good.” Long pause. “Yeah. Me too.” In the next scene, all four of them are hanging out together and having a blast. Well, glad that’s settled!

Cast of ‘May in Summer’

Writer, director and actress Cherien Dabis and her cast mates share what it was like filming their movie in Jordan.

Cherien describes her movie as “As a bride to be who goes home to Jordan to reunite with her family and plan her summer wedding and she finds herself confronted with a lot of family dysfunction.. and in the midst of all this dysfunction she questions if she wants to go through with the wedding.”

Nancy Pelosi, Christopher Dodd, Robert Redford

From left: U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, MPAA chairman and CEO Christopher Dodd and Sundance Film Festival founder Robert Redford attend  An Artist at the Table, a benefit for the Sundance Institute, at The Shop.

Nancy Pelosi, Christopher Dodd, Robert Redford
 

Naked Ambition

 
Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson
 

Hollywood’s Most Daring Celebrity Nudity

  Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson

 

 

Sundance 2013: Robert Redford answers conservative critics

Robert-Redford-Sundance-Opening
Image Credit: LUCAS JACKSON/LANDOV

In the Day 1 press conference to open the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Robert Redford struck back at a conservative Utah group that suggested last week that the state should reconsider its funding of Sundance because the festival’s liberal leanings did not reflect the state’s values. “Sometimes the narrowest mind barks the loudest, and we’ve over time come to ignore it,” said Redford, who also reminded Utahans of the $80 million the festival attracts each year to the local economy. “We’re also offering a wide spectrum of choices. It’s up to the audience to choose … So I would just say to these people — we either ignore them or remind them that it’s a free country and maybe they should look at the Constitution.”

But Redford, who took questions alongside Sundance Institute executive director Keri Putnam and Festival director John Cooper did acknowedge that the entire Hollywood industry might need to reexamine the way it treats and markets gun violence, especially in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting. Citing a pair of roadside movie billboards that featured prominant positioning of firearms, Redford, who once famously played the Sundance Kid, said, “My thought was [as I drove by], does my industry think that guns will help sell tickets. I don’t know. It’s not a question that I could answer. But it seems like a question worth asking my own industry. Maybe there’s a reason that — maybe yes. I don’t know but it seems fair because I’ve noticed how often guns are used in ads as though there’s something that translates in a positive way.”

The trio also discussed the Institute’s national and international outreach, seemingly doubling down on its “cultural exchange” in London but slamming the door on rumors that Sundance had eyes on a Brooklyn-based outpost. “There’s no truth to it,” said Redford, who expressed frustration with the initial media report. “I would be uncomfortable pushing our way into some place,” he said. “It’s better to be invited.”

This year, the festival features 51 first-time filmmakers from 32 different countries, and there are as many female directors as male in the dramatic competition. Redford pointed to the festival’s ability to “flow with” and “accomodate” social, cultural, and technological change as one of its most enduring strengths. ”[Sundance] is not meant to be commercial; it’s meant to be diverse,” he said. ” The nice thing is that we’re still here [after 30 years] and diversity has proven to be commercial.

 

 

 

 

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