Sundance in 60 Seconds: Two Doc Deals; A Programmer’s Perspective; Southern 'Beasts,' a Thriller, Insane Action

Sundance in 60 Seconds: Two Doc Deals; A Programmer’s Perspective; Southern 'Beasts,' a Thriller, Insane Action

Jan 21, 2012

Searching for Sugar Man

Doc Deals: Both documentaries that played on opening night have been acquired for U.S. distribution. Sony Pictures Classics struck first, picking up Searching for Sugar Man, which profiles Rodriguez (pictured above), a rock musician from the 70s, and his fade into obscurity. It’s touted as an audience-pleasing film. (Thompson on Hollywood)

Later in the day, Magnolia Pictures acquired The Queen of Versailles, the “riches to rags” tale of time-share billionaires Jackie and David Siegel, whose fortune was affected by the 2008 economic crisis. The company plans to release the doc this summer. (Thompson on Hollywood)

A Programmer’s Perspective: Before we get too far into festival madness, it’s helpful to look at things from a competing fest programmer’s point of view. Tom Hall, who currently programs films for the Sarasota fest, asks: “Why do Sundance films do so well with festivals after Sundance?” He explains, with detail and perception. (Filmmaker Magazine)

Friday Films: Yesterday was the first full day of screenings, and the schedule was jammed from morning to night with premieres. Here’s a taste of what people were saying about the films, including a little Twitter talk:

Beasts of the Southern Wild. After her father becomes ill, a young girl named Hushpuppy goes in search of her mother. Positive word of mouth began building on Thursday after a screening for volunteers, and the reaction became more vocal after its first screening on Friday afternoon. “In a telling sign, several top Hollywood agents attended … eager to sign” director / co-writer Benh Zeitlin. Critic Ryland Aldrich called it “the kind of remarkable film that rekindles your passion for independent cinema. Pure magic.” (Los Angeles Times / Twitter)

Simon Killer. A neo-noir thriller, directed by Antonio Campos, who produced last year’s Sundance stand-out Martha Marcy May Marlene. It’s “a tense, grim & gorgeous story of the unknown heart,” according to critic James Rocchi. (Twitter)

The Raid. Insane Indonesian action film, directed by Gareth Evans, that lit up Toronto’s Midnight Madness section last year. “Unrelenting non-stop action with a pulsing soundtrack,” says The Film Stage. “Die Hard meets insane martial arts. What a way to kick off.” (Twitter)

Celebrity Swag: Sundance isn’t all about the films, of course; if you’re a celebrity, it’s also about the swag. “Nearly a dozen gift suites opened their doors Friday afternoon along the city’s Main Street. … Kate Bosworth, Andy Samberg, Emma Roberts and Rashida Jones are among the famous folks who stopped by [one suite], where they could indulge in moisturizing facials and lip treatments from Fresh cosmetics and outfit their feet in snow-ready footwear.” (The Associated Press via The Washington Post)

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