INDIE FILMS

A Tale of Two Winter Film Festivals - From Sundance to Berlinale

Sundance / Berlinale

From one to another, the adventure continues. In 2014, I was lucky enough to be invited by Fox Searchlight to fly to Berlin to catch the world premiere of Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel (here's my review). It was an unforgettable experience, and I had a blast attending the Berlin Film Festival, also known as Berlinale, one of the biggest festivals in the world (started in 1951). I am excited to reveal that Berlin asked me to return again this year as a press guest of the festival, meaning they really wanted me to come back and see more films. There was no way I could say no. So only five days after returning from the Sundance Film Festival, I am headed out again onwards to Berlin for yet another film festival. I'm ready, bring on the films.

 Posted February 5 in Berlinale, Editorial, Indies | Comments

Sundance 2015: Our 7 Favorite Feature Films - The Best of the Fest

Sundance 2015

The 2015 Sundance Film Festival has finally come to an end and to put a wrap on things and finalize our nearly two weeks of coverage, it's time to present our Best of the Fest. We're doing things a bit different this year and presenting combined favorites between Ethan and I (since we loved so many of the same movies). Instead of one big list, like year's past, we're splitting up our favorites between the best 7 Feature Films we saw and the best 7 Documentaries we saw. We obviously couldn't see every film playing, but did catch over 40 between us and felt like these films below deserve to be highlighted for standing out over the others. As our final recap of Sundance 2015, which has now concluded, we present these 7 favorite feature films.

 Posted February 3 in Feat, Indies, Lists, Sundance 15 | Comments

Sundance 2015 Wrap-Up Blog: Great Films Have Taught Me So Much

Sundance 2015

"Good films make your life better." We smile. We cry. We laugh. We shudder. Here I am, at the end of another Sundance Film Festival, 10 days and 30 films later. What did we discover this year? What films left us in awe? Maybe it's festival fatigue and intense exhaustion, but every year by the end I feel like I've grown–or evolved–as a person while at Sundance. I feel like I return home a completely different person, wiser perhaps or maybe just rejuvenated, but nonetheless changed. It's these films, it's the power of cinema, the potential it has to inform us and shape us and guide us that always leaves lasting impressions upon me. I am happy to return, but even happier that I spent another year surrounded by the glory of film in Park City.

 Posted February 2 in Editorial, Indies, Sundance 15 | Comments

Sundance 2015: Complete & Updated List of Movies Sold at Festival

Sundance 2015

The Sundance Film Festival is host to the world premiere of dozens of independent films, most of them looking to get distribution so they can make it to the big screen (or at least VOD). And since there are so many sales that happen at the festival, we wanted to keep you updated with a complete and comprehensive list of all the films getting picked up here at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. As of the writing of this initial post, five films have already been sold, and the festival has barely started. You'll find the festival films sales listed below as well as other info on each movie, starting with the most recent acquisition. Read on!

 Posted January 31 in Indies, Movie News, Sundance 15 | Comments

Sundance 2015 Awards: 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl' Wins Big

Sundance 2015

The official awards for the 2015 Sundance Film Festival were announced tonight at a ceremony in Park City. We've been anxiously awaiting the results of the awards at Sundance, and now we know who won big - Me & Earl & the Dying Girl, directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, starring Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke. It landed yet another double header win - Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize, which puts it up there with the likes of Whiplash last year, Precious and Fruitvale as other big double-header winners. There were plenty of other excellent awards and jury prizes given out, so read on for the full list of 2015 winners.

 Posted January 31 in Awards, Indies, Sundance 15 | Comments

Watch: Martin Starr Takes the Lead in Trailer for 'Amira and Sam'

Amira & Sam

Though you may not know him by name, Martin Starr has been around for a little while. The young actor has been around for awhile, making his breakthrough in "Freaks and Geeks" and landing pivotal supporting roles in Knocked Up, Superbad, Adventureland and more recent TV shows like "Party Down" and "Silicon Valley." But now Starr is ready to take the lead role in Amira & Sam, in which he plays an Army veteran trying to get used to civilian life in New York City. But it's not just another PTSD drama as he strikes up a friendship with a soldier friend's niece (Dina Shihabi) and tries to keep her safe from immigration trouble.

 Posted January 31 in Indies, To Watch, Trailer | Comments

Kristen Wiig Hits Jackpot in TIFF Selected 'Welcome to Me' Trailer

Welcome to Me

This week we learned that Kristen Wiig was going to be one of the new Ghostbusters along with Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. But before she heads into blockbuster reboot territory, you'll get a chance to see her in indie mode with Welcome to Me. The film sees her as a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder who suddenly becomes an overnight sensation as she wins the lottery, quits taking her medication and launches her own wacky talk show. The premise is wild, and the comedy seems to be a little dark, but it looks like a tour de force from Wiig in the lead role that makes it worth seeing. Give it a look.

 Posted January 30 in Indies, To Watch, Trailer | Comments

How the Premiere Film Festival Experience Evens the Playing Field

Eccles Theater

As the high school auditorium converted to a movie palace begins to fill, I glance around. Behind me sits the entire executive team of Fox Searchlight, in front of me the entire cast & crew of the movie we're about to see. A few seats over are two writers for Rolling Stone; amongst the crowd are all of my other critic/blogger/movie friends – from the lead reviewers at industry trade magazines like Variety and Hollywood Reporter, to my pals Peter from SlashFilm and Neil from Film School Rejects, and Ethan Anderton, too. We're all here, sitting together, all about to experience the world premiere of a movie no one has seen yet. This is what I love about film festivals. It puts us all on the same level, and together we get to experience cinema.

 Posted January 28 in Editorial, Indies, Sundance 15 | Comments

'The Cove' Director Exposes Threats in 'Racing Extinction' Doc Trailer

Racing Extinction

After exposing the despicable world of illegal dolphin hunting and meat sales in Japan, the director of The Cove is broadening the scope a bit to shine a light on something even more threatening and on a much larger scale. Louie Psihoyos is back at Sundance with his documentary Racing Extinction, a film focusing on mankind’s role in precipitating mass extinction, potentially resulting in the loss of half of the world’s species. This seems to be much more than just tree-hugging, hippie stuff as some like to say, and you can see for yourself in the first trailer. This looks like a documentary to pay attention to very closely. Watch!

 Posted January 23 in Docs, Indies, Sundance 15, To Watch, Trailer | Comments

Cinema in the Cold - We're Ready to See Films at Sundance 2015

Sundance Film Festival

It's time. We've packed our winter jackets, long underwear, a pair of boots and gloves/hats galore. The 2015 Sundance Film Festival is about to kick off in the mountains up in chilly Park City, Utah and we're back, ready to fire up the festival and watch films. This is FirstShowing's ninth year in a row covering Sundance. It all started back in 2007, when I made the trek to Park City by driving from Colorado, seeing an impressive 31 films by the end of my first year. I've returned here ever since; I can't help it, I love this festival with all my heart and have grown to appreciate films of all kinds by coming back every year. And I'm ready for more.

 Posted January 22 in Editorial, Indies, Sundance 15 | Comments

Vincent Cassel in Aussie Sundance Drama 'Partisan' Teaser Trailer

Partisan

The 2015 Sundance Film Festival kicks off today, and we'll have plenty of updates of the most buzzed about films, acquisitions of the indies for distribution, and plenty more from Park City, Utah. But before the films start playing this evening, the teaser trailer for one of the entries in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition has been unveiled. Partisan is a drama from Australia starring Vincent Cassel (Trance, Oceans 12) as a man running a closed community, overseeing a boy named Alexander, who runs dangerous errands to help provide for the group. But slowly, Alexander gets more inquisitive, and that's a problem.

 Posted January 22 in Indies, Sundance 15, To Watch, Trailer | Comments

Lionsgate Picks Up 'Don Verdean' Before Its Premiere at Sundance

Don Verdean

The 2015 Sundance Film Festival won't even begin until tomorrow, but Lionsgate has already picked up a film debuting in Park City this month. It's been 11 years since director Jared Hess made a huge splash at Sundance with Napoleon Dynamite, and now he's back with Don Verdean, a new comedy starring Sam Rockwell, Jemaine Clement, Amy Ryan, Danny McBride, Will Forte and more. And now Deadline reports Lionsgate has already picked up the distribution rights to the film before it premieres next week. Does this mean that Hess might finally have another good film to follow his breakthrough indie sensation? We certainly hope so, especially since it's one of our 10 most anticipated films of the festival. More below!

 Posted January 21 in Indies, Movie News, Sundance 15 | Comments

Watch: Teaser Trailer for Hip-Hop Fueled Sundance Drama 'Dope'

Dope

Most of the films we named as our 10 Most Anticipated Films of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival have only revealed a couple first look photos and a vague synopsis. However, one of the picks on Alex Billington's list gets teased a bit more in a short tease for Dope.  The film follows a group of high schoolers living in The Bottoms, one of the toughest neighborhoods in Inglewood, California. Shameik Moore leads the film with The Grand Budapest Hotel's lobby boy Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Zoë Kravitz, rapper A$AP Rocky and "Workaholics" star Blake Anderson. We'll definitely be checking this one out. Watch below!

 Posted January 21 in Indies, Sundance 15, To Watch, Trailer | Comments

Sundance 2015: Our 10 Most Anticipated Films We Can't Wait to See

Sundance 2015

Nothing like seeing movies in the mountains. Kicking off this week in snowy Park City, Utah is the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, where both Ethan and I are headed for 10 days to see fresh new indie films non-stop. To help get everyone up to speed on some of the films we're interested in, here are 10 Sundance 2015 films that we're excited for, a small look at some of the films we're keeping an eye on and will be seeing at any earliest opportunity. Alex has chosen five he's interested in, and Ethan has also chosen another five he's ready to enjoy from the diverse and hopefully impressive 123-film line-up this year. Whether it's horror or drama or comedy or a documentary or something else entirely, we seek great movies to fall in love with.

 Posted January 21 in Editorial, Indies, Lists, Sundance 15 | Comments

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