"Black Snake Moan" Wants Your Trailer Talent

The upcoming "Black Snake Moan" starring Samuel L. Jackson, Justin Timberlake and Christina Ricci has taken an unsual approach in promoting the film.

Paramount Vantage has created a contest that challenges fans to download artwork and audio from the film and create a trailer for the new movie. The winner gets a trip to the Sundance Film festival.

Set in Tennessee, the southern gothic film chronicles a tale of rage and love when ex-blues guitarist Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson) discovers Rae (Christina Ricci) beaten nearly to death along side the road. Lazarus decides to cure Rae, a woman known for her insatiable desire for sex, of what he thinks are her wicked ways. All the while Rae's true love Ronnie (Justin Timberlake), who is supposed to be headed to Iraq, goes looking for her.

With a tale like that, folks are sure to come up with some interesting ideas for the trailer.




Redford Says Sundance Taken by a 'Fever'


Robert Redford says his Sundance Film Festival, which last month wrapped its 25th season, is "almost to a breaking point."

"It's gotten to the point now — almost to a breaking point — where there's a fever that has taken over the festival that creates an enormous amount of chaos and excitement and tension," the 68-year-old actor said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. "It's gotten a little bit harder on me."

Though the festival has become a larger spectacle over the years, Redford has long refrained from criticism about the changed nature of Sundance.

He created the independent film festival in 1981 to bring attention to small-budget films and new talent. Redford named the festival, held annually in the snowy mountains of Utah, after his breakthrough role in 1969's "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."

Sundance Doc Rates the Raters Who Catalog Movie Content

Kirby Dick has rated the movie-ratings board and come to a blunt conclusion: This panel is not suitable for any audiences.

His documentary "This Film Is Not Yet Rated," premiering Wednesday at the Sundance Film Festival, is a harsh indictment of the ratings system overseen by the Motion Picture Association of America, the trade group for Hollywood's top studios.

Dick calls the ratings process a form of censorship carried out by unqualified film judges who operate in secrecy, their procedures favoring big studio fare over movies from independent and overseas filmmakers.

"Independent film tends to focus more on sexuality. Studios tend to put out films that have more to do with violence," said Dick, a 2004 Academy Awards nominee for his documentary "Twist of Faith." "Violent films get through almost unscathed, but the ratings have this excessive focus against sexuality that puts independent film at a disadvantage."

"This Film Is Not Yet Rated" examines the history of the ratings system, set up in the 1960s by MPAA boss Jack Valenti, who retired as head of the group in 2004 and gave up control of the ratings system last fall.

Aniston and Friends Forgotten at Sundance


Filmmaker Nicole Holofcener warned the Sundance Film Festival crowd she was nervous.

And she proved it in remarks that preceded the premiere of her film "Friends With Money," forgetting to introduce her quartet of stars: Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand, Catherine Keener and Joan Cusack.

"Friends With Money" opened the festival to a packed theater Thursday night, with Sundance Institute founder Robert Redford and festival director Geoffrey Gilmore offering remarks before Holofcener came up.

Holofcener thanked many others on the film, executives at distributor Sony Pictures Classics, her casting director and editor, the male co-stars, including Jason Isaacs, Scott Caan, Simon McBurney and Greg Germann.

Then she started to leave, only rushing back to the podium after Gilmore reminded her she had neglected to mention the lead actresses.

Sundance Retains Indie Spirit, Redford Says


The Sundance Film festival may look as though it's gone Hollywood with all the celebrity bashes and corporate logos splashed around town. But those are trappings outside the control of Sundance, which has never wavered from its mission of discovery for new film talent, said Robert Redford, whose Sundance Institute oversees the festival.

At a news conference as the 11-day festival opened Thursday, Redford said Sundance's knack for showcasing films that went on to commercial success drew marketers hoping to share the limelight.

"Once the festival achieved a certain level of notoriety, then people began to come here with agendas that were not the same as ours," Redford said. "We can't do anything about that. We can't control that."

While film fans crowd festival theaters to catch some of the 120 feature-length movies playing at Sundance, this ski-resort town buzzes with parties, concerts and other events to promote products ranging from jewelry and jeans to washing machines and sports-utility vehicles.

One reporter asked Redford if Sundance had evolved into a festival with a "Butch Cassidy" or a "Sundance Kid" personality, referring to the actor's pairing with Paul Newman in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."

"Neither one," said Redford, who played Sundance to Newman's Butch. "It's hard for me to answer questions about 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.' And also, it's such a commercial phrasing. I don't know that we've seen ourselves in that perspective. You might say 'Treasure of the Sierra Madre."'

Stars Line Up at Sundance


PARK CITY, Utah -- Actors are directing. Singers are acting. Drama directors are making concert films. Former presidential rivals Al Gore and Ralph Nader are hitting the big screen.

And Hollywood's much-maligned system of rating movies stars in its own film.

The Sundance Film Festival, the country's foremost showcase for independent cinema, gets under way Thursday with an intriguing mix of role reversals among its cast.

Gore and Nader lead what's shaping up as a powerhouse year for documentaries, always a strong suit at Sundance. Director Davis Guggenheim's "An Inconvenient Truth" chronicles former Vice President Gore's dogged campaign to convince a reluctant society of fossil-fuel profiteers and consumers about the dangers of global warming.

Nader, viewed by critics as the spoiler whose campaign kept Gore out of the White House in the 2000 election, is the subject of Henriette Mantel and Stephen Skrovan's "An Unreasonable Man," a portrait of the crusader for consumer rights and safety.

A Pair of Sundance 'Icons'


NEW YORK -- Robert Redford recently did something not so unusual for him. He hung out with his pal Paul Newman.

But what was different: He did it for a documentary to air on Sundance Channel, the cable network he founded but seldom appears on.

As the season finale of "Iconoclasts," this hour-long portrait sticks to the format of the five that came before. It brings together a pair of innovators from different creative fields for one to serve as an admiring guide into the world of the other. Like chef Mario Batali on rocker Michael Stipe. Actress Renee Zellweger on correspondent Christiane Amanpour.

Or Redford on Newman beyond his role as screen legend. It premieres 10 p.m. EST Thursday (with additional play dates).

"It was never going to be 'The Paul and Bob Show,"' says Redford, who also executive-produced the series. "Instead, the idea of me presenting a friend who was also a colleague to speak about what inspired him -- his salad-dressing company, his racing interests, his camp for children -- those were areas that I thought were worthy of attention.