What got picked up at Sundance?
As Sundance grows in popularity, its films seem to be more and more user friendly in a way. What I mean is, is that independent films are acquiring more and more mainstream actors, and are able to shoot a fairly high quality film on a relatively low budget. This means that more films are distribution ready when they hit Sundance. And this year’s class has shown that well. Here’s a list of films at the festival that have been picked up so far.
One of the first films to be picked up was Mitt, directed and filmed by Greg Whiteley. As you could probably guess from the title, this documentary is about former presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. Whiteley begins filming back in 2006 when the Romney family first discusses whether or not Mitt will run in the primary election. The film closely follows the family in an intimate and candid manner, making for a unique documentary. It was picked up by Netflix and is already available to stream.
Another documentary that got a lot of early buzz and got picked up was Todd Miller’s Dinosaur 13. I was not able to see the film myself, but I heard nothing but good things about it all festival long, and tickets were always tough to find. It was picked up by Lionsgate and CNN Films.
Lionsgate also picked up Cooties, directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion. I did not see this one either but I heard it was terrifyingly funny. The film is about an elementary school campus plagued by a mutant virus that is turning students into teacher-eating zombies. Doesn’t sound too far off from your ordinary elementary school, but it looks worth the watch either way.
It was no surprise that Zach Braff’s second directorial feature, Wish I Was Here, would get picked up. After the great success that Garden State had, Braff’s second film was one of the most anticipated, and it did meet the expectations of viewers. The film had a similar feeling to its predecessor, but accomplished this in a new way. It was picked up by Focus Features.
Another movie audiences looked forward to was the Skeleton Twins, directed by Craig Johnson, and staring Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig. This comedy duo was challenged with making a more dramatic and heart-felt film. They definitely lived up to this while keeping humorous aspects in it. The film won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for U.S. Dramatic, and was picked up by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions for distribution.
Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash won both the Grand Jury Prize and the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award, so it was certainly expected to get a distribution deal. The film follows a new music school student who desires to be one of the great drummers of the world. He is taken in by a ruthless instructor who pushes his students to the very brink in order to bring out their potential. The film was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics.
Several other great films found themselves with distribution by the end of the festival. These include I Origins (Fox Searchlight Pictures), God’s Pocket (IFC Films), The One I Love (Weinstein Company), Land Ho! (Sony Pictures Classics), Calvary (Fox Searchlight Pictures), Cesar’s Last Fast (Pivot and Univision News), and Sepideh: Reaching for the Stars (iTunes). While this is a solid list of films, there are many more great ones to see, and movie fans are hoping that this list continues to grow.