2016 Sundance Docs in Focus: BECOMING MIKE NICHOLS

becoming mikeMoving on from the competition categories, my Sundance previews continue with the first film in the Documentary Premieres section: BECOMING MIKE NICHOLS, Douglas McGrath’s appreciation of the legendary filmmaker.

Festival Section:
Documentary Premieres

Sundance Program Description:

This intimate portrait of director, producer, and improvisational comedy icon Mike Nichols shows his final and historic interviews filmed just months before his death. Director Douglas McGrath documents Nichols’ early life, as he opens up to his friend, director Jack O’Brien, about the storied beginnings of his career. Nichols deconstructs some of his most famous work in BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, THE GRADUATE, and WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? He shows not just the cinematic underpinning but also his unique process, the serendipitous nature that fate played in their creation and ultimately reveals the fears and joys of a long career driven by an adventurous, creative spirit. McGrath aptly intercuts classic scenes from Nichols’s work to play out in full for true understanding of his brilliance and cutting-edge approach to his work. Whether fan or filmmaker, it is thrilling to better understand one of our gifted masters who helped shape the past and future of performing arts in America. BECOMING MIKE NICHOLS is a loving but also inspiring tribute, making it a fitting kick off to the Festival’s Art of Film Weekend.

Some Background:
Director/Executive Producer: Douglas McGrath
McGrath received an Oscar nomination for writing BULLETS OVER BROADWAY (together with Woody Allen) and a Tony nomination for writing the book for BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL. Other credits include the Oscar-winning EMMA, NICHOLAS NICKLEBY, INFAMOUS, and the Emmy-nominated HBO doc HIS WAY. He has previously served as an artistic and creative advisor for numerous Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Labs.

Producer: Ellin Baumel
Baumel’s past Sundance credits include the docs LARRY KRAMER IN LOVE & ANGER (2015) and IN THE REALMS OF THE UNREAL (2004), as well as the fiction feature WHATEVER (1998).

Executive Producers: Frank Rich, Jack O’Brien, and Sheila Nevins; Supervising Producer: Lisa Heller
Rich is well-known for his time as a columnist at The New York Times, and, since 2011, has been writing for New York Magazine. Other executive producer credits include HBO’s VEEP and SIX BY SONDHEIM.

O’Brien is a multiple Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning theatre director/producer. His credits include HAIRSPRAY, THE FULL MONTY, THE COAST OF UTOPIA, and HENRY IV, among several other productions. He has also previously directed episodes of GREAT PERFORMANCES and AMERICAN PLAYHOUSE for public television.

Nevins, the head of HBO Documentary Films, is a longtime Sundance veteran. In addition to executive producing this year’s SUITED, MAPPLETHORPE: LOOK AT THE PICTURES, UNLOCKING THE CAGE, and NOTHING LEFT UNSAID: GLORIA VANDERBILT & ANDERSON COOPER, her most recent alum credits include last year’s GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF, LARRY KRAMER IN LOVE & ANGER, KURT COBAIN: MONTAGE OF HECK, and THE JINX: THE LIFE AND DEATHS OF ROBERT DURST

HBO’s Heller counts among her recent Sundance production credits THE JINX, CAPTIVATED (2014), the short FALL TO GRACE (2013), and ABOUT FACE (2012).

Editor: Camilla Toniolo
Toniolo’s many Sundance credits include BLIND DATE (2008), GAME 6 (2005), DOUBLE WHAMMY (2001), THE 24 HOUR WOMAN (1999), THE REAL BLONDE (1998), and LIVING IN OBLIVION (1995). Other editing credits include BLOODHOUNDS OF BROADWAY, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, and MILDRED PIERCE.

Why You Should Watch:
Filmed as extended conversations between Nichols and the gregarious O’Brien, McGrath’s tribute displays a true warmth and conviviality, making the audience feel that they are part of an inner circle. While most viewers will be most familiar with Nichols’ films, ample attention is spent on his acclaimed theatrical and comedic work, particularly his beloved, fruitful partnership with the inimitable Elaine May.

More Info:
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the link in the first paragraph.

Presently, the film does not have a website, Facebook page, or trailer. Should this change before the festival kicks off, I’ll update that information here.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2016 Twitter list

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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