January 11, 1999
CONTACT: Jennifer Peterson


Split Screen's 1999 Season Kicks Off on Monday, April 5 at 8:00PM/ET

Media attending the Sundance Film Festival this January will be on the lookout for new stories - searching for the next big thing. Split Screen, the Independent Film Channel's original signature series, has been there, done that. Now the traveling movie 'zine is stopping in Park City long enough to celebrate the five Festival selections which have already been the subjects of Split Screen segments.

If you've been checking out the first two years of Split Screen, you've already gotten a first look at material from and the stories behind four Sundance features in four different sections: The Blair Witch Project (Park City at midnight), Three Seasons (Dramatic Competition), American Movie (Documentary Competition) and Radiation (American Spectrum). In addition, Lars from 1-10, a short on filmmaker Lars von Trier that will be featured in the Documentary Competition with Hitchcock, Selznick and the End of Hollywood, was actually made specifically for Split Screen, and later transferred to film.

Split Screen is the first television show made by filmmakers, with stories to entertain anyone. Creator and host John Pierson has made the trek to Sundance 14 times with 16 films (including Clerks and Roger & Me) and one book. At the 1996 Festival, Pierson launched his widely acclaimed off-Hollywood history Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes: A Guided Tour Across a Decade of American Independent Cinema.

After taking on only two or three directors per year through 1996, Pierson has used Split Screen as a platform to put over 75 filmmakers to work in the series' first two years. As a part of the exciting evolution of the series, some of these talented folk have produced segments while planning or completing features for Park City. For example:

The Blair Witch Project ("The Blair Witch Project," Split Screen Episodes #10 & 11)

Pierson met co-director Dan Myrick at the Florida Film Festival in June, 1997. A month later, Dan sent a mysterious and deeply creepy sample work about three missing student filmmakers to Split Screen. That tape became the basis for a 1997 season-ending cliffhanger. Using $10,000 in Split Screen seed money, Haxan Films then shot their feature and created an even more unsettling 1998 season premiere. When it aired in April, it lit up the show's website like a pinball machine on tilt.

American Movie ("Making Northwestern," Split Screen Episode #3)

Pierson worked with director Chris Smith on his exceptional first feature, American Job (1996 Sundance Film Festival). At the time, Chris was already filming the subject of his next film, moviemaker/dreamer Mark Borchardt. Smith became a regular contributor to Split Screen's maiden season. In the third episode (way back in March, 1997), he previewed some uproarious scenes from Making Northwestern. The name may have changed, but these scenes remain intact in the painfully funny, surprisingly poignant and recently completed feature.

Radiation ("Lost in Spain," Split Screen Episode #18)

Co-directors Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky shot some wraparounds for Split Screen in the summer of '97. They then went off to Spain to shoot a feature...and follow a film festival...and do a rock tour...all at once. While editing that feature's footage, they proposed a segment that turned out to be a veritable Radiation study guide.

After a year of sticking close to home, Split Screen ventured out into the great unknown in 1998 to gather material from locales that ranged far and wide. Two segments that were shot halfway around the world have made it back through customs in time for their Park City appearances.

Three Seasons ("Three Seasons," Split Screen Episode #26)

Split Screen's #1 segment supplier, Doug Stone, went all the way to Saigon last April to meet three of the Vietnamese actors from Tony Bui's beautiful interlacing narrative - and to try to figure out how Bui had been granted permission to film there when all previous American productions had been denied.

Lars From 1-10 ("Making the Waves," Split Screen Episode #24)

Travel is just one of director Lars von Trier's (Breaking the Waves) many phobias. He also avoids doing interviews, which makes it all the more impressive that Split Screen filmmakers Shari Roman and Sophie Fiennes tracked him down at home in Copenhagen. The two simply gave him a piece of chalk and he explained his ten rules of Dogma 95.

Still more Split Screen contributing directors are Park City-bound this year:

Tanya Hamilton hung out with Harlem video bootleggers and Jamaican digital video artists during the 1998 season. Now Tanya's screenplay, Stringbean and Marcus, has been selected for the prestigious January Sundance Writer's Lab.

Donal Lardner Ward's new feature, The Suburbans, was finished in the nick of time to receive a special TBA screening slot. Don hopes to turn a '97 Split Screen segment he shot in Bosnia about two aspiring young American capitalists into his next feature project. Did someone say Sundance 2000?

As IFC's signature series, Split Screen wants to stay way ahead of the "normal" discovery curve. The new 1999 season kicks off on Monday, April 5 at 8:00PM/ET, exclusively on The Independent Film Channel. Tune in every Monday night - you just night get a glimpse of the next big thing (or something even better)!

The Independent Film Channel (IFC), managed and operated by Bravo Networks, is the first channel dedicated to independent film presented 24 hours a day, uncut and commercial-free. The Independent Film Channel, reaching more than 23 million homes on a full-time basis, is the most widely distributed channel dedicated to independent film on television.

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