Hollywood takes strike break, heads to Sundance
By Bob Tourtellotte
PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - Hollywood's independent filmmakers take a strike break starting on Thursday when the Sundance Film Festival launches its annual showcase of movies made outside the big studios, now embroiled in a labor dispute with screenwriters.
The festival, backed by actor Robert Redford's Sundance Institute, is the premiere event for U.S. independent film and some of the roughly 120 feature-length films will be among the most buzzed-about movies in art houses throughout 2008.
Films such as "What Just Happened" starring Robert DeNiro and Sean Penn, "Be Kind Rewind" with Jack Black and "Towelhead" with Maria Bello will compete for the media spotlight.
Distributors will look to acquire films for release later this year and in 2009, and companies with products from video cameras to eco-friendly hiking boots will come to Sundance to hawk their wares, giving the event a carnival-like atmosphere.
Organizers promise plenty of laughter in the film dramas that typically highlight the festival, and that is good news for Hollywood strikers such as Clark Gregg, who is headed to Park City, in the mountains east of Salt Lake City, to make his directorial debut with the humor-laced drama "Choke."
"I was asking around, wondering whether we should be picketing, but I don't think so," said Gregg, explaining that Sundance festival goers already share a sense of community that lies outside the realm of the major studios.
The strike by some 10,500 members of the Writers Guild of America began in November and largely centers on fees writers want when their work appears on the Internet.
SUNDANCE WORLD Continued...