James Marsh's MAN ON WIRE, the film that has swept the year-end critics prizes, tied for the win at the IDA Awards and is the odds-on favorite to win the Oscar, was apparently the subject of some serious debate during programming meetings for the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, with at least two programmers arguing against screening the film.
This revelation about the acclaimed film, which went on to win both Jury and Audience prizes in Park City last year, comes from deep inside an interview with Sundance topper Geoffrey Gilmore on the IDA website:
I think you'd be sometimes stunned as to what people like and don't like that later comes out as, "Oh my God, everyone thinks this film is great!' Well, let me tell you, that was hardly the case when we were first reviewing it.
There's no question that the breadth of sensibility and scope that people have becomes an enormous battle. I remember one person in particular was talking about Man on Wire last year as this great film, and there were at least two people in the room who were talking about it as "Why would you ever show this?'"
In our interview with Marsh in December, he said that prior to Sundance he didn't necessarily expect to be accepted to the festival. "Three previous films had been rejected by Sundance and I was pretty sure MAN ON WIRE would suffer the same fate," Marsh told us.
At the time, I thought this seemed ridiculous, but, wow, I guess not...