Midwest Filmmakers Shine at Sundance

Midwest Filmmakers Shine at Sundance

Greetings from Park City! As the 2015 Sundance Film Festival is in full swing following Thursday's opening night festivities, I thought it would be good to take a minute to celebrate the tremendous showing Midwest filmmakers are making in Park City this year. Here's a quick rundown...

As you already know from the Call Sheet articles last month, Chicago director Kris Swanberg is in competition with her feature UNEXPECTED, starring Cobie Smulders, and Chicago filmmaker/Ohio native Jennifer Reeder makes her Sundance debut with the short film A MILLION MILES AWAY.

Kris's husband Joe is back at Sundance this year with his latest feature DIGGING FOR FIRE. Joe is once again collaborating with NEW GIRL star and Evanston native Jake Johnson, who starred in Joe's SXSW hit DRINKING BUDDIES. Johnson co-wrote DIGGING FOR FIRE with Swanberg and is also co-producing and starring in the film. Swanberg also has several from his HAPPY CHRISTMAS team back, including producer Alicia Von Couvering, DP Ben Richardson and actor Anna Kendrick.

Milwaukee-made documentary short THE 414'S tells the story of the first widely recognized computer hackers, a group of Milwaukee teenagers who gained notoriety in 1983 when they broke into dozens of high-profile computer systems, including the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a classified nuclear weapons research facility. Directed and co-written by Michael Vollmann, produced and co-written by Chris James Thompson, edited by Amanda Griffin, all Wisconsin filmmakers.

IT FOLLOWS was fully filmed in Michigan and lands in Sundance's Midnight slate. The terrifying thriller was written and directed by David Robert Mitchell; producers include Dearborn, Michigan native Rebecca Green.

THE END OF THE TOUR was filmed for five weeks in the Grand Rapids and West Michigan area (here's that article). James Ponsoldt directs Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel in this feature chronicling the five-day interview acclaimed author David Foster Wallace and Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky.

In addition, Chicago actress/producer Grace McPhillips will be in Park City to moderate the panel "Why Female Filmmakers Are Good Investments," presented by HP, on Monday, January 26th at 1 pm. More on that panel here.

And last but not least, SCREEN will once again be co-hosting the annual Sundance filmmaker social MONDAY ON MAIN STREET from 12-2 pm this Monday, January 26th. Click here to RSVP!

More news from Sundance coming up next week... drop me a line anytime at mac@screenmag.com if you're here in Park City or have any news to share.

Mike McNamara is the Co-Founder of The Midwest Independent Film Festival, www.midwestfilm.org. Mike pays his rent as an actor in Chicago in theatre, commercials, television and film. More from Mac at www.findmac.com.