Spotlight on New England: News from Sundance ’98
Written by Michele Meek | Posted by: Anonymous
As usual, the Sundance Film Festival has created quite a buzz in the independent film community. But, this time, the press attention and seven-figure deal went to a film made right here in Boston Next Stop Wonderland.
But, according to David Kleiler, founder of Local Sightings, a showcase for local films, theres more than that to be excited about.
"Its not just about Next Stop Wonderland. Massachusetts, or New England for that matter, has never looked better. Three distributors told me that they would take a closer look at anything that came out of this region. Theyve recognized the incredible talent pool here," says David.
Perhaps New Englands recent success has caused Hollywood to glance a little longer in our direction, making it an ideal time for new talent to emerge.
"The time is right, if you know how to seize the moment and capitalize on it," says David.
- Brad Andersons film Next Stop Wonderland secured him a 6 million dollar deal after a reported 17-hour negotiation. Although the deal was made with Miramaxs Harvey Weinstein, nicknamed "Harvey Scissorhands" for his reputation of re-editing films after acquistion, Anderson had it wrote into the deal that he would do his own editing. The sum includes Andersons directorial fee for his next two films. (David Kleiler remembers not too many years back when Anderson worked part-time as a film projectionist and drove a bread truck on Marthas Vineyard. His film The Darien Gap which also won entry into Sundance was premiered with Local Sightings)
- During the festival, Stratosphere Entertainment, the new distribution company backed by Wall Street maverick Carl Icahn, announced its first group of films to be released this year. The slate included Adam Bernsteins black comedy Six Ways to Sunday produced by Bostons Scout Productions. (The film premiered last month in Woburn, Massachusetts in a presentation by Local Sightings and the Mass Media Alliance)
- Harvard University graduate, Darren Aronofsky won the Dramatic Directing Award in Sundance 98 for his sci-fi film Pi. (His previous film Supermarket Sweep premiered through Local Sightings).
- Filmmaker Jesse Peretz, who grew up in Boston won entry into Sundance 98 with the film First Love, Last Rites, about a young couple embarking on first love.
- David Kleiler was also out there promoting two new Boston films the "anti-romantic comedy" Enough Already and Roger Saquets delayed coming-of-age film Urban Relics. Check back at NewEnglandFilm.com for when these films will be shown around New England.
Sundance 98 judges representing New England in one way or another included Owen Gleiberman (former Boston Phoenix critic), Paul Schrader, and Steven Ascher (co-director of former Sundance award-winner Troublesome Creek). New England film industry professionals in attendance at Sundance 98 included the Next Stop Wonderland crowd: Brad Anderson, Mitchel Robbins, Susan Welsh, and Laura Berneri; filmmakers of Sundance 97 film Black and White and Red All Over Demane Davis, Mark Hankey and Kahari Strader; Robin Dawson and Tim Grafft from the Mass Film Office; in addition to a whole collection of others spanning various film industry titles: Mary Chiochois, Paul Wagner, Tom Keenan, Kevin Hennesey, Gabriel Savage, Ari Newman, Ed Slattery, Mary Foyer, Christy Scott, Renita Wited, Ken Perrim (gaffer), John Carozza (actor).
And, of course, our correspondent David Kleiler, who said those of us who didnt make it out there not only missed the potential for some great deals, we missed some even better parties.