By Jaritza Mendoza |Staff Writer|
Sundance Film Festival concluded with “Birth of a Nation,” setting a new record, while Netflix and Amazon became the biggest buyers.
One of the most talked about films presented at Sundance 2016 was “The Birth of a Nation,” which won the U.S Grand Jury Prize: Drama and Audience Awards: U.S Dramatic, and has already created buzz
on as being an Oscar contender for next year.
The film written, directed, and starred by first time filmmaker Nate Parker, which shares the title with D.W Griffith’s 1915 “The Birth of a Nation.” The two films have nothing in common.
Parker’s film focuses on the slave rebellion Nat Turner lead during the harsh 1830s.
Griffiths’ controversial film, however, focuses on the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and depicts African-Americans as illiterate rapists.
“When it comes to what happened here, so many things have been sanitized that we don’t know the truth from the lies,” said Parker in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
Parker’s film broke the record for biggest purchase in Sundance history after choosing Fox Searchlight’s $17.5 million bid as opposed to Netflix’s offer of $20 million, most likely due to Fox Searchlight’s larger film distribution.
Although Netflix lost the bid for “Birth of a Nation,” both Netflix and Amazon dominated the festival, obtaining six films each.
Netflix’s largest purchase was $7 million for “The Fundamentals of Caring,” starring Paul Rudd and Selena Gomez.
The film focuses on Ben (Rudd), an unemployed father, who becomes the caregiver of a teen with muscular dystrophy, while mourning the death of his son, and embarks on a road trip where he meets a runaway (Gomez), and a pregnant woman, Peaches (Megan Ferguson).
Netflix’s other purchases included “Tallulah,” starring Ellen Page (“Juno”) as a free-spirited traveler who takes a baby from a negligent mother and passes the baby off as her own with the help of her ex-boyfriend’s mother, played by Allison Janney (“The Help”).
Amazon went home with the second biggest deal with Kenneth Lonergan’s drama “Manchester by the Sea,” for $10 million.
Deemed a must-see by many attendees, the film focuses on Casey Affleck’s character who travels to his hometown after his brother’s death and learns he must become the guardian of his teenage nephew, played by Lucas Hedges (“Moonrise Kingdom”).
Another film acquired by Amazon included Clay Tweel’s “Gleason,” which follows the story of ex. NFL player Steve Gleason who was diagnosed with Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis at age 34.
Last year, Amazon
had walked away without purchasing a single film, while Netflix acquired one documentary; this year, however, we can assume that the future of independent movies is gearing towards streaming companies.
When asked her opinion how this might affect movies, student Jasmine Turner said, “Honestly, I think audience attendance will start to decrease in theaters because these streaming companies make things easier and cheaper for audiences.”
Through the fierce bidding of the streaming companies, many films value were raised, including the Directing Award: U.S Dramatic winner “Swift Army Knife,” starring Daniel Radcliffe as a corpse with a continuous flatulence problem and Paul Dano as someone stranded on an island who uses Radcliffe’s body to escape the island.
Other buzzed about films included the fraternity-hazing drama “Goat,” starring singer Nick Jonas and John Krasinki’s family drama “The Hollars,” starring Anna Kendrick and John Krasinki.
With Sundance films’ rising controversy towards other corporate companies, it is harder to consider that this might be the end all, be all of film festivals.