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Sundance kicks off with strong screenings, sales buzz

Last night’s clutch of well received opening night films at Sundance combined with SPWA’s preemptive swoop on the Morgan Spurlock documentary earlier in the day has instilled hope among attendees that this will be a busy festival.

As the annual jamboree enters the first weekend there was cautiously optimistic chatter that this year’s iteration could spark a worthy successor to the 2010 event, regarded as a recent high water mark in sales activity, if not in the actual prices involved.

Buyers turned out in force for the world premieres of John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard in the World Cinema Dramatic section and James Marsh’s Project Nim [pictured], flying the flag for World Cinema Documentary.

Shortly afterwards Harvey Weinstein could be seen hurrying into the well attended midnight screening of Chris Kentis’ thriller remake Silent House, yet more evidence that acquisitions teams have hit the ground running in Utah in the hopes of an early gem.

Indeed a deal may materialise on Andrew Rossi’s US Documentary Competition entry Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times before the world premiere on Sunday, such has been the level of early attention on that film. Submarine is handling worldwide sales.

Meanwhile CAA is fielding interest in international rights to Spurlock’s The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, which premieres on Saturday and is described as lighthearted and fun. Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions announced early yesterday that it had taken the US and Canada.

CAA sales agents confirmed there was intense ongoing interest from studio executives back in Los Angeles in Ian Palmer’s documentary Knuckle. A remake deal involving the original film-makers could go down within the next few days.

Friday’s schedule brings anticipated Premieres screenings such as J C Chandor’s financial crisis ensemble drama Margin Call and Miranda July’s sophomore effort The Future.

A wealth of stories from the US Dramatic Competition unfolding on Friday include Sean Durkin’s paranoia drama Martha Marcy May Marlene starring Elizabeth Olsen’ Matthew Chapman’s thriller The Ledge with Charlie Hunnam and Liv Tyler; and Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s Alaska-set thriller On The Ice.

Among the anticipated documentaries are Cindy Meehl’s Buck, Liz Garbus’ Bobby Fischer Against The World and Steve James’ The Interrupters.

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