Massachusetts Takes Over Sundance Film Festival

sundanceThe Way, Way Back stars Liam James, Sam Rockwell, and others. (Image via Claire Folger.)

The 2013 Sundance Film Festival, best known as the largest independent film festival in the United States, took place in Park City, Utah, last week for its annual 10-day event. The festival had its usual Hollywood alumni in attendance—Ashton Kutcher, Ellen Page, and the Picasso of arbitrary independent films, James Franco—but this year Sundance gave the East Coast some well-deserved recognition with appearances from several Massachusetts faces.

Burlington-bred Amy Poehler, best known for her role as Parks and Recreation‘s politically ambitious Leslie Knope, paid a visit to promote her indie-comedy A.C.O.D.

While brother Ben is humbly accepting awards on behalf of Argo this awards season, Casey Affleck was spotted at Sundance supporting his newest film Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. Affleck co-stars alongside Rooney Mara (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), and early Saturday morning, Saints closed a deal with IFC Films for U.S. rights for a little over $1 million.

After showcasing some of the best international and documentary independent films of the year, the festival’s biggest success came from a Massachusetts-based comedy titled The Way, Way Back. The film, starring Steve Carell and Maya Rudolph and directed by Massachusetts local Nat Faxon, received a lot of praise after its Monday night screening. The film received a standing ovation and immediately drew attention when every distributor stuck around for a Q&A session with the filmmakers. After a battle amongst several film distributors, including Lionsgate, Paramount, and Dreamworks (who weren’t even in attendance at the festival), Fox Searchlight acquired world rights to The Way, Way Back. According to The L.A. Times, The Way, Way Back was the highest bidding project at the festival with Searchlight paying $9.75 million for the project.

Watch Steve Carell talk to the Hollywood Wire on the red carpet about shooting Way Back in his Massachusetts hometown:

How You Can Be a Part of Sundance

The festival may be over, but Sundance is expanding its audiences this year by bringing some festival favorites to cities across the country for just one night this week. In Boston, you can check out a 7 p.m. screening of The Lifeguard, starring Kristen Bell and Mamie Gummer (Meryl Streep’s daughter!) this Thursday, January 31, at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. Visit coolidge.org for more details.