One of the most talked-about and eagerly-anticipated film festivals of the year runs every January in a tiny little Utah ski town called Park City. The festival, of course, is Robert Redford’s Sundance, and it’s at about this time every year that the fest’s lineup hits the streets. Read on for the festival announcement and several of the most noteworthy titles.
Courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter: "In unveiling the lineup for the independent feature film and world cinema competitions for next year’s Sundance Film Festival on Monday, programmers characterized the upcoming fest as a return to its roots in independent programming. The key to what they consider the core of Sundance, the four competition sections, is the discovery of new faces before and behind the camera. "I don’t know how broadly these films will play," festival director Geoffrey Gilmore said. "What I’m not worried about, though, is the quality of the films or the excitement this return to our roots will produce. I want people to take a step back when it’s over and say, ‘God, what a great class of directors this is.’ " Said director of programming John Cooper: "Usually, we get our information from normal sources — producers, sales reps and agents. But a lot of this festival’s lineup will be unknown even to them." The competition screenings will take place Jan. 19-29 in Park City, with additional screenings occurring in other Utah locations, including Salt Lake City."
"A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" (Director, screenwriter: Dito Montiel) — A writer recounts his teenage experiences in tough 1980s Astoria, N.Y. — where all his friends ended up dead, as junkies, or in prison — exploring how he managed to emerge unscathed. World premiere.
"Come Early Morning" (Director, screenwriter: Joey Lauren Adams) — The story of a Southern woman trying to escape her addictions and self-destructive behavior to find true love. World premiere.
"Flannel Pajamas" (Director, screenwriter: Jeff Lipsky) — A magical evening in a local diner sparks an intense courtship and an emotionally mercurial marriage that challenges two New Yorkers to the core. World premiere.
"Forgiven" (Director, screenwriter: Paul Fitzgerald) — On the eve of his campaign launch for a seat in the U.S. Senate, a small town D.A. receives word that the governor has exonerated a death row inmate whom he had prosecuted five years earlier. World premiere.
"Half Nelson" (Director: Ryan Fleck; Screenwriters: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck) — An inner-city junior high school teacher with a drug habit forms an unlikely friendship with one of his students after she discovers his secret. World premiere.
"Hawk Is Dying" (Director: Julian Goldberger; Screenwriters: Harry Crews (novel), Julian Goldberger) — A Gainesville, Fla., auto upholsterer attempts to subvert his mundane life by training a wild, red-tailed hawk. World premiere.
"In Between Days" (Director: So Yong Kim; Screenwriters: So Yong Kim, Bradley Rust Gray) — When a recent Korean immigrant falls in love with her best and only friend, their misunderstood affection for each other creates a delicate relationship that is challenged by the demands of living in a new country. World premiere.
"Puccini for Beginners" (Director, screenwriter: Maria Maggenti) — On the rebound from her latest lesbian relationship, a New York writer finds herself in two surprising and complicated love affairs in this only-in-New York screwball comedy. World premiere.
"Quinceanera" (Directors, screenwriters: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland) — Disaffected Latino teenagers come of age in a gentrifying community in Echo Park district of Los Angeles. World premiere.
"Right At Your Door" (Director, screenwriter: Chris Gorak) — Multiple dirty bombs are detonated and spread deadly toxic ash and mass panic throughout Los Angeles. With limited information, time and supplies, and in the midst of citywide chaos, a married couple struggles to survive. World premiere.
"Sherrybaby" (Director, screenwriter: Laurie Collyer) — After serving a three-year prison sentence, a young woman quickly discovers that coming back to the world she left behind is far more difficult than she planned. World premiere.
"Somebodies" (Director, screenwriter: Hadjii) — Surrounded by eccentric relatives, prankster classmates, and more or less rehabilitated ex-cons, a black college student stumbles along the path to responsible adulthood. World premiere.
"Stay" (Director, screenwriter: Bob Goldthwait) — A youthful, impulsive sexual encounter opens the door to a dark comedy about the complexities of honesty. World premiere.
"Steel City" (Director, screenwriter: Brian Jun) — In a small Midwest town, two irresponsible brothers must come to terms with the lives they live after their father is incarcerated for killing a woman. World premiere.
"Stephanie Daley" (Director, screenwriter: Hilary Brougher) — A forensic psychologist, seven months pregnant, is hired to learn the truth behind a teenager’s denial of accusations that she concealed her pregnancy and committed infanticide. World premiere.
"Wristcutters — A Love Story" (Director: Goran Dukic; Screenwriters: Goran Dukic, Etgar Kerett) — An offbeat comedy, a love story, a road movie — but everybody is dead! World premiere.
World Cinema Dramatic Competition
"13 Tzameti"/ France (Director, screenwriter: Gela Babluani) — Sebastien has decided to follow instructions intended for someone else. When he reaches his destination, he falls into a degenerate, clandestine world of mental chaos. North American premiere.
"Allegro"/Denmark (Director: Christoffer Boe; Screenwriters: Christoffer Boe, Mikael Wulff) — After a long absence, a famous amnesiac pianist returns to his native Copenhagen where he is contacted by a mysterious messenger who leads him back into his forgotten past. North American premiere.
"The Aura"/Argentina (Director, screenwriter: Fabian Bielinsky) — Espinoza is an introverted taxidermist who secretly dreams of executing the perfect robbery. On his first-ever hunting trip, in the calm of the Patagonian forest, his dreams unexpectedly are made reality with one squeeze of the trigger. North American premiere.
"The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros"/Philippines (Director: Auraeus Solito; Screenwriter: Michiko Yamamoto) — Young Maxi’s unquestioned devotion to his family of small-time criminals in a Manila slum is undermined when he is befriended by a principled young policeman. U.S. premiere.
"Eve & The Fire Horse"/Canada (Director, screenwriter: Julia Kwan) — Eve is a precocious 9-yea-old growing up in a Vancouver-Chinese immigrant family where Confucian doctrines, superstitious obsessions and divine visions abound. When Buddhism and Catholicism are thrown into the mix, life for Eve and her prim authoritative sister, Karena, escalates into a fantasia of catastrophe, sainthood and cultural confusion. U.S. premiere.
"Grbavica"/Bosnia-Herzegovina (Director, screenwriter: Jasmila Zbanic) — A chilling story of a woman and her daughter as they fight to survive in the painful aftermath of the recent Balkan war. World premiere.
"The House of Sand"/Brazil (Director: Andrucha Waddington; Screenwriter: Elena Soarez) — The story of a woman across three generations. In the remote dunes of Brazil, Maria spends her life while an entire century passes by her, her house and sand. U.S. premiere.
"Kiss Me Not on the Eyes"/Lebanon (Director, screenwriter: Jocelyne Saab) — An educated young Egyptian woman defends her artistic integrity as a dancer and her social independence in the midst of modern Cairo’s culture wars. World premiere.
"Little Red Flowers"/China (Director: Zhang Yuan; Screenwriters: Ning Dai, Zhang Yuan) — A parable about the nature and complexities of being compelled to "fit in" to a regimented society set in a post-revolutionary Chinese orphanage. World premiere.
"Madeinusa"/Peru (Director, screenwriter: Claudia Llosa) — Madeinusa is a sweet girl who lives in an isolated, religiously zealous village in mountainous Peru. Everything changes when a geologist from Lima arrives and unknowingly reshapes Madeinusa’s destiny. World premiere.
"No. 2"/New Zealand (Director, screenwriter: Toa Fraser) — Nanna Maria’s family has forgotten how to party. She’s going to change all that and make them come alive with the heat and passion of the South Pacific. World premiere.
"One Last Dance"/Singapore (Director, screenwriter: Max Makowski) — An assassin is hired to kill the men responsible for kidnapping an important man’s son. With every death, the killer gets closer to the last kidnapper’s name … his own. World premiere.
"The Peter Pan Formula"/South Korea (Director, screenwriter: Cho Chan-Ho) — An adolescent boy confronts premature independence as his mother lies in a coma and he experiences the first tugs of sexual desires with an older woman. North American premiere.
"Princesas"/Spain (Director, screenwriter: Fernando Leon de Aranoa) — The story of two women who form an unbreakable friendship despite their differences as they fight to make ends meet in the big city. U.S. premiere.
"Solo Dios Sabe"/Brazil/Mexico (Director: Carlos Bolado; Screenwriters: Carlos Bolado, Diane Weipert) — On a lark in Tijuana, a young Brazilian art student crosses paths with a roguish Mexican journalist, sparking a cascade of events across both Mexico and Brazil. World premiere.
"Son of Man"/South Africa (Director: Mark Dornford-May; Screenwriters: Mark Dornford-May, Andiswa Kedama, Pauline Malefane) — A gripping journey of love, deception and betrayal, the film translates Jesus’ life to modern-day South Africa, where a new politics of compassion incites revolution during a military dictatorship. World premiere.
"A Lion in the House" (Directors: Steven Bogner, Julia Reichert) — Five diverse families — each with a child fighting cancer –navigate the ups and downs of treatment over six years, while maintaining hope in this complex portrait of human resilience. World premiere.
"American Blackout" (Director: Ian Inaba) — A stylish hard-hitting documentary that recounts the fascinating career of Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., and the suppression of the black vote historically and during the recent presidential elections in Florida and Ohio. World premiere.
"An Unreasonable Man" (Directors: Henriette Mantel and Stephen Skrovan) — Using rarely seen archival footage and more than 40 recently conducted on-camera interviews, this documentary traces the career of Ralph Nader from quixotic consumer advocate to upstart presidential candidate to public pariah. World premiere.
"Crossing Arizona" (Director: Joseph Mathew) — A balanced, far-reaching look at a range of human stories unfolding in the midst of Arizona’s illegal immigration crisis. World premiere.
"God Grew Tired of Us" (Director: Christopher Quinn) — Four boys from Sudan embark on a journey to America after years of wandering Sub-Saharan Africa in search of safety. World premiere.
"Ground Truth: After the Killing Ends" (Director: Patricia Foulkrod) — Reveals how the military trains our soldiers for war, the reality of combat in Iraq and the effects of the war on our soldiers coming home. World premiere.
"Iraq in Fragments" (Director: James Longley) — Contemporary Iraq is illuminated in three chapters that follow the diverse stories of Iraqis against a backdrop of war, occupation and ethnic tension. World premiere.
"Small Town Gay Bar" (Director: Malcom Ingram) — A voyage to the deep South to tell a tale of the struggle for community and expression in the face of ignorance, hypocrisy and oppression. World premiere.
"So Much So Fast" (Directors: Steven Ascher, Jeanne Jordan) — A black-humored cliffhanger of romance, guerrilla science and the redefinition of time. When Stephen Heywood finds out he has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), his brother Jamie becomes obsessed with finding a cure and the woman who is falling in love with Stephen has a decision to make. World premiere.
"Thin" (Director: Lauren Greenfield) — With unprecedented access and an unflinching eye, the film documents four women struggling with anorexia and bulimia at a residential facility for the treatment of eating disorders in South Florida. World premiere.
" ‘Tis Autumn — The Search for Jackie Paris" (Director: Raymond De Felitta) — Explores legendary jazz vocalist Jackie Paris’ meteoric rise, enigmatic career and mysterious life while probing the question of how much we need to know of an artist’s personal story to appreciate their art. World premiere.
"The Trials of Darryl Hunt" (Directors: Ricki Stern, Annie Sundberg) — The wrongful conviction of a black man for a white woman’s rape and murder offers a provocative, haunting examination of a fear-based, racially biased community and criminal justice system. World premiere.
"TV Junkie" (Director: Michael Cain) — From the time he was born Rick knew he had a special purpose. If he could only record it he might be able to figure out what it is. Forty-six years, 5,000 hours of video and more than 3,000 photos later he might have figured it out. World premiere.
"Wide Awake" (Director: Alan Berliner) — A first-person account of filmmaker Alan Berliner’s struggle with sleeplessness, as both a blessing and a curse. Portrait of an artist as an insomniac. World premiere.
"Wordplay" (Director: Patrick Creadon) — An in-depth look at the New York Times crossword puzzle and its editor Will Shortz, and the wonderfully unique and loyal fan base he has built and nurtured during his 12-year tenure at the paper. World premiere.
"The World According to Sesame Street" (Directors: Linda Goldstein Knowlton, Linda Hawkins Costigan) — A behind-the-scenes look at the unexpected dynamics of adapting the most-watched children’s television show for audiences in some of the world’s political hot-spots and incorporating locally relevant themes. World premiere.
World Cinema Documentary Competition
"5 Days"/Israel (Director: Yoav Shamir) — On Aug. 15, Israel began to evacuate 8,000 Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip. In a unilateral move by the Israeli government, they were removed from their homes to make way for 250,000 Palestinians. With exclusive access to the Israeli defense forces and the general in charge, seven film crews simultaneously follow key characters during this historic five-day event. North American premiere.
"Angry Monk — Reflections on Tibet"/Switzerland (Director: Luc Schaedler) — A portrait of the rebellious Tibetan monk Gendun Choephel, this film reveals a face of old and present-day Tibet that runs against popular cliches. North American premiere.
"Black Gold"/U.K. (Director: Marc Francis, Nick Francis ) — A cinematic journey that uncovers the world of coffee and trade from the struggling Ethiopian bean grower to your coffee cup. World premiere.
"By the Ways, a Journey With William Eggleston"/France (Directors: Cedric Laty, Vincent Gerard) — A journey through the southern U.S. home of William Eggleston considered "the father of color photography." Eggleston’s persistent silence defies each truth revealed about his character. North American premiere.
"Dear Pyongyang"/Japan (Director: Yang Yonghi) — A Korean-Japanese daughter explores her father’s fierce political loyalty to North Korea — costly to the point of breaking up his family. North American premiere.
"The Giant Buddhas"/Switzerland (Director: Christian Frei) — A film about the destruction of the famous Buddha statues in Afghanistan. An essay on fanaticism and faith, terror and tolerance, ignorance and identity. U.S. premiere.
"Glastonbury"/U.K. (Director: Julian Temple) — A staggering range of music presented at England’s annual Glastonbury Festival; captures the spirit of important social changes during the past 30 years. World premiere.
"I is for India"/England/Germany/Italy (Director: Sandhya Suri) — A tale of migration and belonging, told primarily through Super 8 films and audio letters sent between India and England during a period of 40 years. World premiere.
"In the Pit"/Mexico (Director: Juan Carlos Rulfo) — According to Mexican legend, whenever a bridge is built the devil asks for one soul, in exchange for keeping the bridge standing. This film chronicles the daily lives of the workers building a second deck to Mexico City’s Periferico freeway — their hopes, dreams and struggle for survival. World premiere.
"Into Great Silence"/Germany (Director: Philip Groening) — The first film ever to examine life inside the Grande Chartreuse, the mother house of the legendary Carthusian Order. An austere, next to silent meditation on monastic life in a very pure form. U.S. premiere.
"Kz"/U.K. (Director: Rex Bloomstein) — A look at the way the town of Mauthausen, previously the site of a German concentration camp, faces the ultimate demons of its dark past. North American premiere.
"No One"/Mexico (Director: Tin Dirdamal) — The story of Maria, a Central American immigrant forced to leave her family in search of a better life. On her way to the U.S., she crosses Mexico where she encounters a nightmare. U.S. premiere.
"The Short Life of Jose Antonio Gutierrez"/Germany (Director: Heidi Specogna) — Behind the heroic tale of the first U.S. soldier to die in the war in Iraq, there unfolds the story of a Guatemalan street child drawn into war by the promise of a green card in a foreign country. World premiere.
"Songbirds"/U.K. (Director: Brian Hill) — Downview Prison in England is host to 250 women who have committed crimes ranging from drug trafficking to manslaughter, but these women also are mothers and caretakers. In a musical set in the prison, the women sing about their lives and the crimes that led to their imprisonment. North American premiere.
"Unfolding Florence: The Many Lives of Florence Broadhurst"/Australia (Director: Gillian Armstrong) — Flamboyant design pioneer Florence Broadhurst lived a colorful life, but it is only now that her time has truly come, with her bold, exotic wallpaper prints in huge demand internationally. World premiere.
"Viva Zapatero"/Italy (Director: Sabina Guzzanti) — A critical and playful look at censorship in Italy under Berlusconi contrasted with other European nations. North American premiere.