In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_oax1ohn3ltgrf3vlh5ff28w0yjn

Mr. Turner

Filmmaker Mike Leigh's biography of the landscape painter J.M.W. Turner is what critics call "austere"—which means it's slow and grim and deliberately hard to love—yet…

Thumb_hkvkhuuugjj4jrxkkvqoq5jnqx5

Annie

The new version of "Annie" is fashionably artificial and not very well directed, but its unabashed good cheer is very welcome.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Sundance a pinnacle for novice filmmakers

PARK CITY, Utah -- You have to go to something like Robert Redford's annual "filmmakers' brunch" to sense the level of ambition, hope and need at the Sundance Film Festival. You understand that the festival is a showcase for independent filmmakers. You know that a lot of them are here with their first or second movies and a game plan to make a sale, find distribution, win awards and generate buzz.

You know that when you meet the filmmakers one at a time. But when there are hundreds in the same room, the sheer level of psychic desire is almost overwhelming.

Redford holds his annual brunch more than an hour's drive from Park City, at his Sundance Institute, up in a canyon above Provo. This is where his institute holds workshops for aspiring directors, writers and actors each summer. Many of those summer sessions have borne fruit over the years; near the podium during Redford's greeting speech was Gregory Nava, whose "El Norte" (1983) was the first of the Sundance projects to be released.

There are people here who hope the institute's good fortune will rub off. Noah Stern and Michael Kastenbaum are passing around invites to the screening of "The Invisibles," which Stern directed and Kastenbaum produced. Stern was the film critic at the Daily Illini at the University of Illinois. He's made more than a dozen films, average cost $6,000. The new one, shot in Paris, cost around $9,000: "You have no idea how little money a film can be made for."

After the brunch is over, it looks like everyone wants to have a word with Redford. He doesn't hurry away, but patiently listens to stories, hopes, plans and pitches. Watching it all is Gary Farmer, the towering Native-American actor from Toronto, who is here with a documentary: "It's about corn. Corn is an incredibly interesting subject when you approach it in terms of my people's tradition."

Not far away is Michael Epstein, "born in Rogers Park, Chicago, now living in Brooklyn," who is here with his documentary, "Hitchcock and Selznick." "There's a brand-new print of 'Notorious,'" he reports. "It's beautiful."

Next I run into Toni Kalem, an actress you may remember from "Private Benjamin," where she played the toughest private in the Army. "I bought the rights to Anne Tyler's novel A Slipping-Down Life, years ago," she says. "At first, I wanted to star in it. Then I wanted to direct it."

So many dreams in this room. So much hope. If I had been doing this story a few years ago, I might have written: "And here was Quentin Tarantino, a former video store clerk, who talked Harvey Keitel into appearing in his first film. It's called 'Reservoir Dogs,' and it's great, he assures me."

They're all great, if you listen to the filmmakers. Sometimes they're right.

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

The Ten Best Films of 2014

The ten best films of 2014, as chosen by the film critics of RogerEbert.com.

10 Underrated Female Performances of 2014

Ten underrated female performances from 2014 worthy of Oscar consideration.

More on That Later: The Truth About “Serial”

Some thoughts on the hit podcast "Serial".

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus