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Meet Sundance’s (Arguably) Most Powerful Person
Dr. Susan Robinson, at her Albuquerque, N.Mex., clinit, in a scene from the documentary "After Tiller," an examination of the abortion issue. Courtesy Sundance Institute

"Before Midnight" • Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reprise their roles as Jesse and Celine, who met in 1995's "Before Sunrise" and again in 2004's "Before Sunset." Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
|  IFC Films
Emile Hirsch (left) and Paul Rudd star in the comedy "Prince Avalanche," directed by David Gordon Green ("Pineapple Express").
A scene from the documentary "Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer," which will debut at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The film is represented by John Sloss' Cinetic Media. Courtesy Sundance Institute
Entertainment lawyer John Sloss, founder of Cinetic Media, is one of the most prominent dealmakers for films at the Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy Cinetic Media
Entertainment lawyer John Sloss, founder of Cinetic Media, is one of the most prominent dealmakers for films at the Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy Cinetic Media
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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.”

movies@sltrib.com

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

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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