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A Flutter Over Films At Sundance


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

The Sundance Film Festival wraps up tonight, with its awards ceremony for the best domestic and foreign films and documentaries. Who knows who'll win? Probably not Kevin Smith.

Karina Longworth is the film editor and a critic at L.A. Weekly. She joins us from member station KPCW in Park City, Utah.

Thanks so much for being with us.

Ms. KARINA LONGWORTH (Film Editor/Critic, LA Weekly): Thank you for having me.

SIMON: Let's start with this Kevin Smith speech, which has gotten just about, I guess, the most widely covered news coming out of the festival. He took the stage to make some remarks at the premier of his newest film, "Red State." What happened?

Ms. LONGWORTH: Well, he had told his fans, and anybody that was paying attention via Twitter, that he was going to auction off the film to the highest bidder after the screening. And instead of doing that, he made this lecture about Indie film distribution past, present and future, and announced that he was going to release the film himself.

He basically said he thinks the model of Indie film distribution is broken because it costs so much money for a studio to promote a film, that in the end, nobody makes any money. And so he said that because he made this film for $4 million through private investments, he could easily make that money back by releasing it himself, rather than allowing a studio to do it for him, and essentially losing money to the studio. Right.

SIMON: Why was that so objectionable?

Ms. LONGWORTH: It was objectionable because he invited all of the big guys into the room to hear that speech. The people that are objecting to that movie are people that wanted to be in business with him; that wanted to basically exploit him. And he was saying Im not going to let you do that.

SIMON: What are some of the other films that have been the most talked about there?

Ms. LONGWORTH: One film that I like a lot is "The Future," which is Miranda July's follow up to "Me and You and Everyone We Know," which was at Sundance in 2005. It's about a 30-something unmarried couple who are preparing to adopt a stray cat. The cat is in the hospital and they know they're going to get in a month. And they decide that once this cat enters their life, they're going to have a kind of responsibility that theyve never known before. So they should quit their jobs and live life to the fullest for 30 days. And that leads to disastrous results.

SIMON: I've heard a lot about "Project Nim."

Ms. LONGWORTH: "Project Nim" is great. It's directed by James Marsh who recently won an Oscar for the film "Man on Wire," which also premiered at Sundance. And it's a documentary about this experiment that a Columbia professor did. He took a chimpanzee away from its mother right after it was born and gave it to a family in York. And the family happened to be the family of a woman that this professor had used to be sexually involved with.

And he had the family raise the chimpanzee and teach it sign language, and treat it as though it was one of the children of the family, as though it was a human. What ends up happening is that the filmmaker creates these parallels between the professor and the chimpanzee, so that you understand nature versus nurture in a completely different way.

SIMON: What else are you hearing - people we ought to pay attention to, actors, directors, whatever?

Ms. LONGWORTH: Somebody that I definitely think has potential is Evan Glodell, who is the writer, director, star and editor of "Bellflower," which is this crazy movie about these kids who live in Oxnard, California, who build their own flame throwers and are obsessed with the apocalypse. And it's a romance but the romance and the apocalypse elements are completely fused together, and it's really violent and bloody. And I can't imagine any distributer ever buying it. And it's wonderful.

SIMON: Wow. Well...

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: With that endorsement and caution, thanks very much for making the time for us. Karina Longworth of L.A. Weekly, thanks so much.

Ms. LONGWORTH: Sure, thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.