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Meet Sundance’s (Arguably) Most Powerful Person

Entertainment lawyer’s tenacity, passion for film help him successfully mix art and commerce.

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Sloss & Co. also teach filmmakers "how to contextualize the movie," Sloss said — developing the ways filmmakers talk about the movie to the media, audiences and potential buyers.

"We help edit the press notes, we try to influence — to the extent we can — the catalog text, and help things as banal as setting up the party for the film," Sloss said. "It’s not just buyers. It’s also about the press. It’s about the 50 to 75 people at Sundance who really inform how films are prioritized, and who actually takes the leap and buys them. Not all of those people are buyers."

At a glance

Sundance begins

The 2013 Sundance Film Festival begins Thursday night in Park City and runs through Jan. 27 in Park City and at venues in Salt Lake City, Ogden and at Sundance Resort.

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Beyond the deals: Hard work » Among the films Cinetic is representing at Sundance this year are: "Before Midnight," Richard Linklater’s continuation of the on-again, off-again romance between an American (Ethan Hawke) and a French woman (Julie Delpy); "Prince Avalanche," a two-man comedy starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch; and two hot-button documentaries — "Pussy Riot — A Punk Prayer," about the imprisoned Russian artist/activists, and "After Tiller," which profiles the only four doctors who perform late-term abortions in the United States. (Dreyfous’ Impact Partners helped finance "After Tiller.")

In recent years, a host of new distributon platforms — video-on-demand, iTunes, Netflix, and so on — make traditional dealmaking tricky. "Rather than going and trying singularly looking to shift risk and hand a film over to a distributor, it’s more complex now," he said. "It turns a chess match into a sort of three-dimensional chess."

Cinetic has created companies designed to "disintermediate," Sloss’ fancy word for "cut out the middleman." Sloss and Bart Walker founded Producers Distribution Alliance (PDA) in 2010, launching the endeavor with the Sundance surprise "Exit Through the Gift Shop," the guerrilla-art documentary by the British street artist Banksy. Cinetic also spun off FilmBuff, a sales-representation company for digital media.

It’s his imaginative approach to films, and not just his dealmaking skills, that makes Sloss The (Arguably) Most Powerful Person at the Sundance Film Festival.

"He earns it, by diligent hard work and passion," said John Cooper, the festival’s director. "The independent filmmakers need people who are willing to get creative and do the hard work."


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