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2017 Sundance NEXT FEST – Women In Film + Diversity dominate

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Editor In Chief – Scott A. Capestany

August 2017 – Los Angeles, CA

Each year, the Sundance Institute showcases their annual summer four day odyssey of movies + music + food called Next Fest in downtown LA at the iconic Theatre at Ace Hotel.   

With an impressive 2017 line-up of Women In Film projects on-screen including numerous men & women artists of diversity dominating much of the weekends musical performances + awards, audiences got a chance to see seven of the most talked about Sundance films from their Park City Film Festival earlier in the year; Lemon, Gente-Fied, Gook, Bitch, Dina and LA Times.  

Comedians NATASHA LEGGERO (below L) and KATE BERLANT (below R) hosted a few film screening intros keeping sold out crowds each night in stitches.

Kate Berlant – Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute

Natasha Legerro – Photo by Scott A. Capestany / Media Inc Magazine

“It’s a great time to be a woman in this business “, said Seattle/LA based Sundance Alum Writer/Director Lynn Shelton (Glow, Master of None and Fresh off the Boat).  Shelton has screened a few feature films of her own Seattle/LA based films at Sundance over the years. Also with Pacific Northwest ties attending this weekends festivities was Seattle/LA  Casting Director Amy Rene who cast the closing night feature film by Michelle Morgan ‘LA TIMES’.

LA Times

FOX Network’s EMPIRE TV Series creator LEE DANIELS came out to support his friend DEE REES who was on-hand to receive a Vanguard award from the Sundance institute.

Lee Daniels and Dee Rees

Photo By Scott A. Capestany / Media Inc Magazine

Daniels (above), wearing his sunglasses and showcasing his trademark charming sense of humor, joked with photographers on the red carpet prior to the closing night film LA TIMES written and directed by Michelle Morgan (below).

Writer / Director Michelle Morgan of LA Times – Photo By Scott A. Capestany / Media Inc Magazine.

Also arriving at the private alumni and membership party was writer/director DEE REES  (below) who received a Vanguard Award from the Sundance Institute presented by Actress KIM WAYANS who appeared in Rees’ first feature Pariah.

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Dee Rees – Photo By Scott A. Capestany / Media Inc Magazine

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Dee Rees – Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute

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Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute

The Vanguard Award presented by Acura celebrates an emerging artist with creative independence and includes a cash grant and mentorship from industry professionals and Institute staff.  Rees, whose recent film MUDBOUND had its world premier in Park City this past January,  landed the biggest distribution deal at the Sundance Film Festival with a whopping sell to Netflix for $12.5M and a fantastic start for their 2018 Oscar contender campaign.

Rees is an alumnus of the Sundance Institute Screenwriters, Creative Producing and Directors Labs and has been the recipient of the Institute’s Time Warner Fellowship and Annenberg Film Fellowship.  She is the sixth recipient of this award; past recipients include Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild) and Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station). The Vanguard Award was founded in 2011 to mark the 30th anniversary of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program and its founding director, Michelle Satter.

Sundance Director of Programming Trevor Groth (L), Ava DuVernay and Justin Chon (R) – Photo Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Winner of the NEXT Audience Award at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival  – GOOK – written and directed by Justin Chon, screened to packed house over the weekend that was followed by a Q&A with Chon and one of the biggest names among Women In Film in Hollywood; Writer/Director Ava Duvernay, who discussed cinematography and representation.

Closing out the weekends screenings was Marvin Lemus comedic seven part web-series masterpiece GENTE-FIED.

GENTE-FIED was produced by emerging Hollywood disruptor and likely soon to be powerhouse production and branding entity MACRO Ventures, founded and lead by industry veteran CHARLES D. KING.

Charles King – Courtesy of MACRO

Beginning his career in the mailroom at William Morries (Now WME), King cut his teeth literally from the ground up becoming an agent within a few years and making partner before departing a few years ago to form Macro.  King was the first African-American to make partner at what now is WME.  He is most widely known in the industry for his deal-making savvy, integrity and brilliantly crafting his long time friend’s brand and career –TYLER PERRY – into one of the worlds most recognized names and brands in Hollywood.

“I founded MACRO to do what desperately needs to be done for this marketplace: to marry the talent of these gifted storytellers with the sorely needed capital to bring their stories to life, and doing so across traditional and unconventional platforms and distribution channels.” – Charles D. King

MACRO Ventures is a disruptive media company focused on the multicultural market. As a new model entertainment company, their focus is on content creation and engagement for African-American, Latino and Multicultural (ALM) audiences in the Film, Television and Digital spaces.

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Former Imagine Entertainment executive Kim Roth heads up production while industry heavy weights Poppy Hanks, Mike PalankAaliyah Williams and Stacey King round off their executive and branding leadership teams.

Macro’s most recent films include two of Hollywood biggest buzzing films of the last year – FENCES (Starring Denzel Washington and Oscar Award Winning actress Viola Davis) and Netflix’s biggest acquisition at Sundance – MUDBOUND – written and directed by Next Fest Award recipient Dee Rees.

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Macros presence and success at both this years Sundance winter + summer events was evidence that films with empowering multi-cultural story lines that challenge our perspective of the world around us and authentically represent history are what audiences are craving.

Gente-Fied cast & crew showed much gratitude to Macro for paving the way for content that reflects true diverse stories among marginalized groups in our society.

Gente-Fied attendees included the cast and Executive Producer/Actor America Ferrera  along with esteemed actor Edward James Olmos.

Following the screening, Lemus and Ferrera were joined by co-writer Linda Yvette Chavez, acclaimed writer Josefina López (Real Women Have Curves), organizer Nancy Meza (Defend Boyle Heights) that was moderated by Justin Simien (Dear White People) for a very engaging and explosive conversation about the Boyle Heights community and gentrification.

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GENTE-FIED Executive Producer & Actress America Ferrera (mic) – Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute.

GENTE-FIED Co-Writer Lynda Yvette Chavez – Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute

Scott A. Capestany is an Award Winning journalist, film producer, vocal advocate and supporter of the Environment + Women In film + Diversity and equality within the entertainment space.  

His feature film project THE RAINFOREST is now currently in development.

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Scott A. Capestany – Creator and Producer of THE RAINFOREST

Follow them on Twitter: Sundance, Macro, Gente-fied, Mudbound

Photos courtesy of Sundance Institute +  Media Inc Magazine 

 

 

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