Sundance 2011: ANOTHER EARTH Wins Alfred P. Sloan Award; PARIAH and THE FLAW Find Distributors

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With the 2011 Sundance Film Festival entering its second and final weekend, we have a few bits of new to bring you out of Park City, Utah.  First up, Mike Cahill’s sci-fi film Another Earth has been awarded the festival’s Alfred P. Sloan Award for its status as an “outstanding feature film focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer or mathematician as a major character.”  The award carries with it a $20,000 cash award for Cahill and Co.  Briefly, Another Earth stars William Mapother and Brit Marling and centers on two strangers who strike up an unlikely love affair against the backdrop of the discovery of a duplicate Earth.

Next up are a couple of Sundance acquisitions and we begin with the annoucement that Focus Features has snatched up the rights to Dee Rees’ Pariah.  Starring Adepero Oduye, Pernell Walker, and Kim Wayans, the drama tells the story of a Bronx teenager who is charged with the difficult task of choosing between losing her best friend or destroying her family.  Lastly, New Video has acquired the David Sington documentary The Flaw.  Briefly, the economically-concerned project attempts to explain the underlying causes of current U.S. financial woes.  New Video will release The Flaw under its Docurama Films moniker via multiple platforms including a limited theatrical run, cable VOD, and DVD.

Hit the jump to check out the press releases.  Click here to catch up on all of our previous Sundance 2011 coverage.

Here are the press releases:

ANOTHER EARTH

ALFRED P. SLOAN FEATURE FILM PRIZE AWARDED TO MIKE CAHILL’S ANOTHER EARTH AT 2011 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

Park City, UT – Sundance Institute today announced that Another Earth, directed and written by Mike Cahill and written by Brit Marling,  is the recipient of the 2011 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Now in its ninth year, the Prize carries a $20,000 cash award by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and is presented to an outstanding feature film focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer or mathematician as a major character.

An integral part of the Festival’s Awards Ceremony, the Alfred P. Sloan Prize Feature Film Prize is a major component of the Sundance Institute Science-in-Film Initiative, which is made possible by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The Initiative supports the development and exhibition of new independent film projects that explore science and technology themes or that depict scientists, engineers and mathematicians in engaging and innovative ways.

The winning film was selected by a committee of film and science professionals “for its original use of subtly rendered scientific concept – the sudden appearance of an alternate Earth where everyone may be living parallel lives and destinies – to explore the themes of remorse and forgiveness.” 

Another Earth(Director: Mike Cahill; Screenwriters: Mike Cahill and Brit Marling) — On the eve of the discovery of a duplicate Earth, a horrible tragedy irrevocably alters the lives of two strangers, who begin an unlikely love affair. Cast: William Mapother, Brit Marling, Jordan Baker, Robin Lord Taylor, Flint Beverage.

In his auspicious debut, director Mike Cahill offers a taut, superbly conceived science fiction romance that marks the emergence of the multitalented actor/screenwriter Brit Marling. Marrying character with high concept, Another Earth lures audiences to go where no one has gone before.

Doron Weber, Vice President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation said, “We are delighted to partner with Sundance Institute for the ninth consecutive year in recognizing outstanding feature films that dramatize science and technology themes. Another Earth is a beautiful example of how filmmakers can take complex scientific ideas such as the multiverse and create unforgettable and moving human stories that appeal to a wide audience.”

In addition to the Feature Film Prize, the Initiative presents annually a panel at the Sundance Film Festival that brings together scientists and filmmakers to explore compelling, contemporary issues regarding science in film. Also, through the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program, the Initiative supports the Sloan Commissioning Fund, which provides resources for Initiative projects early in the development phase, and the Sloan Fellowship, which develops eligible projects at the Institute’s labs. This Initiative blends the Sloan Foundation’s goal of enhancing public understanding of science and technology with Sundance Institute’s mission to foster independent voices and compelling storytelling in film.

“The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation provides to our artists support at critical points in their filmmaking journey,“ said Keri Putnam, Executive Director, Sundance Institute, “The vitality of our Feature Film Program  is intimately connected to the Foundation’s year-round funding and we are grateful for this robust partnership,” Putnam added.

Previous Alfred P. Sloan Prize Winners include: Diane Bell, Obselidia (2010); Max Mayer, Adam (2009); Alex Rivera, Sleep Dealer (2008); Shi-Zheng Chen, Dark Matter (2007); Andrucha Waddington, The House of Sand (2006); Werner Herzog, Grizzly Man (2005), Shane Carruth, Primer (2004) and Marc Decena, Dopamine (2003). Several of these past winners have also been awarded Jury Awards at the Sundance Film Festival, including the Grand Jury Prize for Primer, the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for Sleep Dealer and the Excellence in Cinematography Award for Obselidia.

PARIAH

FOCUS FEATURES ACQUIRES WORLDWIDE RIGHTS TO PARIAH,

DEBUT FEATURE FROM WRITER/DIRECTOR DEE REES,

EXECUTIVE-PRODUCED BY SPIKE LEE;

DRAMA WORLD-PREMIERED AT THIS YEAR’S SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

NEW YORK, January 28th, 2011 – Focus Features has acquired worldwide rights to the contemporary drama Pariah, the debut feature from writer/director Dee Rees. Pariah world-premiered In Competition this past week at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Spike Lee is among the feature’s executive producers. Pariah is produced by Nekisa Cooper.

In tandem with the Pariah acquisition, Focus has engaged Ms. Rees to write a screenplay. The script deal is for a new feature-length film that the writer/director would conceive.

Pariah is one of the Festival’s most acclaimed entries this year; Kyle Smith of The New York Post wrote that Pariah is “emotionally satisfying…with a likeable and believable heroine at its core.” Andrew Barker of Variety wrote that actress Adepero Oduye gives “a wonderful lead performance.”
The feature is an expansion of Ms. Rees’ short film of the same name, which screened at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Ms. Oduye, who had starred in the short film, portrays Alike (pronounced “ah-lee-kay”), a 17-year-old African-American woman who lives with her parents (Kim Wayans and Charles Parnell) and younger sister (Sahra Mallesse) in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood. Alike is quietly but firmly embracing her identity as a lesbian. With the support of her best friend Laura (Pernell Walker), she is especially eager to find a girlfriend. Wondering how much she can confide in her family, Alike strives to get through adolescence with grace, humor, and tenacity – sometimes succeeding, sometimes not, but always moving forward.

Focus Features CEO James Schamus said, “Dee Rees has made a debut film that celebrates with astonishing artistry the journey of a young woman who simply never gives up on the power of love. We’re thrilled to join her on this next step of a remarkable journey.”

“We’re thrilled to be working with Focus Features. They’re such smart marketers and they love movies, so that we knew Focus was the perfect home for Pariah. We are excited for the film to reach the broadest audience possible,” said Ms. Rees.

In addition to Mr. Lee, the executive producers of Pariah are Jeff Robinson, Sam Martin, Mary Jane Skalski, Susan Lewis, Ann Bradley, Stefan Nowicki, Benjamin Weber, Joey Carey, Julie Parker Benello, Wendy Ettinger, Judith Hefland, Douglas A. Eisenberg, and Matthew J. Simon.

Focus Features and Focus Features International (www.focusfeatures.com) comprise a singular global company. This worldwide studio makes original and daring films that challenge the mainstream to embrace and enjoy voices and visions from around the world that deliver global commercial success. The company operates as Focus Features in North America, and as Focus Features International (FFI) in the rest of the world.

In addition to Pariah, the Focus Features slate includes Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right, nominated for 4 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Actress (Annette Bening), and winner of 2 Golden Globe Awards including Best Picture [Comedy/Musical]; Academy Award-winning writer/director Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, which won the Golden Lion Award for Best Picture at the 2010 Venice International Film Festival; Kevin Macdonald’s Roman epic adventure The Eagle, starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell; Cary Fukunaga’s romantic drama Jane Eyre, starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender; Joe Wright’s adventure thriller Hanna, starring Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, and Cate Blanchett; Mike Mills’ comedy/drama Beginners, starring Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer; and Lone Scherfig’s romance One Day, based on the bestselling novel, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess.

Focus Features and Focus Features International are part of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 88% owned by General Electric and 12% owned by Vivendi.

THE FLAW

New York, NY – January 28, 2011 – New Video, a leading independent film and TV distributor, announced today that the Company has acquired THE FLAW (www.theflawmovie.com) for release across DVD, Cable VOD and digital distribution platforms, with plans for a limited theatrical run.

THE FLAW (www.theflawmovie.com), a new documentary directed by British filmmaker David Sington (In the Shadow of the Moon) made its U.S. premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and will be released under New Video’s Docurama Films brand later this year. The film is produced by Christopher Hird (The End of the Line), Luke Johnson, and Stephen Lambert of the film’s presenter, Studio Lambert.

The film’s title was inspired by former U.S. Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan’s acknowledgment that he’d found a flaw in his model of how the world worked, THE FLAW attempts to explain the underlying causes of the crisis in more depth than any documentary to date. The film tells the story of the credit bubble that caused the financial crash. Through interviews with some of the world’s leading economists, as well as Wall Street insiders and victims of the crash, the film presents an original and compelling account of the toxic combination of forces that nearly destroyed the world economy.

THE FLAW delves into one of society’s most pressing concerns with precision and intelligence,” said Mark Kashden, Vice President, Acquisitions, New Video. “We wanted to be sure David’s film reaches the widest possible audience through our multi-platform strategy.”

THE FLAW will inform the American public about what really has been happening,” said executive producer, Stephen Lambert.  “It explores inequality in America and makes the argument that wealthy folk tend to invest in financial assets and create financial bubbles. If wealth is less concentrated, there is investment in more mass consumption, which can build more fundamentally prosperous economies.  We’re delighted to be working with New Video as they have an unparalleled reputation for getting important independent documentaries to a wide audience.”

Within days of its first screening at Sundance, THE FLAW was being discussed at the World Economic Forum in Davos.  Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP Group, the advertising and marketing conglomerate, said in a big plenary session on Wednesdaythat he was struck by the film’s argument and that he believed “concentration of wealth, particularly in the United States, is a big issue.”




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