As the Sundance Film Festival enters its final weekend, one of the films that has people talking is Holy Rollers, the directorial feature debut from SVA alumnus Kevin Asch (BFA 1998 Film and Video). The work received a standing ovation when it premiered this week as one of 16 films in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. Inspired by actual events, the film stars Jesse Eisenberg (Roger Dodger, The Squid and the Whale) as a young Hasidic Jew from Brooklyn who is recruited by an Israeli drug dealer to smuggle ecstasy from Europe into the United States. “Holy Rollers is a fresh take on the emotional side of drug use,” says Asch, who talked to IndieWIRE recently about making the film, “I wanted to explore a subculture and its characters as real and visceral.” Read more about the filmmaker’s influences here, and an extended interview here.
Several other members of the SVA community are showing work at Sundance this year. Alumnus James Blagden (BFA 2004 Illustration) directed Dock Ellis & The LSD No-No, one of 70 short films selected from a record 6092 submissions. Johan Grimonprez (MFA 1992 Fine Arts), an alumnus and faculty member in the MFA Fine Arts Department, is represented by his critically acclaimed feature, Double Take. Grimonprez spoke to the Briefs about the project last year; the interview is here. And director of photography Bob Richman, a faculty member in the MFA Social Documentary Film Department, worked on Waiting for Superman, which is being screened in the U.S. Documentary Competition.
The Festival concludes January 31. For screening schedule and other details, visit the Sundance Web site at festival.sundance.org/2010.
Image: Holy Rollers, photo Dan Levin.