Sundance opens its Creative Distribution Fellowship to films beyond those that have played at the festival and reveals data on past releases.
Two of the films that we really enjoyed at Sundance 2017— Jennifer Brea’s Unrestand Koganada’s Columbus—are both now out in the world, garnering critical praise and, most importantly, audiences. This result is not a given for niche debut features by relatively unknown directors, but in both cases it was facilitated in part by the films’ selections for the inaugural round of the Sundance Creative Distribution Fellowship.
Initiated last year, the fellowship builds on the successes of Sundance’s formerly named Artist Services wing, which helped usher more than 200 independent films into the market. Now, the fellowship formalizes all of that experience into a whole package that gives unprecedented control to the filmmakers involved.
Butch and Sundance return to the Hole in the Wall Gang… and a challenge.
Fight scenes. Whether swords or knives, guns or fists, lasers or kung fu, fight scenes are a staple of the movies. One problem: They’re so common, what can a screenwriter do to distinguish theirs from all the previous examples? William Goldman came up with an unexpected twist with this fight scene featuring Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and the much bigger Harvey Logan (Ted Cassidy).
Here is the scene as scripted by Goldman:
BUTCH AND HIS MEN
BUTCH Now let's just forget about Harvey taking over. Okay, Flat Nose?
FLAT NOSE CURRY has been nicknamed for obvious reasons.
FLAT NOSE CURRY You always told us anyone could challenge you --
BUTCH That's 'cause I figured nobody's do it.
smiling, starting toward Butch again.
LOGAN Figured wrong, Butch.
BUTCH AND HIS MEN
BUTCH (a little desperate now) You can't want Logan --
NEWS -- at least he's with us, Butch -- you been spending a lot of time gone --
CLOSEUP - BUTCH
BUTCH That's 'cause everything's changing now -- it's all going new on us --
LOGAN Guns or knives, Butch?
Going rapidly on, doing his best to ignore Logan.
BUTCH --everything's harder than it used to be -- you got to plan more, you got to prepare, you got to be damn sure you're doing or you're dead --
moving in front of Butch now.
LOGAN Guns or knives?
BUTCH I don't want to shoot with you, Harvey.
LOGAN Whatever you say, Butch.
And suddenly a knife is in his hand and --
and with the appearance of the knife they start to get really excited, and from here on in that excitement only builds as they surge toward Logan who is calmly taking off his shirt. Butch moves to Sundance.
on his horse, waiting quietly at Butch approaches. Butch is doing his best to cover how he feels.
BUTCH Maybe there's a way to make a profit on this -- bet on Logan.
SUNDANCE I would, but who'd bet on you?
BUTCH I made this gang. You know I did. Now look at 'em.
clustered around Logan. He is stripped to the waist and his body is brutal. Suddenly he calls out --
LOGAN Sundance -- when we're done, if he's dead, you're welcome to stay.
BUTCH AND SUNDANCE
Looking out at Logan. Butch speaks quietly to Sundance.
BUTCH Listen, I'm not a sore loser or anything, but when we're done, if I'm dead, kill him.
SUNDANCE (to Logan, but in answer to Butch Love to.
He fidgets a moment, then starts the long walk back toward Logan. Logan is younger and faster and stronger and Butch knows it, and knowing it doesn't make the walk any pleasanter. Still he moves forward, unarmed as yet, toward the other man.
watching him come. In the sun his body glistens.
moving through the gang toward Logan. He is unarmed and a knife is offered him by one of the gang.
BUTCH Not yet. (moving up to Logan now) Not til Harvey and me get all the rules straight.
LOGAN Rules? In a knife fight? No rules!
As he finishes speaking Butch delivers the most aesthetically exquisite kick in the balls in the history of the modern American cinema.
For a moment he just stands there. Then he makes an absolutely indescribable sound and, as the look on his face moves from disbelief to displeasure, he sinks slowly to his knees.
He goes on as if nothing whatsoever had happened.
BUTCH Well, if there aren't going to be any rules, I guess we might as well get this fight started. Somebody say 'one-two-three-go.'
SUNDANCE (like a shot) One-two-three-go.
He is green now, and still on his knees. Butch approaches, nods, locks his hands together and, as if swinging a baseball bat, delivers a stunning blow to Logan's jaw. Logan falls and lies there.
FLAT NOSE CURRY AND SEVERAL OTHERS
all hurrying to Butch.
FLAT NOSE I was rooting for you, Butch.
BUTCH (with great earnestness) I know, Flat Nose. That's what sustained me in my time of trouble.
“As he finishes speaking Butch delivers the most aesthetically exquisite kick in the balls in the history of the modern American cinema.” Great stuff. And notice how deftly Goldman wove in one of the key themes of the movie with this line: “That’s ’cause everything’s changing now — it’s all going new on us.” The world is changing (e.g., bicycles!), but Butch and Sundance don’t end up changing, and it costs them plenty — their lives.
“The cheapest way to survive is to subsist entirely on appetizers. If you’re luck enough to get access to free parties throughout the day…” We’ve been covering the Sundance Film Festival for 11 years, and I adore the festival, but it’s not always the most inviting place especially if you don’t have proper access. This year, Vimeo hired “self-described ‘struggling’ Staff Picked documentarian” John Wilson to make a video about his experience at the festival – without any access. Suffice it to say, he makes an amusing doc that mocks the festival and the absurdity of everything, yet also finds the good in it. “Wandering up and down Main Street, remarking on the blend of commercialism and exclusivity, he paints a pretty pallid picture of festival life and the forces that dominate it.” It’s worth watching for a good life and a totally different look at Sundance. ›››
What does it take for VR to create the same comedy and drama as a traditional feature film?
Virtual reality storytelling innovators Felix & Paul Studios premiered a new narrative VR film at Sundance this year, and it’s unprecedented both in the sheer length (40 minutes) as well as the scope of the narrative. Situated in the headspace of a 1980s toy robot, Miyubi takes the viewer on a journey through sibling rivalry, teen angst, marital challenges, and aging—and it’s the closest VR has gotten to the feeling of a feature film so far. Sound ambitious? It is.
In this episode of the No Film School podcast, Miyubi directors Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël, as well as CTO Sebastian Sylvan, sit down with No Film School to talk about the VR storytelling tricks they’ve learned, the departure of this film from their previous work, and how they’ve attempted to overcome the biggest challenge of narrative storytelling in VR: the fact that viewers inside a headset can look anywhere at any time for the duration of the film.
Charlie McDowell’s Netflix film, ‘The Discovery,’ asks: If the afterlife was proven to exist, would you take the shortcut there?
In 2014, Charlie McDowell announced his presence as a daring new indie filmmaker to watch with The One I Love, a surreal portrait of a relationship in disrepair. When a couple (Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass) embarks on a would-be therapeutic weekend getaway, they find themselves inducted into a strange universe where fact and fiction are subjective, forcing them to reckon with their perceptions of one another and their own identities at large. It’s the kind of original premise that eludes many first-time filmmakers, and Moss and Duplass’ performances anchor the film in a deeply philosophical—and often quite terrifying—reality.
“Do YOU know who killed JonBenet Ramsey?” Netflix has debuted a trailer for the highly acclaimed, totally unique documentary Casting JonBenet, from director Kitty Green. The film originally premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and it has also played at the Berlin Film Festival and True/False Film Festival. Casting JonBenet examines the infamous JonBenet Ramsey murder in Colorado in 1996, by having local actors from Colorado audition for the various characters involved in the story. This includes JonBenet herself, as well as her mother, brother, father, and local police. This is a fascinating documentary unlike any other (except maybe Kate Plays Christine) that stirs up quite a unique discussion without ever actually interviewing the real people. It’s fascinating, and worth checking out when it premieres on Netflix. ›››
“Fresh and richly intelligent.” A new trailer has arrived online for an indie film titled As You Are, which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival last year to positive reviews (here’s my review). I’m glad to see this is finally being released soon, it’s a great film. Owen Campbell stars as a teenager caught in a love triangle between his two friends – played by Charlie Heaton and Amandla Stenberg. The cast includes Mary Stuart Masterson, Scott Cohen and John Scurti. This is best to see without knowing too much going in, because the film reveals the truth as the story plays out. The trailer features the song “Appalachian Moon” written and performed by Kevin Reilly, included on the soundtrack. I recommend giving this a look. ›››
“There’s a generation of filmmakers who think we can create something new that the industry isn’t doing.”
Sundance has traditionally been known predominantly as a showcase of U.S.-based talent, but this year’s fest highlighted people from vibrant film communities across the world. What do they have in common? A passion to make films and build their industries from the ground up. The following excerpts highlight the exciting work being done in South Africa, Brazil, and Bulgaria to give you food for thought. Are we part of a global filmmaker movement towards independent film? See what you think.
The first Beach Rats trailer has arrived online, and while it doesn’t show much, it does give us a hint of the personality of the main character we’ll meet played by Harris Dickinson, who received plenty of praise for his performance in the film. Watch below.
Though Peter Sciretta, Angie Han, and I were all at the Sundance Film Festival this year, we somehow all managed to miss Beach Rats, so we don’t have our own thoughts on the film. But The Guardian wrote in their review:
Beach Rats is a captivating character study and one that feels vital. The idea that coming out in western culture has been made universally accepted with societal changes signaling wider beliefs is a myth, and journalling what is a common difficulty for many young men feels important. Hittman is keen to avoid a standard coming out story, though, and while the final act does lead to more obvious dramatic conflict, she ends on a stunning note of dreamy romance and possibility.”
Burgeoning sexuality is the basis for nearly all coming-of-age films, but with her specific eye, Eliza Hittman makes it feel like we’re watching this genre unfold for the first time. With only two features to her name, she’s captured the experience with a sensuality and intimacy nearly unprecedented in American independent filmmaking.
Beach Rats sounds like the kind of coming-of-age tale of sexual awakening that cinephiles will love.
Neon, the distribution company founded by RADiUS’ Tom Quinn and Alamo Drafthouse’s Tim League, picked up Beach Rats from Sundance, and it’s expected to arrive sometime this fall, though no specific release date has been set yet. Here’s the official synopsis from Sundance.
Frankie, an aimless teenager on the outer edges of Brooklyn, is having a miserable summer. With his father dying and his mother wanting him to find a girlfriend, Frankie escapes the bleakness of his home life by causing trouble with his delinquent friends and flirting with older men online. When his chatting and webcamming intensify, he finally starts hooking up with guys at a nearby cruising beach while simultaneously entering into a cautious relationship with a young woman. As Frankie struggles to reconcile his competing desires, his decisions leave him hurtling toward irreparable consequences.