Vera Farmiga first broke into Hollywood during the late ’90s, but it probably wasn’t until her acclaimed turn in The Departed that she truly caught the public’s attention. Since then, she’s developed a reputation (well deserved, IMO) as one of the strongest actresses working today.

And soon, we might be praising her work behind the camera as well. Farmiga is making her directorial debut with Higher Ground, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Based on a memoir by Carolyn Briggs, Higher Ground stars Farmiga as a woman struggling with her faith over the decades. Watch the trailer after the jump. Read More »

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Sundance Invades The Summer of 2011

Everyone’s talked ad nauseam about how the summer of 2011 is going to be a blockbuster bloodbath. Week after week of high concept, big budget sequels featuring superheroes, robots and wizards. But those aren’t the only movies that’ll be playing at your local theater during the long, hot months of May, June, July and August. A huge chunk of movies we reviewed in January at the Sundance Film Festival – from award winners to our personal favorites – are also finding their way into theaters during that time. As the heat quickly approaches, we’ve decided to highlight over 20 Sundance films that are scheduled to open opposite the traditional Hollywood fare. See images, read reviews and find release dates all below. Read More »

You won’t be seeing too many of the films that premiered at Sundance 2011 get a major release this year, but that’s not entirely bad news. Though most of the sales were on the small side, a solid 39 films walked away with a distribution deal of some kind. This means that — whether it be through VOD or a limited theatrical release — there’s a good chance that any Sundance flicks you’ve been interested in checking out upon reading our coverage will be available for viewing in some capacity. This may not be the glowing indie revival I’ve been hoping for, but given the state of Hollywood at the moment, I’ll take it.

As for the films that didn’t get picked up, there may be hope for them yet. Weeks have passed since the Sundance Film Festival ended, but the sales keep on coming. The three latest pictures to be acquired are Higher Ground (the directorial debut from Vera Farmiga, which she also stars), the documentary Magic Trip (co-written/co-directed by Alex Gibney, about the psychedelic ’60s cross-country bus tour taken by Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters) and another documentary entitled The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (about the Black Power and Black Panther movements in the US). Learn more after the break. Read More »

After her exemplary performances in Down to the Bone, The Departed and Up in the Air, we all knew that Vera Farmiga was a talented actress. But with Higher Ground, she proves she’s an excellent director as well. Farmiga directed and stars in the story of one woman’s battle with faith from the 1950s through 1990s. Spanning several eras and featuring excellent supporting performances by John Hawkes, Joshua Leonard and others, Farmiga maintains great narrative propulsion by combining humor and debates about faith with a simple story and round characters. Read More »

The announcement of the movies playing the 2011 Sundance Film Festival is like looking into our film futures. It’s December and most movie fans are looking back at the last 12 months, picking out award winners, writing top ten lists, and chances are we haven’t even heard of the Sundance films. They’re just titles, people, words on a computer screen. Then in January they unspool on screens across Park City, Utah and become something more. Finally, months later, these are the movies we discuss with our friends and choose on ballots at awards parties. Yet we get to read about them now, a year in advance.

Last year at this time, who had heard of Four Lions, Catfish, Exit Through The Gift Shop, Blue Valentine, The Kids Are All Right, Winter’s Bone, Restrepo or Animal Kingdom? Sundance, that’s who. All those films screened at the 2010 festival and now many have become not only personal favorites, but critical darlings and award contenders too.

Wednesday, Sundance announced the 58 films eligible for awards in four categories that will play the 2011 festival, taking place January 20-30. The 57 out-of-competition films in six additional categories will be announced Thursday. After the jump, we’ll give you the full list as well as highlight five in each category that sound particular promising. Read More »

Vera Farmiga to Direct ‘Higher Ground’

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Vera Farmiga quickly broke into the big time. Her early credits came in the late ’90s, and by 2004 she was working with Jonathan Demme (his Manchurian Candidate remake) and then there was The Departed. Up in the Air landed her an Oscar nomination, and she’s continuing to work in movies that aren’t quite mainstream: Henry’s Crime, Madonna’s W.E. (which sounds more intriguing with each nugget of info) and Duncan Jones’ Source Code.

Now she’ll make her directorial debut with Higher Ground, in which she’ll also star. Read More »

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