Inside D.C. entertainment

Sundance 2011: Awards, deals, and final thoughts

January 31, 2011 - 01:29 PM
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Another Earth
Another Earth: Possibly coming relatively soon to a theater near you.

The Sundance Film Festival is nothing if not a test of patience. Given that Park City, Utah, is home to around 8,000 people — which I believe is roughly the number of films at this year's festival — it wasn't designed to handle such an influx of Hollywood groupies, fanboy bloggers, and actors with familiar, but ultimately unidentifiable, faces. This deluge of humankind results, of course, in long lines everywhere in town except on the ski slopes. Simply ordering a sandwich from a Main Street deli could take as long as a half hour, and getting into a movie — if one gets in at all — almost always takes much longer. Unless, that is, you write for a certain paper, in which case you can cut your peers in the press line, hugging Another Earth's publicist in the process.

But I'm not bitter, no! I'm just through with lines, especially after the closing party on Saturday night. I'll let Twitter echo my complaints. The DJ, inspired by the success of Girl Talk, would play a song just long enough to get the crowd excited, then switch to another record, disappointing many. Maybe he was distracted by the girls in his booth? While some people noshed on bread pudding, I quickly put my three drink tickets to use, ordering three 3.2% beers that would do nothing to achieve the desired effect. Perhaps I should have paid attention to Vulture's Twitter feed. And then the party was over before it began, possibly due to some high school kids sneaking in. At least I didn't get thrown out, but then again, I didn't get to literally bump into Matt Groening, either.

Was that as exhausting to read as it was to write? My apologies. Let's move on to the D.C.-connected films that won awards and struck distribution deals.

Another Earth, directed by Mike Cahill and co-written with its star, Brit Marling, won both a Special Jury Prize for a dramatic film and the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, which carries a $20,000 cash award. Fox Searchlight bought the film for $750,000. (Cahill and Marling are Georgetown grads.)

• Dee Rees' Pariah won the Excellence in Cinematography Award for a dramatic film. Produced by Nekisa Cooper, who grew up in Northern Virginia, the film was picked up by Focus Features.

The Redemption of General Butt Naked, by D.C. filmmakers Eric Strauss and Daniele Anastasion, won the Excellence in Cinematography Award for a documentary. There's no word yet on distribution.

The Flaw, which features a Silver Spring resident, was acquired by New Video: "New Video plans a limited theatrical run and then release on DVD, VOD and digital platforms."

Hot Coffee, by a former, longtime D.C. lawyer — and which was partly inspired by a book by D.C. journalist Stephanie Mencimer, who appears in the film — was bought by HBO for mid to high six-figures. According to Deadline, "HBO licensed the film for broadcast and VOD for 2 years, and will afford the film a qualifying Oscar theatrical run before it airs on the pay channel."

These Amazing Shadows, about the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, was acquired by IFC. It is available on demand from Sundance Selects.

The Last Mountain, produced by former Newsweek White House correspondent Clara Bingham, was acquired by Dada Films and will screen in 20 cities on June 3.

Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times, a documentary starring former City Paper editor David Carr, was picked up by Magnolia Pictures and Participant Media. It will get a theatrical release later this year.

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