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The Sundance Film Festival announced Thursday the programs for four of its 2012 out-of-competition categories: Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, NEXT <=> and New Frontier. Typically the home of more experimental fare, these sections will feature work from prolific returning low-budget filmmakers such as Lynn Shelton, Katie Aselton and Joe Swanberg.
Shelton’s new film Your Sister’s Sister, which IFC Films picked up out of Toronto this fall, will play in Sundance’s Spotlight program. The filmmaker’s Humpday had its premiere in competition at the 2009 fest. Aselton’s new thriller Black Rock, which also stars Lake Bell and Kate Bosworth, will have its first showing in the Park City at Midnight program. The actor-writer-director last starred in and directed The Freebie, which had its premiere in the NEXT <=> section in 2010. Swanberg, whose Uncle Kent screened in the Spotlight section in 2011, is part of the ensemble acting-directing found-footage horror film V/H/S that is also playing in Park City at Midnight.
The Midnight section, consisting of seven world premieres that often play up the scary and the silly, also includes Nicholas McCarthy’s The Pact, Richard Bates, Jr.’s Excision (featuring Traci Lords and John Waters!) and Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim’s Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, a nutty comedy in which Will Ferrell, John C Reilly and Zach Galifianakis also appear. Comedians of the Funny or Die generation, Heidecker and Wareheim will also appear in the U.S. narrative competition entry The Comedy from Rick Alverson.
“They bring their sensibility to this social critique of what our culture is all about right now,” director of programming Trevor Groth says of The Comedy. “Between those two films, I think they’re going to create quite a stir at Sundance. Which I’m all for.”
The 28th annual Sundance festival runs January 19-29 with screenings and events in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. The full 2012 program features 110 feature-length films from 31 countries, including 88 world premieres. The official competition program was announced Wednesday; the remaining out-of-competition sections, Premieres and Documentary Premieres, will be unveiled Dec. 5.
The NEXT <=> program features nine world premieres that often veer from traditional storytelling techniques.Craig Zobel’s Compliance, David Zellner’s Kid-Thing, Laurence Thrush’s Pursuit of Loneliness and Aurora Guerrero’s Mosquita y Mari are among the titles that will screen.“Each year it’s taken on its own shape and life, partly by design and partly by the films that we get submitted to us,” says Groth, who launched the section three years ago. “It’s not just a discovery of people that we don’t know, it’s really about fresh ways of telling stories and supporting those visions in the festival.”
As with Shelton’s film, movies featured in the Spotlight section often have already played in other festivals. Gareth Evans’s action film The Raid had a great showing at Toronto, and Valérie Donzelli’s drama Declaration Of War had its world premiere at Cannes, as did Nadine Labaki’s drama Where Do We Go Now?
The New Frontier section, which was moved to the Miners Hospital last year, will now play out in a newly built venue, a big warehouse on Kearns Blvd. between the Yarrow Hotel and the Park City Marriott. Festival director John Cooper says that the new loft-like location, which was constructed in consultation with Sundance, is better suited to some of the multimedia performances and installations, panels and screenings that make up the more experimental category. The venue also has gallery and lounge space.
Included in the New Frontier program are Denis Côté’s Bestiaire, which explores the relationship between nature and humanity; Rodney Ascher’s Room 237, which looks at the meaning of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining; and Eve Sussman | Rufus Corporation’s whiteonwhite:algorithmicnoir, which involves a live algorithmic performance of music, dialogue, sound and footage shot in Kazakhstan.
Despite the fringe elements of some of these out-of-competition films, they often find audiences outside the festival. From the 2011 NEXT <=> program, Evan Glodell’s Bellflower got a release through Oscilloscope, Joshua Leonard’s The Lie was picked up by Screen Media Films and Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling’s Sound of My Voice was acquired by Fox Searchlight, though it has not yet been released. The 2011 Spotlight section featured two nominees for the best foreign-language film Oscar that year, Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies and Susanne Bier’s In a Better World, which won the award.
Below is the full line-up:
Corpo Celeste/ Italy (Director and screenwriter: Alice Rohrwacher) — After moving back to southern Italy with her mother and older sister, 13-year-old Marta struggles to find her place, restlessly testing the boundaries of an unfamiliar city and the catechism of the Catholic church. Cast: Yle Vianello, Salvatore Cantalupo, Anita Caprioli, Renato Carpentiere.
Declaration Of War/ Belgium (Director:Valérie Donzelli, Screenwriters: Jérémie Elkaïm, Valérie Donzelli) —A young couple embark upon a painful, enlightening journey when they discover that their newborn child is very ill. Cast: Valérie Donzelli, Jérémie Elkaïm, César Desseix. North American Premiere
Elena/ Russia (Director: Andrei Zvyagintsev, Screenwriter: Oleg Negin) — A meditative, modern-noir tale about an older woman, Elena, who marries the wealthy business man for whom she worked and, when his health fails, is forced to deal with his estranged daughter who threatens her inheritance. Cast: Andrey Smirnov, Nadezhda Markina, Elena Lyadova, Alexey Rozin.
Monsieur Lazhar/ Canada (Director and screenwriter: Philippe Falardeau) — An elegant reflection on loss and death focused on an Algerian immigrant teacher who brings emotional stability to a Montreal middle school class shaken by the suicide of their well-liked teacher.Cast: Fellag, Sophie Nélisse, Émilien Néron, Danielle Proulx, Brigitte Poupart.
The Orator (O le Tulafale)/ New Zealand (Director and screenwriter: Tusi Tamasese) — A Samoan villager must defend his land and family when they are threatened by powerful adversaries. Cast: Fa’afiaula Sagote, Tausili Pushparaj, Salamasina Mataia, Ioata Tanielu.
The Raid/ Indonesia (Director and screenwriter: Gareth Evans) — All hell breaks loose when an elite SWAT team, given orders to raid a run-down Jakarta apartment building that houses the city’s most notorious crime boss, is forced to fight their way to freedom or die trying. Cast: Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Joe Taslim, Doni Alamsyah. U.S. Premiere
Where Do We Go Now?/ France, Lebanon, Italy, Egypt (Director: Nadine Labaki, Screenwriters: Nadine Labaki, Jihad Hojeily, Rodney Al Haddad, with the collaboration of Thomas Bidegain) — A group of Lebanese women try to ease religious tensions between Christians and Muslims in their village. Cast: Claude Baz Moussawbaa, Layla Hakim, Nadine Labaki, Yvonne Maalouf, Antoinette Noufaily. U.S. Premiere
Wuthering Heights/ United Kingdom (Director: Andrea Arnold, Screenwriters: Andrea Arnold, Olivia Hetreed) — A freshly conceived retelling of Emily Bronte’s classic novel about Heathcliff and Cathy, two teenagers whose passionate love for each other creates a storm of vengeance. Cast: Kaya Scodelario, James Howson, Solomon Glave, Shannon Beer, Steve Evets. U.S. Premiere
Your Sister’s Sister/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lynn Shelton) — While still mourning the recent death of his brother, a bereft and confused man finds love and direction in a most unexpected place. Cast: Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mark Duplass. U.S. Premiere
PARK CITY AT MIDNIGHT
Black Rock/ U.S.A. (Director: Katie Aselton, Screenwriter: Mark Duplass) — Three childhood friends set aside their personal issues and reunite for a girls’ weekend on a remote island off the coast of Maine. One wrong move turns their weekend getaway into a deadly fight for survival. Cast: Katie Aselton, Lake Bell, Kate Bosworth.
Excision/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Richard Bates, Jr.) — A disturbed and delusional high school student with aspirations of a career in medicine goes to extremes to earn the approval of her controlling mother. Cast: AnnaLynne McCord, Traci Lords, Ariel Winter, Roger Bart, John Waters.
Grabbers/ Ireland, United Kingdom (Director: Jon Wright, Screenwriter: Kevin Lehane) — When the residents of an idyllic Irish fishing village are attacked by mysterious, blood-sucking sea creatures, a high blood alcohol content could be the only thing that gets them through the night. Cast: Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley, Russell Tovey, Bronagh Gallagher.
The Pact/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Nicholas McCarthy) — As a woman struggles to come to grips with her past in the wake of her mother’s death, an unsettling presence emerges in her childhood home. Cast: Caity Lotz, Casper Van Dien.
Shut Up and Play the Hits/ United Kingdom (Directors: Dylan Southern, Will Lovelace) — A documentary that follows LCD Soundsystem front man James Murphy over a crucial 48-hour period, from the day of their final gig at Madison Square Garden to the morning after, the official end of one of the best live bands in the world.
Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie/ U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim) — After two guys are given a billion dollars to make a movie, their Hollywood dreams run off course and they decide to rehabilitate a run-down shopping mall in an attempt to make the money back. Cast: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim.
V/H/S/ U.S.A. (Directors: Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Radio Silence, Screenwriters: Simon Barrett, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence) — When a group of misfits is hired by an unknown third party to burglarize a desolate house and acquire a rare VHS tape, they discover more found footage than they bargained for. Cast: Joe Swanberg, Calvin Reeder, Adam Wingard, Sophia Takal, Kate Lyn Sheil.
Compliance/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Craig Zobel) — When a prank caller convinces a fast food restaurant manager to interrogate an innocent young employee, no one is left unscathed. Based on true events. Cast: Ann Dowd, Pat Healy, Dreama Walker, Bill Camp, Philip Ettinger.
I Am Not a Hipster/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Destin Daniel Cretton) — Set in the indie music and art scene, this is a character-driven story exploring themes of love, loss and what it means to be creative in the face of tragedy. Cast: Dominic Bogart, Alvaro Orlando, Brad William Henke, Tammy Minoff, Kandis Erickson, Lauren Coleman.
Kid-Thing/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: David Zellner) — A rebellious girl whose existence is devoid of parental guidance, spends her time roaming the land, shoplifting, and vandalizing. Her routine is broken one day while playing in the woods when she hears a woman calling from a mysterious hole in the ground, asking for help. Cast: Sydney Aguirre, Susan Tyrrell, Nathan Zellner, David Zellner.
Mosquita y Mari/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Aurora Guerrero) — A friendship between two 15-year-old Latinas becomes complex as they struggle to recognize the sexual undercurrent in their relationship. Cast: Fenessa Pineda, Venecia Troncoso, Joaquín Garrido, Laura Patalano, Dulce Maria Solis.
My Best Day/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Erin Greenwell) — Karen’s life as a small-town receptionist is turned upside down when the father she never knew calls for a refrigerator repair. That day she encounters a sister addicted to off track betting, a brother struggling with grade school heartache and bullies, and a load of fireworks. Cast: Rachel Style, Ashlie Atkinson, Raúl Castillo, Jo Armeniox, Robert Salerno, Harris Doran.
Pursuit of Loneliness/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Laurence Thrush) — An elderly patient dies in a county hospital leaving no known next of kin. Over the next 24 hours, four central characters try to find a family member to contact regarding the death of this anonymous individual. Cast: Joy Hille, Sandra Escalante, Sharon Munfus, Kirsi Toivanen, Natalie Fouron.
Sleepwalk With Me/ U.S.A. (Co-directors: Mike Birbiglia and Seth Barrish, Screenwriters: Mike Birbiglia, Ira Glass, Joe Birbiglia, Seth Barrish) — Reluctant to confront his fears of love, honesty, and growing up, a budding standup comedian has both a hilarious and intense struggle with sleepwalking. Cast: Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose, Carol Kane, James Rebhorn, Cristin Milioti.
That’s What She Said/ U.S.A. (Director: Carrie Preston, Screenwriter: Kellie Overbey) — Armed with nothing but their addictions and lots of personal baggage, two best friends and a mysterious young interloper battle a series of misadventures on their quest for love in New York City. Cast: Anne Heche, Marcia DeBonis, Alia Shawkat.
Twenty-Eight Hotel Rooms/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Matt Ross) — Seen only as fragments in the secret world of hotel rooms, a long-term affair becomes perhaps the most significant relationship of a couple’s lives. Cast: Chris Messina, Marin Ireland.
Bestiaire/ Canada, France (Director: Denis Côté) — The boundaries we place around animals are provocatively and formally explored in this meditation on the relationship between nature and humanity. World Premiere
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Terence Nance) — A quixotic young man humorously courses live action and various animated landscapes as he tries to understand himself after a mystery girl stands him up. Cast: Terence Nance, Namik Minter, Chanelle Pearson. World Premiere
The Perception of Moving Targets/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Weston Currie) — A segmenting journey into the dreams of four neighbors. Cast: Brighid Thomas, Cherie Blackfeather, Gerald Casey, Tom Wood, Jin Camou.
Room 237/ U.S.A. (Director: Rodney Ascher)— This experimental documentary explores the numerous theories about the real meaning of Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining. World Premiere
whiteonwhite:algorithmicnoir/ U.S.A., Kazakhstan (Directors: Eve Sussman | Rufus Corporation, Screenwriters: Eve Sussman, Kevin Messman, Jeff Wood) — A computer program assembles raw elements of music, dialogue, sound and footage shot in Kazakhstaninto a generative noir mystery film in this live algorithmic performance. Cast: Jeff Wood, Marina Fedorenko.
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