Archive for January, 2016

Sundance 2016 Winners

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It’s Sunday and the awards were presented last night with a celebration afterward.  Given the difficulty of getting into this particular festival, the mere fact that the films were a part of Sundance automatically makes them winners. But in the end, the judges have the final say.  Here is the list of award winning films:

Audience Award: U.S. DOCUMENTARY

JIM: THE JAMES FOLEY STORY, directed by Brian Oakes

Audience Award: U.S. DRAMATIC


NEXT Audience Award






U.S. Grand Jury Prize: DOCUMENTARY

WEINER, directed by Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegman

U.S. Grand Jury Prize: DRAMATIC

THE BIRTH OF A NATION, directed by Nate Parker

Directing Award: U.S. DOCUMENTARY

LIFE, ANIMATED, directed by Roger Ross Williams

Directing Award: U.S. DRAMATIC

SWISS ARMY MAN, directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert

U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award

AS YOU ARE, directed by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte

U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance


U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Individual Performance


Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. DRAMATIC

MORRIS FROM AMERICA, written by Chad Hartigan

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Social Impact Filmmaking

TRAPPED, directed by Dawn Porter

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing

NUTS! edited by Penny Lane and Thom Stylinski

World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: DOCUMENTARY

SONITA, directed by Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami

Winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize

EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT, directed by Ciro Guerra

For the full list of winners, go to:


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Flula Borg and Alex Simmons join me to talk about their outdoor comedy adventure HONEY BUDDIES which won the audience choice award at Slamdance 2016!

To watch the interview go HERE

Sundance 2016

The 2016 Sundance Film Festival is wrapping up this weekend. What is typically a quiet ski town of Park City, Utah, now is bursting at the seams with filmmakers, actors and fans from all over the world. It started in 1985 as an answer to a filmmaker’s need for a place to learn and has grown into one of the most prestigious and star-studded festivals in the country.

owenpainting_thumbnailTo read the article in its entirety as it appears in the Friday, January 29th edition of The Daily Journal go HERE

To watch a few more interviews from Sundance including James Redford from RESILIENCE and W. Kamau Bell from UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA, CNN’s new series, go to WATCH VIDEO HERE


“Honey Buddies” premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival, winning the Audience Choice Award.  It’s no doubt that this film is a crowd pleaser as it is a rare comedic gem.  This “bromance” adventure film stars David Giuntoli as David, a rising acting star that’s been jilted, and Flula Borg, the relentlessly up-beat and comically irritating best man.  Written by Alex Simmons and the two lead actors, “Honey Buddies” takes you on an historically hysterical walk in the woods.


An Interview with the Filmmakers

As the “Save the Date” Wedding postcard is going through the shredder and David is chugging his rose wine from the bottle, sitting on the floor of an empty apartment with the exception of camping equipment, we know life has taken an unexpected turn.    Flula  has flown in from Germany for the wedding that has been canceled and the two decide to go on the week-long honeymoon trip together.  This trip isn’t going to be a honeymoon for either of them!

The film parallels the adventure and lives of Louis and Clark.  OK.  That might be pushing it, but the narration of the embellished diary of William Clark during significant events of Flula and David’s expedition give this comedy adventure story a fun and interesting flare.  What can go wrong does.  And what can’t go wrong also does.  From encountering a conspiracy theorist (Brian T. Finney) who just might have eaten a few too many mushrooms that weren’t shitake, to having to navigate using the stars just like David’s historical heroes, these buddies create not only a new path for themselves, but tell a story that is innovative and genuinely funny.

honey2David Guintoli (David) captures the heartbroken young man with ease, yet he makes you laugh at his terribly sad situation.  We can all relate to David and his feelings.  We then watch his patience wax and wane with his German buddy and understand his reactions and emotions.  We are rooting for him the entire way.

Flula is simply brilliant in his performance.  The perfectly timed and nuanced comedy, both physically and verbally, create the most unusual character that you want to love and throttle at the same time.  He’s literal in his understanding of the English language, and confuses concepts and words which takes you off guard momentarily, only to make you laugh even more loudly when his quirky style of reasoning finally hits you.

David and Flula are an odd couple that balance each other perfectly; a yin-yang of buddies.  Their conversations, pranks, and baring of their souls is like riding a roller coaster; so thrilling that it brings tears of joy to your eyes.  Placing these two talented actors in themost beautiful area of the Columbia River Gorge just makes this film even more enjoyable.  The beauty of Oregon is unmatched as the cinematographer captures the lush and breathtaking scenery.  The waterfhoney cinematogalls and peacefulness of this area will make you want to find a “honey buddy” to take camping this summer.

“Honey Buddies” is an exceptionally funny and imaginative  film about love, friendship, and priorities.  This relatable and comedic film finds a way to harness each and every part of life.  With every step the David and Flula take, you’ll be craning your neck to look ahead, anticipating the next crazy and unexpected piece ofHoney1 life’s puzzle.  There’s only one thing missing:  The recipe for “Backpack Beer!”

4 Stars!




Check out the article about this year’s Sundance Film Festival as it appears in the Friday, January 29th edition of The Daily Journal here

Dinner With Family

Jason Woliner and Brett Gelman sat down with me to talk about the making of their new short film DINNER WITH FAMILY which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Fesitval.  How dark, sick, and twisted can it be and where do they get their material? WATCH THE VIDEO INTERVIEW HERE  to find out!



DeWanda Wise, Charles Brice, Pamela Powell

Charles Brice and DeWanda Wise join me during the Sundance Film Festival to talk about their new film HOW TO TELL YOU’RE A DOUCHEBAG.  Watch the short clip that will appear in The Daily Journal tomorrow as we highlight many wonderful films at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

Watch a clip of the interview here: “Douchebag” Interview Clip

Watch for the full interview and review coming shortly!



I had the pleasure to sit down and chat with the filmmakers for one of my favorite Slamdance Film Festival movies, HONEY BUDDIES!  Flula Borg and Alex Simmons tell me all the behind the scenes “dirt” about making a camping movie.

To watch the short video, go to HONEY BUDDIES INTERVIEW




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Lights!  Cameras!  Action!  The Sundance Film Festival is ready to roll as the opening day press conference with founder, Robert Redford, setting the tone at the Egyptian Theater in quaint downtown Park City, Utah.

Sean Means, a Salt Lake City film critic, moderated the much anticipated first day press conference to light the festival’s torch.  In attendance were John Cooper (Director), Keri Putnam (Executive Director) and Robert Redford, President and Founder of the 31 year old independent film festival, Sundance.  While Means gently tossed questions to his Sundance panel, it wasn’t until the target word “diversity” was mentioned that you could hear the press shift in their seats, and a few audible noises of appreciation for having this question asked.  Redford, as with most answers, kept it simple, straightforward, yet eloquent as he said, “If you’re independent, you’re automatically diverse.”  Putnam added that she felt that Sundance filmmakers are finally at “a seat at that [selection] table…to try to facilitate diversity” in the entertainment world.  All three Sundance representatives stated that this festival brings attention to areas that perhaps are overlooked such as women in film, but reiterated that what is essential most important is the story.  Redford emphasized that “the most important thing is the story…story-telling.”

Youth and how they will bring a new voice and diversity with it is also a focal point in film and Sundance.  Creating an encouraging environment to share this is key and the Ignite Program is just one such element used here to bring 18-25 year olds interested in films to the festival and to learn.  His recommendation wasn’t to go to film school and then make a movie.  He suggested that these young people “have some real life experiences.”  That’s what makes a good story.

In closing, Redord joked that the missionaries brought and  kept both he and Sundance Film Festival to Utah, but in all seriousness, Sundance is a Destination Festival.  What was begun as a domestic festival has now, through globalization, become “a cultural exchange,” said Redford.  The Sundance Film Festival, although has its roots here in Utah, is also reaching out to Hong Kong and London, bringing the American independent filmmakers’ voices abroad.  Diversity is exchanged through film as “borders are disolved,” Redford said.  But back to Utah,  Redford felt that Utah and Park City (and director John Cooper) “just make it wierd”—in a good way, of course.