The drama with sci-fi elements, directed by Mike Cahill and acquired by Fox Searchlight during this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is set to be released July 22.
Park City, UT – Sundance Institute today announced that Another Earth, directed and written by Mike Cahill and written by Brit Marling, is the recipient of the 2011 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Now in its ninth year, the Prize carries a $20,000 cash award by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and is presented to an outstanding feature film focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer or mathematician as a major character.
An integral part of the Festival’s Awards Ceremony, the Alfred P. Sloan Prize Feature Film Prize is a major component of the Sundance Institute Science-in-Film Initiative, which is made possible by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The Initiative supports the development and exhibition of new independent film projects that explore science and technology themes or that depict scientists, engineers and mathematicians in engaging and innovative ways.
The winning film was selected by a committee of film and science professionals “for its original use of subtly rendered scientific concept – the sudden appearance of an alternate Earth where everyone may be living parallel lives and destinies – to explore the themes of remorse and forgiveness.”
Another Earth (Director: Mike Cahill; Screenwriters: Mike Cahill and Brit Marling) — On the eve of the discovery of a duplicate Earth, a horrible tragedy irrevocably alters the lives of two strangers, who begin an unlikely love affair. Cast: William Mapother, Brit Marling, Jordan Baker, Robin Lord Taylor, Flint Beverage.
EXCLUSIVE 2ND UPDATE: Two days after buying English speaking rights to Another Earth, Fox Searchlight has acquired worldwide rights to the film. That makes Searchlight’s minimum guarantee commitment around $3 million. Relative to its $150,000 budget, Another Earth walks away with one of the bigger commitments to a small film in recent memory, maybe since The Blair Witch Project. The picture has received glowing reviews for director Mike Cahill and the script he wrote with Brit Marling. She stars with William Mapother in a drama with sci-fi elements. Foreign buyers responded, and the sellers scheduled a screening in Hollywood today. Much to the chagrin of buyers, it has been canceled, after Searchlight stepped up last night and closed in a deal with WME Global’s Graham Taylor, Preferred Content’s Kevin Iwashina, and Andre Des Rochers. It is one of two WME-brokered pictures expected to go today. The other is the Dito Montiel-directed The Son Of No One. Despite a trade slam piece, the movie has five distributors circling, and the auction is around $2 million so far, I hear. The deal could be done before the film’s official premiere this evening. WME is brokering that deal with Cassian Elwes.
(Sharon Swart is assisting Deadline’s Sundance coverage)
Sundance has launched new directors’ careers for decades, most famously Steven Soderbergh with his 1989 sex, lies, and videotape. In recent years, helmers including Ryan Fleck (2006’s Half Nelson) and Cary Fukunaga (2009’s Sin Nombre) broke through at the festival. This year, films from several returning Sundance directors, including Drake Doremus (Like Crazy), Jacob Aaron Estes (The Details), and Miranda July (The Future) are getting attention. Here’s a look at more under-the-radar names emerging this year:
Mike Cahill: His competition film Another Earth was just acquired by Fox Searchlight after receiving a standing ovation at Sundance’s Eccles Theatre on Monday. The minimalist sci-fi drama concerns a budding astrophysics student played by Brit Marling who accidentally kills a man’s family. “I love the idea of space and science being used as a metaphor,” Cahill said after his screening. “What I wanted to explore is, ‘What would it be like to meet yourself?’” Cahill and Marling, who met at Georgetown University, co-wrote and co-produced the film. They started with a 20-page treatment and fleshed it out in a series of meetings at co-star Mapother’s house. Cahill and Marling also co-directed Havana-set 2004 documentary Boxers and Ballerinas. And over the past several years, Cahill has worked as a field producer for National Geographic and for MTV on series such as True Life. He edited documentaries including Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out and Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man. “Mike is someone who can shoot, direct, edit, and handle visual effects,” says Another Earth producer Nicholas Shumaker. “He’s not short on enthusiasm. We weren’t worried about whether he could pull off an indie film with effects. He can convince anyone of anything at any time.” Cahill is currently writing a project, again with sci-fi elements, that he’ll direct. Manager George Heller at Principato-Young signed the director about four months ago.
Paddy Considine: This British actor takes his first feature turn behind the camera with Sundance World Cinema Competition entry Tyrannosaur, a dark tale about a tormented man who goes on a spree of self-destructive behavior. The film elicited strong responses at the festival and lead Peter Mullan’s searing performance is already sparking talk that it’s awards worthy. Considine mainly worked as a thesp for top directors like Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People), Jim Sheridan (In America), Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum), and Ron Howard (Cinderella Man) who he says would consult with him about narrative. The busy actor also has written produced screenplays (Dead Man’s Shoes). “In my heart I knew I was a better writer-director than I was an actor. I knew I had a voice of my own and stories of my own that I needed to tell. I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable in front of the camera. Filmmaking was an absolute necessity if I was to continue a career in this medium.” He began directing with the 2007 short film Dog Altogether which won an award at the Venice film festival and a BAFTA. “Paddy has an incredible instinct for the truth, creating compelling cinematic characters and putting them up against each other in unexpected and intense situations,” says his producer Diarmid Scrimshaw, who also made Considine’s short. “He is an exceptional director who gets phenomenal performances by casting with integrity and giving his actors these incredible characters to play.” He’s repped Conor McCaughan and Sam Fox at Troika Talent agency in the U.K.
Maryam Keshavarz: This Iranian writer-director’s first feature Circumstance showed in Sundance’s U.S. competition to strong critical responses and scored a pickup deal by Participant Media. The project, about teen girls discovering Tehran’s underground scene while grappling with conservative family pressures, had a 4 1/2-year journey to the screen. Says producer Karin Chien, ”Nothing was easy about making Circumstance. Maryam worked under overwhelming restrictions and at huge personal risk to tell this story. While facing down obstacles that would have crippled most directors, her commitment to her vision never wavered, not for a moment.” After graduating from Northwestern University, Keshavarz briefly went back to Iran and returned to the U.S. again for a doctoral degree. “From an early age, I have been a translator of culture: East for West, and West for East,” says the director. “Hailing from a family where my grandfather was a political poet who was often jailed in Iran, I was interested in the intersections of politics, history and artistic expression.” After 9/11, she made an experimental short titled Sanctuary, which was a surreal fantasy about an Iranian woman navigating life in New York after the disaster. It won Keshavarz the Steve Tisch Fellowship to pursue an MFA in Film Direction at NYU/Tisch. There, she directed her first feature documentary, The Color of Love, an award-winning film. In 2005, Keshevarz went to Argentina to shoot The Day I Died, about an adolescent love triangle. It won two prizes at Berlin. Keshavarz is unrepped at the moment but has been swarmed by agency interest at Sundance.