Last year’s Jury Prize winner for Best Fiction Short was David Chazelle’s (Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench) 18-minute short Whiplash. With the support of producers Jason Blum (Insidious, The Purge) and Jason Reitman (Juno, Up In the Air, Labor Day) it has been extended into a full-length feature with the same name. Whiplash was chosen to open this years Sundance competition and is garnering acclaim for writer/director Damien Chazelle and stars Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now) and J.K. Simmons (Juno, Law and Order, Oz).
The Sundance Film Festival is considered the nation’s top festival for movies made outside the studio system. The brainchild of Robert Redford (All Is Lost), it has launched the careers of some our most notable directors and screenwriters, including: Steven Soderbergh (Sex, Lies and Videotape), Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs), and David O. Russell (Spanking The Monkey).
Whiplash tells the story of a young 19-year-old jazz drummer, played by Miles Teller, studying at an elite music conservatory, where the conductor believes that fear is the best motivation for achieving greatness, and runs his academy like a drill sergeant, complete with humiliation and both physical and mental abuse. The director is played by J.K. Simmons, in what Variety’s Peter Debruge calls “the role of his career.” Paul Reiser plays the young boy’s father, a good but never great musician Teller’s character is determined to surpass.
Teller is on a hot streak with his film That Awkward Moment with Zac Efron opening in theaters next week. Reiser, meanwhile, has another film debuting at Sundance, the dark comedy Life After Beth.
Immediately after the premiere Sony snapped up the international distribution rights, but the U.S. rights are still up for the taking. Whiplash was produced by Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions, Jason Reitman, Helen Estabrook, Michael Litvak, and David Lancaster, with Gary Michael Walters and Lauper Samuelson executive producing.