”Sundance Selects” to Launch in August, With Spike Lee’s ”Passing Strange The Movie” as Premiere Title

Developed By Robert Redford, New On-Demand Film Offering Will Be Available Nationally

New York, NY – August 17, 2009 Following its purchase of the Sundance Channel last year, Rainbow Media today announced that Sundance Selects, a new transactional video-on-demand film offering, will launch Wednesday, August 26. Sundance Selects will debut with Spike Lee’s acclaimed film, "Passing Strange The Movie," which is based on a musical developed at the Sundance Theater Lab and the Sundance Directors Lab, and which premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Sundance Selects titles will be available on the on-demand platform of major cable operators, including Comcast, Cox and Cablevision.

Sundance Selects creates a new national platform for independent film in the documentary and world cinema categories, marking the first time a transactional on-demand platform has existed for feature documentary films. At launch, the service will feature one premiere title a month on demand, with plans to increase the offering to two premiere titles each month. In addition to "Passing Strange The Movie" (August 26), Sundance Selects will release the following acclaimed films, each of which have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival: Alexis Dos Santos’s drama "Unmade Beds" (September 9); Academy Award-winner Adam Elliot’s animated film "Mary and Max," which opened the 2009 Sundance Film Festival (October 14); and Chris Wiatt’s documentary "A Complete History of My Sexual Failures" (January 2010). The service will also release Kief Davidson’s acclaimed documentary "Kassim the Dream," which premiered at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival (November 4), and Tom Thurman’s documentary "Nick Nolte: No Exit" (December 16).

"The hallmark of the Sundance brand is creating an environment of discovery, for both artists and for audiences," said Sundance founder Robert Redford. "Sundance nurtures new, independent voices in the creative realm, and is committed to bringing their work to larger audiences in new ways. Sundance Selects is a perfect complement to this mission and I am really energized about working with Sundance Channel and Rainbow Media on this new venture."

Added Spike Lee, "It makes sense that Passing Strange The Movie will launch Sundance Selects, as Stew and Heidi Rodewald, the original musical’s co-creators, developed the project at the Sundance Theater Lab and Director Lab. I’m pleased to work once again with Robert Redford, and with the Sundance Channel, on the launch of this new service."

Rainbow Media President and CEO Joshua Sapan said: "After purchasing the Sundance Channel last year, Rainbow has been exploring relevant and appropriate growth opportunities for the brand. We are lucky to have the wisdom and taste of Robert Redford to guide us in the development of the service, and believe we share a vision of this as an exciting opportunity to bring unprecedented exposure and opportunity for this genre of films and filmmakers."

In "Passing Strange The Movie," Spike Lee captures the eponymous Broadway musical show written by singer/songwriter Stew (with music co-written by his creative partner, Heidi Rodewald), uniting revelatory theater with superb filmmaking. Passing Strange The Movie tells the semi-autobiographical story of a young black man who leaves behind his middle-class, church-ruled upbringing in mid-1970s LA to travel to Europe in search of his artistic and personal identity, or what he calls "the real." Picaresque misadventures with sex, drugs, politics, and art await him in far-out Amsterdam and hyper-militant Berlin. His eyes are opened ever wider, even revealing what he left behind. A superb cast, ably supported by sparing (but pitch-perfect) costumes, design, and stagecraft, bring to life the emotionally charged story with its astounding original music, narrated and overseen by Stew himself. Lee’s multi-camera coverage of the event (including backstage scenes) involves the audience in not only the text but the electricity of the ensemble’s onstage adventure. It’s a tour-de-force of creative collaboration and inspiration.

"Unmade Beds" is a funny, sexy and romantic drama about two expats whose fates become intertwined in a London flat. Written and directed by acclaimed director Alexis Dos Santos ("Glue"), "Unmade Beds" stars Deborah Francois ("The Page Turner" and The Dardennes’ "L’Enfant") and Fernando Tielve ("The Devils Backbone"). "Unmade Beds" premiered earlier this year at Sundance in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition to critical acclaim, and has since been screened at New Directors/New Films and at the Los Angeles Film Festivals.

A feature-length claymation animation film by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Adam Elliot (Harvie Krumpet), "Mary & Max" opened the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. With voices by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Toni Collette, Eric Bana and Barry Humphries, the film tells the story of a 20-year pen-pal friendship between two very different people: Mary Dinkle, a lonely 8-year-old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne and Max Horowitz, a 44-year-old Jewish man living an isolated life in New York City. The film is a triumph of emotion, insight and eccentricity – a complete delight. In May, the film shared the Grand Cristal Best Feature award at the prestigous Annecy Animation Festival with Henry Selick’s "Coraline".

In the comedic documentary "A Complete History of My Sexual Failures", independent filmmaker Chris Waitt attempts to interview his ex-girlfriends to find out why they dumped him. While he gets his ex’s to talk, whether he’s ready to hear what they have to say is another matter. Waitt’s debut film premiered in the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema Documentary. It was also nominated for Best British Documentary in the 2008 British Independent Film Awards.

Kief Davidson’s "Kassim the Dream" (THE DEVIL’S MINER) had its world premiere at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, was Best Documentary and Audience Award winner at the 2008 AFI Festival, and won the AFM Silverdocs Award. It tells the story of world champion boxer, Kassim "The Dream" Ouma, born in Uganda, kidnapped by a rebel army, and trained to be a child soldier at the age of six. After discovering the army’s boxing team, he realized the sport could be his ticket to freedom, and after 12 years of warfare, he defected from Africa to the United States. While he quickly rose through the boxing ranks to become Junior Middleweight Champion of the World. he has trouble keeping his demons out of the ring. His desires to reunite with family in Uganda intensify when his only hope for a safe return is a military pardon from the president and government responsible for his abduction. Director Davidson received unprecedented access to Ouma, resulting in a complex portrait of a haunted fighter surviving against incredible odds.

Directed by Tom Thurman, "Nick Nolte: No Exit" is a unique documentary that is part self-celebratory profile, part surreal question-and-answer session. Instead of hiring an interviewer to piece together the fascinating story of this complicated actor’s life, Thurman actually has Nolte himself be the questioner, making for a celebrity interview unlike any other. The film also includes a range of friends and collaborators talking about the "Affliction" and "Prince of Tides" star’s life and career — Ben Stiller and Jacqueline Bisset among them. Thurman is also the director of documentaries on Hunter S. Thompson , Sam Peckinpah, and John Ford.

About Sundance Channel
Under the creative direction of Robert Redford, Sundance Channel is the television destination for independent-minded viewers seeking something different. Bold and uncompromising Sundance Channel offers audiences a diverse and engaging selection of films, documentaries, and original programs, all unedited and commercial free. Launched in 1996, Sundance Channel is a subsidiary of Rainbow Media Holdings LLC. Sundance Channel operates independently of the non-profit Sundance Institute and the Sundance Film Festival, but shares the overall Sundance mission of encouraging artistic freedom of expression. Sundance Channel’s website address is

About Rainbow Media Holdings LLC
Rainbow Media Holdings LLC is a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE: CVC). Rainbow Media is a leading producer of targeted, multiplatform content for global distribution, creating and managing some of the world’s most compelling and dynamic entertainment brands, including AMC, IFC (The Independent Film Channel), WE tv, Sundance Channel, IFC Entertainment and VOOM HD Networks. Through IFC Entertainment, Rainbow Media also owns and manages the following: IFC Films, a leading U.S. distributor of independent and foreign film with a unique day and date distribution model, "IFC In Theaters," that makes films available to a national audience by releasing them simultaneously in theaters as well as on cable’s On Demand platform; IFC Festival Direct features titles acquired from major international film festivals and initially offers them exclusively through On Demand; IFC Productions, a feature film production company; and IFC Center, a state-of-the-art cinema in the heart of NYC’s Greenwich Village. Rainbow Media also operates Rainbow Advertising Sales Corporation, an advertising sales company; Rainbow Network Communications, a full service network programming origination and distribution company; and 11 Penn TV, a company that manages Rainbow Media’s NYC studios and post-production facilities.

Press Contacts

  • Georgia Juvelis