Sundance reveals noncompetition lineup
Sections' films a little less weighty than competition picsThe Sundance Film Festival's competition lineup for 2010, announced Wednesday, might demand that audiences wear their serious caps. But the out-of-competition selections allow programmers and viewers to cut loose a little.
The 53 films that populate this year's Premieres, Next, Spotlight, Park City at Midnight and New Frontier sections run the gamut from the cosmically experimental to the star-studded and silly. There is indeed something for everyone at this year's event, which runs Jan. 21-31 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah.
As usual, Premieres collects work involving the industry's higher-profile talent, none more so than John Wells' feature directorial debut, "The Company Men," which stars Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Cooper. Mexican actor Diego Luna's directorial debut, "Abel," will screen, as will Philip Seymour Hoffman's "Jack Goes Boating."
Michael Winterbottom has the rare distinction of having two films in the festival: the genre workout "The Killer Inside Me" with Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba and the nonfiction "Shock Doctrine," inspired by Naomi Klein's provocative book.
"It was bound to happen with him; he's so prolific," festival director John Cooper said. " 'The Killer Inside Me' is going to split the audience, for sure. (Jessica Alba) gets the shit pounded out of her. It's one of the most grueling scenes I've seen."
Indie stalwarts Nicole Holofcener ("Please Give"), the Duplass brothers (untitled) and Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini ("The Extra Man") all return. Also included is Mark Lewis' "Cane Toads: The Conquest," a rare Sundance 3D screening. (Two years ago, the festival screened Mark Pellington's concert film "U2 3D").
Writer-director Floria Sigismondi's fictional rock biography "The Runaways," featuring "Twilight" stars Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning, should draw interest to its world premiere. (Stewart also shows up in Jake Scott's competition film "Welcome to the Rileys.")
The Next category, is new this year at the direction of Cooper, who took over from Geoffrey Gilmore in February. It is designed to cordon off space for low and no-budget filmmaking and is a showcase for eight "younger, fresher" American filmmakers that live and breathe true indie spirit.
"That's where I was most excited to, like, 'Let's do something here' because they just weren't making it into the festival in the quantity I thought they should," Cooper said. Pointing to "The Blair Witch Project" and "Clerks," he added, "We've been showing these all along, but let's make sure that we're holding the spot for them."
Included in Next are Katie Aselton's "The Freebie," about a young married couple that give each other one free pass to stray; Todd and Brad Barnes' "Homewrecker," about a romantic ex-con locksmith on work release; and two films with Muslim protagonists, Sultan Sharrief's "Bilal's Stand" and director Eyad Zahra's "The Taqwacores."
Although the Next selections are narrative efforts, the New Frontier section remains a place for the "formally experimental." Daniel Perez's "ODDSAC," a visual record for the band Animal Collective, is among the six films screening there.
This year, the Spectrum section has morphed into Spotlight, a repository for films that have shown elsewhere or don't meet the competition requirements but that the programmers loved and wanted to share with audiences.
Comedian Louis C.K. directs himself in a world premiere concert film, "Louis C.K.: Hilarious." Gaspar Noe returns with "Enter the Void," in its U.S. premiere. Jacques Audiard's "A Prophet," which Sony Pictures Classics will release in February, continues the festival run it began at the Festival de Cannes. And "Entourage" star Adrian Grenier's documentary, "Teenage Paparazzo," explores the effects of celebrity in its world premiere.
Of cheeky note is the inclusion of the Spotlight documentary "8: The Mormon Proposition," from director Reed Cowan. Sundance watchers will remember that last year's festival was threatened with a boycott as a result of the Mormon church's support for the passage of California's Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriage in the state.
The festival's "crime" was that it is held in Utah, Mormon ground zero, and one of its theater's CEOs contributed to the campaign for Prop 8. The proposed protest never sat well with Sundance organizers, who pointed to the festival's longtime support of gay-themed films. Perhaps including "8" is payback?
"I don't know what you're talking about," Cooper said with feigned guilelessness. Then he chuckled.
"I think showing '8' is going to have, especially on a local level, some controversy," said Cooper, who remembers hearing about the work in progress from Cowan at last year's fest. "It teaches you a lot, that movie. It's kind of scary. It spells it all out in ways that you can understand."
The section also will screen two stripped-down thrillers with similar acting challenges: Adam Green's "Frozen" strands three skiers on a chairlift as the sun goes down, and director Rodrigo Cortes' "Buried" nails Ryan Reynolds into a coffin with just a lighter and a cell phone.
"I didn't think that could ever work, but I got riveted," Cooper said of the latter's claustrophobic setup.
A perfect tagline for Sundance as a whole.
The complete Sundance noncompetition lineup is on the next page.
The complete Sundance noncompetition lineup follows:
Abel (Director: Diego Luna). A peculiar young boy assumes the responsibilities of a family man in his father's absence. Cast: Jose Maria Yazpik. (Mexico)
Cane Toads: The Conquest (Director-screenwriter: Mark Lewis). Exploration (in 3D) of one of Australia's greatest environmental catastrophes: following the unstoppable march of the cane toad across the Australian continent. (U.S.)
The Company Men (Director: John Wells). Three company men attempt to survive a round of corporate downsizing. Cast: Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Rosemarie DeWitt. (U.S.)
The Extra Man (Directors: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini; screenwriters: Robert Pulcini, Jonathan Ames, Shari Springer Berman). A down-and-out playwright who escorts wealthy widows in Manhattan's Upper East Side takes a young aspiring writer under his wing. Cast: Katie Holmes, John C. Reilly, Paul Dano, Kevin Kline, Alicia Goranson. (U.S.)
Get Low (Director: Aaron Schneider; screenwriters: Chris Provenzano, C. Gaby Mitchell). Equal parts folk tale, fable and real-life legend about a mysterious, 1930s Tennessee hermit who plans his own rollicking funeral party while still alive. Cast: Robert Duvall, Bill Murray. (U.S./Salt Lake City Gala Film)
Jack Goes Boating (Director: Philip Seymour Hoffman; screenwriter: Bob Glaudini). A limo driver's blind date sparks a tale of love, betrayal and friendship revolving around two working-class New York couples. Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Ryan, John Ortiz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Tom McCarthy. (U.S.)
The Killer Inside Me (Director: Michael Winterbottom; screenwriter: John Curran). Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford is a pillar of the community in his small Texan town until he starts killing people. Cast: Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, Jessica Alba, Simon Baker, Elias Koteas. (U.S.)
Nowhere Boy (Director: Sam Taylor Wood; screenwriters: Julia Baird, Matt Greenhalgh). A teenage John Lennon confronts wrenching family secrets and finds his musical voice in late 1950s Liverpool. Cast: Aaron Johnson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Thomas Sangster, Anne-Marie Duff, David Morrissey. (U.K.)
Please Give (Director-screenwriter: Nicole Holofcener). In New York, a husband and wife butt heads with the granddaughters of the elderly woman who lives next door. Cast: Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall, Catherine Keener, Sarah Steele. (U.S.)
The Runaways (Director-screenwriter: Floria Sigismondi). In 1970s Los Angeles, a teenager named Joan Jett connects with an eccentric producer to form an all-girl band. Cast: Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Scout Taylor-Compton, Michael Shannon, Alia Shawkat, Tatum O'Neal. (U.S.)
Shock Doctrine (Directors: Michael Winterbottom, Mat Whitecross). Based on the book by Naomi Klein, the film exposes how shock is used to implement economic policy in vulnerable environments. (U.S.)
Twelve (Director: Joel Schumacher; screenwriter: Jordan Melamed). A chronicle of the highs and lows of privileged kids on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Cast: Chace Crawford, Emma Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, 50 Cent, Zoe Kravitz. (U.S./Closing-night film)
Untitled Duplass Brothers project (Directors-screenwriters: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass). A recently divorced guy meets a lady, but the problem is that her son isn't interested in sharing his mother. Cast: Marisa Tomei, John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill. (U.S.)
NEXT (A new section composed of eight American films selected for their innovative and original work in low- and no-budget filmmaking.)
Armless (Director: Habib Azar; screenwriter: Kyle Jarrow). Comedy about a woman who comes to terms with her husband's strange secret. Cast: Daniel London, Janel Moloney, Keith Powell, Laurie Kennedy, Matt Walton.
Bass Ackwards (Director-screenwriter: Linas Phillips). After ending a disastrous affair with a married woman, a man embarks on a strange and comedic cross-country journey. Cast: Linas Phillips, Davie-Blue, Jim Fletcher, Paul Lazar.
Bilal's Stand (Director-screenwriter: Sultan Sharrief). Bilal, a Muslim high school senior in Detroit, juggles his dysfunctional family, their taxi stand and an ice-carving contest in his attempt to land a college scholarship. Cast: Julian Gant.
The Freebie (Director-screenwriter: Katie Aselton). A young married couple decides to give each other one night with someone else. Cast: Dax Shepard, Katie Aselton.
Homewrecker (Directors: Todd Barnes, Brad Barnes; screenwriters: Todd Barnes, Brad Barnes, Sophie Goodhart). The last romantic in New York is an ex-con locksmith on work release. Cast: Ana Reeder, Anslem Richardson, Stephen Rannazzisi.
New Low (Director: Adam Bowers). A neurotic twentysomething struggles to figure out which girl he really belongs with. Cast: Adam Bowers, Jayme Ratzer, Toby Turner, Valerie Jones.
One Too Many Mornings (Director: Michael Mohan; screenwriters: Anthony Deptula, Michael Mohan, Stephen Hale). Two damaged young men recover their high school friendship by awkwardly revealing to each other just how messed up they've become. Cast: Anthony Deptula, Stephen Hale, Tina Kapousis.
The Taqwacores (Director: Eyad Zahra; screenwriter: Michael Muhammad Knight). When a Pakistani-Muslim engineering student moves into a house with punk Muslims of all stripes in Buffalo, N.Y., his ideologies are challenged. Cast: Noureen DeWulf, Dominic Rains, Rasika Mathur, Tony Yalda, Anne Marie Leighton.
Bran Nue Dae (Director: Rachel Perkins; screenwriters: Reg Cribb, Rachel Perkins, Jimmy Chi). In summer 1965, a young man is filled with the life of the idyllic old pearling port Broome -- fishing, hanging out with his mates and his girl. Cast: Rocky McKenzie, Jessica Mauboy, Geoffrey Rush, Ernie Dingo. (Australia)
Daddy Longlegs (Directors-screenwriters: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie). A swan song to excuses and responsibilities, to fatherhood and self-created experiences and to what it's like to be torn between being a child and an adult. Cast: Ronald Bronstein, Sage Ranaldo, Frey Ranaldo. (U.S.)
Enter the Void (Director-screenwriter: Gaspar Noe). A drug-dealing teen is killed in Japan, after which he reappears as a ghost to watch over his sister. Cast: Nathaniel Brown, Paz de la Huerta, Cyril Roy, Emily Alyn Lind, Jesse Kuhn. (France)
I Am Love (Director-screenwriter: Luca Guadagnino). A tragic love story set at the turn of the millennium in Milan. Cast: Tilda Swinton, Edoardo Gabbriellini, Pippo Delbono, Alba Rohrwacher, Marisa Berenson. (Italy)
Louis C.K.: Hilarious (Director: Louis C.K.). The sharp-tongued comedian pulls no punches in this visceral concert experience. (U.S.)
Lourdes (Director-screenwriter: Jessica Hausner). A woman in a wheelchair travels to Lourdes in an attempt to escape her isolation. Cast: Sylvie Testud, Lea Seydoux, Bruno Todeschini, Gilette Barbier, Gerhard Liebmann, Irma Wagner. (Austria/France/Germany)
Mother & Child (Director-screenwriter: Rodrigo Garcia). The lives of three women --a physical therapist, the daughter she gave up at birth three decades ago and a black woman seeking to adopt a child of her own -- intersect. Cast: Naomi Watts, Annette Bening, Kerry Washington, Jimmy Smits, Samuel L. Jackson. (U.S.)
A Prophet (Director: Jacques Audiard; screenwriters: Thomas Bidegain, Jacques Audiard, Abdel Raouf Dafri, Nicolas Peufaillit). An engaging examination of a seedy, gangster-driven underworld set in a French prison. Cast: Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif, Hichem Yacoubi, Reda Kateb. (France)
Women Without Men (Directors-screenwriters: Shirin Neshat, Shoja Azari). A dissection of Iranian society at the time of the 1953 CIA-backed coup that overturned the nationalist government and installed the shah in power. Cast: Pegah Ferydoni, Arita Shahrzad, Shabnam Tolouei (Munis), Orsi Toth. (Germany/Austria/France)
DOCUMENTARY FILMS IN SPOTLIGHT
8: The Mormon Proposition (Director: Reed Cowan). An examination of the relationship between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the promotion and passage of California's Proposition 8. (U.S.)
Climate Refugees (Director: Michael Nash). An overconsuming, crowded world with depleting resources and a changing climate is giving birth to 25 million climate refugees resulting in a mass global migration and border conflicts. (U.S.)
It's All Downhill From Here (Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman). When a young New York photographer is contacted on Facebook by an 8-year-old painting prodigy, he becomes deeply enmeshed in her life. (U.S.)
Life 2.0 (Director: Jason Spingarn-Koff). An intimate, character-based drama about people whose lives are dramatically transformed by the virtual world Second Life. (U.S.)
Teenage Paparazzo (Director: Adrian Grenier). A 13-year-old paparazzo boy snaps a photo of actor Adrian Grenier, leading Grenier to explore the effects of celebrity on culture. (U.S.)
To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America (Director: Gayle Ferraro). Tapping into the success of Muhammad Yunus after winning the Nobel Peace Prize. (Bangladesh/U.S.)
Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the N.Y. Knicks (Director: Dan Klores). Reggie Miller has single-handedly crushed the hearts of Knick fans multiple times. (U.S.)
PARK CITY AT MIDNIGHT
Buried (Director: Rodrigo Cortes; screenwriter: Chris Sparling). A U.S. contractor working in Iraq awakens to find he is buried alive in