It’s January and once again a fresh new crop of features and shorts descend upon Park City, Utah for another iteration of the Sundance Film Festival. This will be my 24th time making the trek. In the1980’s, it was called The United States Film Festival and its mission was to encourage an alternative type of story- telling to Hollywood’s. It now is a world- famous event showcasing films from- all over the planet.
But the heart and soul of Sundance has always been its U.S. dramatic and documentary competition. The buzz on main street in Park City has always been about which films sell for the highest bid or which films will win the prizes awarded by the judges of the designated categories.
The biggest deal this year was a reported $10 million sale of a midnight category film titled “Assassination Nation” about the ugliest parts of human nature to a new distribution company, AGBO. HBO Films paid a reported $6 million for rights to Jennifer Fox’s sex molestation drama “The Tale”. Marc Turtletaub’s second directorial effort “Puzzle” went to Sony Pictures Classics for $5 million. Bleecker Street and 30 West jointly make a reported $4 million deal for the biographical drama “Colette”. The festival’s opening night film about race and class titled “Blindspotting” was sold to Lionsgate for $3 million. Many others are going to get distribution deals including: “Lords of Chaos” from director Jonas Akerlund, “Hereditary” from director Ari Aster and Le Femis (France’s film school )graduate Coralie Fargeat’s “Revenge”. “Damsel” from David and Nathan Zellner(“Kumiko”), and legendary iconic director Gus Van Sant’s “Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far On Foot”also will get some type of distribution including streaming.
As for the Award Winners here is a partial list of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
U.S. Dramatic Winners
Grand Jury Prize: “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” directed by Desiree Akhaven
Audience Award : “Burden” directed by Andrew Heckler
Directing Prize: Sarah Coangelo , “The Kindergarten Teacher”
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: Christina Choe, “Nancy”
U.S. Documentary Winners
Grand Jury Prize: “Kailash” directed by Derek Doneen
Audience Award: “The Sentence” directed by Rudy Valdez
Directing Prize: Alexandria Bombach, “On Her Shoulders”