Sundance 2013: Awards, Deals, and When You Can See Them

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Indie producers at Sundance would be wise to steer your film editor away from their screenings, since (for the second year in a row, to say nothing of Tribeca and SXSW) practically none of the films I saw over my six days in Park City managed to grab any prizes at Saturday night’s big award ceremony. I’m all out of theories for why I’m so bad at picking these things — but it’s something we’re all going to have to come to terms with, apparently. Not to worry, though; many of the very good films I did manage to see will be coming your way over the next few months, so let’s take a look at films that won both awards and big-money deals.

  • Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale was the big winner Saturday night, nabbing both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award in the Dramatic competition. In other words, both the judges and the movie-goers loved it, and soon you’ll be able to as well; the Weinstein Company outbid Fox Searchlight, Focus Features, and Paramount early in the fest for rights to the drama, based on the true story of the 2009 BART shooting in San Francisco.
  • The Weinstein Company’s multi-platform arm, RADiUS-TWC, was very busy in Park City; they scooped up distribution rights for the music documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom (out in late summer), Stacie Passon’s drama Concussion, the sort-of terrible (but star-filled!) porn biopic Lovelace (fall), and the documentaries Inequality for All (summer) and Cutie and the Boxer, the latter of which won the Directing (Documentary) award.
  • Steve Hoover’s Blood Brother pulled the doc equivalent of the Fruitvale double-play, winning the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award for documentary. It hasn’t yet landed distribution, but that should change soon.
  • Jill Soloway’s Afternoon Delight, starring Parks & Rec fave Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, and Josh Radnor, won the Directing (Dramatic) award, but is still seeking a distributor.
  • More good news for Parks & Rec fans: CBS Films picked up Toy’s House, which features juicy supporting roles for not only Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, but Community’s Alison Brie.
  • Newbie distributor A24 is planning a summer release for one of our favorite films of the fest, The Spectacular Now, which won a Special Jury Prize for actors Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley.
  • World Cinema Special Jury Prize (Documentary) winner Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer was picked up by HBO Documentary Films, meaning you can probably expect a limited theatrical release and airing on the network sometime this year.
  • Sundance Selects picked up The Summit (which won the World Cinema Editing Award for Documentary) and Dirty Wars (which won the Cinematography Award for domestic docs). Its sister division, IFC Films, nabbed the latest from Michael Winterbottom, The Look of Love, as well as David Lowery’s acclaimed Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, which netted a Cinematography (Dramatic) award for Bradford Young — for his work on both that film and Mother of George, the sole pick-up thus far for Oscilloscope Laboratories.
  • Fox Searchlight wrote the biggest single check of the fest, shelling out a reported $10 million for The Way, Way Back from Oscar-winning writers and debut directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. The distributor is clearly hoping to repeat the success of Little Miss Sunshine, which they grabbed for a similar price in 2006 (it even shares one of that film’s co-stars, Steve Carell).
  • Magnolia Pictures grabbed the likable Prince Avalanche with Paul Rudd and Emilie Hirsch (which they’ve pegged for summer) and partnered with CNN Films for the documentary Blackfish (late summer theatrical release, with television airings later in the year). Their genre subdivision Magnet picked up S-VHS — unsurprising, since it’s a sequel to the Magnet release V/H/S. A similar October-ish release is probably a safe bet.
  • Our dear friend Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon’s Addiction, which he wrote, directed, and starred in, went to Relativity Media, who promised a wide release (we’re guessing it’ll go out as a summer indie, like JGL’s (500) Days of Summer).
  • Sony Classics was very busy, grabbing the Daniel-Radcliffe-as-Allen-Ginsberg drama Kill Your Darlings and the comedy Austenland (from Napoleon Dynamite co-writer Jerusha Hess). And, most pressingly, they also came out of the festival with Before Midnight , our favorite film of Sundance 2013. They’ve not yet announced a release date, but we’re anticipating the kind of summer “counter-programming” slot that Before Sunset did well with back in 2004.

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