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Sundance 2013: The deal report

Yes, the Sundance Film Festival is a temple to the glory of independent film and the purity of the art of cinema and blah blah blah. But it is also a vital marketplace for indie distributors to find the next blockbuster Little Miss Sunshine, or acclaimed Beasts of the Southern Wild, or wildly overpriced Happy, Texas. With the festival drawing to a close, Sundance 2013 has already proven to be one of the biggest deal-making festivals in recent memory, producing several major sales of movies that will either go on to become some of the buzziest films of the year, or, you know… not. We’ll update this space with additional deal reports throughout the week ahead. Here are the highlights so far: READ FULL STORY

Sundance 2013: 'Fruitvale,' 'Before Midnight,' and the same-sex sexytime of 'Concussion'

Before the awards are given out tonight at Sundance 2013, I’ve got three of my own to bestow, to movies that have stayed in my mind in the days since I traded the relatively balmy cold mountain air of Park City, Utah, for the frigid wilds of the Northeast.

The first award, for The Best Drama Most Likely to Break Your Heart, goes to Fruitvale — which, I’ll wager, will win other, more official awards later today too. This vivid, fast-moving, fired-up story propels forward with truth in its engine: In the early hours of New Year’s Day 2009, a young Bay Area African-American man named Oscar Grant was killed by a white cop’s bullet at the Fruitvale train station. Grant wasn’t a saint, but he wasn’t a sinner, either — just a guy with a live-in girlfriend and a young daughter, trying to figure out how to do right and stay away from doing wrong.

The high achievement of Fruitvale, by first-time filmmaker Ryan Coogler (an African-American son of the Bay area himself ) lies in the way Coogler shapes his story, dramatizing the last day of Grant’s life as a means of conveying character; in the energy and immediacy of the no-nonsense visual style; and in the fine cast he put together. Michael B. Jordan earns his movie-star stripes as Grant; the magnificent Octavia Spencer commands her part of the story as Grant’s mother; Melonie Diaz brings Grant’s girlfriend to full life. I hope Coogler has more stories he feels he needs to tell as urgently as he tells this one. READ FULL STORY

Sundance: RADiUS - TWC lands 'Concussion'

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Concussion, the provocative Sundance tale about a woman whose life takes a sharp right turn after she gets smacked in the head at her son’s baseball game, was acquired by RADiUS – TWC for North American distribution. Robin Weigert plays the woman, a married lesbian mother who pursues a life as a Manhattan escort following her injury. It is the first film from director Stacie Passon, who also wrote the script. The film also stars Maggie Siff, Johnathan Tchaikovsky, Julie Fain Lawrence, Emily Kinney and Laila Robins.

RADiUS has slated an early fall 2013 release.

Read more:
Sundance: ‘Concussion’ cast talks midlife crisis and sex onscreen
Sundance: ‘Concussion” exclusive video

Sundance 2013: Female directors poised to make their mark at indie festival

Cannes, take note.

Call it feminist, call it a full shift in the zeitgeist, call it the seeds of a movie industry revolution, but the Sundance Film Festival has shoved Hollywood into the 21st century when it comes to the inclusion of women filmmakers.

Last May, the Cannes Film Festival’s competitive Palme D’Or line-up sparked controversy over its dearth of female directors. This year’s annual Sundance fest in Park City, Utah, which runs from Jan. 17-27, for the very first time features an equal number of male and female directors in its 16-film U.S. Dramatic Competition category, ranging from Lynn Shelton’s Touchy Feely, starring Rosemarie DeWitt (pictured in the exclusive photo above), to Liz Garcia’s The Lifeguard, featuring Kristen Bell, Francesca Gregorini’s Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes, starring Jessica Biel, Jerusha Hess’s Austenland with Keri Russell, Lake Bell’s In a World, also starring the actress-director, and Stacie Passon’s Concussion.

EW connected with Shelton, Garcia, Gregorini, Hess, Passon, and Bell, as well as actresses Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael, who co-wrote the saucy Sundance Midnight screening selection Ass Backwards, and Richard E. Robbins, who directed the CNN Films documentary Girl Rising, which will have scenes shown at Sundance. Absolute joy and excitement resonated through phone and email conversations with the filmmakers, who touted the bright future for women directors — Kathryn Bigelow’s name may be the biggest out there these days, but many more are on the horizon.
READ FULL STORY

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