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The Big Thaw

Miranda July led a pack of breakout stars at the hottest Sundance in years.


Photographs by Henny Garfunkel

The freeze is over! At least for buyers at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. During a week in which last year’s crop (including Winter’s Bone, Blue Valentine, The Kids Are All Right, and nearly all the nominated documentaries) earned a total of fourteen Oscar nominations, at least 21 films have sold at this year’s festival—the best record in years. The sluggish buying of 2010 turned into daily deals, with two of the biggest courtesy of the Weinsteins, who paid upward of $6 million for My Idiot Brother (with Paul Rudd) and $8 million for the dark comedy The Details (starring Tobey Maguire). The festival is known for breaking stars, and this year was no exception, with many appearing in more than one film: There were the requisite ingenues (particularly Elizabeth Olsen, younger sibling of those twins), and so many green feature filmmakers (thanks to festival founder Robert Redford’s insistence on new talent) that Fox Searchlight bought films by three—Mike Cahill, T. Sean Durkin, and Gavin Wiesen. Favored veterans returned, like writer-director Miranda July. Even the weather was cooperative: snowy enough for skiing, yet warm enough for starlets to strut down Main Street in sky-high heels—an ingredient Sundance simply can’t do without.


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