THE SHOWROOM OWNERS TALK SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: “BUZZ FILMS OF 2013” + CLICK HERE TO WIN TICKETS!
Every year Michael Sodano and Nancy Sabino, owners of The ShowRoom art house cinema, travel to Park City, Utah to see the latest and greatest at the Sundance Film Festival.
Films like “Black Swan,” “Searching for Sugar Man” and “The Sessions” launched at festivals-past. Artists’ lives change after one ninety-minute screening.
I spoke with Sodano and Sabino about their workcation – where the weather was warmer than it was here.
TBP: What is a day in the life like with all the celluloid hotshots at Sundance?
Sabino: Sundance showcases works on film that have generally not been purchased by distributors. It is considered the best of primarily American film – feature films and documentaries – and is definitely the granddaddy of independent film festivals.
This is our opportunity to zero in on the films we think our audiences will be most interested in during the next year. We rate the films to determine whether we want to bring them to our new theater in Asbury Park. We use our judgement, feedback from the audience all year to help guide our film choices. Also, if the Sundance crowd is hooting at the end of the film and not walking out when the credits roll, we know that the film is worth considering.
What is screened and purchased by distributors like Harvey Weinstein at Sundance usually starts showing up in theaters like The ShowRoom in the early summer.
Every morning at 9 am, a new movie is world-premiered at the largest theater, the Eccles. These are the most sought-after tickets and films and usually attended by 1200 guests, plus the people associated with the film like the actors and director.
After that, it is a race to get to the other theaters for screenings. We usually see between four and six films a day. [more below]
TBP: There were more than 200 films screened during the festival, how do you decide what to see?
Sodano: This was the first year we did not plan out the films we wanted to see ahead of time. The minute you land a sort of buzz machine starts. You talk to people, you get texts about the “have to sees,” you hear what the buzz is and follow it as well as your instincts.
TBP: Where was the buzz and what films are likely to come to Asbury Park this year?
Sodano: “Twenty Feet from Stardom” was a great one; one of our favorites and we will hopefully screen. It is a documentary about back-up singers and features Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, Sting and others talking about background singers and the role they play. We also liked “Don Jon’s Addiction.” I thought the director was watching my family when he made the film.
Sabino: “Don Jon’s Addiction” stars Scarlett Johansson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt with Julianne Moore. It is a story about an italian family living in New Jersey eating dinner and watching football on a Sunday afternoon. It is fantastic. A classic. Also, “Look of Love” starring Robin Williams and Annette Bening was a good one.
We were disappointed in “C.O.G.” (Child of God) which is an adaptation of a short story from David Sedaris’ book “Naked.” Everyone waiting to see this film was a Sedaris fan and wanted it to be great but it was not the quirky his writing is known for. [more below]
TBP: What does the film landscape look like for the year?
Sodano: The trend at Sundance was sex and romance. Most of the buzz dramas had some kind of twist on that theme – from “Breathe In” to “Interiors” to “Concussion.” But the festival has never been big on comedies to begin with.
Sabino: This week we have our first Sundance film, “Sound City” – a documentary about the legendary California recording studio, directed by Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters). It came to the festival with a distributor. Going to Sundance is always an amazing opportunity to be inundated with film and are excited to share what we saw with the area.
The ShowRoom screens Oscar-nominated shorts beginning this weekend. Check TheShowroomAP.com for more film info as well as details about the new theater’s month-long grand opening celebration in February.
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