Brooklyn Takes Over Sundance


The 2014 Sundance Film Festival wraps up this weekend in Park City, Utah. This year, the annual fete – known for its traditionally quirkier and indie fare – included a number of films set in Brooklyn, prompting this New York Post piece by critic Kyle Smith – – as well as this amusingly titled piece from Variety editor Ramin Setoodeh – “Sundance: Festival Suffers From Too Much Brooklyn?”

Here’s a quick look at some of the Brooklyn-based films featured at this year’s fest, including descriptions from the festival’s website and how they’re being received. See which ones you want to check out when they hopefully come to BAM sometime later this year, and let us know what your favorite Brooklyn-based movie is in the comments.


Obvious Child

Directed by: Gillian Robespierre

Starring: Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy, David Cross

What’s It About: “Donna Stern is a 27-year-old Brooklyn comedian whose unapologetically lewd, warmhearted wit is pretty irresistible with audiences. When she gets heartlessly “dumped up with” by her two-timing boyfriend, Donna plunges into some light stalking and heavy moping. Hitting a serious low point, she performs a dreary set of break-up vengeance and Holocaust jokes and drunkenly falls into bed with a nice young professional named Max—not remotely her type. A few weeks later, condoms be damned, she’s pregnant. Now Donna, incapable of telling anything but the naked truth when she’s on stage, will resort to any means to avoid telling Max the score. As her date with Planned Parenthood draws near, she must confront her doubts and fears like never before.

The Buzz: Reviews have been very good, The Hollywood Reporter called it a “very funny likeable and funny first feature”. A24 – the upstart distributor who released such movies as SPRING BREAKERS and THE SPECTACULAR NOW – picked up rights to this, so look for a theatrical release sometime in 2014.



Appropriate Behavior

Directed by: Desiree Akhavan

Starring: Desiree Akhavan, Rebecca Henderson

What’s It About?: “For Shirin, being part of a perfect Persian family isn’t easy. Acceptance eludes her from all sides: her family doesn’t know she’s bisexual, and her ex-girlfriend, Maxine, can’t understand why she doesn’t tell them. Even the six-year-old boys in her moviemaking class are too ADD to focus on her for more than a second. Following a family announcement of her brother’s betrothal to a parentally approved Iranian prize catch, Shirin embarks on a private rebellion involving a series of pansexual escapades, while trying to decipher what went wrong with Maxine.”

The Buzz: Reviews have been a little more mixed but generally positive, and Akhavan has been labeled a talent to watch. No word on a deal with a distributor yet, but this seems a good bet for a limited or VOD release.


Song One

Directed by: Kate Barker-Froyland

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Johnny Flynn, Mary Steenburgen

What’s It About?: “For a while now, Franny has been in Morocco researching Bedouin tribes for her PhD in anthropology. The last time she spoke to her brother, Henry, they fought brutally over his decision to ditch college and become a musician. When a terrible accident puts Henry in a coma, Franny rushes home to New York. Desperately seeking clues to his recovery, she dips her toe into the Brooklyn music scene he inhabited, attending a concert by his singer/songwriter hero, James Forester. When James unexpectedly visits Henry’s hospital room, a spark kindles between Franny and this reticent stranger. In the vibrant coffeehouses and clubs they frequent, love and grief intermingle. Franny discovers a new appreciation for her family and the possibility of truly connecting with people, rather than living life solely as an observer.”

The Buzz: Reviews have been all over, with some liking it and some really not liking it. No word on a distributor yet, but Hathaway’s presence should guarantee a sizeable theatrical release.


Love Is Strange

Directed by: Ira Sachs

Starring: John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Marisa Tomei

What’s It About?: “After 39 years together, Ben and George finally tie the knot in an idyllic wedding ceremony in lower Manhattan. But when news of their marriage reaches the Catholic school where George works, he is fired from his longtime job, and the couple can no longer afford their New York City apartment. As a temporary solution, George moves in with the two gay cops next door, while Ben moves to Brooklyn to live with his nephew, Eliot; Eliot’s wife, Kate; and their teenage son. As Ben and George struggle to secure a new apartment, the pain of living apart and their presence in two foreign households test the resilience and relationships of all involved.”

The Buzz: Reviews have been very positive. Variety called it an “uncompromising yet accessible,” “beautifully observed ensemble.” Sony Pictures Classics acquired this; look for a theatrical release sometime in 2014.



Directed by: David Cross

Starring: Meredith Hagner, Matt Walsh

What’s It About?: This is the directorial debut of David Cross (Arrested Development, Mr. Show). “Hits is a comedy about a paranoid municipal worker named Dave, his The Voice–obsessed 19-year-old daughter, a wannabe teenage rapper who has an unrequited crush on the daughter, and their neighbors in a small, working-class town in upstate New York. Dave finds fame when videos of his rants at City Hall go viral, and hordes of appallingly well-meaning hipsters from Brooklyn descend on their town to make sure Dave’s rights aren’t trampled by “the man.”

The Buzz: Critical response has been pretty negative. Reviewers seem to be mixed on whether it’s funny or not, but agree it’s not very good. No word on distribution yet.

They Came Together

Directed by: David Wain

Starring: Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd

What’s It About: Director Wain also directed WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, and he reunites a good chunk of the SUMMER cast for this spoof of the romantic comedy. “They Came Together relates the epic love story of Joel, a corporate executive for Candy Systems and Research, a mega candy store chain, and Molly, the owner of a small sweet shop called Upper Sweet Side. When Joel is tasked with shutting down Molly’s mom-and-pop operation, the unlikely lovers find themselves hurtled into a whirlwind romance. From quaint bookstores and coffee shops to neurotic family members and psychotic ex-lovers, Joel and Molly must face some harrowing obstacles on their path to true love.”

The Buzz: While it doesn’t sound like it’s as good as Wet Hot American Summer, reviews have been pretty solid and people seem to be enjoying it. Lionsgate releases this on June 27th.


Listen Up Phillip

Director: Alex Ross Perry

Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Elizabeth Moss

What’s It About?: “Anger rages in Philip as he awaits the publication of his sure-to-succeed second novel. He feels pushed out of his adopted home city by the constant crowds and noise, a deteriorating relationship with his photographer girlfriend Ashley, and his own indifference to promoting the novel. When Philip’s idol, Ike Zimmerman, offers his isolated summer home as a refuge, he finally gets the peace and quiet to focus on his favorite subject—himself.”

The Buzz: Reviews have been positive. Indiewire called it “a remarkable piece of work” with “terrific, attention-getting performances.”