We ran into a filmmaker from last year's festival who is part of a team documenting this year's events on digital video. The purpose? "We were told that because Robert Redford couldn't attend any of the festival this year, he wanted to have a document of it that would make him feel like he was here," the filmmaker reports.
Twins Keep Skeet From Nobody's Baby Another guy who wasn't at the festival was Skeet Ulrich, who couldn't make the world premiere of the Raising Arizona-esque Nobody's Baby Thursday night because he and wife Georgina Cates are expecting twins at any moment, director David Seltzer told the audience.
Seltzer, whose previous films include the very non-Sundance-y Punchline and Shining Through, said he "invented" his new film just so it could be part of the Sundance lineup — a ploy that worked. The film — which stars Ulrich and a mutton-chopped, Southern-accented Gary Oldman as bumbling career criminals who end up with an orphaned baby — does not yet have distribution.
The Sundance Bubble It's easy to let time stand still when you're in Park City. Movies all day, parties all night; there's no time for TV news or the newspaper when Variety and The Hollywood Reporter are available everywhere. That said, it's easy to miss things like the screaming New York Post cover story Thursday: "Rape, Lies, and Videotape: Victim Relives Horror Caught Live on Frat House Film." The headline and photo, of course, were referring to Sundance film Raw Deal: A Question of Consent, which sold to major indie distributor Artisan Thursday night.
The Post detailed the screenings of the controversial film here, where audiences are firmly divided on whether the filmmakers should have shown graphic footage of a lengthy sexual encounter between three fraternity brothers at the University of Florida and a stripper who had been hired to dance at their party.
The filmmakers, Billy Corben and Alfred Spelling, took time off from the University of Miami to document and make the film. They made a healthy six-figure deal with Artisan, whose experience marketing unique films (The Blair Witch Project, Pi, Chuck & Buck) is a boon to the provocative film.
Artisan has agreed to release the film as an unrated "director's cut" and will not require the filmmakers to censor any portion of the film. The version shown at Sundance, however, was considered to be a work in progress, and it's likely that creative edits will be made before the movie hits theaters. Numerous major distributors had expressed interest in the film, but only Artisan and Lions Gate, as independents, could realistically have released the film in an unrated form.
While Raw Deal has been the buzz film of the festival, there are still quite a few movies with distributors hovering. Jump Tomorrow signed a deal with IFC Films earlier in the week, while Waking Life has offers on the table and more on the way. The Deep End reportedly could leave Sunday with the biggest deal of the festival — somewhere in the mid-seven figures — while The Believer, The Business of Strangers, and Scratch continue to generate interest but have no deals as of yet.
This year's festival may go down in the record books as the sleepiest of recent memory, both in attitude and deal-making. Perhaps the complete absence of Redford from this year's fest really means something?
Hedwig Vamps for the Masses For years, the Sundance Film Festival has attracted major rock talents to perform at its evening parties. But we have never seen as vibrant, exciting, and remarkable a musical performance here as the brilliant, five-song set by Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which is the subject of a Broadway musical and one of the best films in this year's dramatic competition.
John Cameron Mitchell, the actor-director-screenwriter who brought his transsexual Hedwig from the stage to film, took the brilliantly realized picture's songs back to the stage Thursday night. Mitchell was joined by his band, The Angry Inch (composer and lyricist Stephen Trask and other members of his film and stage band). Mitchell quickly cut a swath through the cynicism and jaded nature of Sundance audiences, leaving the crowd at Club Creation screaming for more.
The Busiest Man at Sundance While many would say that film festival co-director and programming head Geoffrey Gillmore is busier than anyone else at the festival, we've found someone to challenge his crown this year. We've known good-guy entertainment lawyer Micah Green for years — he has worked for prominent entertainment firm Sloss Special Projects at the last four festivals, selling films to top distributors. But this year, he added "performer" to his title.
Green, 28, left full-time work for Sloss after last year's festival to record his debut album, which is produced by singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik. The native New Yorker has been playing music since age 15 and writing songs since 22. But law school, marriage, and a successful career kept his aspirations of musical stardom on hold, while he helped broker some of the top Sundance deals of the recent past. Green came to the festival this year, again working with Sloss, but also with a finished self-titled CD that he promoted through performances at the ASCAP Sundance Music Café and the Hypnotic.com party. Acclaimed radio programmer and dot-com exec Chris Douridas has called Green the best unsigned artist of the year for his mix of folk and rock, and his performances have been extremely well-received. Whether he returns next year with a record deal or five or six films to sell, Green feels fulfilled. "I can't lie — I would love to take music to the next level, but I also love what I do and will be happy [regardless]."
Children of the Revolution Utah State legislators viewed a special Sundance-sponsored screening of Invisible Revolution Wednesday, a competition documentary that examines the burgeoning youth white supremacist movement and the Anti-Racist Action League, which attempts to diffuse the former's efforts. The showing of the film to legislators is in direct relation to a hate-crimes bill currently sitting before the state body. "This is precedent-setting," said Nicole Guillemet, co-director of the festival. "To see one of our films actively address crucial public policy is extremely significant."
Goody Two-Shoes We were on our way to a party in the tony Caledonian condos when we spied a notice taped inside each elevator, with specific paragraphs highlighted in yellow. Upon closer inspection, the notice revealed itself to be the part of the condo rental agreement detailing renter responsibility for the units: "Rental Guest agrees to be responsible for any damage occurring in the residence as a result of their occupancy, normal wear and tear excepted. Damage shall include, but not be limited to, carpet stains, cigarette burns, missing items, damaged electronic equipment etc."
Whew. Good thing nobody at these parties smokes, drinks, or listens to music.