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What's a film festival without prizes? Getting a Sundance Film Festival award may not get quite the attention of the Oscars or even the Golden Globes with network TV broadcasts and such but that accolade usually marks the beginning of a film's march towards good reviews, distribution, and a career marker for directors, producers cast and crew. While even the selection (and that laurel leaf sticker) here is usually enough for the filmmakers to get their films into other festivals and, eventually cable TV, getting the actual prize will guarantee it. This year’s 16 films were selected from 1,058 (!) submissions. That's a lot of rejections. With a record like that, every single agent and distributor in Hollywood look at these very closely. Each film is a World Premiere, so no one has seen it other than the selection committee, the filmmakers and their friends and families.
In the past, films like Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire (2009) or American Splendor (2003) wouldn't have been able to make a profit, much less become genuine hits at the box office without this award. There’s Oscar® gold to be found here.
Of the films listed below, several seem like shoo-ins for attention and distribution. So let me throw my hat into the ring as a picker of contenders. For just seeing Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams together, Blue Valentine should marshall a buzz. Hesher is another one driven by the great cast. The idea of Holy Rollers should command attention especially from those reviewers and industry insiders from the Jewish community who are into both the mitzvot and psychedelics. As for Howl; the very idea of James Franco as Allen Ginsberg makes it a must-see. Another quick-pick is Deborah Granik's latest
The contestants are:
Blue ValentineDirector - Derek CianfranceScreenwriters - Derek Cianfrance, Cami Delavigne and Joey CurtisCast - Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel, John DomanWorld PremiereBlue Valentine is the story of love found and love lost told in past and present moments in time. Flooded with romantic memories of their courtship, Dean and Cindy use one night to try and save their failing marriage. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star in this honest portrait of a relationship on the rocks. DouchebagDirector - Drake DoremusScreenwriters - Lindsay Stidham, Drake Doremus, Jonathan Schwartz and Andrew DicklerCast - Andrew Dickler, Ben York Jones, Marguerite Moreau, Nicole Vicius, Amy Ferguson, Wendi McClendon-CoveyWorld PremiereThe week Sam Nussbaum is to be married, his fiancée questions why his only brother, Tom, isn’t coming to the wedding. Unsatisfied with his lame reply, she surprises Sam by bringing the brothers together. Sam is not happy, but he rarely is—unless he’s telling someone what to do. When it’s revealed that Tom has only been in love once—with his fifth-grade girlfriend—Sam insists they go find her. It soon becomes evident that their journey is simply an excuse for Sam to avoid his impending commitment. The Dry LandDirector and screenwriter - Ryan Piers WilliamsCast: America Ferrera, Wilmer Valderrama, Ethan Suplee, June Diane Raphael, Melissa Leo. World PremiereA U.S. soldier returning home from war struggles to reconcile his experiences abroad with the life and family he left in Texas. happythankyoumorepleaseDirector and screenwriter Josh RadnorCast: Malin Akerman, Josh Radnor, Kate Mara, Zoe Kazan, Tony Hale, Pablo Schreiber, Michael Algieri. World PremiereSix New Yorkers negotiate love, friendship, and gratitude at a time when they're too old to be precocious and not ready to be adults. HesherDirector: Spencer SusserScreenwriters: Spencer Susser and David Michod; Story by Brian Charles FrankCast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman, Rainn Wilson, Devin Brochu, Piper Laurie, John Carroll Lynch. World PremiereA mysterious, anarchical trickster descends on the lives of a family struggling to deal with a painful loss. Holy RollersDirector: Kevin Tyler Asch; Screenwriter: Antonio MaciaCast: Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Bartha, Danny A. Abeckaser, Ari Graynor, Jason FuchsWorld PremiereA young Hasidic man, seduced by money, power and opportunity, becomes an international Ecstasy smuggler. HowlDirectors and screenwriters Rob Epstein and Jeffrey FriedmanCast: James Franco, David Strathairn, Jon Hamm, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeff Daniels.World Premiere A nonfiction drama about the young Allen Ginsberg finding his voice, the creation of his groundbreaking poem HOWL, and the landmark obscenity trial that followed.
The Imperialists are still Alive!Director and screenwriter Zeina DurraCast: Élodie Bouchez, José María de Tavira, Karim Saleh Karolina Muller, Marianna Kulukundis, Rita Ackerman. World PremiereJuggling the sudden abduction of her childhood sweetheart as well as a blooming love affair, a French Manhattanite makes her way as an artist in an indifferent, sometimes hostile world. Lovers of Hate Director and screenwriter Bryan PoyserCast: Chris Doubek, Heather Kafka, Alex Karpovsky, Zach Green. World PremiereIn this delicious tale of deceit and sibling rivalry, two adult brothers, Rudy (Doubek) and Paul (Karpovsky), represent failure and success. Younger brother Paul is a successful author who writes Harry Potter-like fantasy novels, while Rudy, Paul’s childhood collaborator on the stories, moves from job to job, unable to get started on his own novel – the long-gestating Lovers of Hate. The one thing they do have in common is their love for Diana (Kafka), Rudy’s soon-to-be ex-wife. When opportunistic Paul whisks Diana away to a romantic mountain retreat (in Park City, Utah, incidentally), the lovers have no idea that Rudy has made it there first. Night Catches UsDirector and screenwriter Tanya HamiltonCast: Anthony Mackie, Kerry Washington, Jamie Hector, Wendell Pierce, Jamara Griffin. World PremiereMarcus (Mackie) returns to the Philadelphia neighborhood where he came of age during the Black Power movement, protecting a dangerous secret in a struggle against the revolution he once embraced and rediscovering a forbidden love (Washington). ObselidiaDirector and screenwriter Diane BellCast: Gaynor Howe, Michael Piccirilli, Frank Hoyt TaylorWorld PremiereA lonely librarian believes love is obsolete until a road trip to Death Valley with a beguiling cinema projectionist teaches him otherwise. SkatelandDirector Anthony Burns; Screenwriters Anthony Burns, Brandon Freeman, Heath FreemanCast: Shiloh Fernandez, A.J. Buckley, Ashley Greene, Brett Cullen, Ellen Hollman, Heath FreemanWorld PremiereIn the early 1980s, in small-town Texas, dramatic events force a 19-year-old skating rink manager to look at his life in a very new way. Sympathy for DeliciousDirector - Mark Ruffalo; Screenwriter Christopher ThorntonCast - Orlando Bloom, Mark Ruffalo, Juliette Lewis, Laura Linney, John Carroll Lynch.World PremiereA newly paralyzed DJ gets more than he bargained for when he seeks out the world of faith healing. 3 BackyardsDirector and screenwriter - Eric MendelsohnCast - Embeth Davidtz, Edie Falco, Elias Koteas, Rachel Resheff, Kathryn Erbe, Danai Gurira. World PremiereA quiet suburban town becomes an intense emotional terrain for three residents over the course of one curious autumn day. Welcome to the RileysDirector - Jake ScottCast - James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart, Melissa Leo.World PremiereIn Scott's Welcome to the Rileys the lives of Doug and Lois Riley (Gandolfini and Leo) have been derailed by the loss of their daughter eight years ago. While at a business convention in New Orleans Doug encounters Mallory (Stewart), a young woman working in a strip club struggling to survive, who unexpectedly compels the Rileys to reclaim their marriage. Winter’s BoneDirector - Debra Granik; Screenwriters - Debra Granik and Anne RoselliniCast - Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Dale Dickey, Garret Dillahunt, Kevin Breznahan. World PremiereAn unflinching Ozark Mountain girl hacks through dangerous social terrain as she hunts down her drug-dealing father while trying to keep her family intact.
With very few documentaries ever making it to the local bijoux, the festival circuit is the only place to go to get a TV deal, and Sundance is the best spot to go for it. This year’s 16 films were selected from 862 submissions. Each film is a world premiere, or in other words, no one has seen it other than the selection committee and the filmmakers and their friends and families.
This year Competition focuses primarily on two things: Celebrities and the war in Afghanistan. While the former might be worth a looksee, the latter won't be appreciated for at least fifty to a hundred years when history students will look at these for term papers on the early 21st century. There are also a couple of the traditional Why We Suck films.
This year's contestants are:BhuttoDirectors Jessica Hernandez and Johnny O'HaraScreenwriter Johnny O'HaraWorld PremiereA riveting journey through the life and work of recently assassinated Benazir Bhutto, former Pakistani Prime Minister and a polarizing figure in the Muslim world. Casino Jack & The United States of MoneyDirector Alex GibneyWorld PremiereA probing investigation into the lies, greed and corruption surrounding D.C. super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his cronies. Family Affair Director: Chico ColvardWorld Premiere An uncompromising documentary that examines resilience, survival and the capacity to accommodate a parent's past crimes in order to satisfy the longing for family.Freedom RidersDirector Stanley NelsonWorld PremiereThe story behind a courageous band of civil rights activists called the Freedom Riders who in 1961 creatively challenged segregation in the American South. GasLandDirector Josh FoxWorld PremiereA cross-country odyssey uncovers toxic streams, dying livestock, flammable sinks and weakening health among rural citizens on the front lines of the natural gas drilling craze. The Tillman StoryDirector Amir Bar-LevWorld PremierePat Tillman gave up his professional football career to join the Army Rangers in 2002— and became an instant symbol of patriotic fervor and unflinching duty. But the truth about Pat Tillman is far more complex, and ultimately far more heroic, than the caricature created by the media. And when the government tried to turn his death into war propaganda, they took on the wrong family. From her home in the Santa Cruz mountains, Pat’s mother, Dannie Tillman, led the family’s crusade to reveal the truth beneath the mythology of their son’s life and death. Featuring candid and revelatory interviews with Pat Tillman's fellow soldiers as well as his family, Amir Bar-Lev’s emotional and insightful film not only shines a light on the shady aftermath of Pat's death and calls to task the entire chain of command, but also examines themes as timeless as the notion of heroism itself. Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant ChildDirector Tamra DavisWorld PremiereThe story of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose work defined, electrified and challenged an era, and whose untimely death at age 27 has made him a cultural icon. Joan Rivers: A Piece of WorkDirectors Ricki Stern and Annie SundbergWorld Premiere Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work takes the audience on a year long ride with Joan Rivers in her 75th year of life; it peels away the mask of an iconic comedian, while laying bare both the struggle and thrill of living life as a groundbreaking female performer. Filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg (The Devil Came on Horseback) expose the private dramas of this irreverent, legendary comedian as she fights to keep her career thriving in a business driven by youth and beauty. Lucky Director Jeffrey BlitzWorld PremiereThe story of what happens when ordinary people hit the lottery jackpot.My Perestroika Director Robin HessmanWorld PremiereAn intimate epic about the extraordinary lives of this last Soviet generation, Hessman’s feature doc-debut tells the stories of five Moscow schoolmates who were brought up behind the Iron Curtain, witnessed the joy and confusion of glasnost, and reached adulthood right as the world changed around them. Through first-person testimony, verité footage and vintage home movies, Hessman, who spent many years in Moscow, reveals a Russia rarely ever seen on film, where people are frank about their lives and forthcoming about their country. Engaging, funny, and positively inspiring, in My Perestroika politics is personal, honesty overshadows ideology, and history progresses one day, one life at a time. The OathDirector Laura PoitrasWorld PremiereFilmed in Yemen, The Oath tells the story of two men whose fateful encounter in 1996 set them on a course of events that led them to Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden, 9/11, Guantanamo, and the U.S. Supreme Court. RestrepoDirectors Sebastian Junger and Tim HetheringtonWorld PremiereTo make their doc Restrepo, award-winning journalists Hetherington and Junger (The Perfect Storm) embedded with the soldiers of Second Platoon, Battle Company, in eastern Afghanistan's rugged Korengal Valley as they fought to build and maintain a remote 15-man outpost in the Korengal, named “Restrepo” after a platoon medic who was killed in action. These two avoid all outside commentary and political context in order to present us war as it is actually lived by soldiers, through their own eyes and in their own words—the backbreaking labor, the deadly firefights, the boredom, the camaraderie. A Small ActDirector Jennifer ArnoldWorld PremiereA young Kenyan’s life changes dramatically when his education is sponsored by a Swedish stranger. Years later, he founds his own scholarship program to replicate the kindness he once received. Smash His CameraDirector Leon GastWorld PremiereOscar-winning filmmaker Leon Gast (When We Were Kings) directs this wildly entertaining portrait of Ron Galella, the self-proclaimed paparazzo superstar who pursued and made art of a celebrity world that despised him. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis sued him, Marlon Brando broke his jaw and Steve McQueen gave him a look that would have killed, if looks could kill. Inherent in the story of this notorious photographer are the complex issues of the right to privacy, freedom of the press and the ever-growing vortex of celebrity worship. He sneaked around and invaded and bribed and held up his camera and shot till he dropped (or someone dropped him). His was the artistry of the sniper. Yet Ron Galella found something essential in his real-life subjects, and he gave it permanence. 12th & DelawareDirectors Rachel Grady and Heidi EwingWorld PremiereThe abortion battle continues to rage in unexpected ways on an unassuming corner in America. Waiting for SupermanDirector Davis GuggenheimWorld PremiereWaiting for Superman examines the crisis of public education in the United States through multiple interlocking stories—from a handful of students and their families whose futures hang in the balance, to the educators and reformers trying to find real and lasting solutions within a dysfunctional system.
On Thursday, January 28, 2010, eight filmmakers and their films will be dispatched from Park City to cities across America, thanks to the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. The Sundance Institute will start the series/tour, Sundance Film Festival U.S.A, where select films that premiere at the 10-day Festival will also have simultaneous screenings nationwide starting that night of , January 28yh to theatres in eight cities, while featuring coinciding premiere screenings and topical events at the Festival in Utah.
For the first time the fest will provide audiences the opportunity to experience screenings direct from the Festival in their home town art houses and to engage in live conversation with Festival artists. An introduction video featuring Robert Redford and highlights from the Festival will precede the screenings.
Selections for films and filmmakers traveling to the eight cities will take place shortly after the programming announcement in December. All films will be selected from the official Sundance Film Festival program.
The Sundance Film Festival presents dramatic and documentary feature-length films from emerging and established artists, innovative short films, filmmaker forums and panels, live music performances ranging from solo acts to film composer events, cutting-edge media installations, and engaging community and student programs. And the Festival brings together the most original storytellers of our time with film industry players of every stripe.
Supported by the non-profit Sundance Institute, the Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most ground-breaking films of the past two decades, including sex, lies, and videotape, Maria Full of Grace, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, An Inconvenient Truth, Trouble the Water, and Central Station and, through its New Frontier initiative, has brought to audiences the cinematic works of media artists including Isaac Julian, Doug Aitken, Pierre Huyghe, Jennifer Steinkamp, and Matthew Barney.
Tickets will be available through each theater’s individual box office. Southwest Airlines is the official airline partner of Sundance Film Festival U.S.A.
Sundance Film Festival U.S.A. Across America participating cities and their theatres are: Michigan Theater Ann Arbor, MIwww.michtheater.org Coolidge Corner Theatre Brookline, MAwww.coolidge.org Brooklyn Acadamy of MusicBrooklyn, NYwww.bam.orgMusic Box Theatre Chicago, ILwww.musicboxtheatre.comDowntown Independent Los Angeles, CAwww.downtownindependent.comSundance Cinemas MadisonMadison, WIwww.sundancecinemas.com The Belcourt TheatreNashville, TNwww.belcourt.orgSundance Kabuki CinemasSan Francisco, CAwww.sundancecinemas.com
With this new-found attention came the city-specific Romanian Film Festival in NY, beginning 2006. Now in its fourth year, the festival is a collaboration of the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York, The Tribeca Film Festival and The Transylvania International Film Festival. This year's festival, the fourth annual, runs December 4-6, 2009, at Tribeca Cinemas in New York City. A companion film series will air nationally on Link TV and in New York on CUNY TV.
Titled "4 Years, 3 Days and 2 Decades Later," the festival features some of the most recent films from Romania's unique and critically exalted national body of contemporary cinema, keyed to the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. To this end, festival curator Mihai Chirilov has created a retrospective section, "Waving at the Revolution," which includes the opening night film Videograms of a Revolution.
Attending the festival will be actor Vlad Ivanov (Police, Adjective and The Other Irene), winner of the 2007 award for Best Supporting Actor of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association for 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days; director Horaţiu Mălăele (Silent Wedding), actor Andi VasluianuThe Other Irene), and, producer/director Tudor Giurgiu (Katalin Varga and Australia). (
"The Actors of the Romanian New Wave," a festival event Monday, Dec. 7, at 7:30 p.m., features a conversation with Ivanov, Mălăele and Vasluianu. It will be held at the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York, 200 East 38th St. (at Third Avenue), and admission is free.
The festival line up is:FeaturesHooked (Pescuit sportiv), 2008, directed by Adrian Sitaru (image above)Katalin Varga, 2009, directed by Peter StricklandThe Other Irene (Cealaltă Irina), 2009, directed by Andrei GrusnickziPolice, Adjective (Poliţist. adj.), 2009, directed by Corneliu Porumboiu - the Romanian selection for the 82nd Academy Awards. An IFC Films release.Silent Wedding (Nunta mută), 2008, directed by Horaţiu Mălăele
Special program: "Waving at the Revolution"Videograms of a Revolution (Videogramme einer Revolution), 1992, directed by Harun Farocki and Andrei UjicăThe Oak (Balanţa), 1992, directed by Lucian PintilieState of Things (Stare de fapt), 1995, directed by Stere Gulea
DocumentariesAustralia, 2009, directed by Claudiu MitcuThe Flower Bridge (Podul de flori), 2008, directed by Thomas Ciulei
Shorts11 PM, 2009, directed by Alexandru SavaBric-Brac, 2009, directed by Gabriel AchimFor Him (Pentru el), 2009, directed by Stanca RaduOli's Wedding (Nunta lui Oli), 2009, directed by Tudor JiurgiuRenovation (Renovare), 2009, directed by Paul NegoescuTarantyno, 2009, directed by Mircea Nestor
In partnership with the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York, Link TV will broadcast nationally the complementary film series The Romanian New Wave. The feature films included in this special presentation of Link TV will also air on cable in New York City on CUNY TV (Channel 75) starting Friday, December 4, at 10 p.m. ET with The Paper Will Be Blue. This series is curated by Steven Lawrence, Vice President of Music and Cultural Programming at Link TV. The schedule of films to air on CUNY TV is:
The Paper Will Be Blue (Hîrtia va fi albastră), 2006, directed by Radu Muntean, December 4Stuff and Dough (Marfa şi banii), 2001, directed by Cristi Puiu, December 11Exam (Examen), 2003, directed by Titus Muntean, December 1812:08 East of Bucharest (A fost sau n-a fost?), 2006, directed by Corneliu Porumboiu, December 25Love Sick (Legături bolnăvicioase), 2006, directed by Tudor Giurgiu, January 1
The following films will be broadcast nationally on Link TV. For a full schedule and program information visit: http://www.linktv.org/Features
12:08 East of Bucharest (A fost sau n-a fost?)2006directed by Corneliu PorumboiuExam (Examen)2003directed by Titus MunteanLove Sick (Legături bolnăvicioase)2006directed by Tudor GiurgiuThe Paper Will Be Blue (Hîrtia va fi albastră)2006directed by Radu MunteanStuff and Dough (Marfa şi banii)2001directed by Cristi Puiu
Bar de zi and Other Stories (Bar de zi şi alte povestiri)2007directed by Corina RaduCold Waves (Război pe calea undelor)2007directed by Alexandru SolomonTestimony (Testimonial)2008directed by Răzvan Georgescu
All films will be screened in the original language with English subtitles, introduced by Romanian film critics.
Tickets: Adult, $10. Student/Senior, $7. On sale at the box office starting December 4. For more information: http://www.icrny.org/The 4th Annual Romanian Film Festival in New YorkDecember 4-6, 2009 Tribeca Cinemas54 Varick Street (at Laight Street)New York, NY
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