Sundance Watch: Celebs talk fest, iPhone film premieres
PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — The Associated Press is all over the Sundance Film Festival, from its premieres to the Hollywood glitz. Here’s what they’ve seen and heard:
CELEBRITY QUOTES ON SUNDANCE
From Kevin Bacon to Ethan Hawke, stars say they can’t get enough of the Sundance Film Festival.
Bacon walked the festival’s crowded Main Street with wife Kyra Sedgwick, noting that he first visited in 1989 with her.
“It was coming back to me today, because our journey form upper Main Street to down here was — you know — it’s a pretty intense kind of trip — and it was so mellow, man. It was just a handful of people there,” he said. “We kind of strolled into the theater and we watched The Big Picture and talked about it a little bit afterwards and eventually we went home and I never could have imagined what it would become.”
Hawke returned to the festival with “Ten Thousand Saints” and another Oscar nomination under his belt for “Boyhood,” which premiered at Sundance last year.
“The truth is I’ve had a lot of fun at this festival. We premiered ‘Before Sunrise’ here. We premiered ‘Reality Bites’ here. Those were really pivotal moments in my life,” he said. “And ‘Before Midnight’ premiered here, ‘Boyhood.’ It’s a little good luck charm for me. I’ve never had a movie I wasn’t proud of to be associated with here.”
—By Ryan Pearson
THE FILM SHOT ENTIRELY WITH iPHONES
One Sundance movie was literally phoned in — the transgender prostitute tale “Tangerine.”
The movie that premiered Friday at the Sundance Film Festival follows two characters Alexandra and Sin-Dee on a wild Christmas Eve night in Los Angeles as one chases after her pimp. It was shot entirely using iPhone 5s phones with anamorphic lens adapters.
“It made it more cinematic and we used this great app called Filmic Pro. And all of these combined ... really gave us a really unique, really different look and that’s something that we were trying to achieve with this film, because also the subject matter is kind of different,” director Sean Baker said.
It was the first major role for transgender actress Mya Taylor, who co-stars with real life friend Kiki Kitana Rodriguez.
The movie comes at a moment when transgender characters are being seen more than ever in mainstream media, including Golden Globe winner Jeffrey Tambor’s character on the Amazon show “Transparent” and Laverne Cox on Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black.”
“I’m very happy about what’s going on with transgender people coming out into the screen, because it’s unheard of, you know? ... I’m proud of those shows, I think they’re wonderful and this brings a good add-on to it, because it kind of brings you inside some of the lives of transgender people,” Taylor said.
—By Ryan Pearson
SPIKE LEE QUICK QUOTE
“I’m a professor of film in the graduate film school NYU and my students were the ones who introduced me to crowdfunding, crowd sourcing. I had never heard of Indiegogo. I’d never heard of Kickstarter until they told me this is how they were financing their films.”
— Spike Lee on what he’s learning from his students about filmmaking.
REDFORD PRESENTS FILM AT HIS OWN FEST
Robert Redford took “A Walk in the Woods” to his own Sundance Film Festival.
The 78-year-old actor, director and producer had long hoped to adapt Bill Bryson’s 1998 travel book about two friends hiking the Appalachian Trail. It finally came together last year, and director Ken Kwapis submitted it to the festival director without Redford’s knowledge.
And that’s how Redford ended up making the rounds to media outlets at the festival that he helped launch more than 30 years ago.
“The circumstances, maybe you can call them weird, but I just call them serendipitous. It’s just one of those things that came together. It does feel strange with Bill Bryson sitting next to me. That’s a little strange. We were sitting in the screening last night. I found myself nervous that he was sitting next to me and I was playing him,” Redford said.
Nick Nolte was cast to fill the part of Katz, the friend that accompanies Bryson on his walk. The two actors shifted the focus of the film from rediscovering America to also pondering their own mortality.
The 73-year-old Nolte said the two take slightly different approaches personally to aging — but he was glad to make a friend through the film.
“This I like because I’ve only got death left, you know. And that’s all Bob has. Of course, he denies that but you know — that’s the big event. I do have a 7-year-old daughter so that’s been a blessing. It sparks you alive, it really does,” Nolte said. “Bob has been a good addition as far as friends in my life. Not only as an actor but as a friend.”
“A Walk in the Woods” does not yet have a US distributor. The Sundance Film Festival continues through next weekend.
—By Ryan Pearson
RASHIDA JONES QUICK QUOTE
“There’s something of a protection of people’s private sexual fantasies, I think, which is kind of a funny contrast in this country cause everybody’s like obsessed with sex. I personally have no problem with that. What I have a problem with is that the tipping point — it became that it was so pro-forma for women to be sexualized on a mainstream level that it’s the only way to be sexy. It’s just this one way and it’s the porn way, it’s the stripper way.”
— Rashida Jones on what drew her to produce the Sundance documentary “Hot Girls Wanted.”
‘ME AND EARL’ BECOMES BREAKOUT HIT OF FEST
The tale of a loner who befriends a fellow high school student with leukemia has become the breakout hit of the Sundance Film Festival.
Fox Searchlight bought “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” after its well-received premiere Sunday for a reported $12 million, a record price for a Sundance movie.
The film stars Thomas Mann as the Greg Gaines — the “me” in the title, and British actress Olivia Cooke is the “dying girl,” while newcomer RJ Cyler is “Earl” — Gaines’ best friend. The audience at Sundance’s Eccles theatre gave the film a five-minute standing ovation as credits rolled.
“It was really emotional. We had seen the movie before but obviously it’s a really different experience seeing it with a huge group of people who have no idea what they’re about to see. And then the credits start rolling and everyone stands up and starts clapping. I mean, you start bawling. It’s overwhelming,” Mann said.
Cooke said she was sobbing.
“Molly Shannon was next to me and her stomach kind of crumpled and she was like, ‘huh huh,’ bawling her eyes out,” she said. “I couldn’t. I was a wreck. That was embarrassing.”
—By Ryan Pearson
STARS FIND ANONYMITY ON THE SLOPES
Stars are consistently swarmed by fans at the Sundance Film Festival, but there’s one place they can find anonymity: On the slopes.
Wearing a helmet and goggles, “Entourage” star Adrian Grenier was just another snowboarder out having fun.
“I learned to board when I first came here for the festival,” he said, strapping his boots into the bindings. “And I’ve been back every year for the past 10 years.”
The actor-producer came to the festival to support his latest non-“Entourage” project, a documentary called “The Lonely Whale.” He’s meeting with potential investors and announced plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign next month to finance the film, which follows a solitary whale off the coast of California who has been singing for years without a response.
But the 38-year-old made sure to set aside a day for snowboarding — a perfect, sunny Monday with no crowds or lift lines at Park City Mountain Resort. His first stop was the Neffland terrain park, where he attempted various jumps and tricks.
“I have no business doing this,” he said before catching air.
After shredding the hill, Grenier swooped into the Stella Artois Cafe on Main Street for a quick lunch, then, minus the helmet and goggles, tried unsuccessfully to blend into the festival crowd, camera-wielding fans trailing behind.
—By Sandy Cohen