Seen and heard at Sundance

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by Associated Press

Associated Press

Posted on January 21, 2013 at 9:06 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 21 at 9:06 PM

Associated Press journalists open their notebooks at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah:

THE BUSINESS OF SUNDANCE

The business part of show business is in full swing at the Sundance Film Festival, where film buyers are cutting deals to distribute movies playing at the independent-cinema showcase.

Showtime snapped up "History of the Eagles," director Alison Ellwood's two-part documentary about the pop super-group. It will air Feb. 15-16.

HBO acquired television rights for another music-related documentary, "Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer," Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin's profile of the punk-rock group, whose activities resulted in imprisonment of three members over an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in Russia's main cathedral.

A24, a distribution outfit founded last summer, picked up North American rights to James Ponsoldt's teen drama "The Spectacular Now," featuring Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley.

North American rights to Michael Winterbottom's "The Look of Love" went to IFC Films. The film stars Steve Coogan, Anna Friel, Imogen Poots and Tamsin Egerton in the true-life story of British adult-entertainment tycoon Paul Raymond.

Sundance Selects bought North American rights to Richard Rowley's "Dirty Wars," a documentary examining the use of drone strikes, torture and covert operations by U.S. forces in the war on terror.

— David Germain

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TOASTING THE STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPHS

The topic of conversation was black filmmaking and the creative challenges African-American artists face in bringing their vision to the screen at a special dinner on Sunday night during the Sundance Film Festival.

Last year, filmmaker Ava DuVernay became the first black woman to win best director at Sundance for her acclaimed film, "Middle of Nowhere." This year, DuVernay held court at the restaurant Silver as BET and the African American Film Festival Releasing Movement, which is devoted to getting more black films in theaters, held an intimate dinner that included some of the top black talent attending the festival.

The conversation centered on the struggles and triumphs of black filmmakers over the years and also whether the pressures of reaching more mainstream audiences interferes with the creative process. There are a handful of films by black filmmakers at Sundance this year, from the Alicia Keys-produced, George Tillman-directed "The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete" to "Mother of George," directed by Andrew Dosunmu.

— Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/nekesamumbi

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SAILING WITH BILL CLINTON

Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich doesn't think the focus of his life would be that much different if Bill Clinton hadn't showed up at his cabin door with soup and crackers during a bout of seasickness in the early 1960s.

The Sundance Film Festival documentary "Inequality for All" features Reich discussing problems and solutions for the economic disparity between the super-rich and average Americans.

The film includes a recollection of how Reich met Clinton when both were picked as Rhodes scholars to study at Oxford in England. On the voyage over, Reich became ill and wound up sticking to his cabin — until Clinton came knocking. Clinton introduced himself and offered chicken soup, saying he heard Reich was under the weather.

Thirty years later, Clinton hired economist Reich as his labor secretary.

How different would Reich's life be if Clinton hadn't come calling?

"I certainly would have stayed in my cabin sick a couple of days longer," Reich said in an interview Monday.

"But it's a hard question. I would have done much of what I've done. Perhaps not spent four years as a Cabinet secretary, but the trajectory of my work in economics and politics about issues having to do with employment and who gets what, enabling people to get ahead, that was there long before Bill Clinton came on my scene in terms of offering me a job as labor secretary."

— David Germain

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