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Sundance '98

SUNDANCE WRAP-UP
by Susan Royal

The 1998 Sundance Film Festival will be remembered as the new and improved version. Additional theater seats, a gridlock-free Main Street, new sound and projection equipment and a smarter shuttle system contributed to what was one of the more pleasurable festival-going experiences in the last ten years or so, since Sundance became SUNDANCE. But the biggest improvement this year was in the quality of the films selected, compared to the last year's crop. The purpose of the festival is to provide a showcase for outstanding new voices in film and it certainly did that this year.

Karen Black Karen Black plays two
roles in Lynn Hershman
Leeson's debut feature
"Conceiving Ada," (in the
American Spectrum) which
was acquired by Fox Lorber.

THE BUSINESS OF SUNDANCE
It is the Sundance Film Festival, not Market, but tell that to the many filmmakers who arrive at Park City in search of a distribution deal. And while this year no one came close to receiving a "Spitfire Grill"- sized deal, several filmmakers left smiling. Some of the films picked up at this year's fest include:

Film Title Distributor Rights *Price
"Next Stop Wonderland" Miramax Films worldwide $6 million
"The Castle" Miramax Films domestic plus
most foreign
$6 million
"Jerry and Tom" Miramax Films U.S. only $2.75 mil
"Slam" Trimark Pictures worldwide $2.5 mil
"Pi" Live Entertainment worldwide $1 million
"High Art" October Films North American $700,000
"Billy's Hollywood
Screen Kiss"
Trimark Pictures worldwide $600,000
"Open Your Eyes" Live Entertainment &
Summit Entertainment
worldwide $600,000
"Central Station" Miramax Films several overseas
territories
unknown
"Conceiving Ada" Fox Lorber worldwide unknown

* Acquisition prices are only best estimates


Although nearly every domestic distributor had previously rejected the Australian comedy "The Castle" when they could have obtained the rights for six figures, at Sundance they were climbing over each other to get the film after seeing it play before Sundance audiences. Miramax won out over Live Entertainment and Polygram with a bid of $6 million.

Miramax was clearly the big spender, but the numbers may be misleading. In the case of "Next Stop Wonderland," the deal includes a two-picture deal with its director, Brad Anderson. Miramax/LA's president Mark Gill said, "We're not just buying that film, we're going into the Brad Anderson business."

Saul Williams
stars in "Slam,"
which took top
honors at
Sundance '98.
Sual Williams




THE INSIDE FILM AWARDS by Susan Royal
By now everyone knows that "Slam" took the Grand Jury Prize, "Smoke Signals" won the Filmmaker's Trophy and the Audience Award and "The Farm" and "Frat House" shared the documentary Grand Jury prize. Here are some awards, however, that we would like to bestow:

MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED
A tie between director/writers Darren Aronofsky and Brad Anderson

MR. CONGENIALITY aka MOST REFRESHING POINT OF VIEW
Director Brad Anderson, "I didn't want to make another jaded, cynical movie."

LILI TAYLOR/PARKER POSEY UBIQUITY AWARD
Sam Rockwell

BEST NEW USE OF A MATHEMATICAL SYMBOL
"Pi"

MOST UNLIKELY FILMMAKER
Rabbi David Nesenoff

SMARTEST MOVE
Festival headquarters

BEST RESTORATION
The Egyptian Theater

MOST WELCOME ADDITION
The Eccles Theater

MOST NEEDED ADDITION
Covered shuttle stops

BEST GIFT IN PRESS BAG
Starbuck's car mug

LATEST WANNABE
This year there was Slamdunk, last year Slumdance. What's next, Scumdance? (This award submitted by screenwriter Peter Kjenaas)

BEST REAL LIFE HAPPY ENDING would have to go to Darren Aronofsky, the first time director/writer of "Pi." He raised his first $20,000 by getting his friends and family in Brooklyn to invest $100 each. For their contributions, they were to receive $150 back, two tickets to the opening premiere in New York and (only if the film made money) the investors would see their names listed in the closing credits. He raised the next $40,000 from credit cards and executive producers and then got his cast and crew to defer payment so they could shoot on the $60,000 raised. The happy ending to the story -- the film was one of the most talked about at Sundance, it won the dramatic Directing Award and was sold to Live Entertainment for $1 million.

Hope Davis Hope Davis, who was great in last
year's Sundance entry "The Myth of
Fingerprints" and in the recent
"Daytrippers," stars in Brad
Anderson's "Next Stop Wonderland,"
one of the most popular films at this
year's festival.


BRUNCH WITH BOB

Each year during the festival the press and the filmmakers are bussed from Park City to Robert Redford's Sundance Institute for a brunch. Sometime during dessert, Mr. Redford arrives and attempts to visit each table and personally welcome all the filmmakers. Usually, the press photographers make it impossible for him to complete the rounds, and this year was no exception. Robert Redford

Quakenbush and Wife Master of claymation Corky Quakenbush
(seen here at the brunch with his wife)
set a new record by having five of his
shorts selected for Sundance this year.

Sally Field

LEFT: Sally Field, who is on the Board of Trustees of the Sundance Institute, usually makes it to the brunch.

RIGHT: Because Alfre Woodard served on the jury this year she had to view all the films in competition. The day after this brunch, she flew to Los Angeles, picked up her Golden Globe, and rushed back to Park City without missing a screening.

Alfre Woodward


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