2009 Sundance Film Festival Announces Awards

Press Release

The jury and audience award-winners of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival were announced at the Festival’s closing Awards Ceremony hosted by actor Jane Lynch in Park City, Utah. Films receiving jury awards were selected from the four categories: U.S. Dramatic and Documentary Competition and World Dramatic and Documentary Competition. Films in these categories were also eligible for the 2009 Sundance Film Festival Audience Awards. The U.S. Audience Awards presented by Honda were announced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The World Cinema Audience Awards were announced by Benjamin Bratt. Highlights from the Awards Ceremony can be seen on the Sundance Channel, the Official Television Network of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, beginning Sunday, January 25, as well as on the official Festival website, www.sundance.org/festival.

“This has been a truly remarkable year for Sundance in ways even we did not fully predict. We opened the Festival with animation and closed with science fiction, and in between showcased some of the best films we’ve ever seen,” says Geoffrey Gilmore, Director, Sundance Film Festival. “People ask us how independent film has evolved over the past 25 years and the answer is, quite simply, it’s better.” more…

Leitner’s Mondo 2009 Sundance – Saturday

Tonight’s awards ceremony handed out 26 awards to feature-length films. You can peruse the list here

This year 118 features were programmed from 21 countries, including 42 first-time directors. U.S. submissions of feature-length films totaled 1,905. An additional 1,756 features were submitted from outside the U.S.

That makes a total of 3661 features submitted, or 230 days of screening if viewed in their entirety. How does Sundance manage it? more…

Leitner’s Mondo 2009 Sundance – Friday

Yesterday all you heard about here in Park City, at every bus stop and bar stool, was the critic who poked the producer’s rep in the schnoz.

In fact, the first email I received yesterday morning from a filmmaker friend said, “aren’t you glad Jeff Dowd doesn’t know about you?�

Dowd, a/k/a The Dude, a/k/a the Big Lebowski, apparently chased Variety’s John Anderson into a restaurant after Anderson indicated his dislike for Dirt! The Movie, a Documentary Competition film that Dowd is repping. more…

Leitner’s Mondo 2009 Sundance – Thursday

Oh no, you plead, not another blog about adventures in festival transportation! You have my promise this will be the last.

Tonight I decided to pack it in early and head back to the condo. I’m beat. Last night I’d jammed on electric guitar until 6 a.m. at New York entertainment attorney Jonathan Gray’s condo, a yearly tradition for which he supplies guitars and amps–always a Sundance highlight of mine. (This year Jonathan has legal credits in twelve Sundance dramas including Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire, Against the Current, and Big Fan.)

At the Main Street bus terminal I waited and waited in a light drizzle for the No. 7 bus to Kimball Junction. A young man soon joined me. He wore a droopy dark jacket over a black tee with a huge white skull like Jack Skellington’s. A silver ring protruded from his lower lip and lanky black hair fell from his side part across his forehead. While waiting, I asked what films he’d seen. He loved World Cinema Dramatic Competition entry “Louis-Michel,â€? saying it reminded him of the work of Jean-Pierre Jeunet who directed one of his two favorite films, Amélie. He had tickets to The Informers and Moon in the Premieres section, both of which he was anxious to see in the morning. more…

Company 3 Makes the Grade with Four Films at Sundance

brooklyns-finest.jpgPress Release
Stefan Sonnenfeld Handles DI for Antoine Fuqua’s Acclaimed Brooklyn’s Finest

Company 3, which provides DI color grading and other post services for films, has a strong presence at this year’s Sundance Film Festival having handled final grading for four films featured in the fest. Among them is Antoine Fuqua’s violent cop drama Brooklyn’s Finest, which was the first film sold at this year’s Sundance, going to Sony Pictures and Senator Entertainment. The DI grade for that film was performed by Company 3’s Stefan Sonnenfeld, who worked in conjunction with cinematographer Patrick Murguia. more…

2009 Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award Winners Announced

egyptian-marquee.jpgPress Release
The Sundance Institute and NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) announced the winners of the 2009 Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Awards. The four winners were selected from 12 finalists by members of an international jury which included: Ira Sachs, Yesim Ustaoglu, Katherine Dieckmann, Fernando Eimbcke, Sebastian Cordero, and Ronan Bennett; and a Japanese Jury that included Masato Harada, Bong-Ou Lee, and Hiroyuki Takazawa.

These annual awards were created in 1996 by Sundance Institute in partnership with NHK to celebrate 100 years of cinema and to honor and support emerging independent filmmakers. Each year the Award supports winners from four global regions (Europe, Latin America, the United States, and Japan) in realizing their next projects. The four winners will be presented with the award at the annual Sundance Film Festival Awards Ceremony on Saturday, January 24.

The winning director from each region will receive a $10,000 award and a guarantee from NHK to purchase the Japanese television broadcast rights upon completion of their project. NHK is Japan’s largest broadcaster with five 24-hour TV and three radio channels. In addition, the Sundance Institute staff will work closely with the award recipients throughout the year, providing ongoing support and assistance in seeking out opportunities to finance and distribute their projects. more…

Leitner’s Mondo 2009 Sundance – Wednesday

Park City basked in the afterglow of Obama Day as rising temperatures caused snowboarders to come off the slopes at noon to strip off layers of clothing. A pleasant day to ride around in buses—something you do a lot of here, stuck at bus stops anxiously eyeing your watch as your next film begins, or strap-hanging aboard a menagerie of sluggish Festival shuttles and Park City buses that pick their way through branching back streets, stopping at resorts you never knew existed.

It was bad enough years ago when the main theater circuit was the Egyptian on Main Street, the Holiday Village multiplex near Albertson’s, and the makeshift auditorium in the Prospector. With luck—meaning the shuttle-bus gods deemed to smile on you—you could dash between them in 20 minutes. Or jump in your car and zoom off, which I did often. more…

Leitner’s Mondo 2009 Sundance – Wednesday

Park City basked in the afterglow of Obama Day as rising temperatures caused snowboarders to come off the slopes at noon to strip off layers of clothing. A pleasant day to ride around in buses—something you do a lot of here, stuck at bus stops anxiously eyeing your watch as your next film begins, or strap-hanging aboard a menagerie of sluggish Festival shuttles and Park City buses that pick their way through branching back streets, stopping at resorts you never knew existed.

It was bad enough years ago when the main theater circuit was the Egyptian on Main Street, the Holiday Village multiplex near Albertson’s, and the makeshift auditorium in the Prospector. With luck—meaning the shuttle-bus gods deemed to smile on you—you could dash between them in 20 minutes. Or jump in your car and zoom off, which I did often.

Then came the Olympics. Park City built a bus terminal behind Main Street to accommodate the crush. One consequence is that Main Street buses no longer stop along Main Street, adding additional walking time to wherever you need to go on Main. Building new bus routes for the Olympics meant that festival shuttles no longer stopped in front of the Holiday Village cinemas either. Instead, you must now debus (is that a word?) in front of the Yarrow Hotel and make a mad dash across the Yarrow’s parking lot, hurtling into the Holiday Village cinemas breathless and snow-encrusted if you slipped on the ice.

Cars were banned from Main Street too, and were now towed from the Yarrow’s and Albertsons’ parking lots. The message was clear: don’t bring cars into Park City during Sundance. Your alternatives? Those jolting buses, or scarce cabs with price-gouging habits that would embarrass Bronx livery drivers.

To make matters worse, a couple of years ago the outlying Park City Racquet Club, familiar from years of Festival awards ceremonies, was added as a theater, and this year a new synagogue, even farther afield, became the latest festival screen. As bus routes elongated to accommodate these new venues, the rambling Theatre Loop took longer and longer—both to arrive and to get anywhere. (To get to the new Temple theater, you take a bus to get to another bus that shuttles you there.) So much for seeing more than a handful of films each day at Sundance.

What I’m really getting at, however, is that Sundance makes for strange busfellows. (Is that a word?) You spend so much time trapped on them, you end up eventually bumping into all your friends and making plenty of new ones too. (How years ago I met Ted Schilowitz, now “Leader of the Rebellionâ€?—his card actually says this–of RED Digital Cinema.)

Extemporaneous exchanges among riders form a sort of coffee klatsch on wheels, sprinkled with endless overheard conversation, much of it anonymous and terribly frank, about actors, films, and filmmakers.

No wonder Sundance bus rides have become the de facto Festival grapevine, easily overtaking the official Daily Insider newspaper. How ingenious of Sundance to bring us all together in this truly democratic way!

Today, for instance, I met a Miami-NYC producer (Sundance veteran with past films at the festival) on a bus detouring past the Park City Resort Center, who said he’d just come from Slamdance where he’d seen Finding Bliss, a lark about an idealistic film school grad who jams her foot in the industry’s door by editing porn, and Weather Girl, about a Seattle TV meteorologist who flips out on-camera when she learns her boyfriend–the morning anchorman—is a cheat.

“It rounds out the festival experience,� he said, to attend a Slamdance screening, and “it makes you feel like you’ve been to an indie festival.� I inquired and he replied that the Slamdance screenings he’d attended were “packed.�

How long, I mused to myself as the bus rattled on from stop to stop, before Sundance invites Slamdance to officially join the party, much as the Berlinale did to what is now its long-established experimental Forum section, or Cannes did to Director’s Fortnight, both of which were born during the tumult of 1968 as anti-festivals to overturn the established festivals they were ultimately folded into?

Back to reality: Sometimes riding the bus you hear more than you want to.

Young woman, mid-20s, Valley-style upspeak:

“I have the best Facebook story? So this girl I went to school with? When I was in first and second grade? She got in touch with me by Facebook. I hadn’t seen her since the first or second grade. We were friends then. And she got in touch with me because her father had been in the witness protection program and she couldn’t get in touch with anyone. But now she can. You know, I’m from New Jersey.�

Now there’s a Sundance storyline, free for the making.

.

2009 Sundance Film Festival Announces Jury Prizes in Shorts Filmmaking

shortterm12.jpgPress Release

The 2009 Sundance Film Festival announced the jury prizes in shorts filmmaking based on outstanding achievement and merit. The Sundance Film Festival runs January 15-25, 2009 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. Full awards will be announced the evening of January 24th at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival Awards Ceremony at the Park City Racquet Club. Actress Jane Lynch will serve as Master of Ceremonies.

The 2009 Short Film jurors are Gerardo Naranjo (Director/Writer/Producer: Voy a explotar, Malachance, Perro Negro); Lou Taylor Pucci (Actor: Thumbsucker); and Sharon Swart (Variety). more…

Leitner’s Mondo 2009 Sundance – Tuesday

Today was Obama Day, and first-time director Lee Daniels was wishing the packed audience at the Eccles Theatre, Sundance’s largest, a happy one. Daniels, better known as producer of Monsters Ball and The Woodsman, with characters and situations drawn from the disenfranchised (a racist prison guard, a guilty interracial affair, a paroled child molester) was introducing his latest, Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire, easily one of Sundance’s most talked-about dramas in competition.

Based on a book of fiction, Push tells the story of an overweight, withdrawn 16-year-old Harlem girl named Precious, pregnant with a second child by her own father and abused at home by her mother (searingly played by comedienne Mo‘Nique, who will surely win awards). Without spilling the plot, through creative writing Precious achieves a degree of selfhood, and the film ends in as much emotional uplift as possible given the circumstances. more…

About

The editors of Digital Content Producer and millimeter post live from the Sundance Film Festival as the news happens. Check back several times a day for the latest industry news, reports from press conferences, and product introductions.

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