Dan Klores’s new documentary, Crazy Love, was picked up for distribution little more than an hour after its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival Friday night. It was the festival’s first sale — and the talk of its opening weekend. The fourth docu by the Brooklyn-born PR maven turned filmmaker, Crazy Love revives the 1962 scandal of Burton Pugach, a wealthy Queens attorney who served fourteen years for hiring a man to throw lye in the face of his estranged mistress, Linda Riss, and their marriage after his release from prison. The unlikely love story’s shocks drew audible gasps from the audience, but Klores treats his subjects with empathy and even humor, scoring the movie with stalkerish pop songs like Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’s “I Put a Spell on You.” On the day the sale to Magnolia Pictures was announced, we talked to Klores in the lobby of Park City’s Yarrow Hotel.
The movie sold almost immediately after the premiere. That must have been some screening.
I knew distributors really wanted it, because we prescreened it. So I wasn’t nervous about that. However — are you ready for this? I always sit in the last row. There’s a guy in front of me the entire screening with his BlackBerry on. I was so distracted, bummed out; it was unbelievable. So I did the New York thing, kicking the chair, and he stopped. And then he went back to doing it. And I felt, a guy that rude, if I say something to him, he’ll turn around and say something to me, and there’ll be a scene. So I was in pain. I really was. I felt that everyone hated it.
Prescreening the moving for distributors before the festival can be risky, can’t it?
It was a strategy I wasn’t sure about. I was spoiled in that my first two movies sold before we got here. So I thought, well, that’s the way to go. But it’s a little bit different this time, theatrically. The Boys of Second Street Park sold to Showtime, and Ring of Fire sold to NBC/Universal. They pay a lot more.
Oh yeah. A lot. —Sam Adams