- The Sundance Film Festival is back in person for the first time since 2020.
- It featured high-profile stars such as Anne Hathaway and Jason Momoa to promote the much-talked-about movie.
- The deal market had a slow start, with some big sales, but not as many as in recent years.
I couldn’t help but feel optimistic about the state of independent cinema in its opening weekend. sundance film festival.
Returning in person for the first time since 2020, the Fest was filled with raucous crowds clamoring for up-and-coming titles, A-list stars, and films starring the brutal drama Magazine Dreams. Jonathan Majors as a struggling bodybuilderto “Theater Camp” It’s a Christopher Guest-style mockumentary and has exactly the glorious jazz-hand vibes you’d expect.
I saw 8 movies in 5 days. I’m no critic, but I can assure you that none of them were bad. This is an immediate and growing challenge for indie filmmakers, including declining theater attendance (Regal Cinemas’ parent company Cineworld filed for bankruptcy last year), rising production costs, and studio consolidation. That doesn’t mean we aren’t facing it, but the creative ecosystem is getting stronger. At an event like Sundance, excitement is contagious, even when you’re worried about the future.
Now in its 39th year, the festival has grown exponentially, with nearly 100,000 moviegoers, traders, and hard-workers flooding Park City, Utah, in search of the opportunity to find or be found. If you’re not a star being cornered via Escalade— Anne HathawayJennifer Connelly, Jason Momoa They were just a few of the big-name stars who had movies to promote—then spend a lot of time traveling from theaters to panel venues to party spaces on the town’s free buses. someone you can meet tomorrow.
Out of the 100+ features planned, we were only targeting a few titles. After meeting one of the support players on the shuttle bus from Salt Lake City Airport, I decided to check out the feature “Sometimes I Think About Dying” on Day One.Daisy Ridley of “Star Wars” A quiet romantic drama starring and produced by . And even allowing for a bit of proximity bias, my Shuttlemate was great with it!
Another chance encounter with two producers, Rachael Fung and Peter McClellan, led me to my favorite movie of the weekend — Black-and-white drama “Fremont” Centered on an Afghan woman working in a Chinese fortune cookie factory in California. Academy ratio (4 to 3 ratio, the size of a 35mm film frame, which means it’s not very suitable for theater or television screens) Shot in a ratio known as , and like a Daisy Ridley movie, it explores social media themes. isolation.
Described the most sandancist film of all time? Was Fung the ‘crazy producer’ behind director Babak Jalali’s choice of such an artistic format? “It was prettier that way,” said Jalali when asked about the film’s aspect ratio during an audience Q&A session. I think so.
Most of the movies I saw were more commercial, four of which focused on relationships. “Pod Generation” A social satire about the future of human pregnancy, it stars Emilia Clarke and Chiwetel Ejiofor in a not-too-distant future where a wealthy couple conceives a baby in a pod. Barthez’s film won awards from the Sundance Film Festival and the Arred P. Sloan Foundation for Exploring Science, but had not found a distributor at the time of this writing. — along with Hathaway’s “Irene” — not yet for sale.
“You hurt me,” By Sundance recidivist Nicole Holofcener, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tobias Menzies unravel the white lies and vulnerabilities of their marriage. “Disadvantage” Randall Park’s sweet, culture-focused rom-com, based on a graphic novel, was not only his feature directorial debut, but also his first trip to Sundance, he said. told me at the afterparty.
And then there was the ‘cat person’ based on the 2017 New Yorker Dating Story by Kristen LoupenianDirector Susanna Vogel stays true to IP in the film’s first two acts — hundreds of texts, bad sex, bruised egos, and the worst kisses on screen. so far — before turning into thriller territory, which met with mixed reviews. But on the bus after the screening, a large group of young women engaged in heated discussions. An argument of the same kind ensued. One of the women stayed with her father, who wisely avoided it.
The Sundance Film Festival is also known for its compelling documentaries, and I caught two of the most talked about films of the year. “Stephen Curry: Underrated” and “Justice.” Directed by The Bourne Identity’s Helmer Doug Lyman, it’s the latest addition to the line-up, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Neither film broke new ground, and while ‘Justice’ disappointed some attendees (and reviewers) who were expecting new revelations, both stirred powerful emotions.
But let’s get to the bottom line. transactionpsychological thriller “fair play” It was sold to Netflix for around $20 million.musical drama “Flora and Son” Earned a similar sum from Apple.and “Theater Camp” It hits theaters after being picked up by Disney’s Searchlight Pictures for $8 million. Like the rest of the economy, The Sundance Market Didn’t Look So Robust like in recent years.
But the party scene was as lively as ever, fueled by HBO Documentary Films’ annual shindig. Ruth’s Chris Steaks Bottomless Rovers and Beef at his House as HBO’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery slashed budgets, personnel and projects to cut his $3 billion-plus cost. Slices of tenderloin at his station was a shock.
Did Warner CEO David Zaslav approve of it? Don’t ask the partygoer who was robbing the photo booth. They just enjoy it while it lasts.
This article was originally published on January 28th and has been updated.