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January 22, 2009


Thom Powers

Every year, Sundance raises expectations for doc sales - and rightfully so, given it's track record. But it's a little misleading to make forecasts for 2009 based on Sundance without taking into account docs that sold out of the Toronto International Film Festival. One good reason that Sundance gets more attention is that deals tend to occur during the festival - whereas at TIFF, the sales more often occur in the weeks or months after when the press pays less attention.

One highlight at TIFF this year was MORE THAN A GAME, the doc about LeBron James, that was the first runner-up for the festival's People's Choice award and sold to Lion's Gate in an unusual deal, partnered with Nike and other companies, that Variety reported was worth eight figures.

I don't know of any doc ever sold for eight figures, yet this hardly received attention in the doc world.

Other post-TIFF deals include three docs acquired by Sony Pictures Classics: EVERY LITTLE STEP; SOUL POWER; and IT MIGHT GET LOUD. Magnolia picked up FOOD, INC and Oscilloscope got YOUSSOU NDOUR: I BRING WHAT I LOVE.

Meanwhile. VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR seems to be taking a self-distribution route, opening at Film Forum in Feb. And I'm sure we'll be hearing more from other TIFF docs.

Granted, I have a biased perspective as a TIFF programmer. But I'm looking forward to a very healthy year for docs.

Thom Powers

After I wrote the previous comment, I thought of 3 other TIFF 08 docs acquired for theatrical release in 09:

OF TIME AND THE CITY which just opened in NY courtesy of Strand

THE BEACHES OF AGNES from Cinema Guild

EXAMINED LIFE from Zeitgeist.

Quite a trio.

Tim silano

I'm not at sundance however my documentary Schrader's Exorcism has gotten fabulous reviews by Filmthreat.com and many others,it will be featured in the Febuary issue of American Cinematographer.A documentary about hollywood at it's worst starring Paul Schrader,Stellen Skarsgard,Vittorio Storaro,and many others.Watch the trailer at www.schradersx.com and buy it!

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