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Sunday, January 30, 2005


The myth goes that if your film is accepted at Sundance than you've arrived. In one sense, nothing could be further from the truth. Yet, Sundance could be a vehicle, one of many, a filmmaker can ride to get their film seen, meet potential future creative partners, and if you are part of a tiny percentage of filmmakers, make a sale for distribution. The oft cited bid wars, reported at Sundance only occur for a small number of films in and out of the competition.

On average the sale of films going into and during Sundance are from a completely different list than those that win the jury and audience awards. Many of the most outstanding films at Sundance never go into distribution. Dramatic films with a commercial genre appeal or using A-list actors compete in a realm of their own in the minds of distributors. Documentaries with special intrigue, either because of sensational or tantilizing subject matter or whose personalities transcend content (pop celebrities or music personalities), raise to a different standard than those used for awards of artistic merit.

Also, it is important to note, many films arrange for sale heading into their January premiere at Sundance and are all but announced prior to those legend sessions at the River Horse Cafe or the famed appearances in the lobby of the Eccles Theater in Park City.

Here is a list (partial to date) of films that made sales at 2005 Sundance Film Festival.


"Hustle & Flow" [Comedy] $16 million -- Paramount Pictures
"The Matador" [Crime Thriller] $7.5 million -- Miramax
"Wolf Creek" [Horror] $3 million -- Miramax**
"Hard Candy" [Psycho-Thriller] $2 million -- Lions Gate **
"Brick" [Dark-Drama] $2 million -- Focus Features
"On a Clear Day" [Drama] $1.5 million -- Focus Features (Universal)
"Rize" [Documentary] $500 thousand -- Lions Gate **
"The Emperor's Journey" [Documentary] $1 million -- Warner Independent Pictures
"Strangers With Candy" [Comedy] Unknown -- Warner Independent Pictures
"The Aristocrats" [Comedy Documentary] Unknown -- ThinkFilm
"Ring of Fire" [Drama] Unknown -- USA Networks
"Pretty Persuasion" [Drama] Unknown -- Samuel Goldwyn Films

"The Squid and the Whale" [Drama] still up for sale 1/29/05 but attracting a lot of interest

** Numbers reported in print have varied depending on source for these films.


"Tony Takitani" [World Drama] Strand Releasing (North American Rights)
"Murderball" [Documentary] Unknown -- ThinkFilm

Slamdance, an alternative film festival that attached itself to the host Sundance, has become almost more exclusive and selective than the mothership, albeit, more quirky in its roaster.


"Mad Hot Ballroom" [Documentary] 2.7 million -- Paramount Classics -- bought from Slamdance not Sundance
"Ill Fated" [Tragic-Comic adventure] ThinkFilm (note: this film did not debut at Slamdance and had been seen at Toronto and Whistler)

Saturday, January 29, 2005


On Saturday, January 29th in Park City, Slamdance presented their 11th annual prizes. The winners:

:: Grand Jury Sparky Award for Best Narrative Feature ::

Winner: "On the Outs" by Lori Silverbush and Michael Skolink
Honorable Mention for Best Performance: Chip Goodwin, "The Dry Spell"
Honorable Mention: "Phil the Alien" by Rob Stefaniuk

:: Grand Jury Sparky Award for Best Documentary Feature ::

Winner: "Abel Raises Cain" by Jenny Abel and Jeff Hockett
Honorable Mention: "La Sierra" by Scott dalton and Margarita Martinez

:: Grand Jury Sparky Award for Best Animation Short ::

Winner: "Egg" by Benh Zietlin
Honorable Mention: "Shoel" by Ruben Moller

:: Grand Jury Sparky Award for Best Narrative Short ::

Winner: "Splintered" by Peter Templeman
Honorable Mention: "Twitch" by Leah Meyerhoff

:: Grand Jury Sparky Award for Best Documentary Short ::

Winner: "Run to Jay’s" by Brett Spackman
Honorable Mention: "Birdlings Two" by Davina Pardo

:: Audience Sparky Award for Best Narrative Feature ::

Winner: "On the Outs" by Lori Silverbush and Michael Skolink
Runner Up: "Frozen" by Juliet McKoen

:: Audience Sparky Award for Best Documentary Feature ::

Winner: "The Real Dirt on Farmer John" by Taggart Siegel and Teri Lang
Runner Up: "Ringers: Lord of the Fans" by Carlene Cordova and Cliff Broadway

:: Spirit of Slamdance Award for Best Gallery Short ::

Winner: "Letters of Service" by Duncan Wellaway

:: Global Anarchy Award for Best Anarchy Short ::

Winner: "Milton is a ShitBag" by Courtney Davis

:: Kodak Vision Award for Best Cinematography ::

Winner: "Frozen" Phil Robertson, DP

:: Sparky Award for Best Teleplay ::

Winner: "The Cousin’s Club" by Ken Pisani
2nd Runner Up: "Foggy Bottom" by Hoyt Hilsman
1st Runner Up: "Amnesty" by Nikelei

:: Sparky Award for Best Screenplay ::

Winner: "The Apology" by Amir Ohebsion, David Diaan and Babak Shokrian

:: Bawls Big C Best Game Audience Award ::

Winner: "Scavenger Hunt" by Jackson Dunstan, Jonathan Bryant, Kevin Neece, Doug DaSilva,
Eric Smith, Jemal Armstrong, Lolin Turner, Shane McIntire, Ryan Hammond

:: Bawls Big C Best Game Jury Award ::

Winner: "Revolved" by Alter Ego Games


The winners of the 2005 Sundance Film Festival Awards were announced on Saturday January 29th in Park City


Feature Drama: FORTY SHADES OF BLUE by Ira Sachs and Michael Rohatyn

U.S Feature Documentary: WHY WE FIGHT by Eugene Jarecki

World Feature Documentary: SHAPE OF THE MOON by Leonard Retel Helmrick

Word Feature Drama: THE HERO by Zeze Gamboa


US Documentary: MURDERBALL by Henry-Alex Rubin

US Drama: HUSTLE & FLOW by Craig Brewer

World Drama: BROTHERS (Denmark) by Susanne Bier



World Documentary: THE LIBERACE OF BAGHDAD by Sean McAllister and WALL by Simone Bitton

World Drama: [Split] LIVE-IN MAID by Jorge Gaggero and THE FOREST FOR THE TREES by Director/Screenwriter Maren Ade

US Documentary: AFTER INNOCENCE by Jessica Sanders

Special Jury Prize Original for Vision: [Split] BRICK by Rain Johnson and ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW by Miranda July

Special Grand Prize for Editing: MURDERBALL by Henry-Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro




Dramatic: Noah Baumback for THE SQUID AND THE WHALE

Documentary: Jeff Feurzeig for THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON


Amy Adams for the film JUNEBUG

Lou Pucci for the film THUMBSUCKER


US Short Film: FAMILY PORTRAIT by Partricia Riggen

International Short Film: WASP by Andrea Arnold

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Elise Picks Hamri to Helm Snow in April

After a busy summer following the release of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, in which Kimberly Elise plays opposite Denzel Washington, and lensing DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN, the 34 year old actress has been working with Producers Paul Aaron and Craig Rice to put the finishing touches on the financing package for SNOW IN APRIL. Elise and Aaron have asked rock-video director Sanaa Hamri to debut her first feature film directing role.

SNOW IN APRIL has been on the table before potential funders since it received a Minnesota Independent Film Fund (MIFF) grant in 2000. Originally, Elise worked with filmmaker Nick Cassevette's on revising the script with the hope he might sign onto the project to direct. According to Producer Rice, the film is in better hands with Hamri directing. Hamri's previously worked with musicians Sing, Mariah Carey, Destiny's Child, Thicke, and most recently Prince on his Musicology vid.

Hamri has been asked about the control over content in her as a prelude to directing for film, "If all the songs are about going to the club, drinking and girls shaking their asses, that's what the videos are going to be about. When the content of songs changes to subjects like poverty and politics, the videos will have more depth. The music industry is suffering and so is the video industry."

After attending Sarah Lawrence College, the Moroccan native made her start in video as an editor. Music video for Hamri is only a stepping stone to the big screen. "Directing videos is not what I'm going to do for the rest of my life," she says. "Once I find the right film project, I'll make my move." Apparently, Elise's SNOW IN APRIL appeals to Hamri enough to pull her into feature film directing.

Minnesota is not a new location for Producer Paul Aaron. In recent years he has produced for television but ten years ago he was in Minnesota to produce LAUREL AVENUE (1993) with Carl Franklin at the helm centering on a African-American extended family and featuring many local actors. Aaron teamed with Michael Henry Brown to write the St. Paul based serial set of events that existed somewhere between a TV series and an feature film that ran 155 minutes in it American cut and 180 minutes in a two-part German release. Aaron went onto make GRAND AVENUE (1996) on a similar episodic structure around events effecting an extended Native American family.

Aaron's most recent credits have him teamed with with Brown again as a writer for the dramatic thriller IN TOO DEEP (1999) with Omar Epps, LL Cool J, Nia Long and Stanley Tucci with Epps staring as a Cincinnati cop who goes deep into the drug culture to take on a drug lord played by LL Cool J.

Shooting, according to Elise, who will play the lead in SNOW IN APRIL will take place just after winter in Minnesota.