Friday, January 20, 2006

Sundancing, To Swag or Not to Swag


(image via indiewire)

Weblogs Inc's coverage of the Sundance Film Festival has finally begun in earnest. So has Defamer. (As, it seems, has everyone else). Already the acquisitions have begun. According to Indiewire:

"Picturehouse and New Line International have acquired all rights to Francois Girard's romantic drama 'Silk' starring Michael Pitt ('Last Days'), Keira Knightley ('Pride & Prejudice'), Koji Yakusho ('Memoirs of a Geisha') and Alfred Molina ('Spiderman II'), Bob Berney, president of Picturehouse, Rolf Mittweg, president and COO of New Line Worldwide Distribution and Marketing and Camela Galano, president of New Line International announced Thursday."

Blogging Sundance says of the start of the festivities: "The opening night film, Friends with Money, stars Jennifer Aniston as an unhappy, 30-something, pot smoking maid who can't stop stalking her married ex."

(A considerable pause) Hows that for an opening? Aniston showed up in the Park City chill surrounded -- shielded -- by Catherine Keener and director Nicole Holofcener on the day Brad Pitt attatched his last name to those of Zahara and Maddox.

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No "Bradasses" allowed. (image via hello!magazine)

Much has been said of Robert Redford's defending the Festival on his Opening night talk. According to Reuters:

"The institute was started, a non-profit organization that I started in 1980,' explained Redford during the festival's opening comments. 'The idea was to create a workplace where artists with new ideas and new voices, more or less in the independent category, would come and work free of the pressures of the marketplace, competition and money and so forth.'"

Perhaps the perceived defensiveness comes from the general Swaginess in recent years of Sundance (Or, as it is jokingly called,"Branddance;" as opposed to 2001's "SwagDance"). This image contrasts sharply with self image Robert Redford has forged for himself over the years. Redford, intensely moral (Or, in Hollywoodese, "difficult"), had to be irked by what his festival was becoming. Curiously, the opener -- Friends with Money -- seems, by conscious choice, to almost contradict the Branddancing and dealmaking going on around the festival. Of this social phenomenon, Indiewire writes:

"'Sometimes it blurred what we are doing,' Redford admitted during the press conference. 'Once the festival achieved a certain level of notoriety, people [came here] with agendas that were not the same as ours.' He added, 'Once we had built a [film] market, we [also] got an outer tier. So you get parties and celebrities, and that's fine.'

"Still, competing for media and industry attention is a vast party circuit. According to one of many Excel party spreadsheets circulating amongst some festival vets well-before the start of the festival Thursday, there are about 65 different parties, events, and hospitality suites to party-on at through Sunday alone. Among the biggies are the Weinstein Company's 'Lucky Number Slevin' party and the ICM party on Friday night as well as the Entertainment Weekly and Sony BMG Film and Premiere Magazine Party Saturday night. Sunday will be the 10th anniversary of the Queer Brunch hosted by HERE TV and Outfest (former co-host Planet Out will host its own brunch Saturday).

"Monday night may prove to be a real dilemma for well-connected fest-goers with parties being hosted by Cinetic Media (which practically caused a riot outside Zoom on Main Street last year), the Gen Art/My party featuring the Beastie Boys, as well as the William Morris, ITVS and Variety 10 Directors to Watch events.

"Giveaways aka 'swag' are again a looming presence in Park City. In 2003, the Sundance Channel party had a minor shoving match when invitees clamored to secure one of the network's famous gift bags, and with good reason. The bags contained, among other things, a gym membership, high-end sunglasses and other goodies packed into a suede Kenneth Cole bag. Three years later, the lavish bags are still slated for distribution, although the lucky recipients have been pared down"

Good to know. Some films are garnering buzz. Here are Katrina Longworth's picks. Here are Jason Calacanis'. Stir and Spins picks here. Paul Giamati's The Hawk is Dying is getting alot of good word of mouth.

Indiewire"s excellent reporting here
Karina Longworth reviews Friends With Money.
Indiewire's 2006 Guide to Acquisitions here.

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