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Sundance Unveils 2011 Out-of-Competition Lineup

“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,” says Cooper. “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.”

All of the Premiere films -- narrative and nonfiction -- are world premieres.

Along with breaking out non-fiction work within the traditional Premiere section, Cooper has created a new section called Native Showcase, which “highlights new work that contributes to a worldwide understanding of and appreciation for [indigenous] artists.” Director Billy Luther’s documentary Grab, narrated by fest regular Parker Posey, will screen along with a program of seven short films (yet to be announced) from around the world by Native American and indigenous filmmakers.

The festival still aims to stretch the boundaries of the independent sensibility with the NEXT section that it launched last year. “Last year we were really happy with the Next section in terms of showcasing some really good storytelling and writing in the low-budget range,” says programming director Trevor Groth. “But this year we found some terrifically inventive, aesthetically diverse films. These films have their own style to them, and they don’t just look low budget gritty—they’re a little more visually stylish within that. The NEXT section took a real step forward this year. There’s a lot of exciting new talent there.”

So this year’s crop of American filmmakers working in the low end of the indie budget zone include Evan Glodell’s Bellflower, Megan Griffiths’ The Off Hours, Erica Dunton’s to.get.her and director Andrew Dosunmu and screenwriter Eugene M. Gussenhoven’s Restless City. Sound of My Voice, from director Zal Batmanglij and co-screenwriter Brit Marling, carries this year’s interest in religious fanaticism with its story of a young couple that infiltrates a cult that meets in a basement in the San Fernando Valley.

“We argue about the crazy films,” says Cooper with obvious glee. “And what kind of crazy each of us likes.”

Park City at Midnight, even more than usual, entices with its pulpy, beckoning titles: The Catechism Cataclysm, a story of a lapsed priest and an old classmate and metalhead on a canoe trip, from writer-director Todd Rohal; Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same, about a shy greeting card store employee who falls for a lesbian space alien from filmmaker Madeleine Olnek; Hobo with A Shotgun, with Rutger Hauer as a drifter who turns vigilante after he witnesses a brutal robbery, from director Jason Eisener and writer Johnathan Davies; andTroll Hunter, which follows a group of student filmmakers who meet a man protecting Norway from giant trolls, from Norwegian director Andre Ovredal.

American director Alex Stapleton corralled a hit list of film icons (Jack Nicholson, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron) to talk about the man who gave them their first directing jobs, independent stalwart Roger Corman, in Corman’s World: Exploits Of A Hollywood Rebel. And The Woman, from director Lucky McKee and co-writer Jack Ketchum, may spark some controversy with its story of a country lawyer who captures and attempts to “civilize” the last remaining member of a violent clan.

The Spotlight section includes work from Brazilian José Padilha (Elite Squad 2), South Korean Kim Jee-woon (I Saw the Devil), Dane Susanne Bier (In a Better World), Canadian Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) and Americans Christopher Munch (Letters From the Big Man) and Kelly Reichardt (Meek’s Cutoff). Araki returns with a sci-fi story, Kaboom, and mumblecore practitioner Joe Swanberg brings Uncle Kent, about an L.A. pothead trying to sleep with a New York woman he met on Chatroulette.

This year’s selection from The Sundance Collection at UCLA is Richard Linklater’s Slacker. The experimental New Frontier films have been moved out of a basement on Main Street and will now screen at Miners Hospital across from the Library Theatre

The complete list of non-competition films follows on next page.