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Home / Articles / Archive / Film & TV /  Sundance | 5x5=25: Five Lists of Five for a Silver Anniversary Overview Page 2
Film & TV

Sundance | 5x5=25: Five Lists of Five for a Silver Anniversary Overview Page 2

Posted // January 14,2009 - Five Great Sundance Film Success Stories
nOver the years, the festival has launched plenty of critical and popular favorites. Here are just a few of the most noteworthy.

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1. Sex, Lies and Videotape
nIn 1989, a first-time feature filmmaker named Steven Soderbergh premiered a low-budget drama about unhappy couple John and Ann, and how the appearance of John’s old college friend Graham acts as an unexpected catalyst. The film won the audience award, but more significantly, it became an art-house hit and earned an Oscar nomination for Soderbergh’s screenplay. And the search would always be on for the “next sex, lies and videotape.” (SR)

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2. The Blair Witch Project
nIt was tucked away in the relatively unpublicized Park City After Midnight category in 1999, but within a few days it was the buzz film of the festival. While reaction varied widely over its hand-held, found-video “gimmick” (see also: “Five Divisive Films”), filmmakers Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez built on the mythology through the subsequent months with a fascinating Website that went “viral” before anyone even knew what “viral” was. By the time Artisan Entertainment released the film in the summer of 1999, the hype was feverish—and the film went on to gross more than $140 million, by far the most ever for a Sundance film. (SR)

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3. Little Miss Sunshine
nThere was reason to wonder whether the love audiences heaped on this dysfunctional-family-on-a-road-trip comedy would move beyond Park City; naysayers only had to point to the flop of 1998 darling Happy, Texas to show that quirky festival favorites might not have momentum. But this time, the affection hit the moviegoing public in general, to the tune of $59 million. And by the time the Oscars rolled around, it had scored a Best Picture nomination and wins for Supporting Actor Alan Arkin and Michael Arndt’s original screenplay. (SR)

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4. Shine
nIt didn’t exactly fit the typical Sundance profile—it was an Australian film, rather than American, and therefore not part of the high-profile competition category. But response in 1996 was so positive to the true story of pianist David Helfgott that it provoked one of the most legendary battles over distribution rights in the festival’s history, including a public shouting match. By the time audiences got a chance to see what all the shouting was about, it was on its way to becoming one of the critical hits of the year, including seven Oscar nominations and a win for lead actor Geoffrey Rush. (SR)

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5. Once
nMade on a shoestring in Ireland by an ex- musician, this musical romance between a busker and a Czech immigrant represented everything that was best about the festival. Bubbling under the radar in the World Cinema category in 2007, it quickly became the movie that people needed to tell others about, landing a distribution deal shortly after it won an Audience Award. And when it was released in the summer, in continued its crowd-pleasing ways. The plaintive central ballad “Falling Slowly” went on to win an Oscar for Best Original Song—but by then plenty of people had already fallen in love with the story. (SR)

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