Sundance Institute is proud to announce our first-ever Alumni Advisory Board. Our community begins with our artists, and we are excited to be bringing the voices of our artist alumni direct to you starting this month. For this year's Board, we've assembled twelve Sundance Institute artist alumni who have generously agreed to share their stories-and experiences-to advise us on Institute programs, and to offer their unique perspectives on what Sundance Institute is all about. The members of the Alumni Board represent all of our Institute programs, and we are very grateful to these artists for using their voices to help us build our community of artists and audiences.
Each month, we will spotlight one of the 12 Artist Alumni on our website. Check back each month to see who we unveil as the Artist Spotlight. The venerable Morgan Spurlock kicks things off as our January Artist Alumni Spotlight with an interview below.
Meet the 2011 Sundance Institute Alumni Advisory Board. Click here for full bios and photos.
- Katie Aselton: Sundance Film Festival Director (The Freebie), Annenberg Grant winner
- Lee Daniels: Sundance Film Festival Director (Precious) producer (The Woodsman)
- America Ferrera: Sundance Film Festival Actor (Real Women Have Curves, How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer, Steel City, La Misma Luna, The Dry Land (also EP); 2011 Sundance Film Festival Juror
- James Franco: Sundance Film Festival Actor (Howl, An American Crime) Director (Herbert White, 2010 Short), Down & Dirty shorts program in LA; 2011 Sundance Film Festival New Frontier Artist
- Clark Gregg: Sundance Film Festival Director (Choke) Actor (Adventures of Sebastian Cole, 500 Days of Summer, Lovely and Amazing); 2011 Sundance Film Festival Sloan Juror
- Lauren Greenfield: Sundance Film Festival Director (kids+money, Thin), 2007 Sundance Film Festival Juror
- Braden King: Feature Film Program (Here, 2007) NHK Award, Annenberg Grant, Cinereach Project, Composers Lab Experiment; 2011 Sundance Film Festival Director (Here)
- Stacy Peralta: Sundance Film Festival Director (Riding Giants, Made in America, Dogtown & Z Boys), 2005 Sundance Film Festival Juror
- Stew: Feature Film Program Directors Lab (We Can See Today, 2005), Theatre Lab (Passing Strange, 2005)
- Jason Reitman: Sundance Film Festival Director (Thank You for Smoking), 3 Short Films (In God We Trust, Operation and Gulp); 2008 Short Film Juror; 2011 Sundance Film Festival Juror
- Morgan Spurlock: Sundance Film Festival Director (Supersize Me, Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden); 2010 Sundance Film Festival Juror; 2011 Sundance Film Festival Director (The Greatest Movie Ever Sold); 2011 Sundance Film Festival Artist at the Table Keynote Speaker
- Taika Waititi: Sundance Film Festival Director (Boy, Eagle vs. Shark, Tama Tu, The Volcano), Feature Film Directors Lab (Eagle vs. Shark, 2005)
Many thanks to Morgan Spurlock for taking the plunge as our first featured Alumni Spotlight for the month of January. Morgan is premiering his newest film, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, at this year's Festival. Before he heads to Utah he caught up with Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam to talk life changing moments, impregnating brains, and who is going to win an Oscar.
Putnam: You're premiering your latest film The Greatest Movie Ever Sold in the new Documentary Premieres section which allows the Festival to showcase big topics and the work of established doc filmmakers. What does it feel like to premiere your film in this new section along with Liz Garbus, Steve James, Eugene Jarecki, and Pamela Yates among others?
Spurlock: I am honored to be coming back to Sundance with The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, not to mention being a part this new section with so many other filmmakers I love and respect. The idea of the Festival launching docs in a premiere section and showcasing them as films that are on par with narratives is an idea whose time has come. I think it's really exciting.
Putnam: A lot of your work incites a dialogue with audiences about a social or political issue. What impact do you hope The Greatest Movie Ever Sold has with audiences?
Spurlock: I hope the movie impregnates people's brains with awesome.
Putnam: We are launching the Sundance Alumni Board this month with you as our first Alumni Spotlight. First of all-thank you-and secondly, why did you agree to join our Alumni Board? What do you hope to give back to our community of independent artists?
Spurlock: I joined the board because I have been incredibly fortunate in my career thus far and I owe a debt of gratitude to Sundance for that. Sundance gave me an opportunity to share my film and my voice with the world and the people I met at my first Festival are still some of my dearest friends and confidants in this business. Giving back is something that was instilled into me at an early age by my parents, and if by being on the board I can assist another filmmaker to get their movie out into the world or to help make the Festival experience more enriching for all the people who attend, then I embrace the opportunity. This is a community, and filmmaking is not an easy task, so it's important that we support one another, help one another, share ideas and resources with each other, and hopefully continue to change and shape this industry.
Putnam: What was your first involvement with Sundance and what has been your favorite experience?
Spurlock: My first Sundance experience was with Super Size Me in 2004. I'd never been to Park City or the Festival before so when I got the call that we were selected I was beyond excitement. We were giddy for weeks while we put the finishing touches on the film and then getting there, being there, feeling the energy that swirls around that town and those mountains was unlike anything I'd ever experienced. And then what happened with the movie during that Festival changed my life forever. It was unbelievable.
I love movies so I would have to say my favorite experience was coming back in 2010 as a juror. Every year I came with a movie, I was lucky to see three or four films, and last year I saw twenty-eight movies over the course of the Festival. It was amazing, so if you ever get the chance to be a juror at a festival... do it.
Putnam: As an avid culture consumer, can you give us some recommendations this month?
Spurlock: This month I recommend:
Music: Fistful of Mercy, Matt & Kim "Sidewalks," and anything KTU plays while I drive thru NYC (it's my own personal mobile dance party); http://fistfulofmercy.com/; http://www.ktu.com/main.html
Movie: I just bought Inception on Blu-Ray and its incredible. And you have to go see The Fighter, Christian Bale is definitely winning an Oscar this year;
Book: Am reading Steve Martin's new book, An Object of Beauty - I love that guy;
Food: In NYC, I'm a huge fan of Calexico, its a Burrito cart on the corner of Broome and Crosby. You have to eat one to believe how amazing they are;
Art: Kid Zoom just had an unbelievable pop up show in NYC. Check out his work here: http://www.kid-zoom.com/
Morgan's film The Greatest Movie Ever Soldpremieres at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, January 22 at the Library Theatre, and he will be featured as the keynote speaker for Sundance Institute's An Artist at the Table fundraiser on Day 1 of the Festival. Also, look for a special message from Morgan on the Sundance Film Festival's official iPhone and Android application. You can follow him on Twitter @MorganSpurlock.