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By Mark Bell | January 7, 2011

The 2011 Sundance Film Festival is less than two weeks away, and Film Threat will be out in force, covering films and the fest, but there were a few big announcements this week so it looks like the Sundance coverage is getting an early start. We’ll work backwards from the title, starting with the Advisory Board news…

The Sundance Institute is showing alumni some more love this year, naming their first-ever Alumni Advisory Board, made up of 12 filmmakers that represent all of the different Institute programs. Director Morgan Spurlock is first up in the January Artist Alumni Spotlight, and here are the rest of the Alumni Advisory Board, from the official press release:

· Katie Aselton: Sundance Film Festival Director (The Freebie), Annenberg Grant winner

· Lee Daniels: Sundance Film Festival Director (Precious) producer (The Woodsman)

· America Ferrera: Sundance Film Festival Actor (Real Women Have Curves, How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer, Steel City, La Misma Luna, The Dry Land (also EP)); 2011 Sundance Film Festival Juror

· James Franco: Sundance Film Festival Actor (Howl, An American Crime) Director (Herbert White, 2010 Short), Down & Dirty shorts program in LA; 2011 Sundance Film Festival New Frontier Artist

· Clark Gregg: Sundance Film Festival Director (Choke) Actor (Adventures of Sebastian Cole, 500 Days of Summer, Lovely and Amazing); 2011 Sundance Film Festival Sloan Juror

· Lauren Greenfield: Sundance Film Festival Director (kids+money, Thin), 2007 Sundance Film Festival Juror

· Braden King: Feature Film Program (Here, 2007) NHK Award, Annenberg Grant, Cinereach Project, Composers Lab Experiment; 2011 Sundance Film Festival Director (Here)

· Stacy Peralta: Sundance Film Festival Director (Riding Giants, Made in America, Dogtown & Z Boys), 2005 Sundance Film Festival Juror

· Stew: Feature Film Program Directors Lab (We Can See Today, 2005), Theatre Lab (Passing Strange, 2005)

· Jason Reitman: Sundance Film Festival Director (Thank You for Smoking), 3 Short Films (In God We Trust, Operation and Gulp); 2008 Short Film Juror; 2011 Sundance Film Festival Juror

· Morgan Spurlock: Sundance Film Festival Director (Supersize Me, Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden); 2010 Sundance Film Festival Juror; 2011 Sundance Film Festival Director (The Greatest Movie Ever Sold); 2011 Sundance Film Festival Artist at the Table Keynote Speaker

· Taika Waititi: Sundance Film Festival Director (Boy, Eagle vs. Shark, Tama Tu, The Volcano), Feature Film Program Directors Lab (Eagle vs. Shark, 2005)

This news is really cool, because it means that folks who can’t make it to Sundance can still catch five films premiering at the 2011 fest, from the comfort of their own home. The films featured through the Sundance Institute and Sundance Selects partnership will begin screening on video-on-demand at the same time as their premieres at the fest, and will be available on most major cable systems including Bright House, Comcast, Cablevision, Cox, and Time Warner Cable. “Direct from the Sundance Film Festival” will be available for approximately 30 days on each cable system’s main movies-on-demand channel in a special “Sundance Film Festival” branded section. So what films can you see? From the official press release:

Films selected for the 2011 “Direct from the Sundance Film Festival” program are:

Sundance veteran Gregg Araki returns to the festival with KABOOM, a hyper-stylized Twin Peaks for the Coachella Generation, featuring a gorgeous, super hot young cast. The film is a wild, sex-drenched, comical thriller that tells the story of Smith, an ambisexual 18-year-old college freshman who stumbles upon a monstrous conspiracy in a seemingly idyllic Southern California seaside town. Written and directed by Araki (who has shown eight films at Sundance from his breakthrough The Living End, to The Doom Generation to his masterpiece Mysterious Skin), and produced by Araki and his longtime producer Andrea Sperling, the film stars Thomas Dekker, Juno Temple, Haley Bennett, Chris Zylka, Roxane Mesquida, Andy Fischer-Price, James Duval and Kelly Lynch. The film made its world premiere in the Main Selection at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and had its North American premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2010. KABOOM will make its U.S. premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and simultaneously on-demand on January 21, followed by a platformed national theatrical run beginning January 28th at the IFC Center in New York City and February 4th at Landmark’s NuArt Theater in Los Angeles, with additional markets and theaters to follow. The film will be shown in the Spotlight section.

Brendan Fletcher’s MAD BASTARDS follows TJ who is a “mad bastard,” and his estranged 13-year-old son Bullet who is on the fast track to becoming one, too. After being turned away from his mother’s house, TJ sets off across the country to the Kimberly region of northwestern Australia to make things right with his son. Grandpa Tex has lived a tough life, and now, as a local cop, he wants to change things for the men in his community. Crosscutting between three generations, the film is a raw look at the journey to becoming a man and the personal transformation one must make. Developed with local Aboriginal communities and fueled by a local cast, MAD BASTARDS draws from the rich tradition of storytelling inherent in Indigenous life. Using music from legendary Broome musicians “The Pigram Brothers”, Fletcher (who wrote and directed) poetically fuses the harsh realities of violence, healing, and family. The film will make its world premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and simultaneously on-demand on January 24. The film will be shown in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition section.

Michael Tully’s SEPTIEN follows Cornelius Rawlings who returns to his family’s farm eighteen years after disappearing without a trace. While his parents are long deceased, Cornelius’s brothers continue to live in isolation on this forgotten piece of land. Ezra is a freak for two things: cleanliness and Jesus. Amos is a self-taught artist who fetishizes sports and Satan. Although back home, Cornelius is still distant. In between challenging strangers to one-on-one games, he huffs and drinks the days away. The family’s high-school sports demons show up one day in the guise of a plumber and a pretty girl. Only a mysterious drifter can redeem their souls on 4th and goal. Triple-threat actor/writer/director Tully creates a backwoods world that’s only a few trees away from our own, complete with characters on the edge of sanity that we can actually relate to. A hero tale gone wrong, SEPTIEN is funny when it’s inappropriate to laugh, and realistic when it should be psychotic. The film will make its world premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and simultaneously on-demand on January 23. The film will have select national theatrical dates in 2011. The film will be shown in the Park City at Midnight section.

Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton’s THESE AMAZING SHADOWS asks the question: what do films like Casablanca, Blazing Saddles and West Side Story have in common? As the government-appointed protector of our cinematic legacy, the National Film Registry selects culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant works for preservation in the Library of Congress. From award-winning features to music videos, experimental films to home movies, each Registry selection reflects a truth of its time or a standout artistic vision. Through interviews with Registry board members, archivists, and notable filmmakers like Christopher Nolan, Rob Reiner, John Waters, John Singleton, John Lasseter and Barbara Kopple, the filmmakers demonstrate the way film documents artistic and societal milestones. Guided by a true cinephile’s love of the medium and a treasure trove of archival footage, the film molds a cultural history from pieces of film, offering a microcosm of the work of the National Film Registry and making a powerful case for film preservation. The film will make its world premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and simultaneously on-demand on January 22. The film will be shown in the Documentary Premieres section.

Joe Swanberg makes his first Sundance appearance with his most mature film, UNCLE KENT, an achingly true-to-life modern comedy about aging, loneliness, desire, and the awkward intimacies of online friendship. The film follows 40 year-old Kent (Kent Osborne) who is an unmarried children’s-show writer living alone with his cat in Los Angeles. He spends his days sketching gag cartoons and bouncing ideas off his hyperactive friend, Kev (Kevin Bewersdorf), and his nights staving off loneliness in Internet chat rooms. When one of Kent’s online acquaintances, environmental journalist Kate (Jennifer Prediger), crashes at his house for the weekend, he finds himself attracted to her coquettish manner and frank emotional openness but sexually frustrated by her fidelity to a distant boyfriend. Shot on location in Los Angeles, UNCLE KENT advances many themes and elements found in Swanberg’s early films (Hannah Takes The Stairs, Nights and Weekends, Alexander the Last), including freely improvised dialogue, art-mirrors-life setups, and a renewed emphasis on how technology and other social media enable (or disable) human connection. The cast includes previous collaborators Kent Osborne and composer/actor Kevin Bewersdorf, director Josephine Decker, and newcomer Jennifer Prediger. The film, which marks Swanberg’s Park City debut, will make its world premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and simultaneously on-demand on January 21. The film will be shown in the Spotlight section.

The Sundance/YouTube experiment continues! Looks like this year they’re aiming at some quality short films that will be available for free viewing on YouTube at different launch dates between 01/6/11-02/03/11. The 20 short films, presented by Sundance sponsor Acura, are a mix of classic shorts from previous years from directors who have feature films in the 2011 fest, shorts from Sundance Institute Feature Film Lab directors and shorts from this year’s fest. The shorts and the launch date schedule, from the official press release, are as follows:

Scheduled to launch January 6, 2011:
Classic Short Films from Directors with Feature Films in the 2011 Sundance Film Festival

By Modern Measure (Matthew Lessner)
As part of an ongoing, unaired TV series (By Modern Measure) an amateur French sociologist presents his observations on a day in the life to two young Americans who meet by chance outside a Taco Bell on October 8, 2006.
· Matthew Lessner’s feature film, The Woods, will premiere in the New Frontier section of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Little Farm (Calvin Reeder)
The wages of sin. A foul-mouthed family of brother and sister, in their late teens or early 20s, and their father run a small farm. During one argument between the siblings, ostensibly about her choice of a man to marry, she hints that she knows why he has no woman in his life. Later that night, when dad’s sleeping off heavy drinking, brother and sister open Pandora’s box.
· Calvin Reeder’s feature film, The Oregonian,will premiere in the Park City at Midnight section of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Countertransference (Madeleine Olnek)
A comedy about a lonely woman with assertiveness issues who finds her problems multiplied in therapy.
· Madeline Olnek’s feature film, Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same, will premiere in the Park City at Midnight section of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Choices (Rashaad Ernesto Green)
An exploration a young man’s thought process as he makes love to his girlfriend, and how a person’s upbringing can affect him/her in many ways.
· Rashaad Ernesto Green’s feature film, Gun Hill Road, will premiere in the U.S. Dramatic Competition section of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Scheduled to launch January 13, 2011:
Short Filmmakers Developed at the Sundance Institute Feature Film Labs

Conversion (Nanobah Becker)
In a remote corner of the Navajo nation, circa 1950, a visit by Christian missionaries has catastrophic consequences for a family.

Pandemic 41.410806, -75.654259 (Lance Weiler)
Bree and her little brother Tyler know that their parents awaken only at sundown and are capable of strange and dangerous nocturnal behaviors. Running low on supplies and forced to act, Bree plots their escape, but Tyler stands in her way, unwilling to leave their family home and give up on the parents he loves so much.
· Lance Weiler’s transmedia storytelling experience, Pandemic 1.0,is part of the New Frontier section of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Pop Foul (Moon Molson)
A boy sees his father attacked by a local thug on the way home from a Little League game and agrees to help hide the incident from his mother.
· Moon Molson will premiere his short film, Crazy Beats Strong Every Time, at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Sikumi (Andrew Okpeaha MacLean)
The story of an Inuit hunter who drives his dog team out on the frozen Arctic Ocean in search of seals, but instead, becomes a witness to murder.
· Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s feature film, On the Ice, will premiere in the U.S. Dramatic Competition section of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Scheduled to launch in three flights beginning January 20, January 27 and February 3, 2011:
Short Films Direct from the 2011 Sundance Film Festival

8 Bits (Valere Amirault, Sarah Laufer, Jean Delaunay, and Benjamin Mattern)
A fight between an 8-bit superhero and a high-def boss, in a retro-gaming world.

Andy and Zach (Nick Paley)
When Zach decides to move out, his roommate Andy tries to set up a new life without his best friend.

Close. (Tahir Jetter)
One night after a casual ‘visit’, Angela is all but ready to leave Derek’s apartment. Derek, however, is determined no to let her go without a fight.

Excuse Me (Duncan Birmingham)
A couple threatens to splinter apart due to what may or may not have been said in the heat of passion.

Jupiter Elicius (Kelly Sears)
A haunted meteorologist dreams of storms that are a lot closer and further away than he thought.

oops (Chris Beckman)
A metaphorical elucidation exploring the Internet’s infinite repository of ‘throwaway’ social documentation.

Sasquatch Birth Journal 2 (David & Nathan Zellner)
An unprecedented peek at the mysteries of nature.

Skateistan: To Live and Skate Kabul (Orlando von Einsiedel)
In a country with innumerable problems, Skateistan represents an oasis where children can be children and build the kinds of cross-cultural relationships that Afghanistan needs for future stability.

The High Level Bridge (Trevor Anderson)
Trevor drops his camera from Edmonton’s High Level Bridge in memory of those who have jumped.

The Hunter and The Swan (Emily Carmichael)
A Brooklyn couple have dinner with a hunter and his girlfriend, a magical swan woman. It doesn’t go well.

Xemoland (Daniel Cardenas)
The story of a seven-year-old boy who is led to believe there is a portal to an alternate reality where all his dreams come true. However, the boy quickly realizes that Xemoland is not the place of his dreams, but of his nightmares.

Yelp (With Apologies to Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”) (Tiffany Shlain)
Sophocles once said, ‘nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse,’ and this couldn’t be more true of technology.

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  1. Bwakathaboom says:

    Interesting…does the prestige of premiering a short film at Sundance outweigh the concerns of being publicly available on YouTube? Will other festivals still take your film afterward?

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