Netflix and Amazon attended the Sundance Festival in Park City, Utah, this year – looking to make digital distribution an option for independent filmmakers. So were the digital companies a big hit at the festival?
“Not really,” says Wesley Morris, film critic at Grantland. “I think what you’re going to see is people feeling Amazon out. I think filmmakers really do want to feel like their movie is at a movie studio, and they have a deal to reflect that. And for now, Sundance is their number one distribution deal.”
One festival highlight was “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.”
“It is a very charming, really well-made movie about a guy who befriends a dying girl,” says Morris. “And when you’re watching that movie and you get to the last 10 to 15 minutes, as someone said to me – when I was like ‘I’m not going to be moved by this at all’ – ‘you won’t be human if you aren’t.'”
“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” swept the festival awards and was picked up by Fox Searchlight after a bidding war.
Four more highlights from Sundance 2015:
“The End of the Tour”
- Director: James Ponsoldt
- Cast: Jason Segel, Jesse Eisenberg
- What’s it about? The movie is based on David Lipsky’s book “Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself,” about following David Foster Wallace on part of his “Infinite Jest” book tour. Jason Segel’s portrayal of Wallace is receiving Oscar buzz a full year ahead of time.
- Morris says: “It’s one of the best movies I’ve seen about the intense, fragile connection between writers.“
- Director: Sean Baker
- Cast: Kiki Kitana Rodriguez, Mya Taylor.
- What’s it about? Filmed using three iPhones outfitted with special lenses, “Tangerine” is a comedy and caper following two transgender prostitutes out for revenge on Christmas Eve.
- Morris says: “It’s trashy, lurid, and hilariously profane — exploitation in the best, most cinematic sense — but without ever losing the thread of human ache that connects the handful of characters … to each other.“
- Director: Crystal Moselle
- What’s it about? The Grand Jury Prize-winner for documentary, this film follows six brothers and one sister who have spent their lives locked in a New York City apartment, reenacting scenes from their family’s extensive library of movies.
- Morris says: “What a sad, strange, intoxicating movie … [Moselle] lets the imagery (hers, the kids’) speak for itself, and her approach haunts you. You do wonder, though, what a journalist or a mental-health professional might have done with all this access.“
- Director: Andrew Bujalski
- Cast: Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders, Kevin Corrigan
- What’s it about? A loose mumblecore comedy about an aspiring fitness guru and lonely recent divorcee who become friends as they both pursue another trainer.
- Morris says: “As you’re watching, you’re never entirely sure where Bujalski is taking this thing. That’s partly the source of its exhilaration: He’s written this movie beautifully, but it doesn’t follow any conventional script.“
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