Here at the Sundance Film Festival the people at Fox Searchlight have had a pretty big week. Not only did they debut their hilarious comedy Cedar Rapids, but they've also already acquired the indies Homework and Martha Marcy May Marlene. Now the distributor has made another Sundance deal, but this one is a little different. Fox Searchlight announced that they have picked up the rights worldwide feature remake rights to the documentary The Bengali Detective. The original film follows intrepid private eye Rajesh Ji as he investigates Calcutta's criminal underworld and pursues his dream of dancing on Indian television.
Don't believe anyone who says otherwise, it's a hell of a year for sales at Sundance 2011. Now that the first weekend is over, sales have been coming in full force and non-stop recently. Just yesterday we reported on a big batch of acquisitions, now we have another big batch. Leading the pack is Fox Searchlight once again, who picked up Sean Durkin's film Martha Marcy May Marlene, starring Sundance sensation Elizabeth Olsen (the third Olsen sister), which is one of the most buzzed about films at this fest. To find out about that project as well as the sale of the documentary Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times, read on!
A few days ago I posted my written review of Morgan Spurlock's awesome new Sundance documentary The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, a film that I absolutely loved, but I want to keep talking about it just because it deserves more exposure. So much so, that I've decided to also post this video review that Peter & Germain from SlashFilm recorded with me one morning while waiting in line for another movie. Because the film is all about product placement, and is officially sponsored by and titled "POM Wonderful Presents," we had a lot of fun recording and talking about the doc. It's worth watching in addition to my review, so check it out!
That was super awesome! The last world premiere we attended last night at Sundance 2011 was for Fox Searchlight's newest comedy Cedar Rapids, directed by Miguel Arteta, and starring Ed Helms as a small town insurance agent who takes the first trip of his life to the "big city" of Cedar Rapids. It also stars John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, Isiah Whitlock Jr. and Alia Shawkat. It's a hilarious film wrapped around a rather sweet story about friendship and morality, but I didn't love it that much. After the screening Peter of SlashFilm, FS.net's Ethan and I recorded a quick video blog talking about our thoughts on the film. Fire that up below!
When the much hyped premiere for Red State was finally upon us, so were protesters who are adamantly against homosexuality in the name of their conservative religion which apparently comes straight from the word of God. But then Kevin Smith himself arrived, with Jason Mewes in tow, with a sign that said "God Hates Mewes" and his friends brought other signs like "D*ck tastes yummy!" The film became an event even if Smith didn't follow through with an actual auction. Thankfully, Red State delivered something an auction could not: the triumphant return of an independent filmmaker after his debut at Sundance 17 years ago.
We're only four days into the 2011 Sundance Film Festival which means a good number of movies have premiered and sales are finally occurring. Part of the Sundance spectacle is seeing which films get picked up and by which studios, and also championing the films that we love. Though early sales got off to a slow start, the dam burst over the weekend and a few major sales were made for at least three high profile and highly regarded films: Gavin Wiesen's Homework was bought by Fox Searchlight, Drake Doremus' Like Crazy was bought by Paramount, and Jesse Peretz's My Idiot Brother was bought by The Weinstein Company.
You can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family. This seems to be an unfortunate truth in for a small family in My Idiot Brother who has to deal with a naive, and simple-minded brother named Ned (Paul Rudd). Fresh out of prison for selling marijuana to a uniformed police office, Ned heads back home to spend some time with his mother and and his three sisters Liz (Emily Mortimer), Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), and Nat (Zooey Deschanel). Though the three sisters are happy to see Ned and willing to help him any way they can, little do they know that Ned is about to unwittingly (and dimwittedly) turn their lives
Anyone who watches TV or movies is inherently familiar with product placement. It's prevalent everywhere you go and in nearly every movie we watch, especially as marketing becomes more and more intrusive. But no one has ever tried to make a documentary about that, funded entirely with product placement, until now. Morgan Spurlock, the acclaimed documentarian behind Super Size Me and Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden, premiered his new documentary titled The Greatest Movie Ever Sold at Sundance and damn was it awesome. Never thought I'd use the word "awesome" to describe a documentary, but this deserves it!
One of the first feature films we (both Ethan and I) saw at Sundance 2011 was an "apocalyptic love story" titled Bellflower, named after the street it mostly takes place on in LA. It's written, directed by, and stars, Evan Glodell, who was also responsible for building props and vehicles in the film, including a Mad Max inspired flame-spitting car and homemade flamethrower. It's a story about a guy who meets a girl and their subsequent break-up but told through an apocalyptic and visually-stylistic lens, literally meaning they used homemade cameras and old lenses. Watch a video review that Peter from /Film, Ethan & I recorded below.
While plenty of family films have tackled the fictional thoughts and activities of cats, Miranda July uses a feline to open The Future and introduce us to Sophie & Jason, a quirky couple. A voiceover is heard over pitch black in which we learn the cat is already enamored with the couple as they found her with an injured paw on the streets and immediately took her to a vet for treatment. The cat (aptly named Paw-Paw) dreams about her new human friends as they sit on the couch across from each other with laptops situated neatly on their laps while discussing mind powers and having a crane in the apartment to get water from the kitchen.
Our very first film of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival was the newest documentary from James Marsh, the Oscar winning director of the documentary Man on Wire. It's called Project Nim and tells the story of Nim Chimpsky (seen above), the chimpanzee who in the 70's was raised from birth by humans and taught sign language as an academic experiment at Columbia University. It's a fascinating story and both thrilling and heartbreaking, so after the first screening, Ethan and I recorded a video blog with our quick thoughts on the opening night film. We recorded this last night before heading to sleep, but it's still a good quick review.
Another year, another Sundance Film Festival, but I absolutely love this fest, so despite all the cold and snow, I'm always happy to return. I'll be attending the fest for my 5th year in a row, along with our writer Ethan Anderton, attending Sundance for his first time, which is always exciting. I always imagine I'll see as much as I can before the fest, but when I get here and start trudging through the snow I'm reminded why it gets harder every year to see five films every last day. We'll also be providing interviews and video reviews and more, so expect lots of Sundance coverage for the next few week as well all of our normal coverage, too.