Photo: Michael Buckner
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning for the survival of the rickety American indie-film industry, says Sundance Film Festival once a year. The latest installment of sleepy Park City, Utah’s annual event comes in the center of a perfect storm. Okay, fine, two perfect storms, but we’re not talking about the blizzards vexing Route 80. We’re talking about a cannibalizing streaming landscape that changed the way indie films operate financially and the sheer fact that smaller projects are struggling to find audiences, making it harder to raise money for self-financed indies, sell them, and make some cash. But it’s not all doom and gloom at the festival, no matter how many sad movies are trying to manipulate you into crying. Hollywood just emerged from two debilitating strikes, and studios might be eager to fill their empty cinema-bound coffers with some content to distribute when the time’s right.
Go díreach! An Irish film had the luck of being the first major acquisition. Sony Pictures Classics snagged Kneecap for an undisclosed amount on January 19. That’s not the first first for the Michael Fassbender–starring film — it also became the first Irish-language feature to screen at the festival. Below, all the movies sold at Sundance so far, and for how much.
Norwegian gamer Mats Steen is the focus of this documentary from The Painter and the Thief director Benjamin Ree. Per the official logline, Steen’s parents “mourned what they thought had been a lonely and isolated life” after their son died of a rare, degenerative muscular disease at age 25. They later received messages from online friends all around the world who knew Steen for his beloved World of Warcraft avatar, Ibelin Redmoore.
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Anarchic rap trio Kneecap, an Irish group known for their irreverent, socially conscious lyrics, get a biopic. Director Rich Peppiatt’s debut feature charts the rise of the Belfast trio and how they formed their confrontational sound. The film, starring Mo Chara, Móglaí Bap, DJ Próvaí, and Michael Fassbender, is the first Irish-language feature to play at Sundance.