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Tag: Sundance Film Festival (1-10 of 425)

See young Abe Lincoln in 'The Better Angels' trailer

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Death was a constant shadow in the life of Abraham Lincoln, from his childhood on the American frontier to his assassination in 1865. In The Better Angels, writer/director A.J. Edwards—a disciple of the film’s producer Terrence Malick—focused on the three-year period of Lincoln’s youth where his young mother (Brit Marling) died, and his father (Jason Clarke) remarried a woman (Diane Kruger) who recognized Abe’s spark of intelligence and helped provide the moral and intellectual foundation that would one day preserve the Union. At his 1861 inauguration, with his country on the brink of civil war, President Lincoln appealed to “the better angels of our nature.” For Lincoln, the seeds of those sentiments were planted by the two women in his life who refused to let him be average.

Thirteen-year-old Braydon Denney had never acted before, but the Kentucky native beat out thousands of others to play the role of the future president—in part because of his outdoorsy athleticism and serene thoughtfulness. Lincoln was only nine years old when his mother died, and though untimely death was common in 1818, his bright future could’ve been snuffed out by grief and the rugged demeanor of his uneducated father.

“This is a film that portrays profound and personal loss, intense suffering, and the realization that faith and endurance can transform one’s suffering into good for all,” said Edwards, in the film’s production notes.

The Better Angels, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, opens in theaters on Nov. 7. EW has the exclusive trailer below: READ FULL STORY

See the trailer for the Penn State scandal documentary 'Happy Valley'

The Penn State football team is off to a 4-2 start this season, and more than 100,000 fans will file into Beaver Stadium next week when their beloved Nittany Lions take on their rivals from Ohio State. James Franklin is Penn State’s first-year head coach—but he still operates in the shadow of the late, legendary Joe Paterno, who raised Penn State to national prominence during his 62 years with the university’s football program.

Paterno infamously was forced out in 2011 after a former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was accused of sexually abusing children. Questions remain whether Paterno could or should have done more to investigate suspicions and claims in the years before the scandal exploded. Happy Valley, a new documentary from Amir Bar-Lev (The Tillman Story), is about Penn State football and the near-religious fervor that Paterno’s unparallelled success bred over the decades. But it’s not just about Penn State. It’s also about the deification of American sports heroes, and the compromised relationship between a billion-dollar sports industry and the universities that enable it. READ FULL STORY

How Jan Brady went bad for revenge thriller 'Blue Ruin'

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“I’m not known for my gun-play,” says Brady Bunch star Eve Plumb.

No kidding. So how did the actress who played Jan Brady on the classic sitcom wind up portraying the gun-toting matriarch of a crime family in the indie revenge thriller Blue Ruin (which was released last Friday and is also available  to watch on VOD)? “Well, auditions are few and far between and I will audition for anything,” says the plain-speaking Plumb, 56. Her taped audition impressed director Jeremy Saulnier, who was unfamiliar with the actress’ small-screen work. “Jeremy shows me all these audition tapes, and he was like, ‘She’s really good,’” recalls Blue Ruin star Macon Blair, who plays a vengeance-seeking homeless man in the film and did recognize the Brady sister. “I was like, ‘She is really good. What I’m saying is you’re going to have Jan Brady with a goddamn machine gun! That’s kinda cool, right?’” READ FULL STORY

Felicity Jones in 'Breathe In': Wise beyond her years -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

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The last time Felicity Jones played a British exchange student, hearts were broken in Like Crazy, the bittersweet 2011 indie romance that won her a special acting prize at the Sundance Film Festival. In Breathe In, another Sundance movie from Like Crazy director Drake Doremus, Jones plays another British exchange student who falls in love with an American. But this tale is much darker and more complex.

Jones plays a piano prodigy named Sophie who comes to America to experience the thrills of New York. Her host family, however, lives in upstate New York, far away from the bright lights and excitement. The doldrums of suburban life are broken when she forms a deep connection with the married man of the house (Guy Pearce), a high-school music teacher whose dreams of playing in an elite orchestra are no longer encouraged by his wife (Amy Ryan). What starts as a shared passion blooms into something more dangerous that threatens all the characters’ well-being and sense of identity.

The movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013 and opens in theaters this Friday, March 28. Click below for an exclusive video from the film and a chat with Jones.

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Roger Ebert documentary 'Life Itself' picked up for distribution

After premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Life Itself, a documentary about the life of film critic Roger Ebert, will be distributed theatrically by Magnolia Pictures. Directed by Steve James (Hoop Dreams), the film will also be broadcast exclusively on CNN later this year after its scheduled summer release. This is the second such deal with Magnolia and CNN after their collaboration last year on the documentary Blackfish, which also premiered at Sundance.

“Roger Ebert gets the tribute he deserves with Life Itself,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. “Steve James has done a beautiful job capturing Roger’s complexity and energy in a loving but wonderfully clear-eyed portrait.”

Based on his memoir of the same name, Life Itself explores the fascinating and flawed journey of Ebert from school newspaperman to the movie critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, and from Pulitzer Prize winner to finding love later in life. Ebert died last year after a decade-long battle with papillary thyroid cancer that left him no longer able to speak. In his “third act,” the first critic to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame emerged as a major voice on the Internet.

“Magnolia is the perfect partner for bringing this film on such a seminal figure in film to the big screen,” said Steve James. “Roger’s story deserves it.”

Sundance 2014: 'Whiplash' takes home Grand Jury and Audience Awards

Whiplash, director Damien Chazelle’s story of a young jazz drummer, took home both the U.S. Grand Jury and Audience Dramatic awards at the Sundance Film Festival awards Saturday night. The film grew out of a short from Chazelle that won the Short Film Jury Award at Sundance in 2013.

Rich Hill, a story about a community in rural Missouri, won the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury award and Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory, about how music can help dementia patients, won the U.S. Audience Documentary award. Co-screenwriters Craig Johnson and Mark Heyman were honored with the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for The Skeleton Twins, starring Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig. Cutter Hodierne won the U.S. Dramatic Award for Direction for Fishing Without Nets, his first feature film. The Prop 8 documentary The Case Against 8 brought home the U.S. Documentary Award for Direction for directors Ryan White and Ben Cotner. The Angelina Jolie-produced film about Ethiopia, Difret, won the Audience Award in the World Dramatic Competition.

Husband and wife hosts Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally brought the sexual innuendo and a ukulele to the ceremony in Park City, Utah, where this year’s crop of 186 independent films were celebrated. Presenters included Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Tracy Chapman, and film critic Leonard Maltin.

Check out the full list of winner’s below. You can also watch the replay of the awards ceremony, which streamed live on YouTube.
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Sundance at 30: Robert Redford opens up about the festival and his upcoming projects -- EXCLUSIVE

When Robert Redford set out to create a place for independent filmmakers to show their wares 30 years ago, he didn’t know it would become the behemoth star-filled event that is Sundance today. Coming to the festival for the first time this year, I had my own preconceived notions and thought, like many people, that Sundance has gotten too big, too commercial. But even with the fancy parties and the major movie stars strolling down Main Street, I was still blown away by the wealth of new and groundbreaking films at my fingertips this week. While Redford acknowledges that the marketers and the glitz have taken something away from the festival’s roots, he is still able to see it through a first-timer’s eyes, and says that there is opportunity in its success – and that this might just be the best year yet.

“When we started this process back 30 years ago, when I had the idea for the festival and to put it in Park City, I thought it’d be a good idea to maybe make it a little weird because maybe that would attract people,” Redford says. “We just sort of went along and tried to stay true to our core beliefs about who we were, what our mission was in terms of providing a platform for new filmmakers to have a place where their voices could be seen. And at the beginning, there were a lot of people who saw this as kind of a crazy thing. I would have to go on the stage at the opening of the festival and sort of explain who we were, what we were trying to do, but now the nice thing is we don’t have to explain anything—we just are and I think people understand what we are.”

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Sundance 2014: With tons of movies sold, the lack of a mega deal was no big deal

I can testify that when you go to a film festival, and someone inquires about how the movies were that year, the answer you end up giving — “Really terrific!” “Lousy!” “They were okay!” — is often dictated by exactly one movie. If you saw something that totally knocked you out, the sort of film that you think is going to get major play in the real world, and you’re already dusting off a place on your 10 Best list for it, then that one movie can determine your entire perception of the festival. That’s what happened to me last year at Sundance when I saw Fruitvale (they hadn’t added the Station yet). The fact that you’ve witnessed a certified home run makes the festival feel to you, in hindsight, like…well, a baseball game in which your team hit a home run. It’s more than a good movie; it’s why you came — to see an unheralded filmmaker knock one out of the park. A single movie that rocks your world can define, year in and year out, the Sundance experience — the reason that a festival like this one exists. Some of the films I’ve seen at Sundance that have had that effect include Crumb (1995), Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995), I Shot Andy Warhol (1996), Buffalo 66 (1998), The Blair Witch Project (1999), Chuck & Buck (2000), Wet Hot American Summer (2001), American Splendor (2003), Capturing the Friedmans (2003), Thirteen (2003), Hustle & Flow (2005), Precious (2009), and Fruitvale (2013). READ FULL STORY

Sundance 2014: In Iran, a schoolgirl shoots for the stars in 'Sepideh'

Danish director Berit Madsen didn’t set out to tell a story about feminism in Iran. She just met a pretty amazing 14-year-old girl who wanted to learn about the stars, and hoped to do justice to her story.

“I’d heard about this place which had an astronomy club going on and this teacher who wanted to build an observatory, and that boys and girls would go out alone to watch the stars,” Madsen, director of the Sundance documentary Sepideh, tells EW. “Even knowing Iran it was  bizarre to me, because you’re not supposed to expect stuff like that to happen.”

Madsen’s film follows the life of the titular teenager, who grows from a young girl obsessed with Albert Einstein into a woman engaged to be married and heading to university to study astronomy.

Sepideh is screening this week at the Sundance Film Festival, and is also being released exclusively on iTunes in the U.S. and Canada, coinciding with its Sundance premiere.

We talked to Madsen about how she connected with Sepideh and how making this film over the past five years has lead her to work on new projects about the Middle East:
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Sundance 2014: Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler give rom coms an 'Airplane!' twist in 'They Came Together'

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If Airplane! and You’ve Got Mail went on a blind date, got liquored up, and had a baby…that baby would look like David Wain’s rom-com spoof They Came Together. Making its world premiere on Friday night at Sundance and adding some star power to the tail end of the festival, the silly send-up of formulaic Meg Ryan-Tom Hanks meet-cute movies and their ilk reunites the gang from Wet Hot American Summer — with some new faces sprinkled in.

Wain’s Wet Hot American Summer had its debut at Sundance 13 years ago. And it’s good to see that Wain hasn’t grown up much since then. They Came Together feels like a movie made by a guy who still thinks like a 13 year old and that rapid-fire Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker sight gags and “Don’t call me Shirley”-style puns are the height of comedy gold. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that some of his old pals have become really famous since his cult summer-camp flick came out in 2001.

The film kicks off in typical genre style with Paul Rudd’s Joel and Amy Poehler’s Molly on a double date with Bill Hader and Ellie Kemper, recounting how they met. Rudd explains how if it were a corny movie he’d be the not overtly Jewish, handsome leading man. Molly adds that she’d be the adorable klutz leading woman. From there, it’s an 82-minute rat-a-tat riff-fest on every cliche you’ve ever seen Nora Ephron and company commit to celluloid.

Molly owns a small-business candy shop with a quirky, punny name (Upper Sweet Side); Joel works for a ruthless candy conglomerate that wants to put her out of business. Molly’s a single mom; Joel’s just been jilted by his icy girlfriend. But when they meet, it’s love-hate at first sight. How could it not be? They’re both dressed like Benjamin Franklin for a Halloween party…and they both like “fiction books”!

Some of Wain and cowriter Michael Showalter’s gags are real groaners. But most mildly land near the target, and a few hit the bullseye. It doesn’t hurt when you have folks like Rudd and Poehler selling them. Plus, when you’re throwing this much spaghetti at the wall, some of it’s gotta stick, right?

With a cast that includes Ed Helms, Cobie Smulders, Chris Meloni, Max Greenfield, and Michael Ian Black, They Came Together is never quite as laugh-out-loud funny as you want it to be. But if you’re a fan of Wain’s knowing brand of sophomoric slapstick silliness, his “When Joel Met Molly” satire will send you into “I’ll have what she’s having” fits of ecstasy.

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