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 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:
|"Next Stop Wonderland"
|"Jerry and Tom"
|"Open Your Eyes"
||Live Entertainment &
* 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
stars in "Slam,"
which took top
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
LILI TAYLOR/PARKER POSEY UBIQUITY AWARD
BEST NEW USE OF A MATHEMATICAL SYMBOL
MOST UNLIKELY FILMMAKER
Rabbi David Nesenoff
The Egyptian Theater
MOST WELCOME ADDITION
The Eccles Theater
MOST NEEDED ADDITION
Covered shuttle stops
BEST GIFT IN PRESS BAG
Starbuck's car mug
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
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
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
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.
LEFT: Sally Field, who is on the Board of Trustees of the Sundance Institute, usually makes it to
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.
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