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SydneysBuzz

Miami International Film Festival

  • By Sydney Levine
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  • March 7, 2011 3:16 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The Miami International Film Festival (MIFF), celebrating its 28th edition March 4-13, 2011, is one of the top Ibero-American film festival in the U.S. The annual event, which is produced and presented by Miami Dade College, attracts more than 70,000 film enthusiasts and 400 filmmakers, stars and industry professionals. During the past five years, the festival has screened films from 60 countries and hosted 300 East Coast, U.S. and world premieres. Through Encuentros, the festival’s mentorship and film development program for filmmakers and projects from Spain, Portugal and Latin America, MIFF has become a primary gateway for the discovery of Ibero-American talent in the entertainment world.Look at Opening Night which showed Chico and Rita about Cuba's and New York's music scene in 1948. Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and romantic desire unites them, but their journey - in the tradition of the Latin ballad, the bolero - brings heartache and torment. From Havana to New York, Paris, Hollywood and Las Vegas, two passionate individuals battle impossible odds to unite in music and love. It premiered in Telluride and then went on to Toronto and to date has no U.S. distribution. Cinetic is the producer's rep for U.S. and HanWay handles international sales.Chico and Rita directed by Fernando Trueba

Sundance By Numbers #3 (Final Tally)

  • By Sydney Levine
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  • February 4, 2011 7:40 AM
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  • 3 Comments
THE NUMBERS OF SALES AND ACQUISITIONS:39 titles were sold. See Anthony Kaufman's article on IndieWIRE which did not count the latest acquisition of ON THE ICE for which Coach 14 picked up international representation..$30m in deals and P&A commitments is reportedly the level of business done. Jonathan Dana says on February 1, 2011As ever, keep in mind that all eventual deals do not necessarily get done at Sundance, and that many of the “unsold” films will find proper homes and ultimate success. The notion that a film must be sold quickly to be deemed ‘valuable’ is in itself a longstanding myth, or at least an oversimplification of a process that routinely takes time, especially when comparing ‘conventional’ offers with the more nuanced deals of the ‘distribution 2.0’ era. It was, I agree, a solid and fun Sundance, and I’m certain there will be more news to come.

Sundance By Numbers #2

  • By Sydney Levine
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  • January 23, 2011 1:44 AM
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  • 4 Comments
>5 juries for competition films collectively are comprised of individuals from the global arts community, each of whom brings unique perspective and range of experience. Jury Members are Susanne Bier ♀, Matt Groening, Jason Reitman, America Ferrara ♀, Kim Peirce ♀.With my view of the film world business, more interesting than the Winners of the Competition for Narrative and Docs for the American Indies and the World Cinema Sections (The films themselves are all worth seeing by virtue of having been selected by Sundance) is the competition among Hollywood's agencies and producer reps in handling the sales of the films. This is akin to a horse race, worth watching in that light, betting on different horses and watching the horse traders dealing behind the scenes.You can also keep track of the full season's festival and market buying and selling on my blog Rights Roundup: Winter Season Sundance, Rotterdam and Berlin, but here is a different sort of scorecard. See below the jump to see who is repping which films. And watch as deals get made!! And for the best roundup of all Sundance news, see IndieWIRE.

Margin Call Closed Out to Trade

  • By Sydney Levine
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  • January 21, 2011 6:51 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Margin Call -- which was exec produced by Cassian Elwes who is repping with UTA for the U.S. -- screened for press and industry today and was the scene of a small though intensely angst-ridden uproar as industryites were shut out after waiting on line for an hour. Some in the closed-out crowd claimed attendees were specially selected to enter in order to make the U.S. sale especially hot. Those unable to see the film included press members scheduled to interview talents in the film and many of the smaller distributors. To name a few I saw lingering outside, trying to decide what to do next, since attending the next few films was now out of the question, there was Paul Federbbush, Marcus Hu, Richard Abramowitz, Mark Fishkin and at least 10 others. The nearby Yarrow was quite a scene filled with indignation which turned into shop talk until the film finished. As Cassian sailed through the lobby looking ecstatic, I mentioned the ire and he said he had asked for an early P&I screening since the premiere (of the Premiere film) was scheduled for next Tuesday when many people would have left and he was given a small 100 seat room at Holiday Village. Some people claimed he preferred it this way as it sparked the competitive spirit among powerful distributors. Can't wait to hear about the bidding war this might ignite.Margin Call starring Kevin Spacey, directed by JC ChandorIt's no mystery that the film will sell, as the international sales agent Myriad, has already pre-sold a myriad of territories at Toronto and the AFM. The film will also show at the Berlin Film Festival in February. For those interested in international territories sold, see below the jump.

We Were Here at Sundance

  • By Sydney Levine
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  • January 19, 2011 8:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments
An Interview with David WeissmanSundance official 'Meet the Fillmmaker' WE WERE HERE is a powerful new documentary that takes a deep and reflective look back at the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco in 1981 and at a community that came together to respond to the crisis with love, compassion, and determination. It screens at the Broadway Centre Cinemas V in Salt Lake City at 3:45pm on Sunday, Jan. 23 as part of the Sundance Film Festival, where it will show five additonal times in Park City as part of the Documentary Competition.This is a film which reaches out and touches the audience without any banging on the drum. It leaves people feeling inspired and validated. Seeing how the community rose to the occasion allows the audience to share their power to act, to get through the storm and to come out on the other side with a greater sense of direction and engagement.

Sundance By Numbers #1

  • By Sydney Levine
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  • January 12, 2011 4:30 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Photo by IndieWIREOver the last few days, I've had a lot of conversations with people preparing for Sundance. Since I cover the buying and selling of rights, I noted the players' activities and have found the following numbers at play.Of the Festival's 118 feature-length films, representing 29 countries by 40 first-time filmmakers, including 25 in competition which were selected from 3,812 feature-length film submissions composed of 1,943 U.S. and 1,869 international: 26 are directed by women ♀ 22% (up from last year). + 11 are repped by UTA + 11 have appeared first at IFP+ 9 filmmakers have retained attorneys Donaldson & Callif + 8 are repped by Submarine+ 7 are repped by CAA+ 7 by Cinetic+ 7 by Kevin Iwashina's Preferred Content+ 5 by WME + 3 are repped by Paradigm+ 3 by attorney George Rush + 3 by attorney Steven Beer of Greenberg Traurig+ 2 by Traction Media+ 2 by Cassian Elwes+ Fox Searchlight and IFC each have 2 films + Gersh, Oscilliscope and ATO each have 1 + Producers' Reps Ronna Wallace, Jonathan Dana, Ellen Pittleman, and Karol Martesko-Fenster each have 1. + The producers who have no rep as yet and are representing their own films number 22. (Hopefully they have attorneys.)

News from The Film Collaborative about Sundance

  • By Sydney Levine
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  • January 3, 2011 5:10 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Happy New Year from The Film Collaborative!The Film Collaborative has already been guiding 3 feature filmmakers and are also going to assist a short and probably add a 4th of 5th feature. Sundance filmmakers benefit from our distributiion education because we're helping them navigate distribution and avoid the pitfalls of excessive middlemen or not-so-ideal companies who are pursuing them. We're helping them choose wisely and sometimes also directly representing their films on the sales side. And of course we educate and guide them on the DIY side. It's still early in the process to see exactly how much we'll end up doing per film (in terms of sales and/or direct distribution) but already we're helping filmmakers sift through all their options and all the entities approaching them. With regard to We Were Here, David Weissman signed up to TFC months ago and we're handling grassroots outreach for him as well as our usual distribution advising and of course working with Jonathan Dana, who's awesome. And the other films at Sundance we are working with are:Shut Up Little Man (though we've just started dealing and only giving them advice so far). Shut Up Little Man by Matthew BateTodos tus Muertas. The filmmakers they came to us and are also working with Steven Beer of Greenberg Traurig. Director Carlos Moreno (Perro come perro) showed the film first at the Works in Progress in San Sebastian where Sundance programmers saw it. He is working on his next project already.Todos tus muertos (All your Dead Ones) by Carlos MorenoAnd Lord Byron (in the NEXT section). Lord Byron by Zack Godshall

Sundance's "Pariah" Seeks Help Through Kickstarter

  • By Sydney Levine
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  • December 27, 2010 2:30 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Help “Pariah” Get To Sundance! Dee Rees‘ feature film debut, Pariah, makes its worldwide debut at the Sundance Film Festival next month. Now that the film is Sundance (the premiere film festival in these United States), the work has just begun. Every filmmaker's dream is that Sundance means smooth sailing from thereon. Its debut will make a splash, then it will get picked up for distribution after a big multimillion advance has been paid to the filmmaker, it will open on 3000 screens next year (or even in the top 25 markets), it win lots of acclaim. do well at the box office, and the filmmaker will sign a 3-picture deal with Sony Pictures worth millions. Not to mention the extra 50% of revenues which will come from international sales - chances are the filmmaker knows less than nothing about that part of the business.With some alterations of the Shadow and Act posting, this is the real story:The film has to first get through the circus that is Sundance; and to do that, and do it well, money will have to be spent! And that’s were YOU come in. Dee has set up a Kickstarter page to raise $10,000 which will go towards the film’s premiere at Sundance. The money will go towards the following: Paying for music clearances, a sound mix, and air and hotel to bring the film’s fabulous, hardworking cast and crew to the festival – all in an effort to help ensure that there’s a continuous awareness of the film, which will only help with distribution. So, if you can contribute to Dee’s cause, please do so. At the time of this post, they’ve raised $435, with 27 days left to go. CLICK HERE to be taken to the film’s Kickstarter page, and give whatever you can.Cinetic is their producers rep and Craig Banky is the publicist.

Women to Blog About: Ronna B. Wallace, A Very Singular Woman

  • By Sydney Levine
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  • November 10, 2010 3:30 AM
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  • 7 Comments
By guest blogger Peter BelsitoRONNA B. WALLACEA Very Singular Woman ‘In the Biz’Ronna has been our friend, in and out of the business, for many years. When we see each other now out in ‘the wild’ (Toronto, Berlin, Cannes, Sundance) we ask about each other’s families and all of our many mutual friends. Ronna is one of those people whose connection with us makes doing what we do especially worthwhile. Her company at the time was the very first subscriber to FilmFinders!!!The story of her career is interesting and revealing.For the past eight years, Ronna has been a full time feature film producer's representative, basing her work on clients’ films on her extensive prior experience and massive contacts in the industry. Her company is called Eastgate Pictures and is located in New York.She comes from Pittsburgh and went to Boston University where she studied film and video. She went to Santa Cruz, got married, had a baby and then worked for five years helping build KUSP-FM, a non commercial radio station while being a political activist on the side. Her hippy days behind her, Ronna then went to NYC to seek her fortune. Her first job there was as of one of the original waiters at the Tavern On the Green on the day it first opened. From there, due to a lucky conversation with a diner, she got her first real ‘biz job’ at Warner’s QUBE interactive Premium Pay service, hired as a researcher, but soon made it to the Director of Programming. She was then offered a job in home video and joined one of the first companies to distribute home video, even before the studios had their films out. After that she joined MGM / CBS video which handled all MGM/ UA films, as Senior Vice President and from there went to help start Live Entertainment with the fabled (and ultimately tragic) Jose Menendez, where Ronna went on to executive produce Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino), Bad Lieutenant (Abel Ferrara), Light Sleeper (Paul Schrader), Bob Roberts (Tim Robbins) as well as first features from directors James Gray, Betty Thomas and Stephan Elliot - amongst many others. She then went to Samuel Goldwyn where she became Senior Vice President of Acquisitions and her last executive position was with Carl Icahn’s Stratosphere in New York City.The interview with Ronna follows.

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