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What Happened to the Women Directed Films from the Sundance Class of 2013?

Features
by Serena Donadoni
January 17, 2014 11:00 AM
2 Comments
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World Cinema Dramatic Competition

Il Futuro (Alicia Scherson)

Chilean filmmaker Alicia Scherson (Turistas) adapted Roberto Bolano's Una Novelita Lumpen and filmed in Rome, where the book is set. (This 2002 novel has not been translated into English.) Il Futuro had its world premiere at Sundance and was released by Strand Releasing on September 6, with a gross of $14,001 from three theaters. The DVD came out on December 3 and Il Futuro is also available as a digital download from Amazon Instant Video and iTunes.

 

What They Don't Talk About When They Talk About Love (Mouly Surya)

The second film from Mouly Surya (Fiksi) became the first Indonesian film to compete at the Sundance Film Festival. Her poetic look at teens at a Jakarta high school for the visually impaired had its world premiere at Sundance. It went on to play festivals around the globe, including Hong Kong, Tokyo, Karolvy Vary, Warsaw and Rotterdam, where it won the NETPAC Award for best Asian feature film. Despite a warm reception at Sundance, What They Don't Talk About When They Talk About Love did not get U.S. distribution.

 

World Cinema Documentary Competition

The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear (Tinatin Gurchiani)

Georgian-born Tinatin Gurchiani won the Directing Award in World Cinema Documentary for her debut film, which had its North American premiere at Sundance. She looks at the post-Soviet generation through interviews with camera-ready youth. Icarus Films acquired The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear on the first day of Sundance and released it in theaters on August 2. The DVD was released in September and it's also available via Amazon Instant Video and iTunes.

 

A River Changes Course (Kalyanee Mam)

The first feature documentary from cinematographer Kalyanee Mam (Inside Job) was shot over two years in her native Cambodia. After having its world premiere at Sundance, A River Changes Course won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize. It's gone on to win a number of other festival prizes including the Golden Gate Award for best feature documentary at the San Francisco International Film Festival and the grand jury prize at the Environmental Film Fesival at Yale. It was nominated for the Spirit Awards Truer Than Fiction Award. After a brief theatrical run on October 4, A River Changes Course is available through Tugg for additional screenings.

 

Salma (Kim Longinotto)

In Salma, British filmmaker Kim Longinotto (Pink Saris) reveals the oppression faced by the Tamil poet Rajathi Salma in rural southern India. This Women Make Movies production (financed by the British television network Channel 4) had its world premiere at Sundance before screening at two dozen film festivals. It's currently available from WMM as a non-theatrical rental for schools, libraries and institutions. Longinotto and Salma also co-authored the book Salma: Filming a Poet in Her Village, which is available as a paperback and e-book.

 

The Square (Jehane Noujaim)

After winning the Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary at Sundance, Jehane Noujaim returned to Egypt last summer to shoot the latest political unrest, and her new cut won the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Square has been nominated for a Spirit Award for best documentary. A self-financed Oscar-qualifying run launched on October 25 and grossed $52,954 from three theaters in three weeks. Netflix then picked up the high-profile film to launch their new documentary label. The rental and streaming giant bet big on The Square's Oscar chances by premiering it on Netflix Instant (and returning the documentary to selected theaters) the day after the nominations were announced. Their gamble paid off -- Noujaim got her Oscar nomination.

 

NEXT

It Felt Like Love (Eliza Hittman)

Variance Films acquired the frank coming-of-age drama in November, after a long festival run that included a Special Jury Prize at the Sarasota Film Festival. Eliza Hittman's feature debut also landed her on Filmmaker Magazine's 25 New Faces of Independent Film 2013 list. It Felt Like Love will be released in March.

 

American Milkshake (Previous Milkshake) (David Andalman and Mariko Munro)

This 1990s high school comedy is the feature debut of David Andalman and Mariko Munro (as well as the acting debut of Harrison Ford's daughter Georgia) and the announcement that Phase 4 Films picked it up came a day after the festival closed. The title was changed from Milkshake to American Milkshake (echoing American Pie), and it was released theatrically on September 6 and on VOD as part of the Kevin Smith Movie Club. American Milkshake is currently available as VOD and the DVD will be released on January 28.

 

A Teacher (Hannah Fidell)

Oscilloscope Laboratories picked up this intimate drama in February, between its Sundance premiere and SXSW screening. A Teacher was shot in Austin and Hannah Fidell won this year's SXSW Chicken & Egg Emergent Narrative Woman Director Award. The film opened on September 6 on VOD and theatrically (where it earned $8,348 after expanding to seven theaters). A Teacher is available as VOD, with no DVD release currently scheduled.

 

Spotlight

Fill the Void (Rama Burshtein)

Rama Burshtein's debut feature, the first made by an ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman about her community, was already Israel's Oscar entry when Sony Pictures Classics acquired it in October 2012 (before the New York Film Festival, but after Venice and Toronto). Fill the Void didn't make the foreign language Oscar short list, but after Sundance, SPC began their platform release. Opening on May 24 in three theaters, it eventually expanded to 64 and grossed $1,775,316. The DVD was released in September and Fill the Void is also available as a digital download from iTunes.

 

Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley)

Stories We Tell debuted in August 2012 at the Venice Film Festival before screening at Telluride and Toronto, where Roadside Attractions picked up the National Film Board of Canada-produced documentary for U.S. distribution. Instead of entering the 2012 awards season, Stories We Tell went to Sundance and was released theatrically on May 10, 2013. Sarah Polley's first documentary grossed $1,600,145 (its widest release was 70 theaters). In September, it became available on DVD and VOD. Stories We Tell was included on a number of best-of lists and landed on the Academy Awards documentary short list.

 

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2 Comments

  • Serena Donadoni | January 19, 2014 11:01 PMReply

    Both Deadline and Variety report on January 19, 2014 that "Kink" (Christina Voros) has been picked up for distribution by MPI Pictures with a theatrical release scheduled for late summer.

  • Salty Bill | January 19, 2014 7:19 AMReply

    Well done! A very thorough, detail-oriented piece. Most helpful.

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