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SUNDANCE: 'Another Happy Day' Is a Bummer of a Crowd Pleaser

Demi Moore on her third-act catfight with co-star Ellen Barkin: “We laughed our asses off."

Another Happy Day
Courtesy of Mandalay Vision

It’s always a good sign for a Sundance film when you see Harvey Weinstein trolling the lobby before the lights go down.

It’s also not a bad idea to have a scene with Demi Moore strangling Ellen Barkin at the top of the third act.

“We’ve known each other a very long time, so we just kind of went for it,” said Moore, laughing, during the Q&A following the world premiere screening of Sam Levinson’s family dysfunction drama Another Happy Day at the Eccles Theater. “We didn’t even need drinks."

Levinson drew a standing ovation before nervously fielding questions about his first Sundance feature, a Mandalay Vision production for which he said he gathered his “dream cast.”

“CAA asked me, 'Who do you want?’ So we started at the top,” said Levinson of casting his wedding-weekend family dramedy, in which heartache and grief collide to a tragic end. (CAA is repping sales for the dramatic competition film.) “I’d always imagined Ellen in the lead, and I gave her the script, and she called me three hours later. She said, ‘I’m in.’”

Rounding out the ensemble cast is Ellen Burstyn, Kate Bosworth, Thomas Haden Church, George Kennedy and newcomer Ezra Miller, whose turn as Barkin's drug-addled teenage son earned him rousing applause.

Visibly and audibly overwhelmed -- it was hard to tell if Levinson’s voice was cracking from stage fright or emotion -- the young director called the Sundance experience “very humbling.”

“The only other time I’ve screened this film was for 25 people," he said, looking at the actors on stage. "So this is a fucking jump.”