I love Steven Soderbergh's work. Yeah, he's the kind of the director that takes so many risks that he's become the epitome of hit and miss, but what risks! Let us forget the initial phase of his career between 1989 and 2001 ("Sex, Lies and Videotape," "The Limey," "Out of Sight," "Traffic," "Erin Brockovich," "Oceans Eleven"). At some point soon after the Clooney heist-caper, Soderbergh just said "fuck it" and stopped making crowd-pleasers or any sort of Hollywood-styled narratives that pleased his masters. He just leapt that wild blue and went on this wild cinematic ride -- how else can you describe such maverick endeavors as "Full Frontal," "Bubble," "Solaris" "Che," "The Girlfriend Experience," "Behind the Candelabra" "The Good German," "Haywire," "Contagion" "Logan Lucky" and "Unsane," definitely some missed in there, but Soderbergh has always been a compulsively fascinating filmmaker to follow.
A shocker announcement greeted us late last year when Slamdance, the lower-tier Park City festival and Sundance rival, announced that not only would Steven Soderbergh be there to accept the annual Slamdance 2019 Founders Award, but would also be world premiering his next iphone-shot movie “High Flying Bird.”
The film is written by "Moonlight" Oscar winner Tarell Alvin McCraney and stars André Holland as an NBA agent who tries to get his young client to sign a controversial business opportunity during a players strike and league shutdown. Zazie Beetz, Melvin Gregg, Sonja Sohn, Zachary Quinto, Kyle MacLachlan, and Bill Duke.
It had originally been rumored to appear at Sundance, but Slamdance won a rare battle for that premiere. Hopefully Soderbergh's sports drama can cause a domino-effect of high-profile premieres for Slamdance because God knows they need it.
It does happen that Slamdance films do go on to make a dent theatrically: The 2005 doc "Mad Hot Ballroom," 2007's "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Dollars," and in 2008 "Paranormal Activity" premiered there, which would go on to be a massive moneymaking success at the box-office. I can't think of any other exceptions.
“High Flying Bird” will be released on Friday, February 8, 2019 on Netflix.
Slamdance happens on January 25 – January 31 in Park City.