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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Sundance Films Finally Set For Brooklyn Vacation

Just when I was wondering if that whole Sundance/BAM collaboration announced last January was ever going to result in, you know, actual screenings, BAM unveiled the selections and events that will finally land in Brooklyn starting May 12. And I have to say: It looks good–and even better if you are one of the anointed few with an invitation to the opening night screening of Fox Searchlight $10 million baby Little Miss Sunshine. Not that it is the same unless festival director Geoff Gilmore shows up for a stirring introduction, but still.
A few of the local kids in the mix include:
–Hilary Brougher, who will not only be screening her Waldo Salt Screenplay Award-winning Stephanie Daley, but also chat with producer Ted Hope about developing the film with the Sundance labs;
–Carter Smith, whose Bugcrush shared this year’s Short Film Jury Prize;
–Byron Hurt, whose documentary Beyond Beats and Rhymes: A Hip-Hop Head Weighs in on Manhood in Hip-Hop Culture earned accolades for its treatment of sexism and homophobia in hip-hop, not to mention honorable mention for featuring the 2006 festival’s longest title;
–Jennie Livingston, the beloved Brooklynite whose short doc Through the Ice chronicles a local man’s wintry death through the recollections of eyewitnesses;
–So Yong Kim and Bradley Rust Gray, whose tiny masterpiece In Between Days will be acquired for distribution during the festival if there is any justice in the world;
–and Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, whose The Trials of Darryl Hunt is the film I never forgave myself for missing in Park City and whom I am grateful (as you should be) to see get a hometown audience.
Bálint Kenyeres’s stunning Before Dawn is also slated to screen with Bugcrush and Through the Ice in the shorts program; the one-take jaw-dropper was probably the best thing I saw over those 10 days and is the only film in the program I would call a “must-see.” If I did that kind of thing, which I do not.
Anyway, full film program notes follow after the jump.

Thursday, May 11 at 7pm
Launching the series, SUNDANCE INSTITUTE AT BAM”s Opening Night is a celebratory event that brings together invited artists, Sundance alumni and long-time friends from the creative community. The evening kicks off with a private screening of LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. OPENING NIGHT SCREENING AND PARTY is presented by The Sundance Channel. GREY GOOSE Vodka is the Official Spirit Provider and Brooklyn Brewery is the Official Beer Provider for the OPENING NIGHT SCREENING AND PARTY.
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (U.S.A.), Directors: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Screenwriter: Michael Arndt, Cast: Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Alan Arkin, Abigail Breslin, Paul Dano – In LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, a family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus. The film premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival to popular and critical acclaim, and opens nationally this summer.
This event is by invitation only.
The core of the SUNDANCE INSTITUTE AT BAM programming is the line-up of films selected from the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. The annual Festival is the premier showcase for American and international independent films, and focuses on finding new work from emerging artists. These films represent the range and diversity of storytelling and artistic sensibility that is featured at the Festival, and include eight feature-length dramatic, six feature-length documentary, and eight short films from the U.S. and around the world. This film program is a snapshot of the hundreds of films screened annually at the Festival. Film Series presented by Nokia Nseries.
All film screenings held at BAM Rose Cinemas.
For many of the screenings, the filmmakers will be available for Q &A sessions following the film.
THE SHORT LIFE OF JOSÉ ANTONIO GUTIERREZ (Germany/Switzerland), Director: Heidi Specogna – In this documentary about the first U.S. casualty in the war in Iraq, a Guatemalan emigrant is drawn into U.S. military service by the promise of a better life. THE SHORT LIFE OF JOSE ANTONIO GUTIERREZ screened in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Documentary Competition. Screens Friday, May 12 at 4pm; Saturday, May 13 at 12:30pm; and Monday, May 15 at 6:40pm.
STEPHANIE DALEY (U.S.A.), Director/Screenwriter: Hilary Brougher, Cast: Tilda Swinton, Amber Tamblyn, Timothy Hutton, Denis O’Hare, Melissa Leo, Jim Gaffigan – A forensic psychologist, herself pregnant, is hired to learn the truth behind a teenager’s denial of accusations that she concealed her pregnancy and committed infanticide. STEPHANIE DALEY screened in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival Dramatic Competition, where Brougher received the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. Screens Friday, May 12 at 9:30pm and Saturday, May 20 at 9pm.
IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS (U.S.A.), Director: James Longley – Contemporary Iraq is illuminated in three chapters that follow the diverse stories of Iraqis against a backdrop of war, occupation, and ethnic tension. IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS screened in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival Documentary Competition, where it received the 2006 Documentary Directing Award, Excellence in Cinematography Award, and Documentary Film Editing Award. Screens Saturday, May 13 at 5:45pm and opens at Film Forum on November 6.
TV JUNKIE (U.S.A.), Directors: Michael Cain and Matt Radecki – Culled from 3,000 hours of video that Rick Kirkham shot of his own life, this documentary offers a meditation on a generation obsessed with celebrity and technology. TV JUNKIE screened in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival Documentary Competition, where it received a Special Jury Prize. Screens Saturday, May 13 at 8:30pm.
DESTRICTED (U.S.A./U.K.), Directors: Matthew Barney, Richard Prince, Marina Abramovic, Gaspar Noé, Sam Taylor-Wood, Marco Brambilla, Larry Clark – Art meets sexuality in this unprecedented compilation of erotic art films made by leading visual artists and filmmakers. DESTRICTED screened in the Park City at Midnight category at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. Screens Saturday, May 13 at 11:30pm and Wednesday, May 17 at 9:40pm.
AMERICAN BLACKOUT (U.S.A.), Director: Ian Inaba – This stylish, intelligent and timely documentary examines the disenfranchisement of the black vote through the lens of Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-GA)’s political career. AMERICAN BLACKOUT screened in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival Documentary Competition, where it received a Special Jury Prize. Screens Sunday, May 14 at 3:30pm and Tuesday, May 16 at 6:40pm.
SON OF MAN (South Africa), Director: Mark Dornford-May, Screenwriters: Mark Dornford-May, Andiswa Kedama, and Pauline Malefane, Cast: Andile Kosi, Pauline Malefane, Amdries Mbali, Jim Ngxabaze, Sibuele Mjali, Mvuyisi Mjali – This gripping journey of love and betrayal translates Jesus’ life to modern-day South Africa, where a new politics of compassion incites revolution during a military dictatorship. SON OF MAN screened in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Dramatic Competition. Screens Sunday, May 14 at 6:15pm and Monday, May 15 at 9:30pm.
FORGIVEN (U.S.A.), Director/Screenwriter Paul Fitzgerald, Cast: Paul Fitzgerald, Susan Floyd, Russell Hornsby, Kate Jennings Grant – On the eve of launching his Senatorial campaign, a D.A. learns that the governor has exonerated a death row inmate whom he’d prosecuted five years earlier. FORGIVEN screened in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival Dramatic Competition. Screens Sunday, May 14 at 9:15pm and Saturday, May 20 at 6:30pm.
THE TRIALS OF DARRYL HUNT (U.S.A.), Directors: Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg – A black man wrongly convicted of a white woman’s rape and murder in North Carolina reveals the racial bias of the criminal justice system. THE TRIALS OF DARRYL HUNT screened in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival Documentary Competition. Screens Wednesday, May 17 at 6:40pm and Saturday, May 20 at 1pm.
BEYOND BEATS AND RHYMES: A HIP-HOP HEAD WEIGHS IN ON MANHOOD IN HIP-HOP CULTURE (U.S.A.), Director: Byron Hurt – This documentary by a former college quarterback and hip-hop head tackles issues of masculinity, sexism, violence, and homophobia in hip-hop culture. BEYOND BEATS AND RHYMES: A HIP-HOP HEAD WEIGHS IN ON MANHOOD IN HIP-HOP CULTURE screened in the Spectrum category at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. Preceded by GESTURE DOWN (I DON’T SING) (U.S.A.), Director: Cedar Sherbert – A graceful and personal adaptation of the poem “Gesture Down” by the late Native American writer James Welch. Screens Thursday, May 18 at 4pm; Friday, May 19 at 9:45pm and Sunday, May 21 at 6:30pm.
IN BETWEEN DAYS (U.S.A.), Director: So Yong Kim, Screenwriters: So Yong Kim and Bradley Rust, Cast: Jiseon Kim, Taegu Andy Kang, Bok-ja Kim, Gina Kim, Mike Park – A Korean immigrant teenager has trouble assimilating into American culture as she falls for her best friend and loses him to an Americanized Korean girl. IN BETWEEN DAYS screened in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival Dramatic Competition, where the film was awarded a Special Jury Prize for Independent Vision. Screens Thursday, May 18 at 6:40 pm and Saturday, May 20 at 4pm.
WRISTCUTTERS: A LOVE STORY (U.S.A.), Director: Goran Dukic, Screenwriter: Goran Dukic, based on the novella by Etgar Keret, Cast: Patrick Fugit, Shannon Sossamon, Shea Whigham, Tom Waits, Leslie Bigg, John Hawkes – An offbeat comedy, a love story, a road movie – but everyone is dead! WRISTCUTTERS: A LOVE STORY screened in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival Dramatic Competition. Screens Thursday, May 18 at 9:30pm and Sunday, May 21 at 3:30pm.
THE FOOT FIST WAY (U.S.A.), Director/Screenwriter: Jody Hill, Cast: Danny McBride, Mary Jane Bostic, Spencer Moreno, Carlos Lopez, Ben Best, Jody Hill – A Tae Kwon Do instructor in the South tries to keep his small kingdom together after his wife cheats on him in this staggeringly funny comedy. THE FOOT FIST WAY premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival where it screened in the Park City at Midnight category. Screens Friday, May 19 at 4pm and Saturday, May 20 at 11:30pm.
SHERRYBABY (U.S.A.), Director/Screenwriter: Laurie Collyer, Cast: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Brad Henke, Bridget Barkan, Ryan Simpkins, Danny Trejo, Giancarlo Esposito – After serving a three-year prison sentence, a young woman discovers that returning to the world she left behind is far more difficult than she expected. SHERRYBABY screened in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival Dramatic Competition. Screens Friday, May 19 at 6:50pm and Sunday, May 21 at 9pm.
Screens Sunday, May 14 at 12:30pm and Tuesday, May 16 at 9:30pm
BEFORE DAWN (Hungary), Director: Bálint Kenyeres – Before dawn, people will rise and other people will take away their hope.
BUGCRUSH (U.S.A.) Director: Carter Smith, Screenwriter: Carter Smith, based on a story by Scott Treleaven – A small-town high school loner, whose fascination with a dangerously seductive new kid, leads him into something much more sinister than he could ever have imagined. BUGCRUSH was a co-winner of the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.
THE NATURAL ROUTE (Spain) Director: Álex Pastor – Soon Divad will find out that his destiny is already written and that he can’t do anything to change it. THE NATURAL ROUTE was awarded the 2006 Jury Prize in International Short Filmmaking at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.
PREACHER WITH AN UNKNOWN GOD (U.S.A.) Director: Rob VanAlkemade – Performance artist Reverend Billy and his choir travel as they exorcize California Big Boxes and New York City Republicans.
THROUGH THE ICE (U.S.A.) Director: Jennie Livingston – Early morning dog-walkers relate a tragic story.
TRUE STORY (U.S.A.), Director: Stephanie Via – An elderly lady remembers a tragic childhood moment.
THE WRAITH OF COBBLE HILL (U.S.A.), Director: Adam Parrish King – It’s up to Felix to either reciprocate the benevolence shown him, or perpetuate the neglect handed down as a family legacy. THE WRAITH OF COBBLE HILL was a co-winner of the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.
Over the past 25 years, Sundance Institute has provided both creative and strategic support to hundreds of independent filmmakers and screenwriters through the various activities of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program. By going behind-the-scenes of the creative process, DAYS OF PROCESS reveals what it takes to make an independent film and illustrates three primary aspects of the Feature Film Program.
UNRAVELING THE USUAL SUSPECTS — A Look Inside the Making of an Independent Film Classic, moderated by Peter Hedges — Friday, May 12 at 6:50pm at BAM Rose Cinemas
Academy Award-winning screenwriter Chris McQuarrie discusses the making of THE USUAL SUSPECTS (which premiered at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival), an independent film classic. With never-before-seen footage, this program reveals how specific scenes evolved from the script into the final film. The discussion is moderated by writer/director Peter Hedges (PIECES OF APRIL). Both Hedges and McQuarrie have served repeatedly as creative advisors at the Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Lab.
CREATING STEPHANIE DALEY– The Creative Journey of writer/director Hilary Brougher, moderated by Ted Hope — Saturday, May 13 at 3pm at BAM Rose Cinemas
Hilary Brougher, writer/director of the Sundance Film Festival award-winner STEPHANIE DALEY, takes us through her journey as she developed her screenplay, and illuminates the way her involvement with the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program supported and influenced her work.
DISCOVERING STRINGBEAN AND MARCUS — A screenplay reading of a work-in-progress — Sunday, May 14 at 6pm at BAM Hillman Attic Studio
Tanya Hamilton’s STRINGBEAN AND MARCUS focuses on the love story of two ex-Black Panthers trying to outrun their black power past while raising their nine-year old daughter. This reading provides Hamilton with the opportunity to hear actors bring her characters to life and gauge an audience response to her work, and gives audiences a glimpse inside a critical phase of the creative process. Hamilton participated in the 1999 Directors and Screenwriters Labs. This is a free event. Advance reservations are required. Visit BAM.org for details.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon