In what was either a stupidly self-indulgent or incredibly shrewd move, filmmakers Christopher Pomerenke and Ryan Page issued a press release Thursday lamenting the fact their soon-to-be-released film Queens of Country, starring Ron Livingston and Lizzy Caplan, did not make the cut for this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The press release took a mock “woe-is-me” stance for being three-time rejects to Robert Redford’s indie-film lovefest. The release states:
“We would also like to take a moment to congratulate the other filmmakers who got in this year,” adds Pomerenke. “We are in pre-production on our next project titled XANDER and we look forward to being rejected by Sundance Film Festival again next year.”
Full disclosure: Ryan Page is my best friend’s husband, so I have a bit of a bias on the matter (see my review of the film). But my first reaction to this press release was that it came across as a bit of sour grapes. I get that it was meant as a joke, but I was more worried that some might not understand the sentiment and view it as some small-time directors whining about being overlooked yet again. I know nothing about the way the film business works, and I know even less about how well Redford and the folks at Sundance can take a joke. My experience in PR is limited to the technology business, and I’m pretty sure that sort of jokey fake-sore-loser announcement would go over like a lead balloon with tech reporters who run short on senses of humor.
But I know the wacky world of Hollywood is a whole different beast, and it would seem that at least a few entertainment reporters found the press release to be a little stroke of genius. They got the joke, and the fact that Pomerenke and Page were using the Sundance rejection notice as a timely opportunity to reach out to a larger forum not only about Queens of Country, but also for their next project, a new-age farce called XANDER. So in the end, since the release managed to garner some national attention and assuming the Sundance brass don’t take themselves too seriously, the filmmakers and their PR team made the right move. No doubt the powers-that-be will remember their names when it comes time to submit XANDER for consideration. Maybe their next move should be to release the three films, The Heart is a Drum Machine, Blood into Wine and Queens, in a “Sundance Reject Trifecta” box set, complete with photocopies of the rejection letters (do they give rejection letters?) and photos of the filmmakers crying while watching The Natural.