7 items from 2017
On Friday in Park City, the bidding wars opened for business. Fox Searchlight co-president Nancy Utley began and ended her day at the Eccles Theatre, where the Sundance premieres culminated with the big acquisition title, “The Big Sick,” directed by Michael Showalter and produced by Judd Apatow. Appetites remain high for Sundance titles, but last year proved to be a teachable moment for indie distribution: There’s a big difference between being able to compete for a title, and successfully gauging what will work in the marketplace.
“The marketplace is always changing, but now it is changing more rapidly, both on the production and consumer side,” said Searchlight co-president Stephen Gilula. “The bar for theatrical viability keeps going up. While we are talking about other models, Searchlight is still a global, theatrically driven company, trying to make money on each individual title. We haven’t changed our acquisition calculus, but »
- Anne Thompson, Chris O'Falt and Graham Winfrey
There’s usually a film every year that premieres at Sundance and goes on to do very well at the Oscars, almost a year later. Think Brooklyn (2015), Whiplash (2014), Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) and Precious (2009). This year it could be Captain Fantastic, but most definitely will be Manchester by the Sea. And next year it could be Dee Rees's Mudbound...
- Murtada Elfadl
Ballots were due on Friday and the nail-biting will finally cease at 5am on Tuesday, Jan. 24. It’s been another jam-packed phase one for Oscar season, though one that didn’t have quite as many twists and turns as you’d expect. After all, a certain musical started the season as the presumed frontrunner, and it hasn’t budged since.
Of course, as soon as you think you’ve got it all figured out, the Academy keeps you on your toes. So how will the nominations for the 89th annual Oscars play out next week? There will be surprises, surely. There always are. Figuring out what they might be is the fun. Check out my final picks if you’re curious to know one guy’s opinion, but as we head into this final lap, a few lingering questions remain.
How many best picture nominees will there be?
In the »
- Kristopher Tapley
A year ago at Sundance, #OscarsSoWhite and related outrage over a lack of diversity in Hollywood fueled an industrywide push of films with people of color, igniting a record $17.5 million bidding war for “The Birth of a Nation” and, later on, helping propel “Moonlight” and other films toward year-end Oscar campaigns.
This year, widespread anger over the presidential election and a celeb-packed Park City offshoot of the Women’s March on Washington raise the question: Will other issues that newly disenfranchised audiences care about boost interest in any of the slew of politically charged films at Sundance, helping to sow the seeds for another “Fahrenheit 9/11”?
There’s certainly money to be made from political films that cater to audiences who feel outraged, as shown by right-wing docs that have galvanized audiences angered by President Obama. 2016’s top-grossing doc by a wide margin was Dinesh D’Souza’s “Hillary’s America, »
- Gregg Goldstein
“Kate Plays Christine” director Robert Greene and “Cameraperson” director Kirsten Johnson are among the filmmakers who will receive cash prizes from Rooftop Films. Greene will be awarded a monetary grant of $15,000 to help finish his new film, “Bisbee ‘17,” and Johnson will receive a $10,000 grant to support her upcoming film, “Deadpan.” Rooftop Films is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and showcasing the work of New York City filmmakers and musicians. As part of its mission, Rooftop provides grants to filmmakers, rents equipment at low-cost to artists and non-profits, and organizes film screenings.
“The Rooftop Filmmakers Fund grant committee was blown away by the quality of applicants this year, and the projects we selected feature powerful personal stories and bold political statements—often within the same film,” said Dan Nuxoll, Artistic Director of Rooftop Films. “In a year full of confusing twists and turns, we are excited to be supporting several »
- Brent Lang
This year’s Sundance Film Festival is mere days from unspooling in snowy Park City, Utah and, with it comes a brand new year of indie filmmaking to get excited about. As ever, the annual festival is playing home to dozens of feature films, short offerings and technologically-influenced experiences, and while there’s plenty to anticipate seeing, we’ve waded through the lineup to pick out the ones we’re most looking forward to checking out.
From returning filmmakers like Alex Ross Perry and Gillian Robesepierre to a handful of long-gestating passion projects and at least one film about a ghost, we’ve got a little something for every stripe of film fan.
Read More: Sundance 2017: Check Out the Full Lineup, Including Competition Titles, Premieres and Shorts
Ahead, check out 20 titles we’re excited to finally check out at this year’s festival.
The trifecta behind previous Sundance »
- Chris O'Falt, Eric Kohn, Graham Winfrey, Jude Dry, Kate Erbland, Steve Greene and Zack Sharf
Premiering in competition at Sundance, Jasper’s crowd-pleasing debut “Patti Cake$”follows a girl from New Jersey with big dreams of hip-hop stardom — a character close to the writer-director’s heart: “I was a chubby, blond Jersey kid writing raps and making an ass of myself at talent shows,” he says.
Coming from a feature-film rookie best-known for such music videos as Florence + the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over,” it’s an ambitiously eclectic story, for which he also wrote some 15 songs, from hip-hop to hair metal, as well as the score. Although he studied film history at Wesleyan (where he met Benh Zeitlin, who went on to direct “Beasts of the Southern Wild”), Jasper initially imagined himself as a musician. But stints in a series of bands, including New York City group the Fever, and a New Orleans gig working with the nonprofit arts collective Court 13 (collaborating on »
- Gordon Cox
7 items from 2017
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