HBO pencils in 'Black List' docu

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Several small acquisitions kicked off the Sundance Film Festival on Thursday.

HBO Docs said that it has picked up "The Black List: Volume One." Timothy Greenfield-Sanders directed the movie, in which journalist and former New York Times critic Elvis Mitchell interviews black cultural figures and icons ranging from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Sean Combs to Colin Powell.

An exhibit, book and other projects will accompany the film, with HBO execs saying the project is an ongoing one and could well include a second volume. No airdate has been set.

Also Thursday, William Morris Independent said it has sold international rights to Lance Hammer's small-town Southern drama "Ballast" to Celluloid Dreams, which will parcel out rights to various territories.

The movie, which is produced by Hammer and Nina Parikh and executive produced by Andrew Adamson and Mark Johnson, premieres this weekend in Park City. William Morris Independent will peddle domestic rights at the festival.

Meanwhile, Zeitgeist Films said that it has acquired all U.S. rights except television to the Chinese docu "Up the Yangtze."

"Yangtze" chronicles director Yung Chang's journey back to the place alongside the river where his grandfather lived as the Yangtze is about to be flooded by the Chinese government.

The film, which premieres today in Park City, is slated for an April release.

In other festival-related news, Hamptons Film Festival executive director Denise Kasell is launching a fest service and consulting division of entertainment real estate/human resources outfit Home.Work.People.

Kasell's operation will meet fests' staffing needs, ranging from assistants and special events producers to development directors, theater managers and publicists. It will also advise fests on training and operations, targeting the mid- to small-sized fests cropping up around the world.
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