The based-on-a-true-story drama received standing ovations and was acquired by Weinstein Co. for a hefty sum.
In the early hours of New Year’s Day 2009, BART police officers responded to a call that a group of up to 12 people said to be under the influence were involved in a brawl on a crowded incoming train from the West Oakland station. When the train arrived at the Fruitvale station, officers removed Oscar Grant, a young African-American man, and several other men from the car, and lined them up seated against a wall.
Protesters carry signs with a picture of slain 22-year-old Oscar Grant III during a demonstration at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland, Calif., Jan. 7, 2009. (Justin Sullivan/Getty)
Passengers aboard the stalled train captured the rest of the incident with cellphone cameras.
Grant, 22, who doesn’t appear to be resisting arrest, makes a motion to stand and is seen waving his hands in defeat. A BART officer then shoves him face-first onto the ground. A brief struggle ensues as several officers attempt to subdue a squirming Grant, his hands behind his back. Then, Johannes Mehserle, 27, a white, German-born officer hunching over Grant stands up, takes a half-step back, draws his gun, and fires a shot directly into Grant’s back. It looks like an execution.
Brit Marling stars as an agent who goes undercover in an eco-terrorism group that includes Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgard in “The East.” The film, which premiered at Sundance, is an expertly crafted thriller anchored by Marling’s fantastic turn as the conflicted protagonist.
Two years ago, Brit Marling’s was the biggest story of Sundance: a gorgeous Georgetown University valedictorian turns down a job offer from Goldman Sachs to write and star in a pair of critically acclaimed festival films, as a cerebral woman scarred by a tragic event in Another Earth, and a charismatic cult leader in The Sound of My Voice. Last year, in a cheeky nod to her finance past, she appeared in the Sundance flick Arbitrage that simultaneously humanized and demonized a Bernie Madoff–type, played by Richard Gere.
A scene from "The East," directed by Zal Batmanglij. (Myles Aronowitz)
Marling has reunited with her Voice director and co-writer, Zal Batmanglij, in The East.
The film, again co-written by Marling, stars the actress as Sarah, an agent for a private security firm, who is tasked with going undercover in a dangerous eco-terrorism cell that calls itself “The East.” Ambitious, religious, and D.C. preppy, Sarah is forced to trade in her heels for Birkenstocks by her hard-nosed boss, played with glee by Patricia Clarkson. The East has been wreaking havoc on many of the security firms’ clients, including flooding a big oil exec’s posh Hamptons pad with crude oil.
James Franco’s new documentary, ‘Kink,’ captures life inside the office sets of Kink.com, a popular BDSM-porn website. Marlow Stern spoke with Franco, the director, Kink.com founder Peter Acworth, one of his directors, and a former star about bondage porn, the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ phenomenon, and more.
Kink, an X-rated BDSM-porn documentary, opens with a director, who goes by the nom de guerre Maitresse Madeline, grilling her novice male subject with a series of probing questions.
Christina Voro and James Franco in "Kink". (Kink)
We are going to tie you up today. We are going to spank you. We are going to flog you. We might cane you. We might paddle you. We like to choke around here. Do you like to get choked? Can we slap you in the face? What about your nipples? Can we clamp your nipples? Can we punch you in the stomach? We’re going to make love to your butthole, too.
Directed by Christina Voros and produced by the ubiquitous James Franco, the film, which made its premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, paints a sweaty, screaming portrait of life inside Kink.com—the world’s premier BDSM-porn site, made up of 18 subscription sites and housed in the historic San Francisco Armory. The company, founded by Brit Peter Acworth, shoots all its videos in the 200,000-square-foot space that, in addition to room for offices and gear, also has about 50 movie sets.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt wrote, directed, and stars in ‘Don Jon’s Addiction,’ his debut feature about a porn-addicted man in search of meaningful sex. Gordon-Levitt and his co-star, Oscar-nominated actress Julianne Moore, sat down to discuss porn, love, ‘The Big Lebowski’s’ 15th anniversary, and their favorite films of the year.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the fresh prince of Sundance.
Last year, he didn’t even have a film at the festival and was still the hottest ticket—performing a live hitRECORD event, replete with a soaring rendition of the Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” that had ladies—and quite a few men—swooning.
After starring in the beloved Sundance films Brick, Mysterious Skin, and (500) Days of Summer, he’s brought his debut feature film—which he wrote, directed, and stars in—to premiere at the fest.
Don Jon’s Addiction centers on Jon “Don Jon” Martello (Gordon-Levitt), a 20-something Jersey Guido who, when he’s not gelling his hair, cleaning his pad, pumping up at the gym, or bedding a revolving door of women, watches a vast plethora of porn. He’s so addicted to porn that it affects the relationship with his potential dream woman, Angie (Scarlett Johansson)—a bodacious, gum-chewing Joisey girl with a weakness for sappy romantic-comedy films. After a chance encounter with Esther (Julianne Moore), a mature, broken woman, Don Jon realizes that sex, and love, isn’t what he thought it was.
After a few hiccups, Avicii took the stage at the Wynn’s XS pop-up club at Park City Live during the Sundance Film Festival, and the Swedish DJ didn’t disappoint.
The night got off to a pretty rocky start.
Park City Live, a concert venue located smack in the middle of bustling Main Street in Park City, Utah, is playing host to a pop-up of the famed XS nightclub at Vegas’s Wynn Hotel during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Without the sprawling space of the Vegas outpost at its disposal, the Wasatch Mountain version was cramped, caliginous, and peppered with everyone from dudes with headbands and modish dance music trollops to that rare breed of train wreck that’s thoroughly convinced herself she’s Samantha from Sex and the City but more closely resembles an overserved Real Housewives reject. And there were busty, half-naked dancers being ogled by creeps with widow’s peaks. And Paris Hilton was there. Why she continues to violate Sundance is anyone’s guess.
Around 11:15 p.m., the time superstar DJ Avicii was supposed to take the stage, the music suddenly stopped. But the well-coiffed Swede was nowhere to be found. Instead, the venue’s manager took to the mic informing everyone that the lights would have to go up for five minutes at the fire marshal’s request. As the lights went up, an inebriated gentleman in a cardigan clutching a Monster energy drink shouted, “Now we can see how ugly the chicks are!” I wish I could deck this stupid asshole.
After five minutes of mulling about, the opening act, C.C. Sheffield, resumed her duties behind the decks, screaming, “What the fuck was that all about?” To her credit, she did a helluva job—even premiering an unreleased Deadmau5 song. Then, two tables of homely fellows engaged in a champagne fight of sorts, spraying bottles of Moët at one another, and soaking several unfortunate bystanders in the process. ’Cause, you know, to waste several bottles of champagne at a Utah nightclub means you’re a pretty big deal.
This sendup of British costume dramas visiting a Regency-era theme park, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, is a pleasant romp that works, writes Marlow Stern.
With the runaway success of the British TV drama Downton Abbey, audiences have developed a ravenous appetite for stately period costume dramas.
Jerusha Hess’s Austenland,making its premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, isn’t that kind of movie—rather, it’s a randy send-up of period fare and its overly devoted acolytes.
Jane (The Americans’ Keri Russell) is a 31-year-old woman stuck in a thankless job who just can’t seem to find the right guy. The reason why, however, is because she is dangerously obsessed with all things Jane Austen—from her pink, Regency-era bedroom right down to a creepy, life-sized, cardboard stand-up of Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy situated by her apartment door.
In order to satisfy her Jane Austin itch—and potentially find her own Mr. Darcy—Jane spends her life savings on an all-expenses-paid journey to Austenland, an adult theme park where, for a very hefty sum, female Austen fanatics live out their wildest fantasies in a 19th century British manor filled with dashing, chivalrous, dapper young men. Joining Jane on her quest is Elizabeth (Jennifer Coolidge), a busty, airheaded woman who she meets at Heathrow that’s in it because, well, she wants to get laid in a corset. The entire Austenland operation, meanwhile, is lorded over by the rigid Mrs. Wattlesbrook (Jane Seymour), who treats Jane like a second-class citizen since she only shelled out for “the bronze package.”
“Kill Your Darlings” premieres.
Harry Potter, this is not. Daniel Radcliffe was on hand in Park City to premiere his new film Kill Your Darlings, about a 1944 murder that brings together writers Allen Ginsberg, played by Radcliffe, Willam Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston). The film got largely positive reviews, but is making headlines for its raunchy content. Radcliffe is shown boozing, doing drugs, having oral performed on him, and getting naked and having sex with a man. Asked how filming the scene went, Radcliffe said, “It was something new,” adding that director John Krokidas “was very helpful in furnishing me with a lot of graphic detail of what I would be experiencing at the various stages.”
She’s both executive producer and composer for ‘The Incredible Defeat of Mister and Pete’—a gritty, New York-set coming-of-age film making its premiere in Park City. The songstress opened up about the movie, growing up in Hell’s Kitchen, play dates with Beyoncé, and what to expect from her National Anthem performance.
When a girl is on fire, perhaps the best place to be is in the frosty mountains of Park City, Utah.
Hot on the heels of her fifth studio album, Girl on Fire, R&B diva Alicia Keys has traveled to the 2013 Sundance Film Festival to promote The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete. Directed by George Tillman Jr. (Notorious), a coming-of-age drama that centers on a 14-year-old black boy, Mister (Skylan Brooks), and a 9-year-old Korean boy, Pete (Ethan Dizon), who are forced to survive alone on the streets of New York City during a blistering hot summer after their mothers are taken away by authorities. The impressive ensemble cast also includes Jennifer Hudson, Anthony Mackie, and Jeffrey Wright. Keys, meanwhile, served as both executive producer and composer on the film.
The singer, who gave birth to her son, Egypt—with music producer-husband Swizz Beatz—in October, sat down with The Daily Beast to discuss the film, growing up in rough and tumble New York, play dates between Egypt and Jay-Z/Beyoncé’s daughter, Blue Ivy, and much more.
What was it about The Incredible Defeat of Mister and Pete that inspired you to assume both producing and composing duties?
Abortion documentary premieres with tight security.
The audience gave a standing ovation to the documentary After Tiller, which premiered Friday at Sundance. The buzzy and controversial film is about the four U.S. doctors who still give late-term abortions. Given its subject matter, security was heightened for the doc's debut, with extra security detail employed, metal detectors set up at the theater's entrance, and attendees receiving pat-downs before entering. The four doctors that served as subjects in the film were also on hand for a Q&A session afterwards. One doctor, Dr. Warren Hern, called the film "very important," as it's the first that "tried to listen to the patients and the doctors about what they're doing."
Sundance Success = $$$
The Financialist has supplied Park City movie-goers with the following nifty infographic for tracking how past entries have fared commercially after graduating from Sundance. (They've done pretty darn well over the last 10 years, averaging a net gain of five times their original budget.) But the real path to big bucks seems to come from the Toronto Film Festival, where prizewinners have raked in median box office receipts of over $41 million over the last decade.
8 men and 8 women competing for Grand Jury Prize
Thumbs up, Park City! For the first time in the Sundance Film Festival's 35-year history, half the films competing in the festival's Dramatic category come from female directors. Eight men and eight women will compete for the Grand Jury Prize, including Lynn Shelton, Francesca Gregorini, Liz W. Garcia, Jerusha Hess and more. "It just feels like justice. Like, OK, this is the way it's supposed to be. This reflects the population of the earth. There's no reason why there shouldn't be as many women making movies as men," Shelton told the Associated Press. "But I'm also waiting for the day when I'm not treated as an oddity as a woman. I'm just treated as another filmmaker."
Film documents the dangers of exporting conservative Christian beliefs to Africa.
Oscar-winning director Roger Ross Williams's newest documentary, God Loves Uganda, premieres today at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival--and it has already been called "the most terrifying film of the year."
The documentary explores the exportation of American evangelical values to Africa, through missionaries who work to teach Ugandans to fight against "sexual immorality" and to believe in and practice Biblical law. The culture of America's Christian right, however, has often translated into disastrous anti-gay laws in Uganda that call for the deaths of gays and lesbians. “In the well-known trope about Africa, a white man journeys into the heart of darkness and finds the mystery of Africa and its unknowable otherness. I, a black man, made that journey and found – America,” Ross Williams has said. “I hope God Loves Uganda helps accelerate the good work of organizations like All Out by helping American Evangelicals understand the negative consequences of some of the deadly lessons imported to Africa by some people of faith. We should be terrified by the results of these actions.”
‘The World According to Dick Cheney,’ a documentary premiering at Sundance, features revealing interviews with the former VP.
He’s been called everything from Darth Vader to Dr. Evil.
And now, Dick Cheney, the 46th vice president of the United States under George W. Bush and one of the most controversial and reviled figures in American politics, has been given the royal documentary treatment in The World According to Dick Cheney.
Vice President Dick Cheney in his White House office in January 2007. He is the subject of a documentary premiering at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. (Charles Ommanney/Getty)
Directed by Greg Finton and R.J. Cutler, who has previously documented imposing figures like Anna Wintour (The September Issue) and Bill Clinton (The War Room), the film features hours and hours of exclusive sit-down interviews with Cheney and a coterie of his closest associates and critics, including former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Cheney’s ex–chief of staff David Addington, and journalist Bob Woodward. (Noticeably absent are Scooter Libby, George W. Bush, Karl Rove, and members of the Cheney clan.)
Filmmaker Cherien Dabis’s charming ‘May in the Summer’ kicked off Sundance with two of the festival’s traditional themes: family dysfunction and cultural reassimilation. Get ready for the wedding of the year.
Whether it’s David O. Russell’s twisted debut, 1994’s Spanking the Monkey, or the Southern drama Junebug in 2005, which marked the arrival of actress Amy Adams, there is a very rich history of films exploring the themes of cultural reassimilation and familial dysfunction at the Sundance Film Festival.
A scene from the film “May in the Summer,” directed by Cherien Dabis. (Thierry Van Biessen/Sundance Film Festival)
While this film may not belong in such lofty company, May in the Summer, Cherien Dabis’s sophomore feature—and the opening night film of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival—is a welcome entry to that tradition.
May Brennan (Dabis) seemingly has it all. She’s beautiful, intelligent, a successful author, and about to marry Ziad, an accomplished Columbia University professor. A Palestinian, she travels from New York to her hometown to plan her wedding. Things, however, don’t exactly go as planned. Her mother, Nadine (Hiam Abbass), a born-again Christian, doesn’t approve of her daughter marrying a Muslim, while her two younger sisters, party girl Yasmine (Nadine Malouf) and miserly Dalia (Alia Shawkat), are far from a calming influence on her. Meanwhile, her estranged American father, Edward (Bill Pullman), suddenly enters back into the picture and wants to be a part of her life. And she still has a wedding to plan. Pulled in a million different directions, and with the specter of her parents’ failed marriage looming large, May must decide if this is these nuptials are what she really wants or something that merely looks good on paper.
Abortion documentary premieres with tight security.
Ryan Coogler's film reenacts the days leading up to the real-life New Year’s Day 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant, an unarmed 22-year-old, by a BART police officer in Oakland, Calif.
Check out these don’t-miss flicks debuting at Park City’s annual festival.
The New Jersey ex-governor tells Lloyd Grove he’s now focused on family, faith, and working with prison inmates.
‘The World According to Dick Cheney,’ a documentary premiering at Sundance, features revealing interviews with the former VP.