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Tag: Sundance Film Festival (81-90 of 90)

PopWatch goes to Sundance!

Tomorrow marks the start of Sundance, Robert Redford’s storied swagfest independent movie festival, high in the mountains of Park City, Utah. And for the very first time ever, PopWatchers, yours truly will be there. In fact, tomorrow marks the start of Whitney’s First Film Festival of Any Kind.  (Sometimes I watch Coyote Ugly, Center Stage, and Bring It On back-to-back-to-back, but I suspect that doesn’t count.)

So to commemorate this special occasion, PopWatchers — and because of my undying devotion to you and all that you are — I will be posting daily blog wrap-ups of my experience, right here on EW.com. Yes it’s true: Now you can see Sundance through the eyes of a hyperactive, easily distracted, occasionally drunk solipsist who cannot pronounce "Iñárritu." It’s gonna be phenomenal.

I’ll write something up every night to let you know what I’m up to — What movies did I see? What celebs did I chat with? Have I done irreparable damage to my already-weak ACL by trying to snowboard for the first time in 8 years? — and my blogmasters will post it in the morning. The point is to give you an up close and personal look at this annual entertainment juggernaut. It’ll be like you’re in my pocket. Join me, won’t you?

Sundance Diary: The big finish!

143518__downey_lWith a world-beat flourish (thanks to the onstage DJ), the 2006 Sundance Film Festival wrapped up with a precedent-setting edition of the annual awards night and party. For the first time, the documentary and dramatic competitions featured double winners of both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize: God Grew Tired of Us, a docu about Sudanese refugees, and Quinceanera, about a group of Latino teens growing up in the Echo Park section of Los Angeles.

Other multiple winners included A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (starring Robert Downey Jr. and Chazz Palmintieri, pictured) and Iraq in Fragments.

During an awards ceremony that was largely unremarkable (except for the spectacle of people occasionally falling a couple feet off the orange-and-brown, Todd Oldham-designed stage), the most memorable speech was turned in by Wash Westmoreland, co-director of Quinceanera. "This is a very small film," he said. "Last year at this time it didn’t exist. … Sundance is like this microscope. It can take something very small and make it very very big and that’s what it’s done for us. Thank you forever."

addCredit(“Downey & Palmentieri: Fernando Leon/Retna”)


Sundance Diary: 'Alpha Dog' with Justin Timberlake and Anton Yelchin

143518__anton_lSunday evening I opened my eyes to Dakota Fanning’s ratty little grin and was relieved. I had fallen asleep on the flight back from Park City and awoke to find that the in-flight movie was Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story. I couldn’t possibly imagine a more concrete sign that Sundance was finally over. The 737 cabin was crammed with bleary-eyed film fest survivors, their mud-snow-spattered jeans and ruined Ugg boots the major souvenirs of multiple hikes up and down Main Street. Industry talk was surprisingly mum on the return to Gotham. The passengers were no longer debating every little detail of every little movie. Mostly, they seemed tired — happy it was over.

And they weren’t the only ones. Early that morning, at a diner high on Main, a waiter asked a sluggish coworker if everything was okay. She smiled reassuringly and replied "Today is the last day of Sundance. I couldn’t ask for anything more." So, yeah, 10 days of moviegoing — or in the case of Utah residents, 10 days of bending over backwards for moviegoers in order bolster the local economy — can take its toll. But before we get too cynical, consider these brief but optimistic scenes of Sundance blossoming:

During the closing night screening of Nick Cassavetes’ Alpha Dogon Friday night, I was seated directly in front of 17-year-old costarAnton Yelchin (center, with Justin Timberlake and Cassavetes) and his doting mother. The Russian-born child actor hasbeen in several films, but this one has the potential to be huge. It’sTimberlake’s acting debut, first of all. Secondly, it’s good,and with a handful of young, attractive faces from Timberlake to EmileHirsch to Dominique Swain, Alpha Dog may launch a whole newpost-hip-hop Brat Pack.

addCredit(“Alpha Dog cast: Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com”)


Sundance Diary: Exclusive Q&A with Kevin Smith

115618__smith_lThis is the seventh year I’ve attended the Sundance Film Festival. And one of the things that make coming back so rewarding — aside from the chance that I might once again experience something close to the sheer terror I had watching the first ever screening of The Blair Witch Project — is catching up with all of the Sundance regulars like Kevin Smith.

Of course, Smith made his name and his career at Sundance in 1994 when his profane little black-and-white cheapie Clerks debuted here. Along with Robert Rodriguez’s El Mariachi, Smith’s debut film became a sort of do-it-yourself blueprint and lottery-ticket talisman to wannabe filmmakers armed with a little talent and even less money. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Smith owes his career to this festival. If it weren’t for Sundance he’d still be selling smokes from behind the counter of a Jersey mini-mart. All the more reason why Smith, who recently completed his sequel to Clerks for benefactor Harvey Weinstein’s new Weinstein Company, should be unveiling his flick here. And yet he’s not.

Smith is in town this year with a documentary he produced called Small Town Gay Bar, a fascinating look at a pair of, you guessed it, gay bars in the Deep South. When I sat down with the artist sometimes known as Silent Bob, I asked him about his debt to Sundance and Clerks 2‘s conspicuous absence

Tell me about what this festival has meant to you.
Look, I came here with a five-buck-an-hour job and I left here with a career in film.

Where would you be without Sundance?
Hopefully at a six-buck-an-hour job. And we were going to come back. [Festival director] Geoff Gilmore said we could bring Clerks 2 here. No problem; we got a slot for you. And we were done, ready to be here. Ready enough. And then Harvey Weinstein, for whatever reason, put the kibosh on it.

addCredit(“Kevin Smith: Rob Loud/WireImage.com”)


Sundance Diary: Winona Ryder, Joseph Fiennes, and more

114213__darwin_lI know the end of the festival is near when I get six hours of sleep and consider myself lucky. Some people up here in Park City are hitting their second wind by Day 7. But not me. I look and feel like an extra from 28 Days Later.


Yesterday’s big premiere movie was The Darwin Awards, a kind of high-brow screwball comedy from Sundance vet director Finn Taylor (Cherish) starring Winona Ryder and Joseph Fiennes (pictured), and just about everyone else with a SAG card: David Arquette, Juliette Lewis, Tim Blake Nelson, Nora Dunn, Lukas Haas, and the always hilarious, inimitable Judah Friedlander (American Splendor). Also among the supporting cast was Chris Penn, who died on Tuesday. At the Q&A following the screening, Finn and Ryder had lovely things to say about Penn. "He wasn’t just Sean’s little brother,” the actress said, holding back tears.

addCredit(“Fiennes & Ryder: George Pimentel/WireImage.com”)


Sundance Diary: John Malkovich, Sam Shepard

15518__sundance_lThe house band at a bar called the Spur was Porch Pounder. Not sure what the name signifies, but it’s Sundance — hard to tell what anything means here. At the midway point of the flurry of screenings and parties, they’re all starting to blur together.

Tuesday’s big premiere was a film called Cargo, a competiton entry that, in my opinion, doesn’t quite work. Well-crafted, with a strong performance by Peter Mullan (On a Clear Day) that anchors director Clive Gordon’s thriller, but not a success as far as the story.

Another one of the 120 Sundance features, The Foot-Fist Way, a tae kwon do comedy, screens at midnight. Before the screening, a party for the film at Harry O’s, a restaurant at the fest’s epicenter for velvet-rope events. Todd English, noted chef and founder of Olive’s, serves up rack of lamb as part of a weeklong culinary celebration called Chefdance. Upstairs from this elegant affair, a decidedly different vibe pervades X-Dance, an unnerving mob of hirsute snowboarders.

addCredit(“Terry Zwigoff and John Malkovich: Michael Bezjian/WireImage.com”)


Beat This Caption: Wilmer Valderrama at Sundance

133913__wilmer_lMy editor says I’m a PopWatch comments junkie, but seriously, with folks like EP Sato, Brandon K, and DaisyJ sharing their wit and pop-culture obsession on the message boards, can you blame me? And now, with our new feature, Beat This Caption, I’ll get to combine two of my favorite hobbies — reading your jaunty remarks and questioning my own self-worth — on an ongoing basis, by posting my caption for a celebrity photo, then challenging all of you folks to one-up me. We’ve got That 70’s Show actor/inexplicable chick magnet Wilmer Valderrama to accompany us on our maiden voyage, so go ahead — beat this caption from his appearance this week at a certain indie film festival in Utah. (Keep it clean.)

”Keepin’ it real at Sundance 2006, yo.”

addCredit(“Wilmer Valderama: Mychal Watts/WireImage.com”)

Sundance Diary: Justin Kirk, Julianne Nicholson, Ryan Gosling, and more

133913__sundance_lGorging on independent film at Sundance can also mean enduring a fair number of rushed, unhealthy meals between screenings. On Sunday, I caught three entries in the dramatic competition in a row at the Racquet Club, a sports venue temporarily converted into a theater, its only source of food a subpar taco stand in the corner of the ticketing tent.

No eating in the theater, so I had to wolf down lukewarm tortillas and shredded chicken before the 11:30 a.m. world premiere of Flannel Pajamas. Director Jeff Lipsky’s meditative romantic drama chronicles the troubled relationship of a New York couple (Weeds‘ Justin Kirk and Kinsey‘s Julianne Nicholson, pictured). It was well-received, if a bit of a downer. The infinitely watchable up-and-comers Kirk and Nicholson were on hand to answer questions afterward.

addCredit(“Justin Kirk and Julianne Nicholson: Randall Michelson/WireImage.com”)


Sundance Diary: Edward Norton, Jessica Biel

104259__illusionist_lChances are that by now you’ve already read some of the headlines bubbling out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. As usual, bold-faced celebrities descended on Park City’s Main Street sniffing out freebie swag like pigs hunting truffles. In their flashy ski parkas, thousand-dollar sunglasses, and Wookiee-chic snow boots, they hardly needed free stuff. And they certainly weren’t trying very hard to look inconspicuous. Sundance has become a place to be seen, and if you also have a movie in the festival, all the better.

At Saturday night’s Entertainment Weekly party, for example, Al and Tipper Gore, Robert Redford, Terrence Howard, Greg Kinnear, Crispin Glover, Robert Downey, Jr., as well as a few nostalgically familiar faces — Is that Rebecca DeMornay at 12 o’clock? Wait, wasn’t that Ally Sheedy near the bar? — were all questing for a starring role in the same Sundance fairy tale. Whether they’re members of already established A-list, the rising B-list, or the fading C-list, all have their mittened fingers crossed that their film will be the next sex, lies, and videotape, Reservoir Dogs, or Hustle & Flow.

Only four days old, Sundance 2006 has already been characterized as a ”seller’s market.” Now that the Miramax of yore with its blustering Weinsteins and open checkbooks is history, all of the indie studios are on equal footing looking for this year’s March of the Penguins or Blair Witch. But the thing about this year’s so-called seller’s market is that it hasn’t really materialized… yet. Aside from the reported $10.5 million that Fox Searchlight paid for Little Miss Sunshine — an early-festival crowd-pleaser starring Kinnear,Toni Collette, and Steve Carell — the bidding’s been tame. If not downright dead.

That should change by the time you read this. On Sunday night, audiences got their first peek at The Illusionist(pictured), an elegant period piece about a Viennese magician (EdwardNorton in quite the goatee) who poses a threat to the political andromantic ambitions of Austria’s young emperor-in-waiting (RufusSewell). The Illusionist also stars Sundance icon Paul Giamattias a dastardly inspector hellbent on debunking Norton’s parlor tricksas a fraud and Jessica Biel as the easy-on-the-eyes love interest ofboth Norton and Sewell. Aside from the earth-shattering news that Bielcan actually act (although Norton and Giamatti clearly steal the show),The Illusionist is everything a hungry acquisitions exec is on the lookout for at Sundance.

addCredit(“The Illusionist: Glen Wilson”)


Sundance Diary: Opening night with Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Holofcener

143534__sundance_lThis is the first of our daily updates from EW reporters attending the Sundance Film Festival.

The opening night of Sundance is always a zoo. Most people have barely dusted themselves off from the flight into Salt Lake (followed by a 40-minute van ride into Park City) before rushing off to Eccles Center Theater to brave a sea of North Face jackets and woolen hats and scarves, all elbowing their way inside to score that elusive good seat. Dawdle just a second too long and you, my friend, will be stuck in the nose-bleed section.

This year’s crowd braved the cold — and at 22 degrees with a fresh coat of powdery snow, it was nippy — to attend the premiere of Nicole Holofcener’s Friends With Money, a witty, affectionate meditation on four Los Angeles women (from left to right, Joan Cusack, Jennifer Aniston, Catherine Keener, and Frances McDormand [not pictured]) figuring out what the hell life’s about. Sundance vet Holofcener (she’s shown almost all of her movies here, including 1996’s fantastic Walking and Talking, also with Keener) was clearly tickled to be honored with opening night, grinning as she hopped up on stage after the credits rolled to field questions from the audience.

As the director worked the microphoned podium, eight members of the cast, including all four female leads, sat in a row at the edge of the stage, enduring an endless stream of pop-pop-popping! flashbulbs. When one moviegoer asked Aniston (who was seated next to Keener, with whom she whispered and giggled, and on whose knee she rested a sisterly hand) why she chose this project, the actress replied: "You saw the movie. Plus," she added, gesturing to her costars and Holofcener, "all these people." (Awwww.) Save for a lighthearted disagreement between Cusack and Keener about the meaning of money in the film — it’s a metaphor for centered-ness! said Cusack; it’s no metaphor, it’s just money! countered Keener — as well as one clueless man’s inquiry into Holofcener’s hostile attitudes toward men (um, dude? wake up!), the premiere was pretty ho-hum: No celebrity feathers were ruffled, no lines were crossed.

Because here at Sundance, serious film lovers don’t give a hoot about the whole Brangelina pregnancy thing.

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