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‘Wish I Was Here’ and ‘Clerks’ added to Sundance lineup

First Published      Last Updated Dec 18 2013 12:14 pm

Two more titles are being added to the 2014 Sundance Film Festival — films that demonstrate the contrast between how independent films got made 20 years ago and how they are made now.

The "now" example is a new entry in the Premieres section, "Wish I Was Here," a comedy-drama starring, directed by and co-written by Zach Braff ("Garden State," SFF '04).

Braff plays Aidan Bloom, who at 35 is dealing with being a father, husband and a struggling actor — when the death of his father prompts a family reunion. The cast includes Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Josh Gad, Ashley Greene and Joey King.

The old film is a Sundance classic, Kevin Smith's first film, "Clerks." This comedy, which premiered at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival, takes place on a weird, wild day in the lives of a Dante (Brian O'Halloran), a luckless convenience-store employee, and his fast-talking buddy Randal (Jeff Anderson) who runs the video store next door. The movie also marked the debut of Jay and Silent Bob, the stoner comic duo portrayed Jason Mewes and Smith himself.

"Clerks" will screen, in a print newly struck by Miramax Films for the movie's 20th anniversary, in the "From the Collection" program. The screening will be at midnight on Friday, Jan. 24, at the Egyptian Theatre in Park City — with Smith expected to introduce the film and take part in a Q-and-A after.

In what is now a Sundance legend, Smith made "Clerks" for a budget of $27,575. On Smith's View Askew website, the filmmaker writes that he raised that money by maxing out 10 credit cards, selling his comic book collection, and working at the convenience store and video store where the movie was shot.

By contrast, Braff funded "Wish I Was Here" through crowd-sourcing, seeking $2 million in pledges via Kickstarter. This generated a ton of press, and a debate about whether a successful TV star like Braff shouldn't just go to a movie studio for money — or whether using crowd-sourcing allows him to maintain artistic independence. The debate also generated a lot of pledges on Kickstarter, with 46,520 backers pledging $3,105,473 to make the film.

The addition of "Wish I Was Here" and "Clerks" brings the total number of feature films at Sundance to 121.