Sundance + Slamdance Wrap-Up, Winners and Exclusives
January 31, 2017 by Mike McNamara
That's a wrap on another Sundance and Slamdance and here is a quick rundown of the Chicago and Midwest filmmakers mixing it up in the snow and sleet in Park City this past week:
COMMON INTERESTS: Academy Award winning Chicago artist and actor Common has joined the Sundance U.S. Dramatic Competition film Burning Sands as an Executive Producer through his Freedom Road Productions, along with his producing partners Derek Dudley and Shelby Stone. The Netflix original film, which takes the audience on a raw, voyeuristic journey of fraternity pledging through the eyes of one favored pledgee, is slated for a March 10th global release.
NO OTHER WAY TO SLAMDANCE IT: It's another win for the comedic short NO OTHER WAY TO SAY IT, from director Tim Mason and a team from Optimus and Hog Butcher that included Executive Producers Lisa Masseur and Ron Lazzeretti. The film took home the Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Short at Slamdance 2017, opening for the Audience Award winning feature DAVE MADE A MAZE. DAVE MADE A MAZE also has its fair share of Midwest connections, with writer-director Bill Watterson being a Cleveland native. Before Slamdance, NO OTHER WAY TO SAY IT was a viral hit on YouTube and took home Best Short Film accolades at the 2016 Midwest Independent Film Festival. Here is the short in its hilarious entirety:
FILMMAKER FOOD DRIVE: Chicago director Jerzy Rose describes his Slamdance 2017 World Premiere feature and "Spirit of Slamdance Award" winner NEIGHBORHOOD FOOD DRIVE as "A group of awful idiots fail at throwing a party over and over." Slamdance programmer Craig Parish waxes a bit more poetic: "With shades of Todd Solondz at his most cruel, Rose's awkwardly hilarious gem follows a group of unfulfilled misfits united by a singular purpose. And while their misguided scheme to better themselves and the community is repeated to absurd extremes, the brutal humor displayed grows more pointed to underscore a fateful end - work for the soul can leave you dead inside." Here is a quick chat between me and Rose's lead Bruce Bundy following the World Premiere:
GRAND JURY WINNER NABS CHICAGO TALENT: New Orleans/LA filmmaker Jim Cummings snagged last year's Sundance Grand Jury Prize for his short film THUNDER ROAD and he returned to Sundance this year with a new short and a Chicago actor as his lead talent. THE ROBBERY stars Chicago actor Rae Gray and was deemed one of "10 Must-See Shorts At This Year’s Festival" by Indiewire.
THE CURE IS IN OHIO: Ohio filmmaker Mike Olenick is back at Slamdance (he won in 2015 with the short RED LUCK) with a new short and it's THE CURE. Visit mikeolenick.com/The-Cure for more about this world premiere short film from Mike.
KISS THE CUP: Chicago via Qatar? So goes the journey for THE WORKERS CUP director Adam Sobel. After an extended stay in Qatar filming his Sundance 2017 hit doc, the Northwestern grad is now back in Chicago full-time and he and I and his team chatted on the slopes for a sec about his superb doc:
And if you're still craving some Sundance and Slamdance highlights, here is the full photo gallery from the annual Sundance social MONDAY ON MAIN STREET, of which Screen Magazine is a perennial co-host.
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.