Jan 19 2009

Push Premieres at Sundance Film Festival to a Standing Ovation

< > The film Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire starring Mo'Nique, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival on Friday, January 16. Mariah arrived at Park City, Utah with husband Nick Cannon whose film The Killing Room is also playing at the festival. Push, which tells the story of Precious Jones, a young girl in Harlem struggling to overcome tremendous obstacles and discover her own voice, is one of the 16 films competing in the festival’s prestigious U.S. Dramatic Competition.

Mariah attended the premiere with the film’s director Lee Daniels (producer of Tennessee), author Sapphire, and several cast members such as Mo’Nique, Gabourey Sidibie, Paula Patton and Kimberly Russell.  Actor Robert De Niro and singer Robin Thicke also attended the premiere.

IndieWIRE reports that the film was greeted with a standing ovation.

Reviewer John Anderson for Variety calls the film “courageous and uncompromising, a shaken cocktail of debasement and elation, despair and hope. [… ] Among the many delightful surprises in the film is Mariah Carey, who is pitch-perfect as a welfare counselor and serves as this demi-tragedy's Greek chorus. It's possible that many viewers won't recognize her until the final credits, but like so many things about "Push," the performance is disarming.

Evany Thomas, a blogger for the official Sundance Film Festival website reviewed the film and Mariah’s performance in it: “The star of the film, Gabourney Sidibe, is amazing and so cute in her strapless satin premiere finery. But I’m especially shattered by Mo’Nique and Mariah Carey, both of whom give performances so transformative that they’re basically unrecognizable. I really don’t know how director Lee Daniels managed it.”

Gabourey Sidibe told the press that "Mariah is really good in this movie. Both Mariah and Mo'Nique are wonderful, so it was awesome for me to work with them. I learned a lot from Mariah."

In the film, Mariah plays Mrs. Weiss, a welfare case worker who takes care of Precious Jones. Reuters: With her stringy hair and no nonsense attitude, Mrs. Weiss is far from the glamorous role Carey took in 2001's "Glitter".

In a recent interview, director Lee Daniels said about Mariah: “People think Mariah Carey can't be funny, and that's why I think I love her. Because she's a consummate professional . I think people think she wakes up and she's glam. She's a hard-ass worker! She works pretty hardcore. She can handle anything that comes, and I was really surprised.”

Daniels added that he cast Mariah in Push after seeing the great work she did on Tennessee: “I was so pleased with her work and her work ethic and our friendship has blossomed and our trust has blossomed. I went against the grain and cast her in something that was completely different for her with Push. That was like departure of the century for Mariah Carey.”

Videos of Mariah interviewed in Sundance:
Access Hollywood
Extra TV (includes footage from the film!)

Below are photos from the film’s luncheon and photo call, red carpet premiere and Q&A, the after party for the film (January 16) and the Push press conference (January 17) at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

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