Sundance Today: Zack Braff Wins; George Takei Charms; Roger Ebert Celebrated; More Deals Made

Sundance Today: Zack Braff Wins; George Takei Charms; Roger Ebert Celebrated; More Deals Made

Jan 22, 2014

Zach Braff and Harry Styles at Sundance 2014

(Photo by Kim Raff/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival)

People We're Buzzing About

Zach Braff: The actor turned filmmaker took a lot of heat when he turned to Kickstarter to fund his latest film, but Wish I Was Here received generally positive reviews, including one from our own Erik Davis, and Braff's appearance sparked considerable interest, as did attendees such as One Direction's Harry Styles. Some who donated to his Kickstarter campaign traveled hundreds of miles to try and score tickets to the premiere. [Variety]

George Takei: Ahead of the festival, George Takei made the news with his criticism of Utah Governor Gary Herbert on the issue of same-sex marriage. He was just as plainspoken when he showed up in connection with the premiere of a documentary on his life, To Be Takei; but he was incredibly well-received; the headline for one interview article said it all: "It's impossible to dislike George Takei." [The Salt Lake Tribune/The Huffington Post]

Kurt Russell: The documentary The Battered Bastards of Baseball revolves around Bing Russell's ownership of a minor-league baseball team in Portland in the early 1970s. His son, Kurt Russell, appeared in support of the film, directed by two of his nephews. Russell became emotional in a Q&A after the screening, noting that it was the first time he'd heard his father's voice since he died in 2003. [The Salt Lake Tribune]

Roger Ebert: The influential film critic passed away last year, but his presence was strongly felt as Life Itself debuted over the weekend. The documentary by Steve James brought many in the audience to tears, providing an intimate look at the the life of an admittedly imperfect man. "I think I am so fortunate to have had one of the greatest love stories," said his widow, Chaz Ebert, after the screening. [Deadline]

 

Wetlands

Around the Web

Wetlands: Meeting a mixed response from critics, the German-language movie Wetlands nonetheless seems to have earned the unofficial title of "most sexually explicit." After the screening, director David Wnendt said, "The point was not to be the most explicit or the most provocative." A few people did walk out during the press screening -- but that's not an unusual occurrence at Sundance, we might add. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Family Ties: As noted above, Kurt Russell had a very personal connection to a documentary at the festival, but he was just one member of his extended family to attend the festival; Kate Hudson also appeared for Wish I Was Here, in which she costars. Other extended families in attendance included Ted Danson and hs wife Mary Steenburgen, whose son Charlie McDowell directed a film at the fest; and young Jake Paltrow, whose sister Gwyneth supported him for the premiere of his directorial debut, Young Ones -- as did Jake's godfather, Steven Spielberg. [New York Times]

Acquisition Updates: Most of the films make their world premieres at the festival without distribution secured in advance, so we're always interested in hearing which movies get snapped up first. One trade journal suggests that buyers are hesitant because there are "fewer overtly commercial films in play." Nonetheless, deals have been made so far for festival opener Whiplash, Zack Braff's Wish I Was Here, comedy-drama Laggies with Keira Knightley, sci-fi dama I, Origins, abortion comedy Obvious Child with Jenny Slate, and the Irish drama Calvary. [Variety/Indiewire]

 

My Own Private Sundance

A curated selection of tweets from festival attendees:

 

 

 

 

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