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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sundance competition lineup announced but no Main Street to be found

Posted by on Thu, Dec 3, 2009 at 9:28 AM

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UPDATE 12/4/09: Still no news of Main Street. Sundance announces out-of-competition premieres. Main Street not included. We'll have to wait for a different occasion for this film's emergence.

In the category of "the news is that there's no news...."

We looked up the Sundance competition lineup, which was announced yesterday, with the eager hope of seeing MAIN STREET, the Horton Foote-scripted drama that was filmed last summer in Durham. There are some good looking films in the competition, but no Main Street. We don’t know if it was submitted to Sundance or not, but it would be unusual for a film of this profile—with a literary pedigree, a respected, well-known cast, a modest budget and no distributor—to not be entered into Sundance.

Main Street, which stars Colin Firth, Orlando Bloom, Patricia Clarkson and Ellen Burstyn, was put out for inspection at last month's American Film Market—with a poster included—but we're not aware of anyone who's seen the film writing about it.

This year’s Sundance is under the leadership of John Cooper, after 19 years of stewardship by Geoff Gilmore. Cooper told The New York Times that he, naturally, wanted to put his own stamp on the festival.

"We really tried to hunker down and make some hard decisions," Mr. Cooper said. "We tried not to be wishy-washy about what is independent, which I know has been a criticism in the past. We weren't going to be swayed by the marketability of a film."

This seems to mean that he wants the festival's programming to be about the quality of the filmmaking, not the Q-rating of the casts (we’ll see what the sponsors say about that!).

On the documentary side (which is where the best films ALWAYS are), we see new work by filmmakers who've been fixtures at Full Frame and elsewhere in the doc world these last few years, including Laura Poitras (Flag Wars, My Country My Country and now THE OATH; Annie Sundberg & Ricki Stern (The Trials of Darryl Hunt, The Devil Came on Horseback and now JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK); Amir Bar-Lev (New Orleans Furlough, My Kid Could Paint That and now I'M PAT _______ TILLMAN); Jeffrey Blitz (Spellbound and now LUCKY) and Davis Guggenheim (The First Year, It Might Get Loud, An Inconvenient Truth and now WAITING FOR SUPERMAN).

Let's hope Full Frame can land most or all of these films next April.

And let's hope to see MAIN STREET emerge somewhere. All is not lost for Sundance, by the way: The festival has yet to announce its out-of-competition special premieres. These films tend to star-driven titles that already have distributors.

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