Capping a historic week at the Sundance Film Festival, Nate Parker's slave-rebellion drama "The Birth of a Nation" took both the grand jury and audience prizes in the U.S. Dramatic competition at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday night.
The movie's big wins came after an effusive set of screenings in Park City, Utah, and a $17.5-million acquisition by Fox Searchlight -- and offered a riposte to an Oscar shortlist that overlooked black talent.
"Thank you, Sundance, for creating a platform for us to grow in spite of what the rest of Hollywood is doing sometimes," Parker said in accepting the grand jury prize.
In a few hours, John Krasinski will premiere his directorial effort, "The Hollars," at Sundance.
The movie is technically not his filmmaking debut; that honor goes to his David Foster Wallace adaptation, "Brief Interviews With Hideous Men," in Park City, Utah, seven years ago. But Krasinski knows he's come a long way since then.
"In a weird way, I actually think of this movie as my directorial debut," Krasinski said at a New York diner recently. That's in part because he was still deep in his work on "The Office" when he shot that film, and in part because he felt a different sense of ownership over "The Hollars" script.
"Frank and Lola" actress Imogen Poots and "Intervention" actress Melanie Lynskey sit down for a talk with Times reporter Amy Kaufman as part of the Sundance Film Festival's Cinema Café, a daily series of informal chats with special guests.
Cinema Café guests have included Louis C.K., Barbara Kopple, Spike Lee, Roger Corman, Julie Delpy, Nick Hornby and Dave Grohl.
Hugh Jackman had barely been in the Sundance theater two minutes when he decided to lead the crowd in a chant of "Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi."
"I mean, it's Australia Day," he said, before adding, improbably, "I've never been to [this] festival."
As Jackman may have quickly surmised, Sundance is underdog heaven. Whether it's the scrappy filmmaker seeking some cash for his killer short or the ticket supplicant looking to get into that unmissable midnight movie, the festival is built for feel-good scrappy stories.
A contemporary take on the reunion in a big house movie – “The Big Chill” was explicitly mentioned as a reference – “The Intervention” is the feature debut as writer-director for Clea DuVall. A Sundance mainstay as an actress, she also appears as part of the film’s charming ensemble, alongside Melanie Lynskey, Cobie Smulders, Ben Schwartz, Alia Shawkat, Natasha Lyonne, Jason Ritter and Vincent Piazza.
In introducing the film’s world premiere on Tuesday as part of Sundance’s U.S. Dramatic competition, DuVall said, “I have been to Sundance many times as an actor, but my first job as an actor was at the Sundance filmmakers’ lab when I was 18. It just feels like such a full-circle, big deal huge thing to be here.” As her voice began to tremble and she seemed overwhelmed in a moment of emotion the audience cheered in support. She paused, pointed to herself and smiled as she said, “I told myself I wouldn’t cry.”
The movie features four couples away at a big family house outside Savannah, Ga., for a weekend away. They are a mix of old friends, siblings, spouses and one new outsider, and the secret purpose of the reunion is so that Annie (Lynskey) and Jessie (DuVall) can stage a “marriage intervention” on Ruby (Smulders). What sounded reasonable enough before they got there quickly becomes a complicated and perhaps misguided idea that brings every couple’s issues to surface.