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A rash of deals announced from Sundance, at last.

As the Sundance Film Festival shifts into its final weekend, with awards being announced on Saturday evening, several distribution deals have been announced. While the horde of film executives left the Festival in the past 48 hours, a rash of deals have been announced, with more expected in the days and weeks ahead.

The heyday of when films were bought in the opening hours of the Festival are long gone, due to the difficult distribution landscape and the smaller number of active distribution buyers. However, Sundance still is a place where filmmakers come in with hopes high and a few lucky ones leave with contracts in their back pockets.

In a development that is full of promise for a rebounding business, a new distributor has made its mark at Sundance and a veteran indie is back in the game as the result of two film pickups announced yesterday. The film and video division of independent book publisher Hannover House has paid about $2 million for the distribution rights to TWELVE, veteran director Joel Schumacher's look at drug-dealing among privileged Manhattan teens. The film marks a return to indie roots for the filmmaker who has worked in the Hollywood mainstream for the past number of years. Narrated by Kiefer Sutherland, TWELVE stars teenage hearthrob Chace Crawford, of "Gossip Girl" fame, along with a cast that includes Emma Roberts, Ellen Barkin, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and Rory Culkin. Hannover has brought on Lionsgate and Weinstein Company veteran Tom Ortenberg's new One Way Out Media to oversee domestic distribution.

Meanwhile, Newmarket Films, which has been relatively quiet in the past two years, has picked up domestic rights to the Natalie Portman-produced drama HESHER, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in a deal in the $1 million range. In the film, Gordon-Levitt plays the title character, a greasy-haired mayhem-seeker who insinuates himself into the lives of a bullied 13-year-old boy and his pill-popping father. Despite mixed reviews here, the film could very easily connect with the youth and edgy indie crowd due to its irreverent subject matter and the presence of Gordon-Levitt, an indie favorite who had a major hit this past year with (500) DAYS OF SUMMER.

Harvey Weinstein, who has been one of Sundance's most colorful personalities over the years, is back in full force, nabbing the distribution rights to one of this year's most sought-after titles. BLUE VALENTINE, a romantic drama starring indie darlings Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling, has been picked up for North American rights by The Weinstein Company, who is still reeling from its expensive flop NINE and the success d'estime of the Quentin Tarantino-helmed INGLORIOUS BASTARDS. 12 years in the making, "Blue Valentine" chronicles a disintegrating marriage between Dean (Gosling) and Cindy (Williams), told in flashback. The tough, poignant and occasionally brutal film has moved audiences and critics alike since its Sunday night Eccles premiere.

Sandy Mandelberger
Sandy Mandelberger.
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