The 2016 Sundance Film Festival runs from January 21st through the 31st in Park City, Utah. The festival is a destination for both up-and-coming and veteran filmmakers, and has earned a reputation as a showcase for some of the most critically acclaimed and Oscar-worthy films of the year. This year, out of the 12,793 submissions they received, the Sundance committee has selected just over 200 feature length and short films to play at the festival. From all of this, there is sure to be plenty of studio deals, bidding wars, trailers, clips and news — and we’re here to give you a daily wrap up of all the big developments from Park City. (And don’t forget to check out our exclusive party and event grid!)
Now that the festival’s biggest purchase has been made, things are starting to get a little quieter at Sundance — but that doesn’t mean films aren’t getting snatched up by studios. Acquisitions are still being made on some of the festival’s most buzzed about titles and the first round of awards have been handed out. Read all the news below.
Yesterday, the Sundance Institute announced the jury prizes for short filmmaking. Over 8,712 short films were submitted and 72 were included in the the Shorts Program. The jury included Keegan-Michael Key from Comedy Central’s Key & Peele, development executive at Amazon Studios, Gina Kwon and chief MTV film critic, Amy Nicholson.
The Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction
Director/writer: Maimouna Doucoure
Synopsis: Life is disrupted for eight-year-old Aida when her father returns with a young Senegalese woman, Rama, whom he introduces as his second wife. Sensitive to her mother’s distress, Aida decides to get rid of the new visitor.
The Short Film Jury Award: Non-fiction
BACON & GOD’S WRATH
Director: Sol Friedman
Synopsis: A 90-year-old Jewish woman reflects on her life experiences as she prepares to try bacon for the first time.
The Short Film Jury Award: Animation
Director/writer: Nina Gantz
Synopsis:Edmond’s impulse to love and be close to others is strong—maybe too strong. As he stands by a lake contemplating his options, he reflects on his defining moments in search of the origin of his desires.
Short Film Special Jury Award for Outstanding Performance
Grace Glowicki for HER FRIEND ADAM
Director: Ben Petrie
Synopsis: A boyfriend’s jealous impulse spirals out of control in 16 minutes of romantic doom.
Short Film Special Jury Award for Best Direction
Director: Ondrej Hudecek
Writers: Jan Smutny, Ondrej Hudecek
Synopsis: A twisted queer romance set in picturesque 19th-century Bohemia tells the true story of the birth of one of the nation’s most influential writers, with suspense, laughter, violence, hope, nudity, sex, and a happy ending—mostly a happy ending.
Nate Parker’s THE BIRTH OF A NATION broke records when Fox Searchlight won the bidding war against Weinstein, Sony, and Paramount. But Fox Searchlight’s $17.5 million bid wasn’t the highest bid. Netflix offered $20 million for the title and Byron Allen of Entertainment Studios matched that bid. in the end, Parker thought that Fox Searchlight was the best home for his film.
Synopsis: This film tells several stories featuring people who find their life inspired or changed by one particular dachshund, who seems to be spreading comfort and joy.
Director/writer: Todd Solondz
Cast: Danny DeVito, Ellen Burstyn, Greta Gerwig, Julie Delpy, Kieran Culkin, Zosia Mamet
Purchased by: Amazon
Synopsis: Ricky is a defiant young city kid who finds himself on the run with his cantankerous foster uncle in the wild New Zealand bush. A national manhunt ensues, and the two are forced to put aside their differences and work together to survive in this heartwarming adventure comedy.
Director/writer: Taika Waititi
Cast: Julian Dennison, Oscar Kightley, Rachel House, Rima Te Wiata, Sam Neill
Purchased by: The Orchard
Synopsis: It’s 1951, and among the new arrivals at Winesburg College in Ohio are the son of a kosher butcher from New Jersey and the beautiful, brilliant daughter of a prominent alum. For a brief moment, their lives converge in this emotionally soaring film based on the novel by Philip Roth.
Director/writer: James Schamus
Cast: Ben Rosenfield, Danny Burstein, Linda Emond, Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon, Tracy Letts
Purchased by: Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment
Category: U.S. Documentary Competition
Synopsis: The definitive look inside the mysterious case of 16-year-old literary sensation JT LeRoy—a creature so perfect for his time that if he didn’t exist, someone would have had to invent him. Perhaps someone did? The strangest story about story ever told.
Director/writer: Jeff Feuerzeig
Cast: Laura Albert
Purchased by: Amazon
ACQUISITION TALLY AS OF JANUARY 27, 2016:
Beta Cinema: 1
Brainstorm Media: 1
Fox Searchlight: 1
Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment: 1
Magnolia Pictures: 1
The Orchard: 1
Oscilloscope Laboratories: 1
Roadside Attractions: 1
Sony Pictures Classics: 2
TRAILERS AND CLIPS
THE CHICKENING — Short Film
Synopsis: All pork and no chicken makes Jack a dull boy. Luckily, Jack gets a new job as senior chief night manager at Charbay’s Chicken World and Restaurant Resort, the world’s largest fast-food entertainment complex; however, things quickly get very clucked.
Category: Short Programs
Directors: Davy Force, Nick DenBoer
For a complete list of festival films and details, visit sundance.org.
Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer