Sundance Film Festival 2012 (19-29 January)

January 29th, 2012 - Graham Eley

Predictions that the US dramatic competition would include Antonio Campos’ Simon Killer proved to be correct.  The keenly awaited follow-up to his debut feature, Afterlife, stars Brady Corbet as the New Yorker whose retreat to Paris takes unexpected turns.

 

The world cinema dramatic competition has an the eye-catching world premiere of Wish You Were Here.  Kieran Darcy-Smith’s debut feature, starring the fast emerging Joel Edgerton, depicts a mysterious holiday disappearance that triggers uncomfortable revelations further down the line.

 

Jennifer Baichwal’s cinematic version of Margaret Atwood’s best selling book, Payback, is one of many high-profile arrivals that reflect Sundance’s position as a prime launching pad for documentaries.  Karin Hayes’ and Victoria Bruce’s feature doc, We’re Not Broke, a topical look at the US’s unprecedented budget deficit, will attract attention.

 

New features from Julie Delpy and Spike Lee screen in the premieres showcase where, in a sign of the times, none of the films have sold in advance.

 

Selected films:

 

The Atomic States of America

Don Argott & Sheena M. Joyce

 

There are high expectations that the new feature doc from Don Argott & Sheena M. Joyce will prove as eye-catching as its title, The Atomic States of America. Based upon Kelly McMasters’ A Memoir From An Atomic Town, it comprehensively revisits the alleged threat that nuclear reactors pose to humanity. The devastating earthquake-induced destruction of Fukushima Power Plant has, of course, provided a new context to the debate.  World Premiere

(US Documentary Competition)

 

 

Father’s Chair

Luciano Moura

 

A doctor’s troubled home life goes from bad to worse when his son goes missing.  His extensive search proves to be a journey of self-discovery, though, as he reassesses his true identity beyond the public persona.  World Premiere

(World Cinema Dramatic Competition)

 

 

Filly Brown

Youssef Delara and Michael D. Olmos

 

Filly Brown promises an unconventional look at the conflicts that arise between family and the music business by avoiding genre cliches.  A dodgy record producer offers a young hip-hop singer a crack at stardom but at a troubling cost.  Newcomer Gina Rodriguez leads the cast.

(World Cinema Dramatic Competition)

 

 

For Ellen

So Yong Kim

 

Last time out, So Yong Kim, the South Korean filmmaker now based in Los Angeles, returned to her homeland for the Treeless Mountain, a wonderfully perceptive portrayal of two children left behind when their mother emigrated to the US.  Her latest film, For Ellen, looks at the complications surrounding family separation from the opposing angle when an American father encounters difficulties in reuniting with his estranged daughter. Set in a New York State border town, it stars Paul Dano (Meek’s Cutoff, Little Miss Sunshine) & Jena Malone (The Messenger).  World Premiere

(US Dramatic Competition)

 

 

½ Revolution

Omar Shargawi & Karim El Hakim

 

Omar Shargawi & Karim El Hakim’s hand-held cameras provide a birds-eye view of last year’s Egyptian revolution as experienced on the chaotic and bloody back streets of Cairo way beyond the full glare of the world’s media.  The arrest of the filmmakers by the secret police provided an early indication of the pending political unrest after the collapse of Mubarak’s regime.  North American Premiere

(World Cinema Documentary Competition)

 

 

The Imposter

Bart Layton

 

Bart Layton’s intriguing new documentary, The Imposter investigates the extraordinary disappearance of a teenager, who reappears a few years later in another continent claiming an horrific abduction ordeal.  Marketed as being a documentary in thriller form, it contains many twists that almost defy belief. With documentaries frequently turning to dramatic narrative techniques for a more compelling audience experience, and serious dramatic cinema often searching for a purer reality, the two different genres are frequently operating in similar territory.  World Premiere

(World Cinema Documentary Competition)

 

 

Nobody Walks

Russo-Young

 

Russo-Young returns to Sundance with her third feature, Nobody Walks, for an intricate take on family politics.  A young New York artist (Olivia Thirlby) moves into a comfortable LA household and disturbs the equilibrium of compromises that have held the family together.  World Premiere

(US Dramatic Competition)

 

 

Payback

Jennifer Baichwal

 

Jennifer Baichwal (Manufactured Landscapes) provides cinematic form to Margaret Atwood’s bestselling book, Payback, in her intriguing new feature documentary.  Approaching the subject from unexpected angles, she will explore the huge variety of obligations that arise during our everyday lives and their fundamental importance in shaping wider society.  Payback will premiere at Sundance prior to a US release during the end of April.  World Premiere

(World Cinema Documentary Competition)

 

 

Safety Not Guaranteed

Colin Trevorrow

 

Aubrey Plaza plays a magazine reporter, who chases a story with a difference by replying to a bizarre ad seeking a partner for time travel.  After discovering an intriguing person behind the eccentric façade, she cannot be certain that he is sane.  Mark Duplass co-stars in a potentially interesting variation of the romantic comedy.  World Premiere

(US Dramatic Competition)

 

 

Shadow Dancer

James Marsh

 

James Marsh’s keenly awaited IRA super-grass thriller, staring Clive Owen and Andrea Riseborough, probes the moral complexities that arise when family and ideological convictions clash.  Tom Bradby, an experienced political correspondent, adapted the script from his own novel of the same name.  Marsh has enjoyed considerable success with his recent documentaries including Project Nim, currently riding high in the awards season, and Man on Wire, which bagged the Oscar three years ago

(Premieres Showcase – out of competition)

 

 

Simon Killer

Antonio Campos

 

Antonio Campos’ keenly awaited follow-up to Afterschool was a hot tip for an US Dramatic Competition berth.  Starring Brady Corbet as a young New Yorker who retreats to Paris after a painful breakup and discovers that not all glitters in those parts that are off limits for the tourist board.  Campos came to the fore with his

short Buy It Now, which bagged the Cinefondation prize at Cannes 2005.  World Premiere

(US Dramatic Competition)

 

 

Red Hook Summer

Spike Lee

 

Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer, which screens out of competition, returns to the cutting edge urban reality of his early career.  Set in the same Brooklyn neighborhood as his masterpiece, Do the Right Thing, Sundance’s Festival Director, John Cooper, has raised expectations by announcing that Lee will reprise the charismatic lead that he played in his masterpiece, Do the Right Thing, over twenty years ago.  This time around, an Atlanta boy passes the summer with a grandfather that he meets for the first time.  Expect Lee to provide a snapshot of how multiple-cultural districts of this kind have changed during the intervening years.

(Premieres Showcase – out of competition)

 

 

Slavery By Another Name

Sam Pollard

 

Based upon Douglas A. Blackmon’s 2009 Pulitzer Prize winning book, Sam Pollard’s documentary will provide strong evidence that involuntary labour continued for many years after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation through brutal racial suppression.  Pollard is best known as a film editor, whose 31 titles include Spike Lee’s Clockers and Bamboozled.  Laurence Fishburne will narrate.  World Premiere

(US Documentary Competition)

 

 

2 Days in New York

Julie Delpy

 

An indie romantic comedy sequel to her Allenesque 2 Days in Paris sees Delpy’s character with a new boyfriend exploring similar ground but in a new cultural context.  Chris Rock co-stars.  World premiere

(Premieres Showcase – out of competition)

 

 

We’re Not Broke

Karin Hayes’ and Victoria Bruce

 

Karin Hayes’ and Victoria Bruce’s topical new documentary, We’re Not Broke, tackles the single most important issue arising from the US’s unprecedented budget deficit and economic crisis; the grossly inefficient and unfair tax system.  It follows six activists demanding closure of multimillion-dollar tax loopholes that allow the largest corporations to hide their profits in overseas tax havens.  The film’s arrival coincides with a growing awareness amongst ordinary Americans that an equitable tax law could significantly curb the current austerity measures.  World Premiere

(US Documentary Competition)

 

 

West of Memphis

Amy Berg

 

Hot on the heals of Berlinger and Sinofsky’s concluding part of their Paradise Lost trilogy, Amy Berg turns her attention to the infamous West Memphis rough justice case.  Berg brings a forensic approach to deconstructing the process that secured the triple murder conviction of three teenagers based principally upon lifestyle evidence.  Atom Egoyan (Where the Truth Lies) is currently developing a dramatic version.  World Premiere

(Premieres Showcase – out of competition)

 

 

Wish You Were Here

Kieran Darcy-Smith

 

After a friend disappears during an easy-going holiday, revelations gradually surface that make it difficult for the others to continue with their lives.  Kieran Darcy-Smith’s debut feature employs non-linear narration to depict the characters before and after the fateful night.  In demand, Joel Edgerton, leads a cast that includes co-writer Felicity Price.  World Premierebuy online dapoxetine in dapoxetinebuy levitra with dapoxetinefluoxetine classificationfluoxetine 40 fluoxetine tablets 20mgfluoxetine oral solution fluoxetine 20 mg tabletsfluoxetine 200 mg fluoxetine 10 mg side effects

(World Cinema Dramatic Competition)

 

Talk of the festival, Beasts of the Southern Wild, won the grand jury prize for drama as fully expected.  Set in the remote Louisiana marshlands, Benh Zeitlin’s first feature is a mystical tale that tackles universal issues from the perspective of a young girl.  It received a standing ovation and, after protracted negotiations, Fox Searchlight acquired US rights.

 

Searchlight was quicker off the mark in securing worldwide rights to another Sundance breakout hit, The Surrogate (Ben Lewin), which bagged the audience drama award and a special jury prize for acting.  Starring John Hawkes and Helen Hunt, it is the true story of a poet with an iron lung who finds true love after employing the services of a sex surrogate to lose his virginity.  There is already speculation, in the traditions of Sundance, that it will be awards season material.

 

The top prize in the world dramatic section went to Andrés Wood’s Violeta Went To Heaven, a timely reminder of Chile’s importance to the region’s vibrant cinema.  A modernist biopic of the singer and peoples’s champion, Violeta Parra, it goes beyond the public persona to explore her vulnerabilities.

 

Musa Syeed’s Valley of Saints received the world cinema audience drama award.  Set at the resplendent Dal Lake, Kashmir, a coming of age tale plays out against threats to the areas environment and culture

 

The grand jury prize for a documentary followed pre-ceremony expectations, going to Eugene Jarecki’s comprehensive exploration of the US’s spectacular failure in the ‘war against drugs’.

 

The US documentary audience award went to the much discussed, The Invisible War.  Kirby Dick presents his evidence for an institutional cover-up of widespread rape within the US forces against their own.

 

Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s, The Law In These Parts, bagged the top documentary prize in the world cinema section.  Alexandrowicz contrasts Israel’s constitutional democratic principles with the administration of law within the occupied territories.

 

The first film to sell at this year’s festival, Searching for Sugar Man, took the world cinema documentary audience award.  Malik Bendjelloul follows two fans searching for an overlooked folk musician from the 1970’s.

 

 

AWARDS:

 

Grand Jury Prize, Dramatic:

“Beasts of the Southern Wild”

 

Grand Jury Prize, Documentary:

“The House I Live In”

 

World Cinema Jury Prize, Dramatic:

“Violeta Went To Heaven”

 

World Cinema Jury Prize, Documentary:

“The Law In These Parts”

 

Dramatic Audience Award:

“The Surrogate”

 

Documentary Audience Award:

“The Invisible War”

 

World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award:

“Valley of Saints”

 

World Cinema Documentary Audience Award:

“Searching For Sugar Man”

 

The Best of NEXT Audience Award:

“Sleepwalk With Me”

 

Directing Award, Dramatic:

Ava DuVernay, “Middle of Nowhere”

 

Directing Award, Documentary:

Lauren Greenfield, “The Queen of Versailles”

 

World Cinema Directing Award, Dramatic:

Mads Matthiessen, “Teddy Bear”

 

World Cinema Directing Award, Documentary:

Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, “5 Broken Cameras”

 

Waldo Scott Screenwriting Award:

“Safety Not Guaranteed”

 

World Cinema Screenwriting Award:

“Young & Wild”

 

Documentary Editing Award:

“Detropia”

 

World Cinema Documentary Editing Award:

“Indie Game: The Movie”

 

Excellence in Cinematography Award, Dramatic:

“Beasts of the Southern Wild”

 

Excellence in Cinematography Award, Documentary:

“Chasing Ice”

 

World Cinema Cinematography Award, Dramatic:

“My Brother The Devil”

 

World Cinema Cinematography Award, Documentary:

“Putin’s Kiss”

 

Special Jury Prize: Dramatic (Acting):

The cast of “The Surrogate”

 

Special Jury Prize: Dramatic:

Jonathan Schwartz and Andrea Sperling for producing “Smashed” and “Nobody Walks”

 

Special Jury Prizes: Documentary:

“Love Free or Die”

“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry”

 

World Cinema Special Jury Prize: Documentary

“Searching For Sugar Man”

 

World Cinema Special Jury Prize: Dramatic

“Can”

Discussion

Leave a Reply