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Sundance 2013: 3 Noncompetition Category Lineups Unveiled

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Mud
"Mud"

Films featuring Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Jon Cryer will play at the festival in Park City.

The Sundance Film Festival unveiled on Thursday the selections for three noncompetition categories that often produce films that become crowd favorites and which this year feature such stars as Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Jon Cryer.

The festival's Spotlight section, comprised mostly of international films, focuses on movies that will have screened elsewhere before the festival; Park City at Midnight includes horror, action and other genre films; while New Frontier showcases experimental cinema and features art installation.

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The selections for the 11-day festival's two remaining noncompetition categories will be announced Dec. 3. In addition to Park City, films will be screened in Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. The festival runs Jan. 17-27.

The Park City at Midnight section often showcases some of the festival's most controversial projects -- including some not for the faint of heart. Last year, for example, Park City at Midnight horror film V/H/S was the subject of much talk at the festival after two people taking in a screening of the film were forced to leave the theater while watching a particularly gruesome scene. They were treated by paramedics and released. 

The creative team behind V/H/S is back for this year's festival with S-VHS, which, while not a traditional sequel, uses the original film's found-footage format. The movie, which screens in the Park City at Midnight section, is from directors Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Edúardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Huw Evans and Jason Eisener. S-VHS centers on private investigators who are searching for a missing person and stumble upon a collection of troubling VHS tapes in an abandoned house. 

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There are also a handful of big names appearing in Spotlight and Park City at Midnight films. McConaughey and Witherspoon star in Jeff Nichols' Mud, about two boys who encounter a fugitive and help him evade bounty hunters. The film is screening in the Spotlight section. Park City at Midnight film Ass Backwards, which features Vincent D'Onofrio, Alicia Silverstone and Cryer, centers on two loveable losers who take a road trip to their hometown to claim the beauty pageant crown that eluded them as children. The film is from director Chris Nelson and screenwriters June Diane Raphael and Casey Wilson, who also star in the comedy.

This year, 113 feature-length films representing 32 countries were selected for Sundance; the haul includes projects from 51 first-time filmmakers — including 27 films that are in competition. These projects were selected from 12,146 submissions, 429 more than last year. There are 16 films in both the U.S. dramatic and documentary competition sections, and 12 films in both the world cinema dramatic and documentary sections. 

The complete Spotlight, Park City at Midnight and New Frontier lineups appear after the jump.