Nate von Zumwalt
You may be asking yourself, “What business does a film organization have meddling in a conversation about television awards shows?” Good question, loyal reader. One of the myriad benefits of living in this unofficial epoch of episodic television is that the crossover of talent between film and TV is stronger than ever. That means filmmakers like Cary Fukunaga can make a brilliant feature film debut with Sin Nombre, and a few years later helm an Emmy-winning investigative crime drama called True Detective (and yet all we can talk about are his debonair, man-braided ways).
The other more recent development is Sundance Institute’s own venture into the world of television with its Episodic Story Lab, which offers 10 writers the opportunity to refine their writing and producing skills with a group of established showrunners, television execs, and producers. So, what we’re getting at here, in some circuitous and SEO unfriendly way, is that Sundance has a bunch of friends and alums nominated for Emmys this Sunday and we’d like to introduce you to them.
Jill Soloway, Writer and Director
Transparent, Outstanding Comedy Series; Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series; Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
This Is Me, Outstanding Special Class Short Format Nonfiction Programs
Jill Soloway has kind of kicked ass in the television world for years as a writer and producer, but she’s also shown off her directing chops with the Sundance Film Festival premieres of her short film Una Hora Por Favora and her subsequent feature directorial debut Afternoon Delight. Soloway’s most recent work with Amazon Studios on the new Web series Transparent is hilarious and she’s unequivocally not going to win this Sunday (JK, just don’t want to jinx you, Jill).
Elisabeth Moss, Actress
Mad Men, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
At this point Elisabeth Moss is inextricably linked to her enduring role as Peggy Olson on Mad Men, but her silver screen work is equally respectable. Moss is somewhat of a Sundance vanguard for her lead role in Top of the Lake, the gorgeously shot miniseries directed by Jane Campion that premiered in its entirety during a 7-hour long screening at the 2013 Festival. What a strange world we’re living in when your moviegoing experience is equipped with an intermission and a lunch break. Moss also made waves at the 2014 Festival with her appearances in The One I Love and Listen Up Philip. Here’s an interview with Moss from that busy year.
Dee Rees, Writer and Director
Bessie, Outstanding Writing in a Miniseries or Special; Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries Movie or a Dramatic Special
It’s somehow been four years since Dee Rees premiered her strong, street savvy coming-of-age drama Pariah. Rees will always have a place in the Sundance lineage after workshopping that film at the 2008 Screenwriters and Directors Labs, and now she’s got a brilliantly crafted biopic on legendary blues performer Bessie Smith under her belt.
Steven Soderbergh, Director
The Knick, Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
Plenty of cinephiles point to luminaries like Quentin Tarantino and PT Anderson when recalling the burgeoning Sundance Institute and Sundance Film Festival, but Steven Soderbergh’s sex, lies, and videotape is among the earliest breakout films that the Festival spawned. It’s success is, indubitably, owed to employing the Oxford comma in his film’s title. Good on you, Steven.
Soderbergh went on to screen Kafka at the 1992 Festival, and most recently The Girlfriend Experience in 2009. He also took on a few non-Sundance-affiliated projects that totally flopped: Traffic, Magic Mike, and the Ocean’s series, for starters.
Laura Poitras, Director
Citizenfour, Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking (Won); Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming; Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming
One of the most vital and fearless contemporary documentarians, Poitras is fresh off a huge year and an Oscar win for Citizenfour. Like plenty of other documentaries, Citizenfour is something of a mandatory watch, but this one will have you white-knuckling your armrest. Never have we seen such a monumental American news story unravel in front of our eyes like it does with Edward Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald in this menacing expose on government surveillance and the NSA.
Louis C.K., Actor, Writer, & Director
Before he became an indominatble comedic figure with a knack for pushing his discipline’s paradigm past the “funny because it’s true” level of honesty, Louis C.K. was premiering outrageous comedies like Ice Cream and Tomorrow Night at Sundance during the ’90s. Now he’s the do-it-all guy helming Louie, which has so many nominations we’re just going to link to the Emmys website. Well done, Louie.
JEFF BEAL, COMPOSER
House of Cards, Outstanding Music Competition for a Series Original Dramatic Score (Won)
The Dovekeepers, Outstanding Original Main Title Music (Nominated)
Jeff Beal is a longtime advisor at the Film Music Program’s Composers Lab and has scored no less than five Sundance Film Festival selections, most recently doc master Lauren Greenfield’s The Queen of Versailles. And, because the 2015 Creative Arts Emmys were announced last week honoring TV’s behind-the-scenes craftspeople, Beal has already taken home one Emmy this year for House of Cards.