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Johnny Simmons
Doing whatever it takes for a spot at Sundance Film Festival
Doing whatever it takes for a spot at Sundance Film Festival

There's a small but established tradition of Sundance Film Festival directors turning their festival shorts into full-length Sundance features. But few in the 30-year history of the nation's top showcase for independent film had successfully attempted what Damien Chazelle was trying to do last fall. After winning the short film jury award at last January's Sundance festival with "Whiplash," the 28-year-old writer-director was determined to convert the 18-minute look at a jazz drummer at an elite music conservatory into a full feature for this year's Sundance. Chazelle's timetable was its own whiplash: To meet even generous extensions of festival...

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