Sundance is fast approaching. And while I have paid the payment on this year’s blogger condo, booked my flight and retrieved my snow-proof clothing from storage, I still do not feel ready. I never will. That’s the charm of covering the Sundance film festival. Any plans you make are dead in the water when you finally get to Park City, as everything essentially goes to hell the minute you schedule an interview. I weep for those doing it for the first time this year. They know not what they’re in for.
But enough about me. Lets talk about Juries. The Sundance Institute has announced the jury members for the 2010 festival, for categories including US and World Documentary and Dramatic competitions, as well as shorts. Some notable names include Morgan Spurlock (who recently directed the Simpsons 20th Anniversary special, which was a lot of fun), Parker Posey, We Live in Public director Ondi Timoner and Entertainment Weekly critic Lisa Schwarzbaum.
I know that these juries ultimately don’t matter to many of you, as your only concern is the film. But they are significant in that they are the folks deciding which films will be able to hang their hat on the Jury Prizes at Sundance, something that becomes important as films are marketed later. So it’s good to know who’s handing them out.
Our Sundance 2010 coverage will continue throughout the week, leading up to me in Park City starting January 19th. So stay tuned, as there’s plenty more to come.
U.S. Documentary Competition
Greg Barker is an award-winning filmmaker who has worked in more than 50 countries across six continents. His most recent film, Sergio won the Documentary Editing Award at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, is short-listed for the 2010 Academy Awards, and screens on HBO this spring.
For more than 20 years, Emmy Award–winning director/producer Dayna Goldfine has, together with her partner, Dan Geller, created critically acclaimed multi-character documentary narratives that weave individual personal stories into a larger portrait of the human experience. The National Society of Film Critics and the National Board of Review recognized their film, Ballets Russes, which screened at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, as one of the top five documentaries that year.
Nancy Miller joined Wired as a senior editor in 2006 and currently oversees much of the magazine’s entertainment coverage. Prior to Wired, she was a staff writer at Entertainment Weekly and a freelance producer and on-air correspondent for KCRW in Los Angeles.
Morgan Spurlock’s first film, Super Size Me, premiered at the 2004 Festival, won the Directing Award and went on to receive the Writers Guild of America documentary screenplay award and earn an Academy Award nomination. Spurlock has directed, produced, and distributed multiple film and TV projects, including the critically acclaimed FX television series 30 Days and the films Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden? (Sundance Film Festival 2008), Confessions of a Superhero, Czech Dream, Chalk, The Future of Food, What Would Jesus Bu?, and the soon-to-be-released Freakonomics.
Ondi Timoner is the only filmmaker to win the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival twice, first for DIG! in 2004 and again last year for We Live in Public. Both films are now part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Timoner has also directed the award-winning sociopolitical feature films The Nature of the Beast (1994) and Join Us (2007) and a short film, Recycle, which premiered at Sundance in 2005, continuing on to the Cannes Film Festival and schools worldwide.
U.S. Dramatic Competition
Russell Banks is the author of five short-story collections and eleven novels, including Cloudsplitter, Rule of the Bone, and The Reserve. His work has received numerous awards and been widely translated and anthologized. Two of his novels, The Sweet Hereafter and Affliction, were adapted into award-winning films. The Darling, Continental Drift, and Rule of the Bone are currently in development. Banks is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Jason Kliot is an Academy Award–nominated producer whose credits encompass more than 40 feature films by such acclaimed directors as Jim Jarmusch, Miguel Arteta, Brian De Palma, Hal Hartley, Steven Soderbergh, Nicole Holofcener, and Todd Solondz. Kliot has produced 20 films that have screened at the Sundance Film Festival, including two Grand Jury Prizewinners: Welcome to the Dollhouse in 1996 and Three Seasons in 1999.
Karyn Kusama wrote and directed her first feature film, Girlfight, in 1999. The film won the Directing Award and shared the Grand Jury Prize at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival and was released by Sony Screen Gems. In 2005, she directed the science-fiction love story Aeon Flux for Paramount Pictures. Her third directorial effort, Jennifer’s Body, was recently released by Twentieth Century Fox.
Parker Posey has appeared in more than 50 films, including Happy Tears (upcoming); Broken English, which screened at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and earned her an Independent Spirit Award nomination and an array of Christopher Guest films: For Your Consideration, A Mighty Wind, Best in Show, and Waiting for Guffman. For her performance in The House of Yes, Posey received a Special Jury Prize at Sundance in 1997.
Robert Yeoman won the Independent Spirit Award for cinematography for Gus Van Sant’s Drugstore Cowboy. He also worked on Roman Coppola’s CQ; Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale, which screened at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival; and Drew Barrymore’s Whip It. Yeoman served as Wes Anderson’s cinematographer on Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic, and The Darjeeling Limited. Studio credits include Peyton Reed’s Yes Man and the upcoming Get Him to the Greek.
World Cinema Documentary Competition
Jennifer Baichwal has been directing and producing documentaries for 15 years. Her last feature, Manufactured Landscapes, about the work of artist Edward Burtynsky, was released in 12 countries and screened at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Act of God, a feature documentary about the metaphysical effects of being struck by lightning, opened the Hot Docs Film Festival in May 2009 and is currently in release through Mongrel Media in Canada and Zeitgeist Films in the United States.
Jeffrey Brown is a senior correspondent for PBS’s NewsHour, responsible for conducting studio discussions and reporting from the field with an emphasis on culture, arts, and the media. As a correspondent for the NewsHour since 1998, he has profiled and interviewed dozens of leading American and international writers, musicians, and other artistic figures. As senior producer for national affairs for more than a decade, he has helped shaped coverage of the economy, social policy, culture, and the arts.
Asako Fujioka is the director of the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival and works out of its Tokyo office. She has been associated with the Festival since 1993 after earlier work in film distribution. From 1995 to 2003, she coordinated the New Asian Currents program, a collection of films and videos by emerging documentarians from all over the Orient. She has also been a member of the selection committee for the Pusan International Film Festival’s Asian Network of Documentary fund (AND) since 2006.
World Cinema Dramatic Competition
Writer/director Alison Maclean’s short film, Kitchen Sink (1989), debuted at the Cannes Film Festival and won eight international awards. Her first feature, Crush, was shot in Rotorua, New Zealand, starred Marcia Gay Harden, and screened at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. Jesus’ Son (1999) won the Baby Lion and OCIC Catholic Awards at the Venice Film Festival. In 2004, Maclean codirected Persons of Interest, a documentary about Arab/Muslim men detained after Sept. 11, which screened as part of Sundance’s Documentary Competition.
Lisa Schwarzbaum has been a movie critic at Entertainment Weekly since 1994. In addition, she contributes book and theatre reviews, essays, and cultural criticism. Her freelance articles have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Vogue, More, and numerous other publications. Schwarzbaum is a member of the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle, where she is a past chair.
Sigurjon “Joni” Sighvatsson
Joni Sighvatsson, the principal of Palomar Pictures, is a veteran producer with more than 30 feature films and television series to his credit. Working with studios (Arlington Road, K-19: The Widowmaker) and independently (David Lynch’s Wild at Heart, Basquiat), Sighvatsson has demonstrated a broad range of approaches in producing and choice of material. Currently, he is preparing a slate of more than 20 films, including The Featherman with Jason Statham. Sighvatsson’s latest film, Brothers, starring Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Natalie Portman, opened to rave reviews.
Jury, Shorts Competition
The Short Film Jury will present the Jury Prizes in Short Filmmaking to one U.S. and one international short film playing at the Festival, as well as Honorable Mentions based on outstanding achievement and merit. Shorts Awards will be announced at the Sundance Film Festival Shorts Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, January 26 at Jupiter Bowl in Park City.
Sterlin Harjo, a native of Holdenville, Oklahoma, belongs to the Seminole and Creek nations. His first film, Four Sheets to the Wind, was developed at the Sundance Filmmakers Lab and screened at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, where Tamara Podemski won a Special Jury Prize for her outstanding performance. His second film, Barking Water, screened at Sundance last year and was the only American film to play in the Venice Days section of the 2009 Venice Film Festival.
Brent Hoff is the editor and cofounder of Wholphin DVD, where he films drunk bees, crying competitions, and illegal transborder volleyball matches. Before that he authored Mapping Epidemics, a book on pandemic disease transmission; created television programs at The Daily Show, VH1, and Nickelodeon; and wrote articles about squid. His first feature script on the last days of Ol’ Dirty Bastard (Russell Tyrone Jones) is currently in production…he hopes.
Christine Vachon is an American movie producer who, along with partner Pamela Koffler, runs New York City–based indie film icon Killer Films. Vachon produced Todd Haynes’s controversial first feature, Poison, which won the Grand Jury prize at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival and is screening this year as part of the Sundance Collection. Since then, she has produced some of the most acclaimed American independent films, including I’m Not There, Far from Heaven, Velvet Goldmine, and Safe, also for Haynes; and Boys Don’t Cry, One Hour Photo, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Happiness, I Shot Andy Warhol, Go Fish, and Swoon, many of which have screened and won awards at Sundance.