One day in, the Sundance Film Festival is already packed with producers gauging audience reaction at screenings and meeting with potential distributors. As the sale today of Twenty Feet From Stardom to Radius/TWC shows, this is where the art of the deal becomes reality. This year’s festival sees some producing veterans return and some relative newcomers put their shingle out. Here are a few worth noting and watching both at Sundance and afterward.
Related: Mike Fleming’s Sundance 2013 Preview
Stephenie Meyer, Austenland: Though she’s been a producer on all the adaptations of her best-selling The Twilight Saga books, Meyer is branching out to other material this Sundance. Premiering today, Austenland is the first project from Meyer’s Fickle Fish production company. The Jerusha Hess-directed film is an adaption of Shannon Hale’s novel about an obsessed Jane Austen fan’s search for love and visit to a theme park based on the famous author. Meyer is producing with Gina Mingacci, and Robert Fernandez and Dan Levinson are executive producers.
John Battsek, The Summit/Manhunt: The Passion Pictures producer had a very good 2012. The Battsek-produced documentary Searching For Sugar Man took the Special Jury Prize and the Audience Award for best international documentary at last year’s festival as the opening-night film. Picked up and released by Sony Pictures Classics, the film about rumored dead singer Rodriguez has been nominated for an Oscar. Now Battsek is back as one of the executive producers of The Summit and a producer of Manhunt. The mountain-climbing tragedy film is in the World Cinema Documentary Competition this year, while the HBO Documentary Films release about the search for Osama bin Laden is in competition in the U.S. Documentary category.
Laura Rister, Lovelace: One of the executive producers of Margin Call, one of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival’s first sales, Rister is no stranger to Park City. She even is executive producing the upcoming All Is Lost, JC Chandor’s follow-up pic starring festival founder Robert Redford. After also executive producing last year’s releases The Words, The Iceman and Lawless, the Untitled Entertainment exec is back at Sundance as a producer on Lovelace. Starring Amanda Seyfried as the 1970s porn superstar Linda Lovelace of Deep Throat fame, the film has already attracted attention from buyers even though it doesn’t debut until next Tuesday.
Ron Simons, Blue Caprice/Mother Of George: The Tony-winning producer’s SimonSays Entertainment had a Sundance Grand Jury nominee back in 2011 with its second feature Gun Hill Road. This year Simons is back with two movies, Blue Caprice and Mother of George, producing the former and one of the executive producers of the latter. Both are premiering here, with Blue Caprice in the NEXT section and Mother Of George in the U.S. Dramatic Competition.
Lisa Muskat, Prince Avalanche: This year’s Prince Avalanche sees another collaboration between director David Gordon Green and Muskat. The two started working together on 2000’s George Washington and premiered 2003’s All The Real Girls at that year’s Sundance. Now they’re back with Prince Avalanche as well as working together on the upcoming Joe starring Nicolas Cage. Not that Muskat just works with Green. Last year the producer was at Sundance with Craig Zobel’s controversial Compliance. This year Avalanche is getting a different type of attention. Premiering at Sundance and starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hersh, the film has been generating breakout buzz.