The trailer for ‘Laggies‘ has dropped, sloooowwwwly, of course. The Sundance selection from A24 stars Keira Knightley as a overeducated, underachieving woman lagging well behind her demographic cohort in life as she dodges responsibility and grown-up things like serious jobs and a marriage proposal. Chloë Grace Moretz plays the high schooler she befriends, then hides out with while dodging said marriage proposal, and Sam Rockwell plays Moretz’s initially bemused and then increasingly intrigued father. The film debuts Oct. 24, unless it lags a bit more, of course. Here it is. Let us know what you think.
Ana Lily Amirpour made an auspicious debut at Sundance with her A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night and now Kino Lorber has snagged North American rights to the first-time helmer’s genre mash-up. Described as the world’s first Iranian vampire Western, the black and white horror/spaghetti Western is set in an Iranian ghost town where the denizens are unaware they’re being stalked by a lonesome bloodsucker. Amirpour wrote, directed, and produced the film which landed a spot in Sundance’s NEXT section and was the opening-night selection of MOMA and the Film Society’s New Directors/New Films program. Argo‘s Sheila Vand stars with Arash Marandi (Kunduz: The Incident At Hadji Ghafur), Dominic Rains (The Taqwacores), Mozhan Marnó (House Of Cards, The Stoning Of Soraya M), Rome Shadanloo, Marshall Manesh and Milad Eghbali rounding out the cast.
Joining Kino Lorber on the film’s domestic release is VICE Media, which will partner on transmedia cross promotion and an aggressive social media campaign. Youth-skewing VICE, which last year teamed with Drafthouse Films on Oscar-nominated The Act Of Killing, is an appropriate distribution partner given the film’s soundtrack combining Middle Eastern fusion band Bei Ru, underground Iranian rockers Radio Tehran and Kiosk, and spaghetti Western-influenced Portland band Federale. Kino Lorber and VICE are plotting an October theatrical release with digital and home media debuts to follow in early 2015. Kino Lorber’s Richard Lorber struck the deal with Cinetic Media. “This stunning and stinging cinematic marvel left us speechless at its premiere, said Lorber. “We dream of finding visionary films that peel away the gauze, as Ana Lily does with rare originality in this unprecedented work.” Read More »
The Sundance Film Festival is long over this year but the moviemaking at the Sundance Institute is just getting into full swing this summer. Today the Institute announced the 13 diverse projects that will participate in its annual Directors and Screenwriters Labs starting later this month (see full list below). Set at the Sundance Resort in Utah, the Directors Lab goes from May 26 – June 19 while the Screenwriters’ Lab runs from June 21-26. And the young filmmakers will have a plethora of experience to draw from. Sundance founder Robert Redford is joined as a Creative Advisors for the 2014 Fellows by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow as well as Oscar wining Little Miss Sunshine and Hunger Games: Catching Fire scribe Michael Arndt, Miguel Arteta, John August, Walter Bernstein, Scott Z. Burns, Joan Darling, Deena Goldstone, Keith Gordon, Twilight helmer and Sundance alumni Catherine Hardwicke, Ed Harris, Azazel Jacobs, Brian Kates, Christine Lahti, Kasi Lemmons, Josh Marston, Pamela Martin, acclaimed author and screenwriter Walter Mosley, Howard Rodman, Ira Sachs, Marjane Satrapi, Susan Shilliday, Peter Sollett, Dana Stevens, Wesley Strick, Chris Terrio, Joan Tewkesbury, Athina Tsangari, Tyger Williams, and Erin Cressida Wilson.
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Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions have jointly acquired writer-director Justin Simien‘s debut feature Dear White People, which snagged the Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at Sundance in January. Dear White People takes a satirical look at racial politics among the student body at a fictional Ivy League school where four students navigate issues of black militancy, post-racism, and the commodification of black culture on campus. Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris), Tessa Thompson (Veronica Mars), Teyonah Parris (Mad Men), and Brandon P Bell (Hollywood Heights) star. Simien made a splash in Park City with the pic, which pays homage to predecessors like Spike Lee’s School Daze and Robert Townshend’s Hollywood Shuffle. Ahead of a planned fall 2014 release, Dear White People is set to screen at this weekend’s New Directors/New Films. Read More »
The Sundance Institute today announced an expansion of its labs program into television and online content, establishing the first Sundance Institute Episodic Story Lab, to be held this fall at the Sundance Resort in Sundance, Utah. Norman and Lyn Lear are the founding supporters backing the Sundance Institute’s foray into small-screen storytelling in which participants will spend six days developing scripted and online series, stories, and characters with a panel of mentors in drama and comedy writing. The org’s Feature Film head Michelle Satter also will lead the new program. The Sundance Institute has held its development labs for three decades, but 2014 is becoming the year of the “Episodic”; earlier this month Austin’s South By Southwest Film Festival was the first major fest to introduce an Episodic programming section dedicated to scripted TV and web content. Said Sundance President and Founder Robert Redford: “Sundance Institute has always worked to develop and support a next generation of independent artists. As more of those artists look to the opportunities in television and online platforms, it is only natural that we expand our labs to address the unique needs of serialized work.” 2014 Sundance Institute Episodic Story Lab participants will be accepted by invitation only.
The Terrence Malick-produced film about a boy who would grow up to be the man widely considered America’s greatest presidents was first seen by the world at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Today Amplify announced it has acquired all U.S. rights to The Better Angels. The film from first time writer-director A.J. Edwards will get a fall theatrical release later this year. That will be followed by a VOD and home video release early next year. Better Angels, which also played in Berlin earlier this year, chronicles big changes in the the family life of young Abraham Lincoln over a three-year span in in the harsh Indiana wilderness. The film also focuses on two women who shaped his life, his mother Nancy, played by Brit Marling, , and his step mother Sarah, Diane Kruger, who raised him for a while after Nancy died. The film also stars Jason Clarke as Abe’s father and Wes Bentley. Edwards worked Malick on The New World as an editor and a second unit director on The Tree Of Life and the upcoming Knights Of Cups. Malick produced Better Angels with Jake DeVito, Nicolas Gonda and Charley Beil. Jason Krigfeld, Joseph Krigsfeld, Suzanne Deal Booth and Antoine Douaihy were the EPs. The deal announced today was put together by Cinetic Media and Alan Sacks & Hayden Goldblatt of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC on behalf of the filmmakers and Kent Sanderson on behalf of Amplify.
Kat Candler’s Hellion debuted in Park City last month, and now Sundance Selects has taken North American rights to the pic. Exec produced by Jeff Nichols (Mud), Hellion stars newcomer Josh Wiggins as Jacob, a 13-year-old obsessed with metal and dirt bike racing whose delinquent behavior begins to raise concerns around town. Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul co-exec produces and stars as Hollis, father to Jacob and his younger brother Wes (Deke Garner), who’s drowning his own sorrows over the loss of their mother and must repair his family when CPS sends Wes to live with the boys’ aunt (Juliette Lewis). Candler wrote and directed the drama and adapted it from her own 2012 short, which also debuted at Sundance and starred Garner. She returned to the fest last year with another short, Black Metal, before debuting the feature-length Hellion produced by Kelly Williams and Jonathan Duffy. Sundance Selects has set a theatrical and VOD bow for later this year. Arianna Bocco, SVP Acquisitions & Productions for Sundance Selects/IFC Films negotiated the deal with UTA Independent Film Group on behalf of the filmmakers.
Related: Sundance: Aaron Paul On ‘Hellion’, ‘Exodus’, Producing & ‘Breaking Bad’s Golden Globes Win
IFC Films took North American rights to Peter Sattler’s directorial debut film Camp X-Ray, which made its debut at Sundance. Pic stars Kristen Stewart, Payman Maadi and Lane Garrison, and was produced by Gina Kwon, and executive produced by Emmy Ellison, Lindsay Williams, Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, David Gordon Green and Sophia Lin. Stewart plays a soldier who gets assigned guard duty at Guantanamo Bay, where she strikes up a friendship with a detainee.
Magnolia Pictures acquired the Sundance documentary Life Itself, which covered the life of beloved film critic Roger Ebert. Steve James of Hoop Dreams fame directed the picture, which is being eyed for summer release followed by a broadcast on CNN.
Related: Sundance: Roger Ebert Docu Debut Draws Cheers & Tears
Gravitas Ventures plans an early summer theatrical and digital release for writer-director Michael Tully’s Ping Ping Summer, which had its world premiere last month in the NEXT section at the Sundance Film Festival. The coming-of-age comedy set in 1985 Maryland stars Susan Sarandon, John Hannah, Lea Thompson, Amy Sedaris and Robert Longstreet and follows awkward 13-year-old Rad Miracle (Marcello Conte) as he attempts to live up to that name by becoming a master breakdancer, ping pong player and ladies man all before the end of summer break. George Rush, Brooke Bernard, Ryan Zacarias, Billy Peterson, Jeffrey Allard and Michael Gottwald produced in association with Epic Match Media, Compass Entertainment and Nomadic Independence. Submarine’s Josh Braun and David Koh negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers, with CEO Nolan Gallagher for Gravitas, which had success at the 2013 Sundance fest securing worldwide VOD rights to the Dave Grohl docu Sound City.
EXCLUSIVE: This year’s Sundance Film Festival is over but for three participants a whole new ride is about to begin. ICM Partners have signed up Special Jury Prize winners Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter’s David Zellner and Nathan Zellner as well as Pierre Boulanger of God Help The Girl. The signings for the trio are in all areas. The Zellner Brothers remain managed by Mosaic. Boulanger is repped by Agence Oz in Paris, Curtis Brown Group in the U.K., Mosaic and law firm Nelson Davis Wetzstein, LLP.
Related: Sundance: ‘Whiplash’ & ‘Rich Hill’ Win Grand Jury Awards; Dramatic Directing Goes To Cutter Hodierne For ‘Fishing Without Nets’
Written, directed and co-starring the Zellner brothers and based on an urban legend, Kumiko features Oscar-nominated Rinko Kikuchi as a lonely Japanese woman who believes a pile of money buried in the movie Fargo is actually real. So she sets out over sea and land to Minnesota to find it. In competition in this year’s U.S. Dramatic category, Kumiko took home a Special Jury Award for Musical Score at the Sundance Awards on January 25. Part coming of age tale and part indie-pop musical, God Help The Girl is the directorial feature debut of Belle and Sebastian lead singer Stuart Murdoch. The film starring Boulanger with Emily Browning and Olly Alexander, among others, GHTG won the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury … Read More »
It was the first major deal of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and tonight Whiplash was the big winner at the fest’s Awards Ceremony. The Damien Chazelle-directed film about a young drummer, played by Miles Teller, and his demanding teacher, played by JK Simmons, took both the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury prize and the Audience Award. “This is awesome, thanks so much,” said Chazelle accepting the pic’s Audience Award earlier in the evening. Little did he know the fest hit would go on to win Sundance’s top dramatic prize. The U.S. Documentary Award went to the Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos-directed Rich Hill, about three small town Missouri boys seeking better from their sometimes bleak environment. Also making waves with buzzy Sundance awards tonight were first-time director Justin Simien, whose conversation-sparking Dear White People nabbed a Special Jury Prize for Breakthrough Talent; the Ethiopian World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award winner Difret, exec produced by Angelina Jolie; and the Nick Cave docu 20,000 Days On Earth which snagged both Best Directing and Best Editing in the World Cinema Documentary category.
Hosted by Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, this year’s Awards started over 30 minutes later than its scheduled 6PM PT kick-off time. Once things got going, after a lurid but lame routine by the hosts, it moved fast. Like last year when Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who had his own directorial feature debut Don Jon premiere at Sundance 2013, hosted the awards ceremony, Offerman and Mullally both have films at the festival. The Parks & Recreation star fronted Nick Offerman: American Ham, which premiered on January 23 in Salt Lake City, and Mullally is one of the voices in the English-language version of the animated pic Ernest & Celestine, which was screened January 18 as part of the new Sundance Kids selection. Offerman and Mullally opened with a monologue that centered more on their sex life than indie film. “In short, we have seen your movies and we have found them arousing,” deadpanned Offerman. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In a deal that is closing right before the conclusion of the Sundance Film Festival, RADIUS-TWC is acquiring worldwide distribution rights to Fed Up, the Katie Couric-narrated documentary about the alarming and rising rate of obese children in America. Several distributors chased the film, because of its hot button topic that is similar to the embraceable issue examined in Bully. I’ve heard the deal was near $2 million.
Fed Up was directed by Stephanie Soechtig, and produced by Sarah Olson and Eve Marson. Along with narrating, Couric is exec producer with Laurie David, Regina Scully, Heather Reisman, and Atlas Films’ Michael Walrath and Michelle Walrath. Deal was negotiated by Cinetic Media on behalf of the filmmakers.
Beyond chronicling the futile efforts of several young people to shed weight, including a 250-pound 15-year old boy and a 212-pound 12-year old girl, the film reveals a 30-year campaign by the food industry, aided by the U.S. government, to mislead and confuse the American public. The result is a humungous health epidemic. The filmmakers trace the historical pattern and places the blame squarely on the food manufacturers that after WWII moved away from natural foods in favor of sugars and processed ingredients as a way to drive profits. As a result, we have a lot of fat kids who develop problems not normally seen in ones … Read More »
Sundance buzz title The Babadook has been acquired by IFC Midnight, which snagged U.S. and Latin America rights to the chiller from Aussie newcomer Jennifer Kent. Essie Davis stars in the pic as a widowed single mother who connects with her troubled son (then six-year-old Noah Wiseman) by reading a bedtime storybook that unleashes a shadowy monster in their home. Kent wrote and directed the Sundance Midnighter selection which also stars Daniel Henshall, Hayley McElhinney, Barbara West, and Ben Winspear. Causeway Films’ Kristina Ceyton produced with Kristian Moliere, with backing from Screen Australia. Jonathan Page, Michael Tear, Jan Chapman, and Jeff Harrison exec produced the pic which earned raves from critics in Park City and put Kent on the map as a helmer to watch. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: A24 is hot on the trail of its third film acquisition of the Sundance Film Festival. I’m hearing the label is near a deal for U.S. rights to Life After Beth, a Jeff Baena-written and -directed comedy that stars Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly, Dane DeHaan, Paul Reiser, and Anna Kendrick. This is going down as part of a deal for international territories that will bring the price to around $3.5 million for all the deals. It includes a DirectTV component that is part of A24′s partnership. The logline: Zach is devastated by the unexpected death of his girlfriend, Beth. When she mysteriously returns, he gets a second chance at love as his world is upended. WME Global and CAA repped the film, which is in the U.S. Dramatic Competition and made its debut last Sunday at the Library Theatre. XYZ is brokering the foreign deals. Stay tuned. The film is financed by Starstream Entertainment and Abbolita Productions, and is produced by Liz Destro and Michael Zakin of American Zoetrope, with whom A24 worked on The Bling Ring.
Sundance: A24 Acquiring J.C. Chandor-Helmed ‘A Most Violent Year’
Sundance: A24 Acquires ‘Obvious Child’
UPDATE, 3:16 PM: Magnolia Pictures has confirmed news that Deadline broke yesterday: It has acquired North American rights to Frank, starring Michael Fassbender. Read the full release below the original story.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, THURSDAY AM: Magnolia is zeroing in on a low seven-figure domestic deal for Frank, the Lenny Abrahamson-directed film about a band that is led by an eclectic genius lead singer who, everywhere he goes, wears an oversized head, even on stage. Now, this has been one of the most intriguing titles, given that the actor playing him is Michael Fassbender, the hunky Irishman who was just Oscar-nominated for his role in 12 Years A Slave.
The film also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy and Domhnall Gleeson and the vantage point is a fledgling musician who joins the band. The film is repped by WME Global, and while the deal flow has been a bit on the slow side, that agency has managed to close a deal through all of the six days of the fest. I wrote about how Graham Taylor’s Sundance team of Mark Ankner, Liesl Copland and Alexis Garcia got minted as partners, and maybe that was the extra motivation, but they bagged the fest’s first big deal on the opening night film Whiplash, and haven’t let up. Frank first premiered last Friday night at the Eccles Theater. Read More »
UPDATE, 2:58 PM: Sony Pictures Classics has confirmed Deadline’s report from yesterday, acquiring Ira Sachs’ Sundance pic Love Is Strange for North America, Germany and Scandinavia. Read the release below after the original story.
PREVIOUS, THURSDAY AM: Sony Pictures Classics is acquiring Love Is Strange, the film scripted and directed by Ira Sachs that stars Alfred Molina, John Lithgow, Marisa Tomei, Cheyenne Jackson, Darren Burrows and Charlie Tahan. The timely film is about two longtime gay lovers who finally get married. One of them then gets fired and is unable to pay the rent. The couple must move in, separately, with a nephew and his family in Brooklyn and the two gay cops next door. The film got a strong response when it premiered last Saturday at the Eccles Theater. The deal is being made by WME Global. The film also got a French distribution deal with Pretty Pictures right after its premiere. SPC previously acquired the opening-night film Whiplash, and then the comedy Land Ho!
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The wild tale of the Portland Mavericks looks to be coming to the big screen via one of its former employees. Little Children director and former Mavericks batboy Todd Field is in talks to direct and write an adaptation of the documentary The Battered Bastards Of Baseball, I’ve learned. Helmed by Chapman Way and Maclain Way and featuring multiple appearances by their uncle and former Maverick himself Kurt Russell, the docu launched in the Documentary Premiere section of this year’s Sundance Film Festival on January 20 and has its final screening tomorrow. Despite reports earlier today that pitched Justin Lin as directing the adaptation, the former Fast & Furious helmer in fact is producing the adaptation through his Perfect Storm company. In play right now with several buyers at Sundance, according to sources close to the film, Battered Bastards chronicles how in 1973 Bonanza actor Bing Russell formed what at the time was America’s sole independent baseball team. Seen as a real-life version of the Bad News Bears, the Mavericks lasted three years before they were pushed out of Portland by the return of the major-league-backed Portland Beavers. Field is repped by CAA.