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“Little Miss Sunshine,” “Boyhood,” and More Celebrate Birthdays in July

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The Hoover family embarks on an eventful road trip to California for a junior beauty pageant in “Little Miss Sunshine.”

By Lucy Spicer

Summer is always a good time for film lovers, and Sundance’s history of July theatrical releases shows that it’s a great time for fans of indie film. Want some proof? We’ve selected five titles from the Sundance Film Festival annals, all released during the month of July, that may just inspire your next movie night. In fact, two of the films listed below — Little Miss Sunshine and Boyhood — were recently voted among the top 10 favorite Festival titles by the Sundance community.

Joining them are a meta satire revolving around an indie film set, a documentary following a blues legend’s foray into throat singing, and a screwball rom-com featuring Kyle MacLachlan as the ghost of Cary Grant.

Living in Oblivion (1995) — After screening his feature debut, Johnny Suede, at the 1992 Sundance Film Festival, writer-director Tom DiCillo returned to Sundance with Living in Oblivion, a darkly comic satire about the challenges that accompany independent filmmaking. Divided into three parts, Living in Oblivion depicts a chaotic film set helmed by director Nick Reve (Steve Buscemi), who is desperately trying to hold production together while juggling a neurotic leading lady (Catherine Keener), an egomaniacal leading man (James LeGros), and a pretentious cinematographer (Dermot Mulroney) among other issues. DiCillo’s screenplay for Living in Oblivion won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival. Check here for viewing options.

Genghis Blues (1999) — Renowned blind blues musician Paul Pena spent a decade teaching himself the art of Tuvan throat singing after hearing a broadcast about it on the radio. Director Roko Belic’s documentary follows Pena as he travels to Tuva to participate in a throat singing festival there after impressing Kongar-ol Ondar, a master of the craft, with an impromptu performance when the Tuvan singer was giving a stateside concert. Genghis Blues premiered at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award: Documentary. Check here for viewing options.

Touch of Pink (2004) — In writer-director Ian Iqbal Rashid’s rom-com, Alim (Jimi Mistry) is a Kenyan-born Canadian who has moved to London to escape his family’s conservative Muslim values so that he can embrace his true identity as a gay man. His life is disrupted when his mother, Nuru (Suleka Mathew), announces an unexpected visit, complete with plans to find Alim a girlfriend. Alim is forced to play it straight, but at least he’s got some help — his imaginary friend happens to be the ghost of Cary Grant (Kyle MacLachlan). Touch of Pink is Rashid’s feature debut and premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. Check here for viewing options.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006) — Directing duo Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris spent 20 years directing music videos together before embarking on their first feature, which would prove to be so influential for the in

Checking the Distributors: Amazon & MGM / A Sudden Glimpse / Metacritic's Ranking of Best Picture Winners

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We're close to winding up our look at film distribution outfits.  Today's look is at the amalgam that is Amazon Studios, Amazon-MGM and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as those are all under the same umbrella now.  Thursday we'll do a grab bag of smaller companies some years get to TFF.

Here's what has been at Telluride from Amazon and the rest since 2016:

2023: Cassandro, Saltburn
2022: Wildcat, Good Night Oppy
2021: Encounter, A Hero
2020: All In: The Fight for Democracy
2019: The Aeronauts, The Report
2018: Peterloo, Cold War
2017: Wonderstruck
2016: Manchester by the Sea

This year the conglomerate of companies has these films in play:

Nickel Boys/Ross
Long Days Journey Into Night/Kent

Then there's the film that you'd think was a T-ride possible but looks like it's not .  I'm talking about Rachel Morrison's The Fire Inside (Flint Strong).  Even with a pedigree that includes Barry Jenkins writing and producing, it appears it's not going to make it to the San Juans.  Jordan Ruimy writing at World of Reel on Tuesday said that the film has had a troubled production history.

So,  here are the chances for these films to make the TFF #51 lineup:

Nickel Boys 40%
Long Days Journey Into Night 25%
Hedda 10%
The Fire Inside 2%


I had already placed Mark Cousins documentary A Sudden Glimpse to Deeper Things on the "possibles" list for Telluride and likely I'll bump it up into the 4th Ten Bets on Thursday in the wake of the film winning the Crystal Globe.  That's the top prize from the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival just completed on Saturday.

Cousins who is a TFF "regular" and a member of the fest's "Esteemed Council of Advisors" has had a number of films over the years appear as a part of TFF lineups including: The Story of Film, The March on Rome, My Name is Alfred Hitchcock and and The Eyes of Orson Welles among others.

Here's the IMDb description of the film:

"Exploring the pivotal 1949 experience atop Switzerland's Grindelwald glacier that reshaped British modernist painter Wilhelmina Barns-Graham's artistic perspective for decades to come."

Checking the Distributors: Netflix / Best Films of 2024 So Far?

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Netflix first showed up in the Telluride lineup in 2015 with Beasts of No nation and Winter on Fire.  Since then the streamer/producer has been a sturdy presence at TFF.  Here's their titles that have made an appearance at T-ride:

2015: Beasts of No Nation, Winter on Fire
2016: I Called Him Morgan, The Ivory Game, Into the Inferno
2017: First They Killed My Father, Wormwood
2018: Dovlatov, Girl, Reversing Roe, Roma, The Other Side of the Wind, They'll Love Me When I'm Dead
2019: Inside Bill's Brain, Marriage Story, Tell Me Who I Am, The Two Popes
2020: No announced films
2021: The Hand of God, The Lost Daughter, The Power of the Dog, Procession
2022: Bardo, Lady Chatterley's Lover, Sr., The Wonder
2023: El Conde, Nyad, Rustin

The Netflix run has included major Oscar players such as Roma, The Power of the Dog and Marriage Story.

This year the Netflix larder of films that feel TFF-like seems thinner than most recent years.

The most likely title to make it to TFF #51 is Jacques Audiard's Cannes award (the Jury Award and a collective Best Actress award for the four main players) winner Emilia Perez.  Audiard has been represented at Telluride in the past but its been awhile.  SHOW passholders saw A Prophet in 2009 and Rust and Bone in 2012. 

Also in play is Malcolm Washington's filmed adaptation of the August Wilson stage play The Piano Lesson starring Samuel l. Jackson and John David Washington.

And there's a very outside shot that Noah Baumbach's latest might be ready for screening and should that happen it would be something we'd have to take very seriously for TFF #51.  IMDb reports that the film has been in post-production since early May.  Not much is known as the plot has been kept under wraps but the cast is stacked with George Clooney, Laura Dern, Adam Sandler, Billy Crudup, Emily Mortimer (who co-wrote the screenplay) and Greta Gerwig.


Emilia Perez 50%
The Piano Lesson 25%
Untitled Baumbach 10%...mostly because it's just not likely to be ready in time.


June: Exciting News from #ASFFAlumni!

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It’s time to spotlight all of the wonderful things our #ASFFAlumni have been getting up to! Here are all of the headlines, from Duncan Cowles’ Feature-Length Debut to Stacha Hicks’ film festival win.

Duncan Cowles Premiered
Feature-Length Debut at DocFest

Silent Men is award-winning ASFF alumnus Duncan Cowles’ first full length documentary and audiences had the opportunity to watch it for the first time at DocFest! Part therapy, part road trip, the movie follows a deadpan filmmaker who asks men how they show their emotions as he confront his own struggles with opening up.

Read our Interview

Guardian Documentaries Picked
up 2023’s Listening Pitch Winner 

Megan McDonough’s powerful documentary Old Lesbians joins the list of remarkable projects that have been picked up by Guardian Documentaries after winning the incredible £20,000 Aesthetica x Audible film grant. Head over to their website to watch this powerful short about reclaiming queerness and old age.

Watch the Film

Stacha Hicks Took Home
the Prize for Best Film at CBFF 

Stacha Hick’s _ELICIT_ screened at Aesthetica last year. It’s a “story for the isolated, the aging and the cruciverbalists” that follows the budding romance between a librarian and a crossword maker. We were thrilled to hear that this incredible project won the main prize at this year’s Carmarthen Bay Film Festival.

Meet the Director

Yasmin Afifi Takes Her
BAFTA-Winning Film to the USA

Jellyfish & Lobster screened at last year’s festival and went on to achieve massive success – including winning the BAFTA for Best British Short Film in 2024! Now, Californian audiences will get to watch this touching story of mischief and magic at the Oscar-Qualifying Palm Springs International ShortFest.

Read our Interview

Jessi Gutch is Elected to
First-Ever DFC Board of Trustees

Members of the Documentary Film Council (DFC) have elected eight representatives and we are delighted to see that Jessi Gutch is on the board! The filmmaker has won many awards at ASFF, from the Listening Pitch grant with Blind as a Beat in 2022 to the Best of Fest Prize in the following year with Until the Tide Creeps in.

Read our Interview

Submit Your Game to be Part of #ASFF2024!

The post June: Exciting News from #ASFFAlumn

“The Times of Harvey Milk” Is Still Urgent and Essential Viewing

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Rob Epstein (photo by Stephen Lovekin/Shutterstock for Sundance)

By Bailey Pennick

“This will be banned if this election goes the wrong way. How do we stop it?”

“What is your advice to keep hope alive?”

“What are we going to do?”

Four decades after he screened his sophomore film at the very first Sundance Film Festival, these are the questions that Rob Epstein is fielding from the audience. The crowd is emotional. The crowd is angry at the injustice of what they just witnessed in the 88 minutes of The Times of Harvey Milk. The crowd is anxious and looks to the documentarian for answers. 

With each one asked, he never gets flustered. He’s calm and eager to connect with the engaged crowd because he’s been answering questions like this for 40 years. “We have to all be ever vigilant,” Epstein says after the 40th Edition Celebration screening at the Egyptian Theatre. The film’s cinematographer, Frances Reid, doubles down on Epstein’s advice: “Harvey’s call is still the call we have to pick up — especially this election year.” 

The call Reid is speaking of is Milk’s iconic speech about hope, which Epstein ends his Academy Award–winning documentary with. “Without hope the us’s give up,” says a voiceover of the slain San Francisco supervisor over footage of his campaigns and acts of public service. “I know that you can’t live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. And you, and you, and you, and you have got to give them hope.”

The Times of Harvey Milk, originally meant to be a documentary about the Briggs Initiative campaign, traces Milk’s hard work and rise from Castro camera shop owner and neighborhood activist to the first out supervisor in the city and icon for the LGBTQ+ community. In capturing footage about the discriminatory proposition (which would have banned gay and lesbian individuals from working in California’s public schools), Epstein was able to capture interviews with Milk’s constituents and put the film together quickly after Milk and mayor George Moscone’s assassinations by fellow supervisor Dan White.

“The mission of the film was to take this story that was little known out of San Francisco and find a wider audience,” Epstein explains at the post-screening Q&A. “We knew it was going to be on public TV, because we got a grant to make the film and show it there, but once we showed at festivals like Sundance [and then when we got the Oscar], we cumulatively were taking in that what we set out to do was taking effect. We were bringing Harvey’s story to a greater public.”

After The Times of Harvey Milk’s release on PBS, Epstein and his crew received stacks of mail about the changing of minds and hearts of previously close-minded family members. This wave of change continued after the Academy Awards as well, but Epstein is quick to remind everyone that they were still a small production. “The next day, after the Oscars, the film’s distributor went bankrupt,” he says with a laugh. “Classic independent cinema.”

The moment of levity is appreciated in a room filled with people who are quick to make parallels between the slew of anti-gay legislation of the 1970s/80s and the anti-trans legislation currently popping up like weeds in America. “This dialectical reaction to communities self-identifying and the backlash to that is not new. The trans community is the latest political scapegoat,” says Epstein before

Looking at Distributors: Searchlight / From Out of Left Field / More as The Bikeriders Rolls out

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Searchlight (and before it, Fox Searchlight) has been a stalwart in the TFF Universe for many years.  My running list of films from them goes back to 2004 and includes five Oscar Best Picture winners and a slew of nominations:

2023: Poor Things, All of Us Strangers, The Last Repair Shop
2022: Empire of Light 
2021: The French Dispatch 
2020: Nomadland (Best Picture Oscar) 
2019: A Hidden Life 
2018: The Favourite, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, The Old Man and the Gun 
2017: The Shape of Water (Best Picture Oscar), Battle of the Sexes 
2016: No Show
2015: He Named Me Malala 
2014: Birdman (Best Picture Oscar), Wild 
2013: 12 Years a Slave (Best Picture Oscar) 
2012: No Show
2011: Shame, The Descendants 
2010: Never Let Me Go, 127 Hours, Black Swan 
2009: No Show
2008: Slumdog Millionaire (Best Picture Oscar) 
2007: Juno, The Savages
2006: The Last King of Scotland, The Namesake 
2005: Bee Season 
2004: Kinsey 

But as you can also see there have been years that Searchlight was not a presence at TFF: 2009, 2012 and 2016.  2024 might be one of those off years.

I've scoured what Searchlight has set for release and what films are in post-production and the films that are or could be ready and feel like something Telluride might be interested in are meager.  As a matter of fact, at the moment I can only find Marielle Heller's Nightbitch as Searchlight's only real player.

The film's pedigree sounds like a real TFF possibility: Heller was in T-ride in with Can You Ever Forgive Me? in 2018.  The film's star, Amy Adams was a tribute recipient in 2016 and Searchlight set the film's release for Dec. 6th.  But...

The film has been described as perhaps being too odd and difficult to promote.  Here's part of the plot summary listed at IMDb Pro:

"A woman, thrown into the stay-at-home routine of raising a toddler in the suburbs, slowly embraces the feral power deeply rooted in motherhood, as she becomes increasingly aware of the bizarre and undeniable signs that she may be turning into a dog."

See what I mean.  On the other hand, T-ride programmed Poor Things last year to great success.  So...maybe?

So I'm giving Nightbitch a 30% shot at TFF #51 and I suppose there is the weakest of possibilities that we might see Nate Parker's (The Birth of a Nation) Solitary.  I give it a 10% chance.


ABFF 2024: Denzel Washington Talks Making August Wilson’s ‘The Piano Lesson’ Movie With His Kids

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Denzel Washington is one of the most prolific Black actors of all time. But the two-time Oscar-winning actor, director, producer and humanitarian is also a proud husband and father — a point that was well made during his career retrospective conversation at the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) on June 15. Denzel Washington’s latest producorial […]

“Thelma” Introduces a Refreshing New (93-Year-Old) Action Hero

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(L–R) Josh Margolin, Fred Hechinger, June Squibb, and Clark Gregg pose for a photo celebrating the premiere of “Thelma” on January 18, 2024, at the Sundance Film Festival. (Photo by Suzanne Cordeiro/Shutterstock for Sundance Film Festival)

By Vanessa Zimmer

As time barges thoughtlessly on, carving new wrinkles and dreaded senior moments along the way, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to wish to be more like Thelma. As Danny, 24, lovingly describes his 93-year-old grandmother, she’s “a little wobbly but determined.”

Thelma played opening night Thursday, January 18, in the Premieres section at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, introducing to audiences the feisty woman brought to life by veteran actor June Squibb. When Thelma discovers she’s been scammed into paying $10,000 to get her grandson out of trouble that he’s not actually in, she laces up her sneakers and sets out to get her money back. 

And with that, America gets a new action hero — speeding hellbent for leather through the city on a borrowed red mobility cart, tipping wildly upon two wheels around the corners, while spouting witty one-liners.

“She… terrifyingly did most of her own stunts,” writer-director Josh Margolin says in his Meet The Artist video. “I think Tom Cruise would be proud.”

Margolin based the story on his own Grandma Thelma. In the post-premiere Q&A, Margolin says, “She’s always been such a stalwart presence in my life.” When she almost fell prey to a similar phone scam, the germ of a film was born. He started imagining his grandma doing the same thing his cinematic Thelma does. 

He wanted to convey in the film the spirit and tenacity of his grandmother, while also exploring issues like aging, mortality, and family dynamics. He had Squibb in mind for the role from the start because the two share the same toughness and vulnerability — and they’re both funny. Margolin’s Grandma Thelma is now 103. (For more on the two Thelmas, check out Margolin’s Q&A on the Festival website.)

Complementing Squibb’s performance are Fred Hechinger as lovable, well-meaning grandson Danny; Sundance regular Parker Posey and Clark Gregg (Phil Coulson in many Marvel movies) as her daughter and son-in-law; and the legendary late Richard Roundtree (most famous for playing detective John Shaft in the Shaft film series) as Thelma’s reluctant but loyal sidekick (and the owner of said red mobility cart).

Squibb and Hechinger both say it was easy to create the closeness of Thelma and Danny. “We liked each other from the beginning,” says Squibb. “It was fun.” And Squibb is quick to brag on her action skills: “Notice how well I drove that scooter!”

This is Squibb’s first leading role in a 70-plus-year career — Alice, About Schmidt, and Other People are just a few of her films. She was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for 2013’s Nebraska.

In answer to a question from the audience, Margolin and Squibb consult briefly. Could there be a sequel? “We’re thinking there’s a possibility,” says Margolin.



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Boston’s premier pop culture extravaganza will bring together celebrity guests, comic creators, favorite franchises, cosplayers and more!  New Location and New Date in June Will Energize Boston’s Back Bay on FAN EXPO Boston Weekend

(Boston, MA) – April 25 – FAN EXPO Boston, the three-day pop culture extravaganza, returns with a spectacular lineup of celebrity guests, voice actors, comic creators, cosplayers and more. This year the event will take place at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston June 14-16. FAN EXPO is THE biggest pop culture event in Boston where fans of everyone’s favorite comics, manga, anime, tv shows, movies, and more can come together and celebrate alongside friends, family, and of course, the people who have brought those stories to life.

This year’s show will include a number of celebrities, including Rosario Dawson, Eman Esfandi and Diana Lee Inosanto (Ahsoka), Marisa Tomei (Oscar Winning Actress), Sam Raimi (Legendary Director), Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil), Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, Beverly D’Angelo, and Dana Barron (National Lampoon’s series), Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Star Wars, Resident Alien), Rose McGowan and Holly Marie Combs (Charmed), Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager, Orange is the New Black), Sean Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Mads Mikkelsen, (Hannibal, Fantastic Beast: The Secret of Dumbledore),Temuera Morrison, (The Book of Boba Fett and Moana), Hugh Dancy (Hannibal) and Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World, Spider-Man 3).

“FAN EXPO Boston is happening in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood this June. We’ve assembled a powerful roster celebrities, comic creators, artists, retailers and more to offer the ultimate one-stop-shop fan experience. We invite fans to come and meet their favorite actors and creators, and enjoy priceless photo ops, autograph experiences, celebrity panels and all things fandom – all in one place.”  said Andrew Moyes, Vice President of FAN EXPO.

  • Bryce Dallas Howard, JURASSIC WORLD, SPIDER-MAN 3
  • Hugh Dancy, HANNIBAL
  • Temuera Morrison, THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT, MOANA
  • Rosario Dawson, AHSOKA
  • Sam Raimi, Director, LEGENDARY DIRECTOR
  • Charlie Cox, DAREDEVIL
  • Chevy Chase, NATIONAL LAMPOON Series
  • Randy Quaid, NATIONAL LAMPOON Series
  • Beverly D’Angelo, NATIONAL LAMPOON Series
  • Mario Lopez, SAVED BY THE BELL
  • Mark Paul Gosselaar, SAVED BY THE BELL
  • Vincent D’Onofrio, DAREDEVIL
  • Dana Barron, NATIONAL LAMPOON Series
  • Eman Esfandi, AHSOKA
  • Diana Lee Inosanto, AHSOKA

Sundance Ignite x Adobe Fellowship Announce 2024 Cohort

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Program Uplifts Emerging Filmmakers Ages 18 to 25

PARK CITY, UTAH, June 14, 2024 — The nonprofit Sundance Institute announced today the ten emerging filmmakers selected for the yearlong Sundance Ignite x Adobe Fellowship. Now in its ninth year, the fellowship is designed as an early support system for storytellers ages 18 to 25, providing them with artist-centered support and professional development throughout the stages of their creative process. The year of support kicks off with the Ignite Lab, taking place at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, from June 16 to June 21. The lab is a weeklong residency that fosters community and connection. Fellows receive a $3,000 artist grant and a one-year complimentary membership to Adobe Creative Cloud to refine their craft. Following the lab, they also participate in monthly webinars focused on creative and professional development, a curated program at the Sundance Film Festival, and networking and relationship-building events with the Ignite community at workshops. Artist granting is supported by Adobe and Arison Arts Foundation.

The Sundance Ignite x Adobe Fellowship cohort was selected from more than 900 global applicants who submitted a collection of work reflective of their voice and artistic vision. The fellowship originated from the shared mission Sundance Institute and Adobe have of identifying and amplifying underrepresented voices from the next generation of filmmakers while contributing to the development of new audiences for independent storytelling.

“We are so appreciative to have partners like Adobe supporting the important work that the Ignite Fellowship makes possible,” said Toby Brooks, Assistant Director, Sundance Ignite. “Early-career filmmakers face unique challenges and have significant things to say, and it’s so rewarding to collaborate on nurturing those voices. We’re excited for our return to MASS MoCA in June with this accomplished cohort and look forward to seeing how they grow together through this opportunity.”

The Sundance Ignite x Adobe Fellowship began in 2015 and now has an alumni network of more than 100 artists. Fourteen alumni have had projects selected to screen at the Sundance Film Festival, with several projects winning jury awards. Former participants of Ignite include Sean Wang (2023 Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Labs fellow and winner of the 2024 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic for his feature Dìdi (弟弟)), Charlotte Regan (her debut feature, Scrapper, premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival where it won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic and later opened the 2023 Sundance Film Festival: London), Lance Oppenheim (his feature Some Kind of Heaven premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival), Terrance Daye (his film –Ship: A Visual Poem was awarded a Short Film Jury Award for U.S. Fiction at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival), Aurora Brachman (co-producer of Girls State, which premiered at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival), and Olivia Peace (winner of a 2022 Student Academy Award for Against Reality). Past Sundance Ignite x Adobe fellows have also gone on to win prizes at SXSW and Tribeca Festival, as well as the Short Film Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and an Academy Award nomination. Former participants have also been part of other Sundance Institute artist programs, including Directors, Screenwriters, and Episodic Labs, and received funding from the Documentary Fund.

For advice from Sundance Institute advisors and Ignite resources, check out the various offerings on Read more