Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged: Parker Posey, Morgan Spurlock Named Sundance Jurors
Sundance has announced the members on its five juries, the esteemed tastemakers who'll pick the prize-winners at the Awards Ceremony, hosted this year by David Hyde-Pierce (who'll be there in support of his dinner-party crime caper, The Perfect Host). Author Russell Banks, Jennifer's Body director Karyn Kusama, Sundance Queen Parker Posey, indie producer Jason Kliot and cinematographer Robert Yeoman head up the U.S. Dramatic Competition jury, while doc makers Morgan Spurlock and Ondi Timoner sit among the U.S. Documentary Jury. But do their opinions ultimately matter?
As a predictor of commercial and critical success outside of the frosty indie incubator known as Sundance, the awards have something of a spotty record. Last year definitely nailed it, with films like Precious, We Live in Public, The Maid, The Cove, An Education and Afghan Star taking top prizes. But 2007 gave Grace is Gone its audience award, and the year before gave Quinceañera -- a nice film, but not exactly a major film -- both jury and audience awards.
The full list follows. Note Lisa Schwarzbaum's appointment as one of three arbiters of World Cinema excellence: Sundance ushers in a bold new era in letter-grades!
U.S. Documentary Competition
Greg Barker is an award-winning filmmaker who has worked in more than 50 countries across six continents. His most recent film, Sergio won the Documentary Editing Award at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, is short-listed for the 2010 Academy Awards, and screens on HBO this spring.
For more than 20 years, Emmy Award-winning director/producer Dayna Goldfine has, together with her partner, Dan Geller, created critically acclaimed multi-character documentary narratives that weave individual personal stories into a larger portrait of the human experience. The National Society of Film Critics and the National Board of Review recognized their film, Ballets Russes, which screened at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, as one of the top five documentaries that year.
Nancy Miller joined Wired as a senior editor in 2006 and currently oversees much of the magazine's entertainment coverage. Prior to Wired, she was a staff writer at Entertainment Weekly and a freelance producer and on-air correspondent for KCRW in Los Angeles.
Morgan Spurlock's first film, Super Size Me, premiered at the 2004 Festival, won the Directing Award and went on to receive the Writers Guild of America documentary screenplay award and earn an Academy Award nomination. Spurlock has directed, produced, and distributed multiple film and TV projects, including the critically acclaimed FX television series 30 Days and the films Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden? (Sundance Film Festival 2008), Confessions of a Superhero, Czech Dream, Chalk, The Future of Food, What Would Jesus Bu?, and the soon-to-be-released Freakonomics.
Ondi Timoner is the only filmmaker to win the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival twice, first for DIG! in 2004 and again last year for We Live in Public. Both films are now part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Timoner has also directed the award-winning sociopolitical feature films The Nature of the Beast (1994) and Join Us (2007) and a short film, Recycle, which premiered at Sundance in 2005, continuing on to the Cannes Film Festival and schools worldwide.
U.S. Dramatic Competition
Russell Banks is the author of five short-story collections and eleven novels, including Cloudsplitter, Rule of the Bone, and The Reserve. His work has received numerous awards and been widely translated and anthologized. Two of his novels, The Sweet Hereafter and Affliction, were adapted into award-winning films. The Darling, Continental Drift, and Rule of the Bone are currently in development. Banks is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Jason Kliot is an Academy Award-nominated producer whose credits encompass more than 40 feature films by such acclaimed directors as Jim Jarmusch, Miguel Arteta, Brian De Palma, Hal Hartley, Steven Soderbergh, Nicole Holofcener, and Todd Solondz. Kliot has produced 20 films that have screened at the Sundance Film Festival, including two Grand Jury Prizewinners: Welcome to the Dollhouse in 1996 and Three Seasons in 1999.
Karyn Kusama wrote and directed her first feature film, Girlfight, in 1999. The film won the Directing Award and shared the Grand Jury Prize at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival and was released by Sony Screen Gems. In 2005, she directed the science-fiction love story Aeon Flux for Paramount Pictures. Her third directorial effort, Jennifer's Body, was recently released by Twentieth Century Fox.
Parker Posey has appeared in more than 50 films, including Happy Tears (upcoming); Broken English, which screened at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and earned her an Independent Spirit Award nomination and an array of Christopher Guest films: For Your Consideration, A Mighty Wind, Best in Show, and Waiting for Guffman. For her performance in The House of Yes, Posey received a Special Jury Prize at Sundance in 1997.
Robert Yeoman won the Independent Spirit Award for cinematography for Gus Van Sant's Drugstore Cowboy. He also worked on Roman Coppola's CQ; Noah Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale, which screened at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival; and Drew Barrymore's Whip It. Yeoman served as Wes Anderson's cinematographer on Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic, and The Darjeeling Limited. Studio credits include Peyton Reed's Yes Man and the upcoming Get Him to the Greek.
World Cinema Documentary Competition
Jennifer Baichwal has been directing and producing documentaries for 15 years. Her last feature, Manufactured Landscapes, about the work of artist Edward Burtynsky, was released in 12 countries and screened at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Act of God, a feature documentary about the metaphysical effects of being struck by lightning, opened the Hot Docs Film Festival in May 2009 and is currently in release through Mongrel Media in Canada and Zeitgeist Films in the United States.
Jeffrey Brown is a senior correspondent for PBS's NewsHour, responsible for conducting studio discussions and reporting from the field with an emphasis on culture, arts, and the media. As a correspondent for the NewsHour since 1998, he has profiled and interviewed dozens of leading American and international writers, musicians, and other artistic figures. As senior producer for national affairs for more than a decade, he has helped shaped coverage of the economy, social policy, culture, and the arts.
Asako Fujioka is the director of the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival and works out of its Tokyo office. She has been associated with the Festival since 1993 after earlier work in film distribution. From 1995 to 2003, she coordinated the New Asian Currents program, a collection of films and videos by emerging documentarians from all over the Orient. She has also been a member of the selection committee for the Pusan International Film Festival's Asian Network of Documentary fund (AND) since 2006.
World Cinema Dramatic Competition
Writer/director Alison Maclean's short film, Kitchen Sink (1989), debuted at the Cannes Film Festival and won eight international awards. Her first feature, Crush, was shot in Rotorua, New Zealand, starred Marcia Gay Harden, and screened at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. Jesus' Son (1999) won the Baby Lion and OCIC Catholic Awards at the Venice Film Festival. In 2004, Maclean codirected Persons of Interest, a documentary about Arab/Muslim men detained after Sept. 11, which screened as part of Sundance's Documentary Competition.
Lisa Schwarzbaum has been a movie critic at Entertainment Weekly since 1994. In addition, she contributes book and theatre reviews, essays, and cultural criticism. Her freelance articles have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Vogue, More, and numerous other publications. Schwarzbaum is a member of the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle, where she is a past chair.
Sigurjon "Joni" Sighvatsson
Joni Sighvatsson, the principal of Palomar Pictures, is a veteran producer with more than 30 feature films and television series to his credit. Working with studios (Arlington Road, K-19: The Widowmaker) and independently (David Lynch's Wild at Heart, Basquiat), Sighvatsson has demonstrated a broad range of approaches in producing and choice of material. Currently, he is preparing a slate of more than 20 films, including The Featherman with Jason Statham. Sighvatsson's latest film, Brothers, starring Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Natalie Portman, opened to rave reviews.