Posts Tagged 'Sundance 2013'

Sundance Update #4 – I USED TO BE DARKER and FRUITVALE

Film still from Baltimore native Matt Porterfield's I USED TO BE DARKER. 2013, 90 minutes, color, U.S.A., Feature.

Film still from Baltimore native Matt Porterfield’s I USED TO BE DARKER. 2013, 90 minutes, color, U.S.A., Feature.

The Baltimore presence has been exceptionally strong in Park City this year. Baltimore pride was strongly felt at Matt Porterfield‘s 2013 Sundance debut of I USED TO BE DARKER, a wonderful film about the repercussions of rips in the family fabric as people find each other and let each other go.  Shot in Maryland, cinematographer Jeremy Saulnier beautifully portrays the unfolding revelations of this film against a suburban Baltimore landscape.

Musician and cast member Kim Taylor performing at the I USED TO BE DARKER party.

Kim Taylor at the I USED TO BE DARKER after-party.

This picture (right) is of musician and cast member Kim Taylor performing at the I USED TO BE DARKER after-party.  Ned Oldham, cast member and former Roland Park Public School faculty member,  also performed.

Another classic Baltimore moment happened when I ran into Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck coming out of a screening.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

There was lots of chatter from him and his group (or “entourage,” as they say in  Sundance-speak) about my Baltimore Ravens hat. I guess Joe Flacco couldn’t be here because he’s still working.

Then, another Baltimore moment: while waiting in line for a screening of the amazing FRUITVALE with critics Elvis Mitchell, Todd McCarthy and Scott Foundas, I ran into Tom Rothman and his daughter. Tom is a long-time Sundance Board Member and is on the Dramatic Jury this year.   Tom was also one of the honorees at our very first MFF Open Conversation fundraiser, alongside his father Donald and brother John. The event “The Rothmans: An Insider’s Look at the Movie Business” took place in October 2007.

Film still from FRUITVALE. 013, 90 minutes, color, U.S.A., U.S. Dramatic.

Film still from FRUITVALE. 2013, 90 minutes, color, U.S.A., Drama.

FRUITVALE is a film by first-time feature filmmaker Ryan Coogler and it dramatizes a tragic incident on the Bay Area Rapid Transit system. The script was developed at the 2012 Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab and the remarkable cast features Octavia Spencer (Oscar winner for THE HELP), Michael B. Jordan (Wallace from the first season of TV’s The Wire), Melonie Diaz, Ahna O’Reilly, Kevin Durand and Chad Michael Murray.

Tony Forman, an early supporter of FRUITVALE, kicked the party up several notches with bottles of champagne and Bordeaux from his personal collection. Creative Capitals creator and chief Ruby Lerner (a Goucher alum) was there, as well as JHU student Clair Richardson, there on her second JHU/Sundance trek, and her parents. Her dad, Paul, is CEO of Sundance Cinemas. Marcus Hu from Strand Releasing was also there and had already been in touch with John Waters about Matt‘s film.

– Jed Dietz, MFF Director

Sundance Update #3: MFF Alum Jacob Kornbluth’s INEQUALITY FOR ALL

Still from INEQUALITY FOR ALL. 2012, 88 minutes, color, U.S.A., Documentary.

Film still from INEQUALITY FOR ALL featuring UC Berkeley Professor Robert Reich teaching to a room full of students. 2012, 88 minutes, color, U.S.A., Documentary.

Jacob Kornbluth, who won the 2001 MD Filmmaker Fellowship for his script THE BEST THIEF IN THE WORLD, which played at MFF 2004, is premiering a remarkable nonfiction film called INEQUALITY FOR ALL about how the widening income inequality gap in America poses a dire threat to our economy and democracy.

Robert Reich and Jacob Kornbluth at the INEQUALITY FOR ALL screening.

Jacob Kornbluth and entrepreneur, author and venture capitalist Nick Hannauer at the INEQUALITY FOR ALL screening.

This documentary is based on former Labor Secretary for the Clinton Administration and current UC Berkeley Professor Robert Reich‘s book Aftershock, which tackles this massive issue and asks what happens if we do not act.  At the heart of the film is a simple proposition: what is a good society, and what role does the widening income gap play in the deterioration of our nation’s economic health?

This film forces us to reckon with the problems of our country’s economic inequality as AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH called our attention to the issue of global warming – a film which went on to become one of the highest grossing documentaries in movie history (not to mention garnering an Oscar win and Al Gore‘s Nobel Peace prize).

-Jed Dietz, MFF Director

MFF Director Jed Dietz Reports from Sundance 2013!


Photo still from Don Jon's Addiction. 2013, 90 minutes, color, U.S.A., Premieres.

Photo still from Don Jon’s Addiction. 2013, 90 minutes, color, U.S.A., Feature.

My Sundance 2013 experience began with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s feature directorial debut, DON JON’S ADDICTION, a comedy about one man’s addiction to pornography, which is full of stars (Scarlett Johansson, Tony Danza, Julianne Moore, Glenne Headly and Rob Brown) including Gordon-Levitt in the lead.

Photo still from PUSSY RIOT - A PUNK PRAYER.  Russian with English subtitles, 2012, 86 minutes, color, Russian Federation/United Kingdom, World Documentary

Photo still from PUSSY RIOT – A PUNK PRAYER. Russian with English subtitles, 2012, 86 minutes, color, Russian Federation/United Kingdom, World Documentary.

Afterwards, I attended PUSSY RIOT – A PUNK PRAYER, a documentary which offers an incredible snapshot of the Russian radical-feminist punk band that got arrested for protesting the re-election of Vladimir Putin by donning colorful knitted masks and singing “Mother Mary, Banish Putin!” in a Moscow cathedral. It is a fascinating glimpse of a culture trying to figure out new governing and protest norms.

At screening of PUSSY RIOT - A PUNK PRAYER.  Q&A with filmmakers and Katia, one of the Pussy Riot performers, Skyping in from Moscow.

At screening of PUSSY RIOT – A PUNK PRAYER. Q&A with filmmakers and Katia, one of the Pussy Riot performers, Skyping in from Moscow.

The picture (right) is of the Q&A with filmmakers Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin, along with Katia Samutsevich, one of the Pussy Riot performers, Skyping in from Moscow.

Each year at Sundance, a unique film community comes together in Park City for the span of this 11-day festival that, like Baltimore itself, reminds us that it’s a small world after all.  It just so happened that coming out of the last screening, I ran in to an MFF volunteer, James from Frederick, MD, who volunteers at Sundance every year, too. “Go, Ravens!” we cheer in the midst of a puzzled group.

Stay tuned for more updates from Sundance 2013!

-Jed Dietz, MFF Director

Matthew Porterfield, David Lowery, Amy Seimetz Among MFF Alum Featured in Sundance 2013

The last few years have seen an explosion of Maryland Film Festival alumni landing new films in the annual Sundance Film Festival. That trend continued to rise yesterday as Sundance began unveiling the line-up for their 2013 festival (taking place January 17-27 in Park City, Utah).

Sundance has established itself as arguably the premiere festival for American independent film, as well as one of the world’s largest “market” festivals, where distributors acquire many a film for distribution–as was the case with this year’s art-house smash BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD by MFF alum Benh Zeitlin, which premiered at Sundance 2012.

The number of MFF connections in Sundance’s 2013 line-up thus far is so numerous we’re still tracking them, but the following are a dozen feature-film highlights. Needless to say, these are films we’ll be tracking at Sundance and throughout the year as we begin scouting films for Maryland Film Festival 2013:

I USED TO BE DARKER, directed by Baltimore’s Matthew Porterfield (of MFF 2006’s HAMILTON and MFF 2010’s PUTTY HILL), shot in Baltimore, and co-written by Baltimore’s Amy Belk.

AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS, directed by David Lowery (director of MFF 2009 feature ST. NICK and MFF 2011 Opening Night short PIONEER), featuring an all-star cast that includes Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Nate Parker, and Keith Carradine.

PIT STOP, directed by Yen Tan, co-written by David Lowery, and featuring a cast that includes Amy Seimetz (co-star of MFF 2010’s TINY FURNITURE; director of MFF 2012’s SUN DON’T SHINE) and John Merriman (co-writer/co-director/co-star of MFF 2012’s Opening Night short MODERN MAN).

MOTHER OF GEORGE, directed by Andrew Dosunmu of MFF 2011’s RESTLESS CITY.  Andrew won the Maryland Filmmakers Fellowship in 2005 for this script. The Fellowship is awarded annually by a group of independent readers,  picked from Friends of the Festival supporters, and given to a filmmaker who’s script has been through the Sundance Labs.

TOUCHY FEELY, directed by Lynn Shelton, the writer/director of such titles as HUMPDAY, YOUR SISTER’S SISTER, and MFF 2008’s MY EFFORTLESS BRILLIANCE.

COMPUTER CHESS, directed by Andrew Bujalski, director of MFF 2005’s MUTUAL APPRECIATION.

99%: THE OCCUPY WALL STREET COLLABORATIVE FILM, a collaborative documentary whose filmmakers include Audrey Ewell and Aaron Aites of MFF 2010’s UNTIL THE LIGHT TAKES US.

AFTER TILLER, co-directed by Martha Shane of MFF 2008’s BI THE WAY.

THE GOOD LIFE, co-directed by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine of MFF 2007’s WAR/DANCE.

A TEACHER, directed by Hannah Fidell and featuring a cast that includes MFF alums Jennifer Prediger, Jonny Mars, and Chris Dubeck.

UPSTREAM COLOR, directed by Shane Carruth and starring frequent MFF alum Amy Seimetz (TINY FURNITURE, SMALL POND).

GOD LOVES UGANDA, directed by Roger Ross Williams of MFF 2010’s Oscar-winning MUSIC BY PRUDENCE.

A big congratulations to all the filmmakers included in this year’s Sundance line-up! You can also head to Thompson on Hollywood, the Indiewire blog of noted film critic (and MFF 2012 guest) Anne Thompson, for more information on these and other announced Sundance titles.