Sundance’s 30th anniversary edition launches the festival season tomorrow with its now familiar blend of world premieres from established, emerging and new filmmakers.
Amongst those returning to Park City with new films are Lynn Shelton (Laggies), who picked up a Special Jury Prize for Humpday, John Michael McDonagh (Calvary) and Gregg Araki (White Bird in a Blizzard).
Marjane Satrapi (The Voices) leads an equally impressive list of Sundance newcomers, including Lenny Abrahamson (Frank) and Anton Corbijn (A Most Wanted Man), who debut their latest features.
All of the films in the US dramatic competition are world premieres with the family emerging as the dominant theme. Joe Swanberg’s latest film, Happy Christmas, is one of five exploring the family institution in varied ways.
And there are high profile world premiere documentaries from Steve James (Life Itself) and Joe Berlinger (United States of America v. James J. Bulger).
U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION:
Peter Sattler takes a potentially more reflective approach towards the ‘war on terror’ in his debut feature, ‘Camp X-Ray’. Kristen Stewart plays a new Guantanamo guard, who developments an unusual friendship with a detainee.
Cold in July
Emerging filmmaker, Jim Mickle, makes another Sundance appearance after last year’s ‘We Are What We Are’, which went on to screen in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight. Mickle follows it with a southern noir thriller where Michael C. Hall plays a homeowner, who faces a revenge attack after killing a burglar.
Dear White People
The directorial debut of industry insider, Justin Simien, takes a light hearted statistical look at race issues in contemporary America. Starring Tyler James Williams and Tessa Thompson, it is set in an Ivy League university where a white students’ ‘African American’ themed party causes a race riot. The film’s trailer, which went viral on YouTube, has given it an early buzz.
Fishing Without Nets
Cutter Hodierne expands upon his short film, ‘Fishing Without Nets’, which won a special jury prize at Sundance two years ago. Using non-professional actors, it depicts a moral dilemma facing a Somali pirate following the capture of an oil tanker.
John Slattery moves into the director’s chair with God’s Pocket, where things go from bad to worse for a construction worker after a fatal accident on site. Philip Seymour Hoffman leads a stellar cast, which includes, amongst others, Christina Hendricks and John Turturro.
Prolific Mumblecore filmmaker, Joe Swanberg, screens in the US dramatic competition for the first time with his latest feature, ‘Happy Christmas’. It’s a standard Mumblecore set-up where a thirty something’s wife and sister share a similar sense of disillusionment in a complex family drama. The film comes at a time when the movement appears to be almost at an end and its filmmakers are embracing other styles.
Kat Candler loosely based her third feature, ‘Hellion’, on a short of the same name, which she premiered at Sundance two years ago. Aaron Paul, Juliette Lewis and Josh Wiggins star in an uncompromising drama where a dysfunctional one-parent family has to face a new reality after the Child Protective Services intervene. Candler recently received a San Francisco Film Society/Kenneth Rainin Foundation filmmaking grant.
Infinitely Polar Bear
Screenwriter, Maya Forbes, best known for ‘Monsters vs Aliens’, turns filmmaker for the first time with ‘Infinitely Polar Bear’, starring Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Imogene Wolodarsky and Ashley Aufderheide. As with a number of films at Sundance this year, it focuses on a family crisis from an unusual angle. This one has Ruffalo playing a bipolar father, who tentatively takes care of the children after recovering from a nervous breakdown so that his wife can undertake an MBA.
Jamie Marks Is Dead
Carter Smith continues his association with Sundance where he won the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking for ‘Bugcrush’ and screened his later short, ‘Yearbook’. He made his first feature, ‘The Ruins’, for just $8,000 and it went on to gross over $22m worldwide. His follow up, ‘Jamie Marks Is Dead’, starring Cameron Monaghan, Noah Silver and Morgan Saylor, adapts Christopher Barzak’s novel, ‘One for Sorrow’ where the ghost of an anonymous school boy forms a surprising friendship with the classmate who found his body.
Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
David Zellner returns to Sundance with his intriguing fifth feature, ‘Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter’, which he co-wrote with his brother and long term collaborator, Nathan. Rinko Kikuchi (‘Pacific Rim’, ‘Norwegian Wood’) plays a loner, who travels from Tokyo to the harsh Minnesota winter in search of a non-existent fortune that she saw buried during a film.
Life After Beth
It is ten years since Jeff Baena made his only significant mark on film when he co-wrote ‘I Heart Huckabees’ with David O. Russell. Baena now returns with his first feature in the director’s chair, ‘Life After Beth’, starring Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan and John C. Reilly. It’s an idiosyncratic mystery drama where a twenty something’s girlfriend comes back to life after an unexpected death but all is not what it first seems.
Jeff Preiss’ debut feature, ‘Low Down’, starring John Hawkes, Elle Fanning, Glenn Close and Lena Headey, depicts life with jazz pianist and heroin addict, Joe Albany, from the perspective of his daughter. Amy Albany has adapted the script from her own memoir of the same name with screenwriter, Topper Lilien.
The Skeleton Twins
‘The Skeleton Twins’ is one of two films in competition along with Joe Swanberg’s ‘Happy Christmas’ from a filmmaker with Mumblecore associations. It’s the second feature from Craig Johnson and, like ‘Happy Christmas’, looks at a complex relationship between two siblings, who, on this occasion, reunite after they both loose their way on opposite side of the States. His debut film, ‘True Adolescents’, enjoyed strong festival exposure after premiering at SXSW.
After making music videos and performing in a handful of titles as an actress, Mona Fastvold directed her debut feature, ‘The Sleepwalker’, following a grant from the Norwegian Film Institute. It picks up one of the competition’s dominate themes, family relationships, and explores the past’s impact on later lives when two sisters come into conflict. The ensemble cast includes Brady Corbet with whom Fastvold co-wrote this film and his directorial debut, ‘The Childhood of a Leader’.
Kate Barker-Froyland’s feature debut, ‘Song One’, has the hallmarks of a romance drama that sits comfortably within the American indie tradition. Anne Hathaway plays a thirty something who returns home when her brother suffers a bad injury, and forms an unlikely friendship with his favourite singer.
Damien Chazelle returns to Sundance with a feature version of his short, ‘Whiplash’, which won a jury prize at last year’s festival. Miles Teller (‘The Spectacular Now’, ‘Rabbit Hole’) and J.K. Simmons star in a musical drama where a young drummer encounters a brutal teacher who shares his obsession with perfection. Chazelle’s debut feature ‘Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench’, attracted attention at various festivals and raised expectations for this follow up.discount cialis coupon can you order cialis online for canada cialis online doctor generic cialis canadian