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December 13, 1999
Gurinder Chadha's Film To Open Sundance Fest
Arthur J Pais
Sunny Deol lost a fine film-maker, but the 2000 Sundance Film Festival not only welcomed Gurinder Chadha's latest film, but chose it to open the festival on January 20.
London-based Chadha began working on What's Cooking, a mainstream American film when London, her project for Deol and his father Dharmendra failed to take off.
Chadha, whose previous film, Bhaji on the Beach offered poignant insights into the lives of south Asian immigrants in a small British city, says her first American film has more universal appeal.
"It discusses a lot of themes that affect people at large," she says of the movie that reportedly cost about $ 5 million.
It stars some of America's finest artistes who are often seen in independently-made thoughtful films, including Alfred Woodard, Joan Chen, Julianna Margulies and Kyra Sedgwick.
Speaking from her London office, Chadha said the film does not have a distributor yet.
"But we should have one soon," she said. "The film has wide appeal."
The Sundance screening is the world premiere of her movie. Often a bidding war ensues at the festival among top distributors like Miramax, Fine Line and Sony Classics. The Blair Witch Project, the $ 100,000 movie that grossed $ 200 million worldwide (and is still running) was discovered at Sundance last year.
The Cup, directed by Khyentse Norbu, and which is Bhutan's entry at the foreign language category at the Oscars, will also be shown at Sundance. Also to be screened is Suri Krishnamma's third feature film, New Year's Day. Krishnamma too is based in England.
Krishnamma's The Place of the Dead focused on the risk soldiers face in a southeast Asian setting. He has also directed A Man of No Importance, starring Albert Finney, Brenda Fricker, Michael Gambon, Tara Fitzgerald and Rufus Sewell. The comedy told the story of an unremarkable bus conductor who becomes obsessed with mounting a production of Oscar Wilde's controversial Salome in 1960s Dublin. Forging a group of amateurs into a polished cast, he struggles to overcome conflicts with his censorship-minded sister and within himself.
The festival goes on from January 20 to 30 in Park City, Utah. Its line-up will highlight American independent cinema, premieres, international cinema, the Piper-Heidsieck Tribute, and panel discussions with leading figures from the film industry.
The festival will screen 112 feature films, including 71 world premieres, eight North American premieres and 18 US premieres, besides 63 shorts.
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