Rudy Valdez to Serve on Sundance Film Festival’s Competition Jury

Rudy Valdez is headed to Sundance for an important role…

Sundance Film Festival organizers have set 16 alums from past editions to serve on its Competition Jury, with the Latino Emmy-winning filmmaker among those making the list.

Rudy ValdezValdez is known for his commitment to telling powerful, diverse and dynamic stories through an unparalleled and self-taught cinematic lens.

From documenting the rise of one of the world’s best-known musicians to delving into the devastating impact mandatory minimum prison sentences can have on a family, Valdez’s commitment to uplifting unheard voices while shining a light on cultural, social, and political moments not only reveals suppressed stories but also sparks meaningful conversations.

His ability to capture the essence of human emotion and experience has earned him critical acclaim and has firmly established Valdez as a transformative and influential figure in the world of filmmaking.

His credits include The Sentence, Carlos, The Last Patrol and Prison Dogs.

In addition to Valdez, in the U.S. Documentary Competition, the list includes Debra Granik, Adrian Tomine and Lena Waithe in U.S. Dramatic Competition; Shane Boris and Nicole Newnham in U.S. Documentary Competition; Jennifer Kent, Mira Nair and Rui Poças in World Cinema Dramatic Competition; Mandy Chang, Monica Hellström and Shaunak Sen in World Cinema Documentary Competition; Christina Oh, Danny Pudi and Charlotte Regan in Short Film Program Competition; and Zal Batmanglij in the NEXT competition section

“The Sundance Film Festival is known for discovering and platforming visionary emerging artists. We cannot do this without our jury, who so thoughtfully help us recognize and amplify the next generation of independent storytellers,” said Festival Director Eugene Hernandez. “We are thrilled to announce the talented, accomplished artists who comprise this year’s jury.”

Commenting on the fact of jurors’ participation in past festivals, Director of Programming Kim Yutani said that “they know what it is to introduce new work to the Sundance community and we are so pleased to be able to welcome them back to Sundance to take in the films our programming team has curated. We can’t wait to see what resonates with them.”

Feature award winners at the 40th edition of the Utah festival will be announced at a ceremony at The Ray Theatre in Park City on Friday, January 26th, with short film jury winners to be announced at the Shorts Awards & Party on Tuesday, January 23rd. In addition to meting out prizes, members of the Competition Jury will participate in celebratory programming, ranging from talks and panels, to a special 40th edition trivia night, and a party for artist alumni.

The 2024 festival is taking place in person in both Park City and Salt Lake City from January 18-28, with a selection of films to be made available online across the country from the 25th to the 28th. Films in competition categories awarded by the jury will be screened in person and via the online festival platform from January 27-28.

Sony Picture Classics & Trafalgar Firm Up Worldwide Release Plans for Carlos Santana Doc “Carlos”

Carlos Santana’s life story is going global…

Sony Picture Classics and Trafalgar Releasing have firmed up worldwide release plans for Carlos, their feature documentary on the 76-year-old 10-time Grammy-winning guitarist and musical icon.

Carlos SantanaThe film on the father of Latin American jazz fusion will launch in theaters in September with the three-day premiere event, Carlos: The Santana Journey Global Premiere.

In addition to the doc itself, the event taking place on September 23rd, 24th and 27th will spotlight exclusive introductory content featuring Santana and the film’s director, two-time Emmy winner Rudy Valdez.

The film will then launch into its general theatrical release on September 29th.

A guitarist who has cemented his status as a legend over the last 50 years, Santana continues to be one of the music world’s premiere artists, blending jazz, blues, and the Mariachi sound with a rock n’ roll spirituality and a sense of music’s primal connection to our deepest emotions. SPC’s doc will shed new light on his life and career by offering access to new interviews with Santana and family, as well as never-before-seen archival footage, including home videos recorded by Santana himself; concert footage; behind-the-scenes moments; interviews with such collaborators as Clive Davis and Rob Thomas; and more.

“Carlos Santana is among the elite musicians who has transcended decades and generations. From his performance at Woodstock to his 90’s epic album Supernatural —this documentary delves into his journey of becoming one of our greatest guitar legends. We are thrilled to be a part of this global moment in cinemas where fans can experience his life story and music together,” said Trafalgar’s SVP of Programming and Content Acquisitions Kymberli Frueh.

Rudy Valdez Agrees to Overall Unscripted Deal with Imagine Documentaries

Rudy Valdez has a new unscripted partner…

The Latino documentary filmmaker has agreed to an overall unscripted deal with Imagine Documentaries.

Rudy ValdezAs part of the agreement, Valdez will develop, direct and executive produce new nonfiction projects for the studio through his Bluff Road Films banner.

The two-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker started his career as a camera operator on the Peabody Award-winning, Sundance series Brick City and went on to direct his passion project on HBO’s The Sentence.

Shot and directed by Valdez over the course of a decade, this feature documentary tells the very personal story of his sister’s plight in the criminal justice system, while tackling subjects like mandatory minimums and sentencing reform.

“It has been wonderful to work with Sara Bernstein, Justin Wilkes, and the entire Imagine Documentaries team through the years,” said Valdez. “They have entrusted me with telling a variety of stories and have always supported my vision and approach. This new partnership will allow us to continue to create inspiring projects together and for me to expand, not only in the stories that I am able to tell, but also in my efforts to create a platform that fosters new voices. Along with this new deal, I’m excited to announce the launch of my production company, Bluff Road Films. Steered by an intimate storytelling approach, my team and I will aim to amplify unheard voices. Having the support of Imagine as we ramp up our efforts and take on new projects is invaluable.”

His most recent projects include Sony Pictures Classic’s Carlos and Choir on Disney+.

Both projects are produced by Imagine Entertainment and will premiere at the 2023 Tribeca Festival.

Carlos, the definitive feature documentary of Carlos Santana, follows the artist’s lifelong journey from 14-year-old street musician to 10-time Grammy winning global sensation.

Choir is a six-part docuseries, following the Detroit Youth Choir after their star turn on America’s Got Talent.

“As longtime collaborators of the extraordinary Rudy Valdez, Imagine is thrilled to formalize our unique creative partnership with Rudy and further bolster his prolific documentary impact,” said Bernstein, president of Imagine Documentaries.

Sony Pictures Classics Acquires Worldwide Rights to Carlos Santana Documentary “Carlos”

Carlos Santana’s life story will be heading to a theater near you…

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired the worldwide rights to Carlos, a new documentary about the 75-year-old Mexican guitarist, considered the father of Latin American jazz fusion.

Carlos SantanaA release date for the film directed by Emmy winner Rudy Valdez has not been disclosed.

Featuring never-before-seen or heard archival footage and music, Carlos offers an intimate and exhilarating look inside the mind of an elemental force of contemporary music and tells the story of Santana’s life – from a 14-year-old street musician to a 10-time Grammy-winning and three-time Latin Grammy-winning global sensation.

Imagine Documentaries and Sony Music Entertainment jointly financed the film, with Sara Bernstein and Justin Wilkes producing along with Lizz Morhaim, Leopoldo Gout, Ashley Kahn and Sam Pollard.

Brian Grazer and Ron Howard executive produced for Imagine Documentaries alongside Michael Vrionis and Tom Mackay & Richard Story for Sony Music Entertainment, with Meredith Kaulfers co-exec producing for Imagine Documentaries.

“Imagine is thrilled to bring the band back together and reunite with our partners at SPC on this magical journey with the legendary Carlos Santana and our director Rudy Valdez,” said Imagine Documentaries president Bernstein. “There isn’t a better team to inspire the world with Carlos’ extraordinary life.”

Commented Sony Music Entertainment’s EVP Premium Content Development, Sales, Krista Wegener: “We are beyond excited to be joining forces with Sony Pictures Classics to bring Carlos to the big screen. Our incredible partners, Rudy Valdez and Imagine, have created a stunningly beautiful portrait of Carlos Santana that captures his singular artistry and spirit. We can’t wait to share his story with audiences around the world.”

“I am honored and humbled to tell Carlos Santana’s story as a director. Carlos is a true trailblazer who has meant so much to so many people. My hope is that this film is a celebration of a life defined by humanity,” shared Valdez. “It was incredibly impactful to see someone who looks like me blow up the boundaries and expectations the world had placed on him as a Mexican immigrant and person of color, and I’m thrilled to be putting this story out into the world. I am also immensely grateful for the amazing team at Imagine Documentaries and Sony, who surrounded me through the entire process and helped me see this vision through.”

He continued: “The film could not have found a better distribution partner than Sony Pictures Classics. In their hands the film will have the opportunity to reach the masses and ensure as many people as possible get a chance to experience Carlos’ magic.”

Added Universal Tone Management’s President, Vrionis: “It is an honor to share the story of one of the world’s most iconic cusicians, Carlos Santana. His triumphant journey is the must-see event of the year. Partnering with Imagine Documentaries, Sony Music and Sony Pictures Classics was the perfect fit to tell this unbelievable story of victory and high consciousness.”