Saturday, December 05, 2009

"Mister Rogers & Me" Not Headed To Sundance

Figures that I'd hear from the Sundance Film Festival about the fate of our sweet, little film just as I head to Hollywood to cover one of the most-ambitious, expensive blockbusters of all time for work, right?

I knew we'd hear no later than Wednesday, so -- not surprisingly -- I wasn't sleeping terribly well. My car to the airport was at seven, my flight was at nine, but I woke up at four and checked my Blackberry. I tossed and turned another hour, then got up to get ready. And there it was in my inbox, subject header "2010 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL NOTIFICATION."

Dear Benjamin,

On behalf of our Programming staff, I would like to thank you for submitting your film to the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Unfortunately, we are not able to include it in our program this year. We received a record 9,800 submissions this year, and many tough decisions had to be made in order to narrow the field down to under 200 films. Please know that your work was carefully considered by our team, and we viewed far more worthy films than we had room for in the program. I sincerely hope that this decision does not discourage you in any way. We wish you the best of luck with your film, and we look forward to having the opportunity to view your work in the future.


John Cooper
Director, Sundance Film Festival

Yes, I am disappointed. But no, I am not surprised.

My father points out that only two percent of films were accepted. My wife points out that getting the film done and submitted is an accomplishment in and of itself. And I'll point out that we never really thought we had a chance anyway; Sundance favors hard-hitting issue docs (not to mention fully-realized ones; ours is a work-in-progress).

What's next? The SXSW Film Festival deadline is December 11. The Tribeca Film Festival deadline is January 11. The Nantucket Film Festival deadline is February 1.

Chris and I will spend a few more days in the edit tightening the segments, clarifying the stories, and scoring with contributions from Casey Shea, Jonathan Hollingsworth, The Poem Adept (Davy Rothbart's brother's band) and me (I've remixed a bunch of "The Invention of Everything Else" tracks for the purpose).

We will make "Mister Rogers & Me" an essential documentary for festival director's programs.

Stay tuned...


Linda said...

The film festival submission process reminds me of when my kids applied for colleges. You hope, you dream and not getting in is part of the process. There is disappointment, but there's also the next submission. The letter saying you were one of thousands is tough to read. I watched a friend go through the film festival gauntlet last year. They were disappointed and rewarded. The film will find its place. Keep up the good work and hang in there. Mr. Rogers & Me is a film to believe in.:)

K-Bav said...

And maybe Heartland for a Truly Moving Picture next year? :)

Keep at it guys; we believe in you no less than before.

Benjamin said...

Thank you both for your encouragement! :)

Juniper said...

Love the trailer! You should make a facebook fan page for the movie!

Heto said...

Man, I missed the boat!

Sorry to hear about Sundance, but if your project gets into SXSW, I may have to go. My boyfriend has been trying to convince me to go with him for the past three years, but I've been resisting. Maybe 2010 is the year!