Sundance Film Festival 2011.
The world’s most famous “indie” film festival always proves new directions in filmmaking as indicated by last year’s “The Runaways” and Banksy’s “Exit Through the Gift Shop.”
No matter how big this so-called indie film festival gets, Robert Redford’s festival in Park City, Salt Lake, Ogden, and Sundance, UT, is still the place to be when it comes to movies, videos, and new technology in the realm of entertainment each year. Sundance Film Festival, running January 20 to 30, 2011, has just announced its selected features which include an amazing collection of premieres, documentaries, shorts, and even no-budget vignettes.
Last year, the festival of course produced many special flicks including, “The Runaways” with Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning, and street artist’s Banksy’s highly anticipated film, “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” This year so far is looking good also.
However, we do have some tips for newbies attending the festival:
Most of the film locations take place in the little box canyon of Park City, Utah. It’s beautiful, but packed, and public transportation is the way to get around. Forget driving unless you’re going to the premieres in Ogden or Salt Lake, which quite frankly, are all easier to get into than Park City. Sundance is out of the question as it’s even smaller than Park City. So unless your Robert Downey, Jr. forget seeing a premiere at the actual place, Sundance, during this week.
It will probably snow, and your cell phone will most likely not work. Not only because you’re at 5,000 feet elevation, but because the rest of NYC and LA film elite are there with you in their puffy Patagonia and The North Face black jackets, all trying to make calls at the same time that you are. Texting however, is usually a better option.
This is the best time to actually go and use the ski resort of Park City because everyone else is there for the festival, not for the skiing and snowboarding, no matter how ironic that may seem to the founders, especially Robert Redford based on his original plan.
Don’t even try to get into Zoom, Redford’s restaurant at the base of Main Street. Try Heber City for new cool restaurants that are not packed.
Tickets are usually available at the last minute, so don’t panic but prepared to wait in line or wait for cancellations from reserved seating and taking those that people never use. Tip: If you just want to see the winners, the last weekend is the best weekend to go, and you can get a package deal of seeing all of the winning films in a row. Most celebs will have gone by then, and media, so you’ll be free and clear. Generally, however, almost all of the films selected for Sundance are worth seeing. So even if you score a less well known movie ticket at midnight, it will probably be worth it.
If you’re one of those kind people who care about the locals, that’s nice, but don’t worry, they can see all of the winners for free the week after you all leave.
Label Networks will be covering the festival live in January, but meanwhile, here’s the scoop on the films selected:
Premieres: These are the biggest films usually with the largest budgets, often now attracting top actors. So while these movies are in an indie film festival, most already have massive distribution. But if they’re selected for Sundance, this usually means they are well-worth watching.
According to John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival, “2011 sees the majority of films in the Premieres section coming from outside the studios, illustrating that independent film is both robust and broadening its scope. The decision to create a Documentary Premieres section was a natural evolution to shine a light on films with prominent filmmakers or anticipated subjects without distracting from documentaries in competition. Sundance Institute has since its inception been one of the leading organizations in the world in support of nonfiction film, and our Festival remains a platform for both first-time and established documentary filmmakers.”
Cedar Rapids / U.S.A. (Director: Miguel Arteta; Screenwriter: Phil Johnston) – A wholesome and naive small-town Wisconsin man travels to big city Cedar Rapids, Iowa to represent his company at a regional insurance conference. Cast: Ed Helms, John C Reilly, Anne Heche, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Alia Shawkat, Sigourney Weaver.
The Convincer / U.S.A. (Director: Jill Sprecher; Screenwriters: Jill Sprecher & Karen Sprecher) – An insurance salesman, caught in a caper involving a rare musical instrument, sets off a series of dramatic consequences. Cast: Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, Billy Crudup, David Harbour.
The Details / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jacob Aaron Estes) – When hungry raccoons discover worms living under the sod in a young couple’s backyard, the pest problem sets off a wild and absurd chain reaction of domestic tension, infidelity, organ donation and murder by way of bow and arrow. Cast: Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney, Ray Liotta, Dennis Haysbert.
The Devil’s Double / Belgium (Director: Lee Tamahori; Screenwriter: Michael Thomas) – An extraordinary chapter in recent history providing a chilling vision of the House of Saddam comes to life through the eyes of the man who knew too much. Cast: Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier, Mimoun Oaissa, Raad Rawi, Philip Quast.
I Melt with You / Canada, U.S.A. (Director: Mark Pellington; Screenwriter: Glenn Porter, based on the story by Glenn Porter and Mark Pellington) – Four friends gather every year to celebrate their friendship. This year they are unexpectedly forced to confront a forgotten promise they made 25 years earlier. As they examine choices they’ve made, they realize that what they said they would do with their lives and what they have done are entirely different. Cast: Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, Christian McKay, Carla Gugino.
Life in a Day / United Kingdom (Director: Kevin Macdonald) – Life in a Day is a historic global experiment to create the world’s largest user-generated feature film. On July 24, 2010, professional and amateur filmmakers captured a glimpse of their lives on camera and uploaded the footage to YouTube, serving as a time capsule for future generations.
Margin Call / U.S.A.(Director and screenwriter: JC Chandor) – Over a 24-hour period during the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis, the key people at an investment bank struggle to decide how to handle an emergency business situation while examining the personal and moral implications of every action they take. Cast: Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Demi Moore, and Stanley Tucci.
The Music Never Stopped (Director: Jim Kohlberg; Screenwriters: Gwyn Lurie and Gary Marks, based on the story “The Last Hippie” by Oliver Sacks) – A father struggles to bond with his estranged son who suffers a brain tumor that prevents him from forming new memories. He learns to embrace his son’s choices and to try to connect with him through the power of music. Cast: J.K. Simmons, Julia Ormond, Cara Seymour, Lou Taylor Pucci, Mia Maestro. SALT LAKE CITY GALA FILM
My Idiot Brother / U.S.A.(Director: Jesse Peretz; Screenwriters: Evgenia Peretz and David Schisgall) – After serving time for selling pot, Ned successively moves in with each of his three sisters as he tries to get back on his feet. His best intentions quickly bring the family to the cusp of chaos and ultimately the brink of clarity. Cast: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer.
Perfect Sense / United Kingdom (Director: David Mackenzie; Screenwriter: Kim Fupz Aakeson) – A poetic and magnetic love story about two people who start to fall in love just as the world begins to fall apart. Cast: Ewan McGregor, Eva Green, Ewen Bremner, Stephen Dillane, Denis Lawson and Connie Nielsen.
Red State / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kevin Smith) – A group of misfits encounter extreme fundamentalism in Middle America. Cast: Michael Parks, Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner, John Goodman, Melissa Leo.
Salvation Boulevard / U.S.A. (Director: George Ratliff; Screenwriters: Doug Max Stone and George Ratliff, based on the novel by Larry Beinhart) – An evangelical preacher who has captivated a city with his charm frames an ex-hippie for a crime he did not commit. Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Greg Kinnear, Marisa Tomei.
The Son of No One / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Dito Montiel) – Two men in post-9/11 New York are forced to relive two murders they committed as young boys. Their lives start to unravel by the threat of the revelation of these shocking and personal secrets. Cast: Channing Tatum, Al Pacino, Katie Holmes, Tracy Morgan, Ray Liotta, Juliette Binoche. CLOSING NIGHT FILM
Win Win / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Tom McCarthy, based on the story by Tom McCarthy and Joe Tiboni) – When a disheartened attorney moonlighting as a high school wrestling coach stumbles across a star athlete, things seem to be looking up. That is, until the boy’s mother shows up fresh from rehab and flat broke, threatening to derail everything. Cast: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor.
DOCUMENTARY PREMIERES -These are very worthy films to see. Sundance has historically changed the face of documentary films by making this genre now one of the most popular among movie-goers.
Becoming Chaz / U.S.A. (Directors: Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato) – Born biologically female, Chastity Bono invites the viewer into a deeply personal journey as he transitions from female to male, embracing his true self, which is Chaz.
Bobby Fischer Against the World / U.S.A. (Director: Liz Garbus) – The drama of late chess-master Bobby Fischer’s career was undeniable,as he careened from troubled childhood, to World Champion and Cold War icon, to a fugitive on the run.
Granito / U.S.A. (Director: Pamela Yates) – A documentary film intertwines with Guatemala’s turbulent history and emerges as an active player in a nation’s struggle to heal itself and serve up justice.
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold / U.S.A. (Director: Morgan Spurlock) – A documentary about branding, advertising and product placement is financed and made possible by branding, advertising and product placement.
The Interrupters / U.S.A. (Director: Steve James) – From the Academy Award-winning director of Hoop Dreams comes a story of ex-gang members who are now protecting their communities from the violence they themselves once employed.
Reagan / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Eugene Jarecki) – Reagan examines the enigmatic career of one of the revered architects of the modern world %u2013 icon, screen star, and two-term president Ronald Reagan.
Rebirth / U.S.A. (Director: Jim Whitaker) – Weaving together five stories of individuals whose lives were profoundly altered by the 9/11 attack with unprecedented time-lapse footage of Ground Zero composed over ten years, what emerges is a chronicle of grief’s evolution and a nation healing.
These Amazing Shadows / U.S.A. (Directors: Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton) – The history and importance of the National Film Registry unfolds in a roll call of American cinema treasures that reflects the diversity of film, and indeed the American experience itself.
NEXT (<=>) -We love this category (and it’s got a cool logo) because it basically represents many visionary pieces of work with limited budgets. Consider Next the DIY of Sundance. Here’s the line-up:
Eight American films selected for their innovative and original work in low- and no-budget filmmaking. Each is a world premiere.
Bellflower / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Evan Glodell) – A ballad for every person who has ever loved and lost %u2013 with enough violence, weapons, action and sex to tell a love story with apocalyptic stakes. Cast: Evan Glodell, Jessie Wiseman, Tyler Dawson, Rebekah Brandes.
The Lie / U.S.A. (Director: Joshua Leonard; Screenwriters: Jeff Feuerzeig, Joshua Leonard, Mark Webber and Jess Weixler, based on the short story by T. Coraghessan Boyle) – A man overwhelmed and disappointed with life tells a lie to avoid going to work%u2026 what could possibly go wrong? Cast: Joshua Leonard, Jess Weixler, Mark Webber, Alia Shawkat, Jane Adams and Kelli Garner.
Lord Byron / U.S.A. (Director: Zack Godshall; Screenwriters: Zack Godshall and Ross Brupbacher) – When he’s not pursuing women, Byron is smoking weed and loafing around. But he’s grown restless in his middle-age and feels the need to escape %u2013 he just doesn’t know where to go. Cast: Paul Batiste, Gwendolyn Spradling, Kayla Lemaire.
The Off Hours / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Megan Griffiths) – A passing truck driver brings an unfamiliar sense of optimism to a woman working the night shift at a quiet diner, reminding her it’s never too late to become the person you always wanted to be. Cast: Amy Seimetz, Ross Partridge, Scoot McNairy, Lynn Shelton, Bret Roberts, Tony Doupe.
Prairie Love / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Dusty Bias) – When a mysterious vagrant living out of his car among the snowy plains discovers a nearly-frozen local with a pen-pal girlfriend, he sees an opportunity to change his lonely existence. Cast: Jeremy Clark, Holly Lynn Ellis, Garth Blomberg.
Restless City / U.S.A. (Director: Andrew Dosunmu; Screenwriter: Eugene M. Gussenhoven) – An African immigrant survives on the fringes of New York City. Music is his passion, life is a hustle and falling in love is his greatest risk. Cast: Danai Gurira, Anthony Okungbowa, Babs Olusanmokun.
sound of my voice / U.S.A. (Director: Zal Batmanglij; Screenwriters: Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling) – A young couple infiltrates a cult that meets in a basement in the San Fernando Valley. Cast: Christopher Denham, Nicole Vicius, Brit Marling.
to.get.her / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Erica Dunton) – Five girls come together for one fateful night where anything goes. They all had secrets, but their friendship was the only thing they knew to be true. Cast: Jazzy De Lisser, Chelsea Logan, Adwoa Aboah, Jami Eaton, Audrey Speicher.
NATIVE SHOWCASE -Following President and Founder Robert Redford’s original vision, Sundance Institute has remained committed to supporting indigenous filmmaking. This showcase highlights new work that contributes to a worldwide understanding of and appreciation for these artists.
GRAB / U.S.A. (Director: Billy Luther) – Three families in the Laguna Pueblo tribe prepare for Grab Day, when they throw groceries from a rooftop to the community waiting below %u2013 an annual community-wide prayer of abundance, thanks and renewal. Documentary, narrated by Parker Posey. World Premiere.
INDIGENOUS SHORTS– a program of short films from around the world by Native American and indigenous filmmakers. The seven short films that will be presented together as part of the Native Showcase will be announced on December 6.
Attenberg / Greece (Director and screenwriter: Athina Rachel Tsangari) – Marina, a young woman living with her father in a decaying, seaside factory town, acquires a new perspective on the mysteries of human nature after she meets a stranger. Cast: Ariane Labed, Yorgos Lanthimos, Vangelis Mourikis, Evangelia Randou. U.S. Premiere
Elite Squad 2 (Tropa de Elite 2) / Brazil (Director: Jos? Padilha; Screenwrtiers: Br