Stephen Sondheim Remembered

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Master Stephen Sondheim, an American composer, and lyricist was one of the most important figures in 20th-century musical theatre passed away yesterday, November 26, 2021, at his home in Roxbury, Conn., at the age of 91.

Sondheim is/was considered one of the greatest Broadway writers ever writing stunningly striking original lyrics. While his works were critically acclaimed they were not always commercially successful. Nevertheless, his work raised the bar for artistic standards.

Some of Sondheim’s works as a composer and lyricist include: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979), Sunday in the Park with George (1984), and Into the Woods (1987). He was also known for writing the lyrics for West Side Story (1957) and Gypsy (1959).

Film adaptations of Sondheim’s work include West Side Story (1961), Gypsy (1962), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966), A Little Night Music (1977), Gypsy (1993), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Into the Woods (2014), West Side Story (2021).

Sondheim was still very much part of pop culture and is featured as a cameo in Lin Miranda’s film adaptation tick,tick…BOOM! Sondheim’s work had inspired Larson who in turn inspired, Miranda. In addition, In addition, Steven Spielberg’s 2021 film adaptation of West Side Story is heading to theatres in December. Furthermore, Sondheim received a Best Original Song Academy Award for penning “Sooner Or Later,” performed by Madonna in the 1990 film Dick Tracy.

In all Sondheim received nine Tony Awards (including a Lifetime Achievement Tony in 2008). eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, a Laurence Olivier Award, and a 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom. He also had a theatre named for him on Broadway and in the West End of London.

Gone but never forgotten….Stephen Sonheim.

 

SMOKE SIGNALS Native American Heritage Day

Posted by Larry Gleeson

With today being Native-American Heritage Day, AFI Movie Club chose SMOKE SIGNALS as its pick. Smoke Signals is directed and co-produced by Chris Eyre, a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Nations.

Featuring an entirely Indigenous cast telling an authentic story from their own perspectives, Smoke Signals is a gateway work in its depiction of Native-American culture – rich in emotion and its characteristic wry, self-deprecating humor that deflects negativity in cosmic ways!

Personally, after viewing Smoke Signals, I felt a strong desire to see more Native American stories and for the development of a vibrant Native American Cinema. The 2021 Sundance Film Festival showcased the critically acclaimed Wild Indian, starring Michel Greyeyes. Interestingly, Greyeyes portrays Junior Palatkin in Smoke Signals.

 

In 2018, the Smoke Signals was selected for preservation in the United States’National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Check it out!

Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies!

SOUL FOOD – Family is Everything this Thanksgiving!

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Written and directed by George Tillman Jr., SOUL FOOD is a classic comedy  starring Vanessa Williams, Vivica A. Fox and Nia Long celebrating the importance of family dinners – and recognizing that they’re about more than just the meal on the table. SOUL FOOD is this year’s AFI Movie Club’s Thanksgiving Day selection.

 

 

Writer/director George Tillman, Jr. Tillman based the family in the film on his own Midwestern Chicago upbringing. Soul Food has been widely acclaimed for presenting a more positive image of African-Americans than is typically seen in Hollywood films.

Soul Food revolves around the experiences of an extended African-American family and captures its love and dysfunction through the eyes of an 11-year old boy. Soul Food was Tillman’s major studio debut.

 

Tracey Edmonds, an AFI Trustee Emerita, and then-husband Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds produced Soul Food and it was the inaugural film for their Edmonds Productions.

In 2000, Showtime premiered a one-hour Soul Food television series that ran for five seasons with an almost entirely fresh cast. In 2015, 20th Century Fox announced a sequel, written by Tillman, titled More Soul Food.

Stay tuned!

In the meantime, join film lovers from around the world to celebrate and discover – or rediscover – the greatest American films and storytellers of all time. As a member of AFI, you’ll enjoy access to AFI-curated films, exclusive member-only content from the AFI Archive, year-round benefits and deep discounts to all AFI festivals, and more.

Consider becoming an AFI member or donating today!

 

Happy Thanksgiving, Watch Movies! FILMOCRACY Unveils Industry/Festival Education and Networking Program For Filmocracy 2021 Nationwide

Posted by Larry Gleeson

FILMOCRACY INTRODUCES THE INDUSTRY NETWORK

Triad of FestDance Panels, Filmocracy Talks, and Round Tables Adds Education, Networking

ff hero for landing

Roster of Ambassadors Grows as Networking Opportunities Expand For Hybrid Event During Filmocracy Fest December 9th-10th in Los Angeles and Nationwide

https://filmocracyfest.com/

Los Angeles, CA (November 24, 2021)—Filmocracy, the world’s premiere digital screening, distribution, and experience platform, announced its roster of new industry programs today. As the independent film and festival spaces continue to evolve, Filmocracy’s founders saw an opportunity to expand networking and mentorship opportunities.

More than forty Ambassadors joined the inaugural Filmocracy Fest in 2020—participating in various panel discussions—and will continue support in 2021, along with numerous additional industry professionals who have joined the program along three tracks: FestDance will present eight panels over two days; Filmocracy Talks will include four programs; and there will two Round Table discussions.

FestDance 
FestDance is a two-day hybrid in-person/virtual event December 9th-10th that convenes filmmakers, festivals, and film lovers from around the world. A first of its kind fusion experience, local and virtual audiences will explore the film industry while celebrating the new era of digital cinema and innovative technologies. There are two key tracks, one for Film Festivals and another for Filmmakers.

The Festival track includes the following panels: Engagement: Audience & Filmmaker Relations; Technology: Capitalizing on the Digital Frontier; Sponsorship Relations; and Revenue Opportunities. 
The Filmmaker track will include the following panels: Submission Strategies: Knowing your Goals; Networking; Getting on the Radar; Distribution & Exhibition.

Filmocracy Fest Co-Founder Jon Fitzgerald predicted last year in a white paper published by IndieWire, “filmmakers want more revenue-sharing, networking opportunities, and data from online festivals. Festivals, distributors, and filmmakers need to adjust to this new normal, and see this change as opportunities for all parties to rethink how their relationships work. FestDance is an opportunity to continue that conversation in a hybrid world: digital presentation is here to stay.” History bore him out, with most festivals resuming in person screenings whilst retaining digital ones.

“FestDance is an opportunity for the festival and filmmaker community to take stock, absorb all the last eighteen months, and collaborate to share best practices and make for a more robust, impactful, profitable film festival ecosystem,” adds Filmocracy CEO Paul Jun. “We’re going to use our own platform to deliver an informative, exciting and content-rich experience while fusing the digital and in-person audiences.”

Filmocracy Talks 
In their informal version of a TED talk, Filmocracy will cover specific categories, with festival veterans sharing words of wisdom. Filmocracy Fest Filmmakers will have an opportunity to join the discussion on stage. The host will also answer a few questions from passholders that have been submitted in advance. Talks will take place virtually at 5:00pm, kicking off the Festival Happy Hours, virtually and in person at Boomtown Brewery. Categories will include:

Festivals 
1. Have a custom strategy for your movie. 
2. Get on the radar. 
3. Develop your submission spreadsheet.

Marketing 
1. Your movie as a brand. 
2. Keys to a good trailer. 
3. How your website evolves.

Streaming 
1. Understanding VOD models. 
2. Creating a custom distribution strategy for your film. 
3. Your movie deliverables.

Careers 
1. Maximizing festival play. 
2. Have your next project under your arm. 
3. Connecting with industry professionals

Round Table Discussions 
Filmocracy has invited 5-8 experts to participate in two discussions, Impact Filmmaking: Education & CTA and Independent Film Exhibition: Discovery & Distribution, each led by a moderator. Each session will last 30-45 minutes and cover all sides of the topic. They will also answer a few passholder questions that have been submitted in advance.

Impact Filmmaking: Education and Call to Action 
Ever since Participant Media ushered in a wave of social impact films, from the Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth (2006), to Food, Inc. (2008) and The Cove (2008), we’ve seen the documentary space grow exponentially. Many of these films go beyond mainstream theatrical and streaming platform releases into educational markets, creating lasting awareness and evergreen activations. We will explore how these films inform and create change with their Call to Action.

Independent Film Exhibition: Discovery & Distribution 
As the number of film festivals and streaming platforms each increase, there are more opportunities for exhibition. Emerging filmmakers want to be discovered by industry professionals and audiences. Acquisition executives continue to seek projects to distribute. With this discussion, industry experts will shed light on the overlapping paths of discovery and distribution.

Happy Hours 
Festival Sponsor Boomtown Brewery will host nighttime Happy Hours, offering Filmocracy Fest filmmakers and passholders a discount on their favorite beer at the DTLA Brewery’s tap room. For those joining Happy Hour virtually, Boomtown’s brewmasters will lead a nightly tasting of Boomtown brews.

For full programming details visit: https://filmocracyfest.com

2021 Industry Ambassadors include (list in formation): 
Melanie Addington (Tallgrass Film Festival) 
Tiffany Boyle (Ramo Law) 
Lela Meadow Conner (Film Festival Alliance) 
Lauren DeVillier (CEO, Struum) 
Justin Giddings (Film Festival Mastery) 
Chris Gore (Film Threat) 
Jasper Grey (The Vedetta Group) 
Ben Lock (Vuulr) 
Barbara Morgan (Austin FF) 
Alex Nohe (Blood Sweat & Honey) 
Julian Silver (Actor) 
Leslie Vanderpool (Bahamas FF) 
Jeffrey Winter (The Film Collaborative) 
Jeremy Wine (Elevent) 
Viviana Zarragoitia (3 Point Capital)

Tickets are on sale now! The All-Access VIP Pass costs $200.00 and includes entry to all Festival screenings, panels, happy hours and receptions. The Festival Pass is $100.00 and includes screenings and happy hours but not Special Events and receptions. Individual ticket prices are $10.00 for scheduled virtual screenings and Q&As, and $7.00 for OnDemand streaming, and $12.50 for Theatrical in person screenings. Filmocracy PAYS filmmakers 30% of their box office receipts.

About Filmocracy: 
Filmocracy is a film and festival streaming platform that rewards users for discovering amazing independent films. Users earn virtual popcorn for watching and rating movies, which can be spent in their shop to earn movie tickets, redeem gift cards, or attend virtual film festivals hosted from around the world. Bringing a powerful combination of technologies together to enhance the virtual cinema and conference experience for filmmakers, industry professionals and audiences around the world. Filmocracy’s mission is to help all independent filmmakers reach wider audiences and grow their communities through storytelling. Festival Co-Founder Paul Jun serves as CEO of Filmocracy.

In December 2020, Filmocracy staged the First Annual Filmocracy Fest, an all-digital juried film festival. Filmocracy Fest presented a slate of 44 films; panels; mentorship program; live performances; script readings; cause-related partners; and dozens of virtual conversations with directors and industry talent. Jon Fitzgerald served as Executive Director.

Filmocracy also has a library of more than 3,500 titles for streaming that is constantly evolving and rotating. Liquid Media Group Ltd (NASDAQ: YVR) has joined Filmocracy as presenting sponsor.

Get Social!
Web: https://filmocracyfest.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/filmocracy2
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/filmocracy
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/myfilmocracy/

(Source: Press release provided by PMG Platform Media Group)

FILM REVIEW: The French Dispatch (Wes Anderson, 2021)

THE FRENCH DISPATCH. (Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved)

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Searchlight Pictures and Indian Paintbrush’s American Empirical Picture presents Wes Anderson’s, The French Dispatch, being hailed as Anderson’s love letter to a fading vocation and literary form – magazine journalism. The French Dispatch brings to life a collection of stories from the final issue of a widely circulated American magazine, The French Dispatch (the film’s title) published in a fictional 20th-century French city, Ennui-sur-Blasé.

 

(From L-R): Elisabeth Moss, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Fisher Stevens and Griffin Dunne in the film THE FRENCH DISPATCH. (Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved)

 

On the occasion of the death of its beloved Kansas-born editor Arthur Howitzer, Jr., portrayed by Bill Murray, his hand-picked staff—including the Cartoonist (Jason Schwartzman), the Story Editor (Fisher Stevens), the Legal Advisor (Griffin Dunne), the Copy Editor (Elisabeth Moss), the Proofreader (Anjelica Bette Fellini) and a cheery Writer Wally Wolodarsky – who has haunted the French Dispatch offices for years but never written a single word – assembles over the body to collaborate on an obituary.

They are led by Howitzer’s beloved writers, who he coddled and encouraged, and dressed down and built up, earning him their devotion and their love: Herbsaint Sazerac (Owen Wilson), the intrepid Cycling Reporter, drawn to the most unsettling and unsavory aspects of the far-flung cities he visits…J.K.L. Berendsen (Tilda Swinton), the critic and chronicler on intimate terms with every side of the modern art world…Lucinda Krementz (Frances McDormand), the solitary essayist who guards her journalistic integrity as closely as her private passions…and Roebuck Wright (Jeffrey Wright), the lonely expatriate polymath with a typographic memory, discovered and rescued by Howitzer under humiliating circumstances.

Memories of Howitzer flow into the creation of four stories: a travelogue of the seediest sections of the city itself from The Cycling Reporter; “The Concrete Masterpiece,” about a criminally insane painter, his guard and muse, and his ravenous dealers; “Revisions to a Manifesto,” a chronicle of love and death on the barricades at the height of student revolt; and “The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner,” a suspenseful tale of drugs, kidnapping and fine dining.

 

Timothée Chalamet and Lyna Khoudri in the film THE FRENCH DISPATCH. (Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2021 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved)

 

The creative team behind The French Dispatch included Wes Anderson, executive producer Roman Coppola, director of photography Robert Yeoman A.S.C., production designer Adam Stockhausen, costume designer Milena Canonero, editor Andrew Weisblum, and composer Alexandre Desplat. The film also stars Liev Schreiber (Showtime’s Ray Donovan, SPOTLIGHT, ISLE OF DOGS), Edward Norton (BIRDMAN, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL), Willem Dafoe (THE LIGHTHOUSE, SPIDERMAN), Saoirse Ronan (LITTLE WOMEN, LADY BIRD), Christoph Waltz (DJANGO UNCHAINED), Henry Winkler (Arrested Development, Barry, Happy Days), and Anjelica Huston (ISLE OF DOGS, THE ADDAMS FAMILY) as the Narrator.

The French Dispatch is definitely Wes Anderson fare for his loyal followers. It’s strongly written with humor intricately woven into the artsy cinematography/production design. Anderson professed his love for the New Yorker Magazine and the influence shines brightly through in The French Dispatch’s witty dialogue. Anderson is credited with the screenplay as well as directing. And….oh, what a cast! The creme de la creme. It’s such a treat watching their characters interact delivering deadpan humor that’s sure to keep any literary mind off-balance. The French Dispatch is an avant-garde delicacy. Highly recommended!

 

FILM CAPSULE NEWS: Cyrano (Joe Wright, 2021)

Posted by Larry Gleeson

A Special Tribute at the 48th Telluride Film Festival to powerhouse actor, Peter Dinklage, generated massive buzz before the world premiere of the new film musical, Cyrano, directed by MGM’s Joe Wright and written by Erica Schmidt (based on her 2018 play of the same name). Both stage play and screenplay are based on Edmund Rostand’s 1897 play, Cyrano de Bergerac, incidentally credited with introducing “panache” to the English language.

Peter Dinklage stars as Cyrano and Bashir Salahuddin as Le Bret in Joe Wright’s CYRANO – A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. (Photo credit: Peter Mountain © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

The film is breathtakingly beautiful with lavish costuming, epic battles, and spirited musical numbers. The film garnered three nominations at the Hollywood Music In Media Awards (HMMA): Best Original Song – Feature Film for “Every Letter”; Best Song – Onscreen for “Whenever I Fall”; and, Best Music Themed Film, Biopic or Musical.

 

Haley Bennett stars as Roxanne in Joe Wright’s CYRANO –  A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. (Photo credit: Peter Mountain © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

 

Haley Bennett stars as Roxanne in Joe Wright’s CYRANO – A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. (Photo credit: Peter Mountain © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

In Cyrano Dinklage strongly carries the weight of the lead with a remarkable melancholic voice, enhanced and embossed by Haley Bennett’s equally impressive performance as Roxanne. Both Bennett and Dinklage are reprising their roles from the 2018 Connecticut-based Goodspeed Musicals production of Cyrano.

Haley Bennett stars as Roxanne and Peter Dinklage as Cyrano in Joe Wright’s CYRANO – A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. (Photo credit: Peter Mountain
© 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Dinklage is a four-time Emmy Award-winner for his work as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones and has turned in several strong performances on the big screen in Station Agent, Elf, and I Care A Lot, and was recently Dinklage was recently announced as a Gotham Award Performer Recipient. Numerous pundits are mouthing Dinklage’s performance as Oscar-caliber – the question being is it enough for this record-setting Emmy recipient to become an Oscar recipient?

Peter Dinklage stars as Cyrano and Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Christian in Joe Wright’s CYRANO – A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. (Photo credit: Peter Mountain
© 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Cyrano was coming out for the holidays…For most audiences, the date has been pushed back to January 21st, 2022, as the film recently positioned itself to take advantage of the upcoming Oscar nomination season by scheduling a one-week opening run in Los Angeles beginning December 17th, followed by a back-to-back platform release and national rollout in January. Oscar nomination voting begins January 27th and wraps up the first week of February.

2022 Sundance Film Festival: New Frontier Spans Biodigital Terrain, Blends Online & In-Person in Real Time

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Audiences to Have Access To New XR Works From Anywhere; Festival Introduces New, Connected On the Ground Venue

Park City, UT — When the 2022 Sundance Film Festival kicks off on January 20, it invites audiences to participate from wherever they are, including in person in Utah. The 2022 edition of the Festival’s New Frontier section will be a fully biodigital showcase, presented simultaneously on a bespoke WebXR spatialized virtual venue, The Spaceship, that has touchpoints in a newly conceived, free-to-access venue in Park City, The Craft. Ticketed New Frontier performances will also be presented in Park City’s iconic Egyptian Theatre, with simultaneous presentations on The Spaceship.

The Spaceship, globally accessible via laptop or VR headset, houses spaces for Festivalgoers to see the official New Frontier lineup, interact with others and gather together to watch programs and performances in an immersive arthouse theater. This year, Sundance, working again with the creative studio Active Theory, will unveil a number of upgrades to enhance The Spaceship’s functionality and accessibility. Festival attendees, both on the ground in Park City and online, can interact with each other

and maintain the sense of community that the Festival always aims to provide, including a bleeding-edge human-scale Biodigital Bridge that connects Festivalgoers in Park City and those attending The Spaceship online from anywhere in the world — establishing the Festival as a metaverse that overlays the physical event with a virtual one.
 
Since 2007, the New Frontier exhibition has showcased multimedia storytelling, art installations, and biodigital performances that make use of emerging technologies like virtual reality, haptic tech and AI, among other tools. The 2022 edition is visualized as a human-scale and person-first digital experience that balances connection with a sense of place.
 
“Since the earliest stages of planning ’22, we’ve centered access and learnings from past iterations,” said Shari Frilot, senior programmer and New Frontier chief curator. “After the  ’21 festival, we realized that presenting the work online effectively took one of the hottest, hardest-to-access experiences of prior Festivals and made it instantly and globally accessible to anyone with the right tech. New Frontier this year prioritizes biodigital design as a very adventurous endeavor, and one that speaks to the priorities of its creators, artists and audiences.”
 
Full details on New Frontier’s 2022 edition, taking place across:
 
The Spaceship is a virtual venue situated to orbit Earth alongside the International Space Station and is globally accessible January 20-28 via laptop or VR headset. It will host:

  • The Gallery, which will showcase the complete 2022 New Frontier lineup of XR work + Easter eggs.
  • Cinema House, a venue featuring live streaming, room-scale address and chat functionalities.
  • A programmed series of Artist Spotlights designed to enable artists to represent their projects in person at The Craft in Park City and on The Spaceship in Cinema House.
  • Film Party, a virtual social space, that allows audiences to inhabit avatars for organic, proximity-based, person-to-person webcam chat and connection. This venue will host dedicated film premiere parties after their online premieres and live Q&As, bringing filmmakers together with their online audiences to celebrate their films in both halves of the festival.  

The Craft is a newly conceived space in Park City for artists to come together around the present and future of artistic practice. It is an immersive environment that’s free and open to all Festival patrons. By day, artists present, discuss and celebrate the creative process through a series of special public events, also livestreamed through the online Festival platform. Providing a point of convergence between the online and  “on-mountain” Festivalgoers, The Craft is open January 21-25 and will host:

  • Creators, Festival filmmakers, New Frontier artists and creative technologists inside a venue that provides multiple immersive touchpoints to The Spaceship, including a bleeding-edge human-scale Biodigital Bridge — an innovative piece of technology from Active Theory  that connects Festivalgoers at The Craft in Park City and those attending The Spaceship online from anywhere in the world. 
  • Daily curated Beyond Filmconversations, artist and community panels, talks and gatherings, featuring Festival Artists and including Artist Spotlights.
  • Social spaces designed for artistic encounters.
  • Access to the  2022 New Frontier XR lineup with equipment and assistance provided. (Attendees are also encouraged to bring their own headsets, with equipment specs to be announced at a later date.)

The Egyptian Theatre will present dynamic New Frontier performances (simultaneously happening on The Spaceship) to a live and biodigitally converged audience who will be able to participate in a post-performance Q&A. Tickets are required and will be available on December 17 (packages) and January 5 (single tickets). 

The 2022 edition of New Frontier at the Sundance Film Festival on the Spaceship is accessible to all holders of the Explorer Pass ($50 via link), which is also part of all ticket packages.
 
The Sundance Institute New Frontier Program is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Unity, Adobe, Dell Technologies, Rally, Metaplex Studios and Canon USA, Inc.

Festival Sponsors and Host State
The Festival is a program of the nonprofit Sundance Institute. The 2022 Festival sponsors include Presenting Sponsors – Acura, AMC+, Chase Sapphire, Adobe; Leadership Sponsors – Amazon Studios, DIRECTV, DoorDash, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom Group, WarnerMedia, XRM Media; Sustaining Sponsors – Aflac, Audible, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Dell Technologies, IMDbPro, Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold, Rabbit Hole Bourbon & Rye, Southwest Airlines®, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health, White Claw Hard Seltzer; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, NPR, Shadow and Act, Variety and Vulture. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. https://festival.sundance.org/ 

Sundance Institute
As a champion and curator of independent stories for the stage and screen, Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theater, film composing and digital media to create and thrive.
 
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, the Institute’s signature Labs, granting and mentorship programs dedicated to developing new work take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Collab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as ClemencyNever Rarely Sometimes AlwaysZolaOn The RecordBoys StateThe FarewellHoneylandOne Child NationThe SouvenirThe InfiltratorsSorry to Bother YouWon’t You Be My Neighbor?HereditaryCall Me By Your NameGet OutThe Big SickMudboundFruitvale StationCity So RealTop of the LakeBetween the World & MeWild Goose Dreams and Fun Home. Join the Sundance Instituteon FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube.

American Underdog (Kurt Warner) Opening Christmas Day

Posted by Larry Gleeson

American Underdog, directed by Andrew and Jon Erwin, is an American sports biographical drama chronicling the inspirational, true story of Kurt Warner, who went from stocking shelves at a Hy-VEE supermarket in Iowa to become a two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl MVP, and Hall of Fame quarterback.

American Underdog centers on the struggles and setbacks that derailed Warner’s aspirations to become a champion National Football League quarterback. Warner’s friend and co-worker bluntly says,  “Ain’t no NFL team gonna draft some dude from a Division 1-AA school.

When the dream seemed out of reach, Warner secured the faithful support of his wife Brenda, played by Anna Paquin, his coaches, and teammates to find the energy and strength to prove himself to the world. After honing his skills in the fast-paced, quick pass releasing “circus” Arena Football League, the St Louis Rams offer Warner an opportunity.

 

Zachary Levi, left, portrays Kurt Warner in the upcoming sports biographical drama American Underdog, opening in theatres on Christmas Day. Dennis Quaid, right, portrays the Super Bowl XXXIV Championship St. Louis Rams.

 

Zachary Levi portrays Kurt Warner. Dennis Quaid plays St. Louis Rams, Coach Dick Vermeil. Chance Kelly embodies Rams Offensive Coordinator “Mad Mike” Martz. The film, a City on a Hill Production, is being distributed by Lionsgate.

American Underdog is being promoted as “an uplifting story that shows anything is possible with faith, family, and determination.”If this is anything like the real “Greatest Show on Turf” story of the Super Bowl XXXIV Champion St Louis Rams, get out the handkerchiefs and tissue paper. American Underdog hits theatres on Christmas Day, December 25th, 2021.

Until then, I’ll see you at the movies!

 

Marcel the Shell Picked Up By A24

Posted b Larry Gleeson

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (2021) made its world premiere on September 3rd, 2021, at the 48th Telluride Film Festival, where coincidentally, I celebrated my birthday. After receiving a warm birthday hug from Production Assistant Becca Bassen, an artistically talented woman who had dressed on Halloween as Marcel the Shell, I engaged Marcel the Shell with Shoes On lead, director, writer/creator Jenny Slate in a polite and deeply poignant conversation on the Telluride Film Festival and her work on Marcel the Shell With Shoes On with long-time collaborator Dean Fleischer-Camp.

I’d waited patiently for news of a distribution deal these last few months. I visited the Hi-Pointe Theatre-backlot in St. Louis recently and shared a few of my favorite films from the Telluride Film Festival with the owner, Diana Grayson, and Marcel the Shell With Shoes On was in the conversation. However, no sign of Marcel getting into the theatre. I began to fear the worst…

So, with a big smile, I share that the New York-based A24, an independent entertainment company specializing in film and television production, as well as film distribution, has acquired the North American right to Fleischer-Camp and Slate’s, Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (2021) as recently reported by the trade publications, Variety, and Deadline.

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (2021), based on two YouTube short-form films and two published tomes, is a feature-length mockumentary on the scruffy, one-inch mollusk. Utilizing the interview as the film’s premise, the audience is introduced to the life of Marcel the Shell. Leslie Stahl (herself) and Isabella Rossellini (voice of Connie) come on board for the feature adding depth and an unexpected vocal treat.

Sharp writing and a creative narrative, and spot-on stop-motion animation made Marcel the Shell With Shoes On an audience favorite at the 48th Telluride Film Festival. Told charmingly with humor and a deep sensibility of the importance of community, Marcel the Shell With Shoes On is one of a kind! A “must-see” selection! Stay tuned….

Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies!

 

MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON from Dean Fleischer-Camp on Vimeo.

 

House of Gucci Opening Next Week!

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci has been making some noise! Premieres in London, November 9th,  Milan, November 13th,  New York, November 17th, 2021, and Los Angeles, November 19th, were held ahead of the nationwide theatrical release slated to begin November 24, 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

House of Gucci, was fifteen years in the making and is based on the 2001 Sara Gay Forden novel,  The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed.

House of Gucci is a stylish dynastic saga exploring three decades in the tangled history of the multi-generational Gucci family, with a tale of ambition, greed, betrayal, and murder all set against the backdrop of high fashion and high finance.

Moreover, the film features a formidable ensemble cast headed by Oscar® nominees Lady Gaga (A Star is Born) and Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Oscar® winners Al Pacino (The Godfather, Scent of a Woman), Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) and Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune). Oscar® nominee Salma Hayek (Frida) and Jack Huston (American Hustle) round out the star-studded cast.

From royal families and political lineage to media scions, the scandals and tribulations of rich and powerful dynasties have always exerted a fascination – fashion families are no different. The story begins in the late 1970s, at a critical juncture in the famed Italian fashion empire’s history. As the Gucci family’s global reach has broadened so too have hints of financial improprieties, stifled innovation and a cheapening of the brand. The Gucci business is overseen by Guccio Gucci’s two sons, the colorful and wily Aldo (Oscar®-winner Al Pacino) and his more conservative and detached sibling Rodolfo (Oscar®-winner Jeremy Irons).

House of Gucci was shot over forty-three days and in sequence, mostly in Rome, with additional locations in northern Italy and unlike many contemporary or near contemporary films, the fashions in HOUSE OF GUCCI are integral to the film’s story and verisimilitude. In particular, Director Ridley Scott was interested in the look of the film’s central female character, portrayed by the multi-talented artist and actor, Lady Gaga, Patrizia Reggiani Gucci, who in real-life was a major fashionista.

In the end, House of Gucci not only depicts the demise of the Gucci family’s control over its vast fashion empire but the waning days of privately-owned fashion labels and the onset of conglomerate control of the industry. Big, brash, and oozing with talent, House of Gucci is coming to a theatre near you on November 24th, 2021.

Gucci is a recognized and admired brand around the globe and was created by the fashion label’s founder Guccio Gucci, who opened his first quality leather goods store in Florence, Italy exactly one hundred years ago.