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Sundance 2010.

The Auteurs Daily

Sundance 2010

"Can Sundance's new director redefine not just the festival but also the entire independent film industry?" asks Brooks Barnes in today's New York Times. "For the first time in two decades, America's premiere film festival has a new director, John Cooper, and his primary goal has been to shift Sundance sharply back toward its arty roots. 'Less commercial, more independent' is how he sums up this year's selections. While the roster is still stuffed with stars, Mr Cooper may have accomplished his goal. Movies on the whole are tougher and smaller. There are fewer studio premieres. In a move many call long overdue, Sundance will introduce a section called Next, focused on 'low- or no-budget' films."

As the reviews come in and, eventually, even after the festival wraps on January 31, coverage of the coverage will be indexed here.









Smash His Camera




Four Lions





The Red Chapel





The Company Men


The Extra Man

Jack Goes Boating

The Kids Are All Right

The Killer Inside Me

Please Give

The Runaways





Daddy Longlegs

Teenage Paparazzo



First, speaking of Cooper, Eric Kohn interviews him and director of programming Trevor Groth for the Wall Street Journal; as part of Filmmaker's Sundance 2010 special section, Scott Macaulay talks with Cooper and Alicia Van Couvering interviews Groth.

To begin exploring the 100+ features and around 70 shorts, you could begin at the site itself, of course. But Stephen Saito has put together one helluva "Cheat Sheet" for IFC with synopses, links, the works.

Cinematical's been posting primers on selected features and now gathers them all in one place. James Rocchi picks the films he's looking forward to for MSN Movies.

MovieMaker's Jennifer M Wood talks with the filmmakers who have work in the Next section. Writes new LA Weekly film editor Karina Longworth: "If Next is partly a marketing gimmick - an institutional intervention to make it easier for a press corps easily distracted by shiny objects to care about starless films - perhaps it's fitting that its first incarnation feels less like a revolution than a rebranding. I've seen five of the eight films premiering in NEXT, and none reinvents the Sundance wheel. They're more like low-cost reproductions of wheels we've seen before."

In the Los Angeles Times, John Horn and Steven Zeitchik preview the Park City at Midnight section. Also, Kenneth Turan: "This is an institution that walks the line between two competing notions of what a celebration of cinema should be, straddling as best it can a gap that is especially evident this year. What Sundance is eternally caught between is the Scylla and Charybdis of commerce and art."

Updates, 1/22: Barnes's NYT piece, the one that's opened this entry, has ticked off Glenn Kenny - who also recalls a rather remarkable chance encounter.

IndieWIRE has a guide now, too. The Playlist selects 15 films to look forward to.

"On balance this looks like a terrific Sundance lineup, light on dreary minimalism and middle-class indie navel gazing." Salon's Andrew O'Hehir presents "the storylines I see emerging as I wend my way to Park City."

Update, 1/24: Movie Geeks United! are talking with filmmakers who have work screening at Sundance and Slamdance.


Dennis Lim looks back on the history of Sundance and comes up with a batch of top tens.

"At the Sundance Film Festival four years ago, the global-warming debate took center stage with the premiere of an alarming work, the director Davis Guggenheim's documentary An Inconvenient Truth," writes Michael Cieply in the NYT. "This year Ondi Timoner, a judge in the festival's United States documentaries competition - in which Mr Guggenheim's Waiting for Superman, about the failures of public education, is an entry - is taking a break from a directing project of her own. Titled Cool It, Ms Timoner's partly completed film, based on the work of the environmental writer Bjorn Lomborg, aims to quiet the global-warming alarm bells that Mr Guggenheim and his narrator, Al Gore, set ringing. The documentary world, rife with impassioned advocacy, may now be poised for some genuine debate."

A slide show at FilmInFocus: Ray Pride's Park City.

Updates, 1/25: "Tasked with 'celebrating experimentation and the convergence of art and film,' the New Frontier section at Sundance has been exhibiting feature films and installations for the last four years. Shari Frilot is the programmer, and spent the entire year reviewing work from new artists, figuring out which part of the ground being broken she wants to put in front of the Sundance audience." Alicia Van Couvering talks with her for Filmmaker.

Listening. IFC's Alison Willmore and Matt Singer discuss the festival so far.

Update, 1/26: RE Tinch has a thought-provoking collection of comments from the "Cinerama Futurama: The Future of the Theatrical Experience" panel.

Update, 1/27: Here's another panel, or rather, a roundtable of producers wondering what's next:




"IndieWIRE's poll of dozens of Park City-present critics and bloggers is quickly making clear the best and worst of this year's fest," reports Peter Knegt (on January 28). "Hundreds of grades have been entered and will continue to be entered in the coming days, but as things stand Josh Fox's doc GasLand and Banksy's 'spotlight surprise' Exit Through the Gift Shop are the best-received competition and non-competition films, respectively."

Also: "The Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking was awarded to Drunk History: Douglass & Lincoln, directed by Jeremy Konner, written by Derek Waters, and starring Don Cheadle and Will Ferrell. Its synopsis according to the festival: 'On March 22nd, Jen Kirkman drank two bottles of wine and then discussed a historical event.'"

"For all its problems, the festival remains one of the most important in the world and the foremost launching pad for American independents." Manohla Dargis looks back on the highlights for the New York Times.

Updates, 2/9: Catching up a bit after Rotterdam. Posted a bit on the major awards here. As for the rest...

"Charles-Olivier Michaud's Snow and Ashes won the Slamdance Grand Jury Sparky Award for best narrative film," reports Jeremy Kay for Screen. "The Grand Jury Sparky Award for best documentary went to Mark Claywell's American Jihadist."

Sundance Institute and NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) have announced the winners of the 2010 Sundance / NHK International Filmmakers Awards," reports Peter Knegt at indieWIRE. "The winning filmmakers and projects are: Amat Escalante, Heli from Mexico; Andrey Zvyagintsev, Elena from Russia; Daisuke Yamaoka, The Wonderful Lives at Asahigaoka (written with Yugo Eto) from Japan; and Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild (written with Lucy Alibar) from the United States."

More: "Obselidia directed by Diane Bell, is the recipient of this year's Alfred P Sloan Prize."

"Whether it be DIY's direction, breakout filmmakers, or undiscovered gems, Sundance changes the chatter every year," blogs Mike Jones. "In that spirit, here are my four take-aways from Sundance 2010 (valid until Sundance 2011)."

"Sundance had the Brits to thank as the Utah festival made a concerted attempt to lose its image as a brand heaven and re-focus on discovering filmmakers," argues Kaleem Aftab in the Independent.

Ray Pride gathers nine readings of this year's edition.

For news and tips throughout the day every day, follow @theauteursdaily (RSS).


I heard that “low to no” budget was not clearly defined as a specific dollar amount, but at the discretion of Sundance programmers. I’m not sure I consider $1 million dollar film “low to no” budget. I was hoping that NEXT could embrace films made for under $200,000. There are plenty of good ones in that range. Maybe NEXT year. Of the eight films that sold during the festival, seven had A-List stars and their budgets (those I could find published) ranged from $3 to $13 million. That’s some expensive discovery. We’ll see what happens now that the festival is over.

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