The award, first presented in 2015 to Christopher Nolan, is given to a Slamdance alumnus who has represented the Slamdance organization and supported the filmmaker community of Slamdance. It was awarded earlier this year to Joe and Anthony Russo (“Avengers: Infinity War”). Slamdance will be in its 25th year and the festival will run from Jan. 25 to 31.
Soderbergh will participate in a live discussion with Slamdance co-founder and president Peter Baxter before a sneak preview of his newest film, “High Flying Bird.” Soderbergh directed from a script by Tarell Alvin McCraney (“Moonlight”) with André Holland, Zazie Beetz, Melvin Gregg, Sonja Sohn, Zachary Quinto, Kyle MacLachlan and Bill Duke starring in a story set during a pro basketball lockout. “High Flying Bird” will launch globally on Feb. 8 on Netflix.
“’Don’t ask for permission!’ That was Steven Soderbergh’s advice to us when Slamdance was getting started and it continues to be the core of our brand. We answer to no one,” said Baxter. “Slamdance filmmakers have changed the entertainment industry and Steven Soderbergh showed us the way. Without his involvement over the last 25 years both as a filmmaker and mentor to our filmmakers, Slamdance wouldn’t be the organization it is today.”
Soderbergh won the directing Oscar for “Traffic” and was nominated for directing “Erin Brockovich” and for writing “Sex, Lies and Videotape.” His directing credits include the Oceans trilogy, “Magic Mike,” “Side Effects” and “Logan Lucky.”
Slamdance has also announced the world premiere of “Ski Bum: The Warren Miller Story” as the 2019 opening night film. Directed by Patrick Creadon and produced by Jeff Conroy under his production banner BoBCat Studios, Christine O’Malley, as well as Joe Berry of Lorton Entertainment, the documentary chronicles the life of Miller, a driving force in the development and promotion of skiing in America and throughout the world. Miller died earlier this year at the age of 93 while the documentary was in production.
The festival’s closing night film, “This Teacher,” is directed by Slamdance alumni Mark Jackson (“Without”) and was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at the Los Angeles Film Festival in September. Jackson follows a French Muslim woman (Hafsia Herzi) as she travels to New York City to visit her childhood best friend. When the reunion proves disastrous, Hafsia disappears to a remote cabin upstate where her vacation gradually descends into a study of the intolerance and suspicion she encounters in an Islamophobic America.
Slamdance will also premiere out of competition the thriller “The Drone” from director Jordan Rubin. The film follows a newlywed couple as they get terrorized by a consumer drone that has become sentient with the consciousness of a deranged serial killer. In addition, Slamdance has added a special event presentation of Blessing Yen and James Kaelan’s “America the Beautiful” to the lineup.