Some stories have such great charm and relevance that they can be told over and over again in many formats - and still win your heart. Certainly that's true of your traditional fairy tales or the Shakespeare classics; but there are also a few sweet modern tales that hold up well in multiple formats. One such story, in my view, is Mike Birbiglia's delightful "Sleepwalk with Me". It's a timeless story of one man's fear of love and maturity; but it is told - with terrific humor and stark honesty - through a chronicle of his struggle with a strange and dangerous sleepwalking condition.
I first heard Birbiglia tell the story on a 2008 episode of This American Life called "Fear of Sleep." If you haven't yet heard that episode, you must obtain it immediately. It will do nothing less than restore your faith in the power of solid storytelling.
The story later become so beloved that Birbiglia adapted it to a one-man show and then into a book. Now, with help from Ira Glass and This American Life producer Alissa Shipp, Mike is bringing the story to film.
Birbiglia directed the movie, and wrote it with Seth Barrish (who directed the stage version), Joe Birbiglia and Ira Glass. The film stars Mike, Lauren Ambrose, Jim Rebhorn and Carol Kane and was produced by Jacob Jaffke.
I've never been to Sundance - and probably won't make it this year - but I've never been more jealous of those who will be there. This film is going to be terrific.
Jeffrey Blitz and Sean Welch were nominated for an Oscar for their first documentary feature, Spellbound. They made the film as a duo with money borrowed from credit cards - Blitz behind the camera, and Welch holding the microphone boom.
Blitz went on to direct the fictional feature Rocket Science (you can hear his interview on the show about that film here), as well as episodes of The Office.
Now, Blitz and Welch have a new documentary, called Lucky, about lottery winners. It premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, where we spoke to the pair.
Trevor Groth is director of programming at the Sundance Film Festival. He started at the festival as a teenaged volunteer; today he's charged with reinvigorating its rebellious spirit. He and his team watch thousands of films each year, working to build a lineup for the world's most prestigious festival of independent film.
Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner are the creator and director of Drunk History, a series of shorts in which comedians get very, very drunk, then re-tell their favorite stories from history. The stories are re-enacted, with drunken narration and dialogue, by notable actors. Past participants have included Michael Cera and Jack Black. At Sundance, Konner and Waters screened two shorts, one featuring the story of Tesla and Edison, with actors John C. Reilly (above) and Crispin Glover, and one telling the story of Lincoln and Douglass, who were portrayed by Will Ferrel and Don Cheadle.
"Drunk History: Douglass & Lincoln," narrated by past Jordan, Jesse, Go! guest Jen Kirkman, won the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking at the Sundance Film Festival. The new shorts will air as part of a new series on HBO, Funny or Die Presents, which premiers tonight.
The cycling enthusiast, muscle car parts salesman, and wildlife worshipper Frank P. DeLarzelere III, aka Biker Fox, is both loved and loathed in his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Director Jeremy Lamberton found himself fascinated with the character of Biker Fox, and set out to make a documentary feature about the complexities of his persona and lifestyle. The film explores the sometimes-strained relationships between Biker and the people of Tulsa. Biker Fox premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
BONUS: TSOYA documents some of Biker's characteristic attention-grabbing stunts on the streets of Park City.
Drake Doremus' second feature, Douchebag, premiered at Sundance 2010. It's about two estranged brothers who hit the road before one's wedding. It was inspired by Doremus' relationship with Andrew Dickler, the editor of his first feature Spooner, who makes his acting debut in Douchebag.
The twenty-six-year-old director, already a filmmaker for ten years, grew up in Southern California in the sketch comedy and improv scene. He was the youngest graduate of the director's program at the American Film Institute, and has also directed a number of award winning short films, music videos and commercials.
Taika Waititi is the writer, director and star of "Boy," which premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival. James Rolleston is his pre-teen co-star. The film, based on Waititi's Oscar-nominated short, is a funny and affecting coming-of-age story set in a rural New Zealand village.
Rolleston plays "Boy," a young Maori boy who lives with his grandmother. When she heads off to a funeral in the city, he's put in charge of the house, and is shocked when his father, played by Waititi, comes home from jail. Boy and his father struggle to connect, as the father struggles with the responsibilities of adulthood. Rolleston and Waititi both offer vibrant and hilarious performances.
Waititi previously directed "Eagle vs. Shark," which starred his former comedy partner Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords. "Boy" is based upon his Oscar-nominated short "Two Cars, One Night." Waititi famously feigned sleep when his nomination was read at the Academy Awards.
The Sound of Young America was in Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival this year, and we took the opportunity to talk to the hottest film directors, actors, and creatives. Here’s our first part in that series, in which we talk to actor Kevin Kline.
Kevin Kline is one of America's greatest actors. He's one of the few to have won an Oscar for a comic role (his amazing turn in "A Fish Called Wanda"), and he's been acclaimed for his work in everything from contemporary drama to Shakespeare to light opera. We spoke with him at Sundance after the release of "The Extra Man”, a film adaptation of a Jonathan Ames novel. Kline stars as Henry, an eccentric older gentleman who makes his living as a social escort to New York’s high society widows.
This is my first day back from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. It was our first time out - we set up camp a few miles east of town (thanks to a couple serious snowstorms, it was a nightmarish few miles), and put up a studio in a bedroom generously donated by Insignia Inc.. Nick White, our editor, flew in from Chicago, and Benjamin Harrison was kind enough to volunteer his time to shoot video. My wife came a long for the better part of the weekend as well, helping with setups, takedowns and logistics.
Scheduling was incredibly complicated. Publicists were often surprised that I wanted to see the films before we talked to the artists involved, and many films didn't open until several days into the festival. We did talk to some amazing people, though - Kevin Kline, Jeffrey Blitz, Taika Waititi and others.
Of course, it wouldn't be a roadtrip unless I got a million migraines - I ended up having three in five days. That's life, I guess.
Ben and Nick did amazing work, and we'll have all kinds of great stuff for you in the coming weeks. Our shows from Sundance start February 9th with our interview with Kevin Kline.