Film Chair Rob Epstein Announces Two World Premieres at Sundance

"Lovelace" and "The Battle of amfAR," directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman of Telling Pictures.

Editor's note: RADiUS - TWC reportedly purchased the distribution rights for "Lovelace" for three million dollars following its Sundance debut! Read source »

This week CCA Film chair and MFA in Film cochair Rob Epstein will return to Park City, Utah, to attend Sundance Film Festival (January 17-27), the premier platform for American and international independent film, where the Academy Award-winning filmmaker has not one but two world premieres scheduled:

Lovelace is a feature film based on the screenplay by Andy Bellin that chronicles the life of the late legendary adult film star Linda Lovelace whose starring role in 1972’s Deep Throat sparked controversy in and outside the porn industry over obscenity laws.

The film is already among the 10 most-buzzed-about films at the festival!

Lovelace will have its international premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in February.

The Battle of amfAR, a short documentary about how Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor and research scientist Dr. Mathilde Krim joined forces to create America’s first AIDS research foundation.

Visit the Sundance Film Festival website for screening times and locations and additional film information.

Generating Buzz at Sundance

"To be honest, to have both a documentary and a narrative feature in the same festival is a fantasy come true, and the fact that it's Sundance is that much sweeter," reveals Epstein. "We're thrilled, honored, humbled, and terrified."

MFA in Film Program

And what better way for Epstein to kick off CCA's new MFA in Film program: "It's long been a goal of CCA to start an MFA in Film program. Along with our fantastic CCA Film faculty and cochair Brook Hinton, I am excited to finally be launching this long-held ambition.

"With all the changes going on in the film industry and the art world, this is an exciting moment to be creating a new 21st century program. We all look to welcoming our first class of forward-looking filmmakers and artists."

About Lovelace

Lovelace offers a full cast of Hollywood notables: Amanda Seyfried (HBO's Big Love, Momma Mia!, Les Miserables) plays the lead and Peter Sarsgaard (Jarhead, An Education, Boys Don't Cry) costars as Lovelace's husband, Chuck Traynor -- a role Sarsgaard reportedly was hesitant to accept due to the controversy surrounding Traynor's sexually and physically abusive treatment of Lovelace.

Other stars in Lovelace include Juno Temple, Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick, Chris Noth, Adam Brody, Hank Azaria, Wes Bentley, James Franco (who played Allen Ginsberg in Telling Pictures’ HOWL), Eric Roberts, Chloë Sevigny , and Bobby Cannavale.

See complete cast »

Deep Throat was a huge success -- earning around $600 million, yet costing an estimated $25,000 to make. The first full-length adult feature film crossed over the confines of the adult film industry and entered the larger, more lucrative mainstream.

The film made Lovelace one of the most recognized names in the porn industry -- and with mainstream film audiences as well. However, Lovelace reportedly saw no money from Deep Throat, and her husband received around $1,250 for the project.

Deep Throat’s Deeper Controversy

Following the film’s success, Lovelace claimed she had been forced to perform sexual acts in front of the camera, often at gunpoint, by her husband. He denied the claim, but feminists and antipornography pundits reacted fervently, denouncing the film as obscene and unadulterated exploitation.

The controversy became national, involving the Nixon administration, Christian leaders, and feminist activists all holding hands to blockade further distribution of pornography -- film or otherwise.

Not surprisingly, all the fanfare simply added to the financial success of Deep Throat.

Lovelace went on to stand up against the porn industry, testifying about its dangers before Congress.

The Battle of amfAR

The 40-minute short documentary The Battle of amfAR (Epstein and Friedman, directors; Sharon Wood, screenwriter), uses interviews to explore the dynamic history behind amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research.

Among the interviewees are amfAR cofounder Dr. Mathilde Krim -- a research scientist who became involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS early on; Aileen Getty -- daughter-in-law of Elizabeth Taylor, an early amfAR volunteer, and philanthropist who currently works to end homelessness in Los Angeles through her foundation Gettlove, and Kenneth Cole -- the creator of Kenneth Cole Productions, a widely revered fashion house, and philanthropist who was one of the first to use advertising campaigns against AIDS. Mr. Cole has been chairman of the amfAR board since 2004.

Learn more about amfAR »

Epstein solicited CCA's Director of Fine Arts (and former chair of the Animation Program) Andrew Lyndon to provide animation in the film.

Animation and Film faculty member Dan Olmsted did the sound mixing at Skywalker Ranch. The sound mixer mixes and processes the various sound sources (dialogue, sound effects, music, etc.) for the final master of the film.

Epstein's Legacy at Sundance

For Epstein, Sundance has become somewhat of an old stomping ground. Most of his films have been produced through Telling Pictures, the production company he cofounded in 1987 with partner Jeffrey Friedman, a former visiting faculty member in the Film Program at CCA. And many have screened at Sundance, with numerous world premieres, notable awards, and much adoration from critics and audiences alike.

Such Sundance hits include The Times of Harvey Milk and Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt, each an Academy Award winner for Best Documentary Feature in 1984 and 1990, respectively; The Celluloid Closet (which received the Sundance juried Freedom of Expression Award in 1995); Paragraph 175 (which won the documentary directing award at Sundance in 2000 and the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2000 Berlin Film Festival); and 2010's Howl, based on Allen Ginsberg's controversial poem of the same name published in 1955.

Howl opened the Sundance Film Festival in 2010 to rave reviews! Read the feature »

(Common Threads also won the Interfilm Award at the 1990 Berlin Film Festival, a GLAAD Media Award for Best TV Documentary, and a Peabody Award.)

See all awards »

Times of Harvey Milk: Then and Now

Epstein was under 30 when The Times of Harvey Milk, which he wrote, directed, and coedited, premiered at Telluride Film Festival. The film made its way to Sundance, where it was honored with the festival's Special Jury Award. Additional awards include the New York Film Critics Award for Best Non-Fiction Feature, three Emmy Awards, and a Peabody Award.

The film has become an international sensation and remains in distribution throughout the world.

The film also was selected in 2000 by the Sundance Institute and UCLA Film & Television Archive as a preservation project.

National Film Registry

In December the Washington Post reported the Librarian of Congress had included Epstein's The Times of Harvey Milk in the National Film Registry.

Read related feature »

Learn from Expert Filmmakers

The Art of Nonfiction Movie Making, by Jeffrey Friedman, Rob Epstein, and Sharon Wood, is conceived as a start-to-finish how-to manual covering all the stages of taking a film from an initial idea through development, production, and postproduction, all the way to distribution.

To learn more or purchase »

CCA Film students, faculty, and alumni are all eagerly awaiting audience reactions to Epstein's films. If his latest films are as well received as they have been since he first began attending the festival in the mid-1980s, Epstein may just need another pair of hands to carry all his Oscars!

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