Bruins in Park City 2013

Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals again attract a throng of TFT talent

Bruins a Sundance 2013

Posted on December 18th 2012 in Announcement

The relationship between the Sundance Film Festival and TFT has always been a close one -- and not only because it was alumnus Geoffrey Gilmore MA '79, former director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive, who served as the Festival's defining director during a period when its influence in shaping the American independent film scene was most crucial, from 1990 to 2009.

Just over the last few years, new films screened at Sundance have included major works by alumni Alex Gibney ("Casino Jack & the United States of Money"), Jennifer Arnold MFA '99 ("A Small Act"), Doug Pray ("Art & Copy"), Laura Gabbert MFA '04 ("No Impact Man"), Marius Markevicius MFA '02 ("The Other Dream Team"), actor Reza Sixo Safai '96, MFA '99 ("Circumstance") and then-students Lucas Mireles '12 and Ryan Slattery '11 ("Playtime").

In addition, many of the Festival's classic offerings are preserved and restored in The UCLA Film & Television Archive's Sundance Collection, and a representative work from the collection is screened in Park City each year, including last year's key LA Rebellion feature "Daughters of the Dust," written and directed by alumna Julie Dash MFA '85, and this year's 20th anniversary presentation of Robert Rodriguez' "El Mariachi."

And Bruins are a strong contingent of the festival's staff, among them Senior Programmers John Nein MFA '03 and Caroline Libresco MFA '01 and Senior Manager Rosie Wong '03.

Please join us on TFT's dedicated Sundance 2013 page for up-to-the-minute coverage of Bruins in Park City.

Narrative Feature Competition

"The Spectacular Now," written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (“(500) Days of Summer”), is the latest directorial effort of UCLA Producer's Program alumnus James Ponsoldt '10. "Smashed," which Ponsoldt both wrote and directed, won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance 2012 and was picked up there for release by Sony Pictures Classics. His new film stars Miles Teller (“Project X")as Sutter, a high school senior who lives for the moment, and "The Descedant's" Shailene Woodley as Aimee,  ”the introvert he attempts to save.” “As their relationship deepens," the official synopsis adds, "the lines between right and wrong, friendship and love, and “saving” and corrupting become inextricably blurred.”

UPDATE: Trade news website "The Wrap" on January 16 placed "The Spectacular Now" at the top of its list of "13 Movies You Have to See at Sundance."

James Ponsoldt, whose “Smashed” charmed the festival in 2012, directed this adolescent romantic comedy written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, whose “(500) Days of Summer” debuted in 2009. The film hits many of the same notes -- youth, romance, adventure, alcoholism and two people with very different perspectives on how to live.

It has also been announced that Ponsoldt has recently tapped to make his first film for a Hollywood major, an adaptation of the popular young adult novel "Pure," by Julianna Baggott. The Fox 2000 production is set in a post-apocalyptic world divided into two societies: the Pures, who live under a dome and are healthy and beautiful, and the Wretches, those scarred by the devastation. In this world, Pressia, a Wretch on the run teams up with the son of the leader of the Pures.

Documentary Premieres

Oscar™-winning alumnus Alex Gibney ("Taxi to the Dark Side") returns to Sundance with "We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks," an expansive documentary that explores not only the complex motives and personalities of leakers Julian Assange and Bradley Manning but also the profound questions their actions have raised about the ethics and even the possibility of secrecy in the digital age. The film includes footage from a wide-ranging one-on-one interview with Assange himself.

UPDATE: Gibney will participate in a "Hollywood Reporter" Live Google+ Hangout on Monday January 21 at 1:00 P.M. MST (12 P.M. PST). You can participate by going to this page and filling out a Google+ registration form. THR's Hangouts will be simulcast live on their YouTube and Google+ pages


Fifth-year TFT MFA Production/Directing student Carlos Marques-Marcet edited the feature film "It Felt Like Love," directed by Eliza Hittman, which will also play in 2013 Rotterdam Film Festival. Gina Piersanti stars as fourteen-year-old Lila, bored during a Brooklyn summer, dangerously competing with an a more experienced friend by pursuing a relationship with a tough older boy.

Archive @ Sundance

A 20th Anniversary screening of "El Mariachi" (1992), the first film written and directed by Robert Rodriquez. The event promotes awareness of the Sundance Collection at UCLA, a partnership between Sundance and the UCLA Film & Television Archive to protect and preserve independent cinema.

UPDATE: Watch the "El Mariachi" Q&A with writer-director Robert Rodriguez and star Carlos Gallardo, moderated by TFT alumnus and Sundance Senior programmer John Nein MFA '03.

Shorts Competition

"Until the Quiet Comes" was written and directed by TFT acting alumnus Kahlil Joseph MFA '06, is based on and featuring music from the electronic jazz album of the same name by Flying Lotus, aka Steven Ellison. Filmed in the Nickerson Gardens housing projects of Los Angeles, the film deals with themes of violence, camaraderie and spirituality through the lens of magical realism.

PANEL DISCUSSION: "Power of Story: Independence Unleashed" - January 19

TFT alumnus Justin Lin '95 joins directors Jane Campion and Richard Linklater, and writer producer Mike White, in a discussion moderated by "Entertainment Weekly's" Jess Cagle. The subject is the enduring power of narrative in cinema. Questions to be raised include a central one for this decade: Why are increasing numbers of edgy indie filmmakers gravitating toward the long form serial narratives of cable and broadcast television? The discussion takes place on Saturday January 19, at 3:00 P.M., at the Egyptian Theater. Ticket required.


TFT and The Wrap co-present, and Dean Teri Schwartz will introduce, a panel discussion certain to be of interest to the rising stars of independent cinema in attendance at Sundance. Scheduled for Monday, January 21 at 1:00PM at the Claim Jumper on Main Street, and moderated by The Wrap CEO & Founder Sharon Waxman, the panel includes Indieflix CEO Scilla Andree; Director, Editor and Writer Lynn Shelton (whose "Touchy Feely" is in competition); Indie Producer and Distribution Expert Jonathan Dana; Director, Producer and Whitewater FIlms founderRick Rosenthal; and Chief Development Officer, Maker Studios, Chris Williams. Click here to RSVP (space is limited) and visit this page for additional information.

About the Festival

Supported by the nonprofit Sundance Institute, the Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most ground-breaking films of the past two decades, including "sex, lies, and videotape," "Maria Full of Grace," "The Cove," "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," "An Inconvenient Truth," "Precious," "Trouble the Water," "Napoleon Dynamite" and "Winter's Bone," and, through its New Frontier initiative, has brought the cinematic works of media artists including Isaac Julian, Doug Aitken, Pierre Huyghe, Jennifer Steinkamp and Matthew Barney.


Across town at Slamdance, once an upstart event but now firmly established, which runs January 13 - 24, TFT alums Ben Peyser and Scott Rutherford present their co-directed "Host Team One" in the Narrative Feature Competition. Described as a "subversive, comedic take on the found footage genre," the film tells the story of two roommates, deathly afraid of ghosts, who both fall in love with a girl who insists their home is haunted.

UPDATE:Also at Slamdance, Erin Li's short film "To the Bone," produced by UCLA Producers Program alumna Ella-Pauline Franklin. The film, about the children of California migrant workers, has a second screening on January 23rd at 7:00 P.M., at the Treasure Mountain Inn.

. PHOTOS, top to bottom: Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller in "The Spectacular Now," directed by James Ponsoldt '10; Ponsoldt, center, with Miles Teller and Kyle Chandler; Julian Assange in Alex Gibney's "We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks;" "It Felt Like Love," edited by Carlos Marques-Marcet; Carlos Gallardo in the title role in Robert Rodriquez' "El Mariachi;" Carlos Santos in Ben Peyser and Scott Rutherford's "Ghost Team One;" "Until the Quiet Comes" by Kahlil Joseph MFA '06


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