April 23, 2014

Tag Archives: Sundance Utah

Sundance: “V/H/S” and “Liberal Arts” lead latest sales deals

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: The Sundance sales continue, as studios snatch up hot properties in the second half of the annual film festival.
Unlike in past years, a strong number of buzzworthy titles have emerged from the 2012 Sundance fest. Even better, most of them are finding homes at supportive distributors, which means we’ll be able to see them sooner rather than later.
So, which films sold in the last 48 hours? Let’s run through the latest acquisitions:
- Mangolia Pictures grabbed the rights to the found-footage horror movie “V/H/S,” an anthology directed by six directors: Adam Wingard, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence, David Bruckner, Joe Swanberg and Ti West. The best stories out of Sundance involved audience reactions to “V/H/S,” which included one person fainting and another vomiting. Awesome.
- Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions picked up U.S. rights to “Arbitrage,” Richard Gere’s financial drama. The film was sold for an estimated $2 million.
- Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions partnered with Samuel Goldwyn Films for the rights to “Robot and Frank.”
- And finally, IFC Films grabbed Josh Radnor’s “Liberal Arts,” a well-received follow up to the slight but enjoyable “happythankyoumoreplease.”
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Bingham Ray, Champion of Indepedent Film, Dies at 57

By Roger Friedman
HollywoodNews.com: This is heartbreaking. Bingham Ray, one of the nice guys, a champion of independent film, died today at age 57. He suffered two strokes at Sundance. Bingham guided dozens of indie hits at various studios including his October Films in the 1990s. He worked with the Sundance Institute and the San Francisco Film Society most recently. He also ran United Artists in 2001. To say Bingham was a beloved figure is an understatement. He stood for everything that was good and decent in quality films. It was not an easy task. Big studio chiefs live in mansions in Beverly Hills, have drivers and Rolls Royces. People like Bingham help get made the movies people love and swear by. He will be sorely missed and not forgotten.
The Sundance Institute Issues the following statement:
“It is with great sadness that the Sundance Institute acknowledges the passing of Bingham Ray, cherished independent film executive and most recently Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society. On behalf of the independent film community here in Park City for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and elsewhere, we offer our support and condolences to his family. Bingham’s many contributions to this community and business are indelible, and his legacy will not be soon forgotten. “
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Is Sundance Film Festival 2012 a Bust?

By Roger Friedman
HollywoodNews.com: I was sorry to miss this year’s Sundance Film Festival–my first absence in eons. But from all reports it’s kind of a fizzle, with most of the films not working out they were expected. So far sources tell me “Abritrage,” Nick Jarecki’s film with Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon has done well. It will probably be the only big studio purchase, based on its names and production values. “Robot and Frank” with Frank Langella is said to be charming but no blockbuster. Joe Berlinger’s “Under African Skies,” about Paul Simon‘s “Graceland” reunion, has nice reviews.
But by and large, this year’s festival seems like it was overstuffed with documentaries and very low on films with any potential sizzle. A Bradley Cooper movie sold to CBS Films. (No one is sure what CBS Films is; they bought a Lasse Hallstrom movie last year that’s never come out.)
The big news from Sundance after the first four crucial days? Tracy Morgan was hospitalized for altitude sickness-not attitude. The very popular and lovely exec Bingham Ray apparently is in another hospital with a stroke. (We are sending you best wishes.) The police shut down a private party hosted by WME.
But otherwise, the main players–Weinstein, Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics, and Paramount –have been silent. Sundance runs in cycles, so this year may be the low trend. It was bound to happen. Meanwhile, I keep getting endless emails from publicists about parties and gift lounges totally removed from the film festival itself. This has been the problem for years. You know things are bad when blogs are reporting that there are parties to watch the Giants game. Paris Hilton has arrived, which means the film festival is over.
So many films didn’t make Sundance this year–like Terry George‘s very funny Irish comedy, and Larry Kasdan’s comedy with Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline. “Greetings from Tim Buckley” with Penn Badgley also didn’t make it. Paramount should have held “Young Adult” for Sundance, too. Still unscreened is Helen Hunt having sex with a guy (John Hawkes) who’s attached to a dialysis machine. But films featuring Bruce Willis and a few other minor stars are getting panned left and right in the trades. Catherine Zeta Jones failed to make the trip at all.
Today a lot of press will decamp back to L.A. for tomorrow’s Oscar nominations.
I love Sundance. Despite the snow, the $12 cab rides, the [...]

Tracy Morgan collapses, is hospitalized at Sundance. Was alcohol a factor?

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Once again, the main story out of the Sundance Film Festival has little to do with movies, themselves.
That’s because “30 Rock” star Tracy Morgan has been hospitalized after collapsing at an awards ceremony in Park City, Utah. Gossip sites such as TMZ immediately started reporting that Morgan was intoxicated, quoting sources on the scene. But CBS News ran a statement from Morgan’s reps saying those reports are “100 percent false,” and claimed “a combination of exhaustion and altitude” for Morgan’s health issues.
Now, I’ve been following countless movie journalists at Sundance who are exhausted and suffering the same altitude that affected Morgan, and they manage to stay on their feet. They even manage to work while up in Park City. Imagine that?! So it’s up to you which version of Morgan’s story you choose to believe. Medical exams showed no drugs or alcohol in Morgan’s system, and Morgan sober still comes across as Morgan drunk. Deciding between the two could be tough.
Either way, we wish Morgan a speedy recovery. And Sundance marches on.
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Sundance: Is “Beasts of the Southern Wild” the film to beat?

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: The Sundance Film Festival officially is underway, with a full slate of press and public screenings opening the doors to a flood of fresh news spilling out of Park City. Let’s do what we can to keep up with the latest happenings in the cold and snowy film capital:
- Bold statements already are being made about “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” a surreal father-daughter drama that premiered Friday. Matt Patches, movie editor at Hollywood.com, claims on Twitter that although it’s only day two, “Beasts” is the film to beat.
- eFilmCritic’s Erik Childress wasn’t nearly as impressed with the opening night film, “Wish You Were Here.” While the film, which stars Joel Edgerton, picked up a few supporters, Childress zinged, “WISH YOU WERE HERE? Wish I had left. Another film sucks on the festival circuit. Big surprise.”
- Audiences got a look at “The Raid,” the action hit that took the Toronto International Film Festival by storm. Devin Faraci seemed to capture the mood when he tweeted, “The Raid is an action masterpiece. Believe the hype.”
- And finally, the documentary “Searching for Sugar Man,” which tells the story of musician Sixto Rodriquez, is getting a lot of positive buzz. Many referred to it as a frontrunner to win the fest’s audience prize, while Sharon Waxman of The Wrap simply stated, “Someone buy this fast.”
UPDATE: Sony Pictures Classics listened. They picked up the rights to “Sugar Man,” according to THR.
Keep it locked here for Sundance updates through the weekend.
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Sundance: Peter Jackson’s “West of Memphis” sheds new light on dark case

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: The Peter Jackson-produced “West of Memphis,” which extends the research done by the “Paradise Lost” series of documentaries, played the Sundance Film Festival this morning, revealing a surprise few expected.
New witnesses who claim they know the real murderer.
Attorneys for the West Memphis Three, who recently were released after pleading guilty to crimes they continue to say they didn’t commit, say that three new witnesses, all friends of Michael Hobbs, Jr., have come forward to claim that Hobbs told them that “my uncle Terry [Hobbs] murdered those three little boys.”
As THR notes, Terry Hobbs’ DNA was “found in a shoelace used to restrain one of the victims … [and] has been a subject of much speculation despite never having been charged with a crime. Indeed, he figures prominently in the last third of the most recent ‘Paradise Lost’ film, ‘Purgatory,’ because he was seen near the victims and cannot totally account for his whereabouts during the time the murders occurred.”
Jackson’s “Memphis” will have its premiere in Sundance Friday afternoon, but this news came out of press screenings held at the film festival on Friday morning.
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Sundance 2012: What’s Up?

By Roger Friedman
HollywoodNews.com: The 2012 Sundance Film Festival films were announced recently. And while the list of those that made it looks interesting, Sundance may not have the star power of previous seasons. Several movies that were anticipated simply vanished and didn’t make the cut. One that I thought might have a Sundance start, Lawrence Kasdan’s “Darling Companion,” with Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline, is instead opening the Santa Barbara Film Festival on January 26th. Also missing: Penn Badgley as Jeff Buckley in “Greetings from Tim Buckley.” I know the people who made that film thought they were heading to Sundance. Oscar nominated director/writer Terry George has a lovely film with “Whole Lotta Sole.” Somehow, it didn’t make the cut. A natural for Sundance, Walter Salles‘s “On the Road,” was not even mentioned. And the James Franco-(John) Carter art film collaboration, “Maladies.” also is MIA. I had heard it was supposed to go into the New Frontiers section, but there was a snafu. And still, weirdly, nowhere despite a lot of interest: Darryl Roodt‘s “Winnie” with Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard; and Geoffrey Fletcher’s “Violet and Daisy,” with Alexis Bliedel and Saorise Ronan. I’ve actually seen the latter, and it seemed like it was prfect for Sundance. It’s very hip and fun. There were probably more than just these films.
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Can “Tyrannosaur” stomp into the Oscar race? – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: I arrived late to the “Tyrannosaur” party, though I’d read the attempts at Hollywood Elsewhere, In Contention and elsewhere to drum up support for Paddy Considine’s indie cast, particularly Olivia Colman as Hanna, a shop keeper who opens herself up to a surly, destructive drunk (Peter Mullan) with devastating physical, spiritual and emotional results.
The film won trophies out of Sundance and gradually has been picking up support on the awards circuit. It recently nabbed a pack-leading seven nominations from the British Independent Film Awards, putting it in the company of Steve McQueen’s “Shame” and Tomas Alfredson’s “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.”
And do you know what? It belongs there.
As suspected, Considine’s directorial debut is a redemption project, with broken souls leaning on each other as they find their way through difficult times. Like a traditional Irish wake, it is, at times, depressing, celebratory, devastating and boisterous. Yet the script’s honest probes of such taboo subjects as rape, alcoholism and savage, blue-collar violence are unflinching, which pushes “Tyrannosaur” past like-minded, melodramatic Sundance pap.
What you’ve heard about Colman is true. Her Hanna is a bruised and battered individual hiding behind her wavering faith. And when her belief system’s is challenged by an abusive husband (Eddie Marsan), the actress allows numerous difficult emotions to flood across her tranquil face. Considine’s focus shifts from Colman to Mullan at times, though both are so good at wallowing in the human pain of this raw story that “Tyrannosaur” rarely misses a step.
Can grassroots efforts help Strand Releasing get “Tyrannosaur” in front of enough Oscar voters to push the challenging drama into awards consideration? Anything’s possible. The performances are worthy. But every year, we see casualties of the awards marathon that, while deserved, can’t gain or maintain traction. It will be interesting to see how “Tyrannosaur” fares.
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Sundance: Film fans invited to “Life In a Day” world premiere

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: The most exciting aspect of this year’s Sundance Film Festival – aside from Kevin Smith’s self-generated publicity circus — has been the innovative initiatives made to bring Park City, Utah to the four corners of film nation.
Even those who were unable to travel to Sundance this year have been able to access such films as Gregg Araki’s “Kaboom” via On Demand. And now, film fans are getting ready to witness the world premiere of another project at Sundance via the magic of the World Wide Web.
“Life In a Day,” the film that was produced by Ridley Scott, directed by Kevin Macdonald, and created with the help of thousands of YouTube users across the world, will premiere Thursday, Jan. 27 as part of the Sundance Film Festival, and everyone is invited to attend. The evening – from the red carpet arrivals to the feature film and the interactive Q&A — will all be streamed live on YouTube.
Here are the details, courtesy of a press release:
World premiere of “Life in a Day,”
Thursday, January 27
8:15 p.m. ET/6:15p.m. MT/5:15 p.m. PT

WHERE: www.youtube.com/lifeinaday


TWITTER HASH: #Lifeinaday


“Life in a Day” is a user-generated feature-length documentary film, shot on a single day, July 24, 2010. Supported by YouTube, it enlisted the global community to capture a moment of their lives on camera. “Life in a Day” brings together the most compelling footage into a 90-minute film, crafted by Macdonald, Executive Producer Ridley Scott and their team, to offer a unique experience that shows, in beautiful and, at moments, harrowing honesty, what it is like to be alive on Earth today.


See you, and “Life,” online.
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Sundance buzz swirls around “Margin Call” with Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: The film industry continues to brave the harsh winter weather and long lines in Park City, Utah, for the annual Sundance Film Festival. Early word out of Sundance usually revolves around the actual films. As the fest progresses this week, though, we’ll hear more and more about distribution deals and purchases (particularly on Sunday, when Kevin Smith hosts that live “Red State” auction immediately after his new film premieres).
The first film at this year’s fest to generate both positive reviews and purchase buzz, however, is “Margin Call,” a financial thriller written and directed by J.C. Chandor that stars Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto and Paul Bettany. Set during the early stages of the current financial crisis, it has been compared favorably to Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street” (a good sign).
Not so good, however, was the Twitter response at the start of the fest when “Call” was screened in a tiny theater, meaning several press and industry folks who wanted to see the film were turned away.
But those who saw it were very impressed. In fact, sources are telling the Hollywood Reporter that “several offers have already come in” for the film, and that The Weinstein Co., Phase 4, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions and Focus were among the reps who made it into that first industry screening.
The film, according to THR, is “screening in the festival’s Premieres section, with its first public screening coming Tuesday night,” so we’ll continue to track the film’s progress as Sundance chugs on.
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