Tag Archives: sundance

Sundance Stunner “James White” Trailer

And the awesome festival trailers just keep on coming with James White!

If the name James White sounds familiar, it’s been a huge talking point of Sundance this year. Either that or you have a friend named James White, which is also very reasonable. Continue reading Sundance Stunner “James White” Trailer

Stay With Me Here: “Finders Keepers” Doc Trailer Sees Custody Battle Over a Leg

2015 has been an amazing year for documentaries even this early in the game: so many accomplished and upcoming film-makers with hard-hitting projects that tackle difficult and at times dangerous subject matter. It’s only inevitable that documentaries like The Hunting Ground and Batkid will find their way to Sundance. But that’s not the end of it, oh no. There is another incredible documentary that has found its way into the festival. Well, incredible may be an abbreviation of incredibly weird. Finders Keepers is one of the many films competing in the U.S. Documentary Competition. What sets it apart from the rest? It tells the story of a custody battle over a severed human leg. You heard me right. Before I say anything else, have a look at the trailer, fresh from Deadline. Go on, I double dare you!

You would be entirely forgiven for thinking this was fake. Even the trailer plays out a little like a mockumentary. But it’s all true. The film is directed by Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel, two men who are also famous for having the coolest names in the world…at least by my reckoning. The battle over the leg comes down to two men: Shannon Whisnant, the one who found the leg in a barbecue that he bought at an auction; and John Wood, the guy who was originally attached to it and got separated from it in a plane crash. The film will premiere on January 27th at the MARC in Park City.

If you want to find out more about the film and the battle for a long lost leg, you can check out the Finders Keepers page on…wait for it…Kickstarter.

Trailer for College Sexual Assault Documentary “The Hunting Ground”

Over the last twelve months an increasingly wider and brighter spotlight has been shone on the issue of sexual assault in colleges across America. While the information so far has been scattered, with pockets of information and data divided up between articles, sites and blogs, an upcoming project looks to bring together the shocking facts for people to better understand. The Hunting Ground is a documentary that will focus on what has been described as “an endemic system of institutional cover-ups, rationalizations, victim-blaming, and denial that creates perfect storm conditions for predators to prey with impunity”. Here is the trailer, courtesy of Radius-TWC:

While the subject of the documentary is undeniably horrific, what seems to come through in the trailer at least is a message of progress and courage in spite of the circumstances. The film is directed by Kirby Dick and produced by Amy Ziering, the film-making team that produced Oscar-nominated doc The Invisible War back in 2012 which focussed on sexual assault in the US military. Like The Invisible WarThe Hunting Ground will be screened at Sundance this year, before opening in theatres on March 20th

Weekend Round-Up: 16th-18th January – Missing X-Men and Motley Crue

Academy mixed up Selma Actresses on Instagram

While it would be a lot more disheartening if the Academy had offered an Oscar nomination to the wrong women, this mistake was still a little embarrassing. THR reports that the Academy’s official Instagram page included a congratulatory message to Selma for its nominations with a still from the film – the only problem being that they identified actress Tessa Thompson in the caption as Carmen Ejogo, who plays a separate character entirely. Now I can’t speak for what level or quantity of employees are running the Academy’s many sprawling social media presences, but it goes without saying that considering the climate following the nomination announcements, this mistake couldn’t have come at a more delicate time.

Stewart and McKellen may be sitting the next X-Men film out

Any fans of Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellen‘s performances in the X-Men franchise may be disappointed by Stewart’s revelation on a recent Larry King recording. THR reports that when asked about the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse, Professor Xavier explained that he “was learning quite a lot more about [the film] last night, and it is going to be looking very much at the earlier lives of all our characters…And so I don’t think we’ll be making an appearance”. While none of this is set in stone, it’s not looking like the original Xavier and Magneto will be donning their costumes this time around.

Eastwood’s American Sniper Breaks January Weekend Records

Despite reviews coming in that paint American Sniper as not quite doing the true story justice, the box office doesn’t seem to care. Deadline reports that Clint Eastwood’s war drama has had a stunning three-day bow of approximately $93 million, beating out high-roller Passion of the Christ’s $83.8 million. It’s also set to be the biggest January weekend ever, knocking Avatar’s New Year’s session of $68.5 million off the top. At this rate, the film about legendary sniper Chris Kyle could have the best ever four-day run for an R-rated film.

Motley Crue Biopic The Dirt Scooped Up by Focus Features

If there’s one band that has more than it’s share of debauched stories to tell, it’s Motley Crue. So it was only a matter of time before a script was written and a studio snatched up the story of one of the most self-destructive rock bands on the planet – that studio happens to be Focus Features. Based on The New York Times best-selling autobiography The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band, the film will be helmed by Jackass director Jeff Tremaine. THR reports that the screenplay is penned by Rich Wilkes and Tom Kapinos.

Scientology Documentary Going Clear will Première at Sundance

Deadline reports that Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison Of Belief will have its world première at the Sundance Film Festival. This was after Content Media acquired international sales rights for the film, which is based on the book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright. The film will include the testimonies of former members of the controversial church and focus on the experiences of followers who are drawn in to the highly secretive religion.


Sundance Announces Premieres for 2015 Festival

The Sundance Institute has announced on its official website the names of the features and documentaries screen in the out-of-competition Premieres and Documentary Premieres. The festival, which will run from January 22 to February 1 will also include a Special Events section this year, the entries for which are described as “One-of-a-kind moments highlighting new independent works that add to the unique Festival experience”. Director of the Sundance Film Festival John Cooper has said, “Filmmakers in the Premieres and Documentary Premieres sections, many of whom are returning to the Festival, do not shy away from controversial, challenging and provocative subject matter. Their work enrages, engages and entertains audiences, shining a light on issues and people we thought we knew.”

So here’s the program list, in all its categorical glory:

Brooklyn / United Kingdom (Director: John Crowley, Screenwriter: Nick Hornby, based on the book by Colm Tóibín) Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent.
Digging for Fire / U.S.A. (Director: Joe Swanberg, Screenwriters: Jake Johnson, Joe Swanberg) Cast: Jake Johnson, Rosemarie Dewitt, Orlando Bloom, Brie Larson, Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick.
Don Verdean / U.S.A. (Director: Jared Hess, Screenwriters: Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess) Cast: Sam Rockwell, Jemaine Clement, Amy Ryan, Danny McBride, Leslie Bibb, Will Forte.
End of the Tour / U.S.A. (Director: James Ponsoldt, Screenwriter: Donald Margulies) Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Segel, Anna Chlumsky, Joan Cusack, Mamie Gummer, Ron Livingston.
Experimenter / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michael Almereyda) Cast: Peter Sarsgaard, Winona Ryder, Jim Gaffigan, Kellan Lutz, Taryn Manning, John Leguizamo.
Grandma / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Paul Weitz) Cast: Lily Tomlin, Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, Laverne Cox, Sam Elliott.
I Am Michael / U.S.A. (Director: Justin Kelly, Screenwriters: Justin Kelly, Stacey Miller) Cast: James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts.
I’ll See You in My Dreams / U.S.A. (Director: Brett Haley, Screenwriters: Brett Haley, Marc Basch) Cast: Blythe Danner, Martin Starr, Sam Elliott, Malin Akerman, June Squibb, Rhea Perlman.
Last Days in the Desert / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Rodrigo Garcia) Cast: Ewan McGregor, Ciarán Hinds, Ayelet Zurer, Tye Sheridan.
Lila & Eve / U.S.A. (Director: Charles Stone III, Screenwriter: Patrick Gilfillan) Cast: Viola Davis, Jennifer Lopez, Shea Whigham, Julius Tennon, Ron Caldwell, Aml Ameen.
Mississippi Grind / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden) Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Ben Mendelsohn, Sienna Miller, Analeigh Tipton, Alfre Woodard, Robin Weigert.
Mistress America / U.S.A. (Director: Noah Baumbach, Screenwriters: Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig) Cast: Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke.
Seoul Searching / U.S.A., Korea (Director and screenwriter: Benson Lee) Cast: Justin Chon, Jessika Van, In-pyo Cha, Teo Yoo, Esteban Ahn, Byul Kang.
Sleeping With Other People / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Leslye Headland) Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Adam Scott, Amanda Peet, Jason Mantzoukas, Natasha Lyonne.
Ten Thousand Saints / U.S.A. (Directors: Robert Pulcini, Shari Springer Berman, Screenwriters: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini) Cast: Ethan Hawke, Asa Butterfield, Emily Mortimer, Julianne Nicholson, Hailee Steinfeld, Emile Hirsch.
Zipper / U.S.A. (Director: Mora Stephens, Screenwriters: Mora Stephens, Joel Viertel) Cast: Patrick Wilson, Lena Headey, Richar Dreyfuss, Ray Winstone, John Cho, Dianna Agron.

Beaver Trilogy Part IV / U.S.A. (Director: Brad Besser)
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution / U.S.A. (Director: Stanley Nelson)
DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: The Story of the National Lampoon / U.S.A. (Director: Douglas Tirola)
Fresh Dressed / U.S.A. (Director: Sacha Jenkins)
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief / U.S.A. (Director: Alex Gibney)
In Football We Trust / U.S.A. (Directors: Tony Vainuku, Erika Cohn)
The Hunting Ground / U.S.A. (Director: Kirby Dick)
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Brett Morgen)
The Mask You Live In / U.S.A. (Director: Jennifer Siebel Newsom)
Most Likely to Succeed / U.S.A. (Director: Greg Whiteley)
Prophet’s Prey / U.S.A. (Director: Amy Berg)
Tig / U.S.A. (Directors: Kristina Goolsby, Ashley York, Screenwriter: Jennifer Arnold)
What Happened, Miss Simone? / U.S.A. (Director: Liz Garbus)

Animals. / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Phil Matarese, Mike Luciano) Cast: Phil Matarese, Mike Luciano, Mark Duplass, Katie Aselton, Nick Kroll, Rob Corddry. 
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst / U.S.A. (Director: Andrew Jarecki, Screenwriters: Andrew Jarecki, Marc Smerling, Zac Stuart-Pontier) Cast: Robert Durst, Andrew Jarecki, Marc Smerling, Zac Stuart-Pontier, Dick DeGuerin, Cody Cazalas. World Premiere
Misery Loves Comedy / U.S.A. (Director: Kevin Pollak, Screenwriters: Kevin Pollak, John Varhous) Cast: Tom Hanks, Larry David, Amy Schumer, Jimmy Fallon, Judd Apatow, Jim Gaffigan. World Premiere
The Way of the Rain / U.S.A. (Creative Director: Sibylle Szaggars Redford, Collaborators: Will Calhoun, Dave Eggar, Chuck Palmer, Desmond Richardson, Ron Saint Germain, Steve Cohen, Floyd Thomas McBee III)

There are also two “Power of Story” panels announced on the Sundance site: Serious Ladies is an analysis of complex female characters in film and television featuring Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Jenji Kohan, Kristen Wiig and New Yorker critic Emily Nussbaum; Visions of Indepedence features George Lucas and Robert Redford discussing the craft of film-making.

There are a lot of exciting names, plots and documentary subjects emerging this year, so we will keep you updated as more information comes in.

What are you most excited about on this list?


“Citizenfour” comes out on top at the IDA awards – Robert Redford wins Career Achievement Award

More news on the awards front this week direct from The Wrap, and it’s good news for documentary buffs.

Citizenfour, the Laura Poitras documentary concerning Edward Snowden and NSA spying, won the Best Feature award at the International Documentary Association’s IDA Documentary Awards.

Special mention should go to Robert Redford for winning the Career Achievement Award, in recognition of his non-fiction films and his founding of the Sundance Institute and its Documentary Film Program. When asked about the inspiration for his continuing work in documentaries, he mentioned the 1964 documentary Point of Order as being a transforming experience that made him realise the value of documentary film-making. A better endorsement of a film there is not.

I’m not a fan of award news mixed into paragraphs, so here it is list-style!

BEST FEATURE: Citizenfour
Director: Laura Poitras

BEST SHORT: Tashi and the Monk
Directors: Andrew Hinton, Johnny Burke

Executive Producer: Sally Jo Fifer

Executive Producers: Cynthia Childs, Dan Cutforth, Casey Kriley, Jane Lipsitz, Alexandra Lipsitz

BEST EPISODIC SERIES: Our America With Lisa Ling
Executive Producers: Amy Bucher, Gregory Henry, Lisa Ling, David Shadrack Smith

Planet Money Makes a T-Shirt
Executive Producer: Alex Blumberg

 My Dad’s a Rocker
Director: Zuxin Hou

 Limited Partnership
Director: Thomas G. Miller

PARE LORENTZ AWARD: Tashi and the Monk
Directors: Andrew Hinton, Johnny Burke

Director: Johanna Hamilton


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Hatuey Viveros Lavielle, Elevator
BEST EDITING: Don Kleszy, Last Days in Vietnam
BEST MUSIC: Nick Urata, Alfred and Jakobine
BEST WRITING: John Maloof & Charlie Siskel, Finding Vivian Maier

 Robert Redford
 Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato
 Rithy Panh
 Darius Clark Monroe

An impressive list at no mistake. many of the feature length documentaries are also on the 15-strong short-list for the Academy Award for Best Documentary, so this could be an indication of how that nomination is going to play out.

Did your favourite documentary film/series win?