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The news from Sundance

Joe Gross
jgross@statesman.com

Netflix has inked a four-picture deal with former Austinites Mark and Jay Duplass, according to a report by Deadline. The deal was announced at Sundance. Netflix will bankroll four movies produced by the duo, movies that will premiere in theaters before moving to Netflix.

Duplass Brothers Productions produced the Sundance-premiering “The Overnight” for writer/director Patrick Brice with Taylor Schilling and Adam Scott. They also worked on “The Bronze,” starring Melissa Rauch, Sean Baker’s “Tangerine” (which was shot on an iPhone 5(!) and picked up for distribution Tuesday by Magnolia Pictures) and the decidedly adult animated series “Animals.”

Mark Duplass will be one of the keynote speakers at this year’s South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival.

Alex Gibney’s HBO Films documentary “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, ” based on Austin journalist Lawrence Wright’s amazing book of the same name, premiered Sunday at Sundance and made waves almost instantly, with Marlow Stern of the Daily Beast reporting, somewhat breathlessly, that the film “is a scathing exposé on Scientology and makes some startling accusations about its most famous member, Tom Cruise.”

Early reviews indicate it lines up somewhat with Wright’s book, with perhaps more of an emphasis on Cruise’s relationship with the organization.

Utah filmmaker Brad Besser’s “Beaver Trilogy Part IV,” produced by Austinites Kelly Williams, Jonathan Duffy and Don Swaynos, debuted on Jan. 23. The 84-minute documentary concerns filmmaker Trent Harris’ singular series of films about “Groovin’ Gary,” the self-proclaimed Rich Little of Beaver, Utah. Harris first filmed the guy in 1979, then attempted to recreate the footage (sort of).

A set of films that have to be seen to be believed, the Beaver trilogy has become a cult classic, a password for serious film nerds. Besser dives into the mythos and unpacks the original inspiration (the original Trilogy premiered at Sundance in 2001). Man, I hope this thing shows up at SXSW.

Texas teen Tye Sheridan shows up in Rodrigo García’s Sundance offering, “Last Days in the Desert.” It stars Ewan McGregor as both Jesus and the devil during Jesus’ 40 days in the desert right before he started his ministry. Sheridan plays a boy who meets Jesus. Ciarán Hinds plays Sheridan’s father, who has moved his family to the desert.

Screenings this week

Tonight might be your last chance to check out Ruben Östlund’s amazing “Force Majeure” on the big screen. It plays 8 p.m. at the Austin Film Society’s Marchesa Theatre. Also, it is a crime that the Academy didn’t give it a nod for best foreign film. Just sayin’.

The AFS will be hosting a “Luminous Double Feature” 6 p.m. Sunday in the AFS screening room (1901 East 51st St.) From the description: “We will be joined by longtime film collector and distributor Fred Frey, who specializes in European exploitation and crime films made from the ’60s through the ’80s for a double feature of rare 16mm prints from his private collection.” Now that is some strong Super Bowl counter-programming. Check out austinfim.org for details for this and “Force Majeure.”

Have you an urge to see “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” on the big screen? The Alamo Ritz is screening it noon Saturday and 12:15 p.m. Sunday.

Violet Crown will show Danny Boyle’s “Shallow Grave” as part of its ’Round Midnight film series. The film screens at 11:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Thursday.