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Sundance 2013: ‘Dirty Wars’ documentary sells to Sundance Selects

"Dirty Wars" screenwriter Jeremy Scahill and director Richard Rowley at the Sundance Film Festival.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
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PARK CITY, Utah -- Compared to feature films, documentaries are selling like hotcakes at the Sundance Film Festival: On Sunday, Sundance Selects snapped up the North American rights to “Dirty Wars,” a journalistic look at America’s covert operations.

The movie premiered in the U.S. documentary competition section and was directed by Richard Rowley. The film follows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill as he traces the rise of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), a secret and elite fighting force. The film’s screenplay is by Scahill and David Riker.

Jonathan Sehring, president of Sundance Selects/IFC Films, called the movie a “tough-minded, gripping film that plays out like a detective story.”

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“Dirty Wars” is the second doc acquired by Sundance Selects at the festival; the company also bought rights to Nick Ryan’s K2 movie “The Summit.”

Other documentaries that have sold at the festival include “History of the Eagles: Part 1,” which went to Showtime, and “Twenty Feet From Stardom,” about backup singers, which went to Radius.

One feature film that is attracting buyers’ attention is “Austenland,” Jerusha Hess’ comedic look at a Jane Austen fantasy camp. Among the interested distributors are Lionsgate, Sony Pictures Classics and A24, people familiar with the negotiations said. Two people close to the talks said negotiations are heating up for a deal that could approach $5 million.

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