Sundance: Raw Deals Surface

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?

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