Sundance 2009 competition lineup
EmptyU.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION
This year's 16 films were selected from 1,026 submissions. Each film is a world premiere.
Adam (Director-screenwriter: Max Mayer)
A strange and lyrical love story between a somewhat socially dysfunctional young man and the woman of his dreams. Cast: Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne, Peter Gallagher, Amy Irving, Frankie Faison.
Amreeka (Director-screenwriter: Cherien Dabis)
When a divorced Palestinian woman and her teenage son move to rural Illinois, they find their new lives replete with challenges. Cast: Nisreen Faour, Melkar Muallem, Hiam Abbass, Yussuf Abu-Warda, Alia Shawkat.
Arlen Faber (Director-screenwriter: John Hindman)
A reclusive author of a groundbreaking spiritual book awakens to new truths when two strangers enter his life. Cast: Jeff Daniels, Lauren Graham, Lou Pucci, Olivia Thirlby.
Big Fan (Director-screenwriter: Robert Siegel)
The world of a parking garage attendant who happens to be the New York Giants' biggest fan is turned upside down after an altercation with his favorite player. Cast: Patton Oswalt, Michael Rapaport, Kevin Corrigan, Marcia Jean Kurtz, Matt Servitto.
Brief Interviews With Hideous Men (Director-screenwriter: John Krasinski)
When her boyfriend leaves with little explanation, a doctoral candidate in anthropology tries to remedy her heartache by interviewing men about their behavior. Cast: Julianne Nicholson, John Krasinski, Timothy Hutton, Dominic Cooper, Christopher Meloni, Bobby Cannavale.
Cold Souls (Director-screenwriter: Sophie Barthes)
In the midst of an existential crisis, a famous American actor explores soul extraction as a relief from the burdens of daily life. Cast: Paul Giamatti, Dina Korzun, David Strathairn, Emily Watson, Lauren Ambrose, Oksana Lada.
Dare (Director: Adam Salky; screenwriter: David Brind)
Three very different teenagers discover that, even in the safe world of a suburban prep school, no one is who she or he appears. Cast: Emmy Rossum, Zach Gilford, Ashley Springer, Ana Gasteyer, Alan Cumming, Sandra Bernhard, Rooney Mara.
Don't Let Me Drown (Director: Cruz Angeles; screenwriters: Cruz Angeles, Maria Topete)
Two Latino teens whose lives are affected by the attack on the World Trade Center discover that love is the only thing that keeps them from drowning. Cast: E.J. Bonilla, Gleendilys Inoa, Damian Alcazar, Ricardo Chavira, Gina Torres.
The Greatest (Director-screenwriter: Shana Feste)
After the tragic loss of their teenage son, a family is again thrown into turmoil by the arrival of a young woman. Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon, Carey Mulligan, Johnny Simmons, Aaron Johnson, Zoe Kravitz.
Humpday (Director-screenwriter: Lynn Shelton)
A farcical comedy about straight male bonding gone a little too far. Cast: Mark Duplass, Joshua Leonard, Alycia Delmore, Lynn Shelton, Trina Willard.
Paper Heart (Director: Nicolas Jasenovec)
Even though performer Charlyne Yi doesn't believe in love, she bravely embarks on a quest to discover its true nature -- a journey that takes on surprising urgency when she meets an unlikely fellow traveler, actor Michael Cera. Cast: Charlyne Yi, Michael Cera, Nicolas Jasenovec, Jake Johnson.
Peter and Vandy (Director-screenwriter: Jay DiPietro)
Peter and Vandy is a love story told out of order. Juxtaposing Peter and Vandy's romantic beginnings with the twisted-manipulative-regular couple they become, the film explores the question most couples ask themselves... "How the hell did we get this way?" Cast: Jess Weixler, Jason Ritter, Jesse L. Martin, Tracie Thoms. World Premiere.
Push (Based on the Novel by Sapphire) (Director: Lee Daniels; screenwriter: Damien Paul)
Based on the acclaimed best-selling novel by Sapphire, the film is the redemptive story of Precious Jones, a girl in Harlem struggling to overcome tremendous obstacles and discover her own voice. Cast: Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe, Paula Patton, Mo'Nique Imes, Lenny Kravitz.
Sin Nombre/U.S.A. (Director-screenwriter: Cary Fukunaga)
A teenage Mexican gang member maneuvers to outrun his violent past and elude unforgiving former associates in this thriller set among Central American migrants seeking to cross over to the United States. Cast: Paulina Gaitan, Diana Garcia, Damayanti Quintanar, Karl Braun.
Taking Chance (Director: Ross Katz; screenwriters: Lt. Col. Michael R. Strobl, USMC (Ret.), Ross Katz)
Based on real events, Strobl, a volunteer military escort officer, accompanies the body of 19-year-old Marine Chance Phelps back to his hometown of Dubois, Wyo. Cast: Kevin Bacon.
Toe to Toe (Director-screenwriter: Emily Abt)
The story of an interracial friendship put to the test by the intense pressures of a competitive Washington prep school. Cast: Sonequa Martin, Louisa Krause, Silvestre Rasuk, Anwan Glover, Gaius Charles.
U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
This year's 16 films were selected from 879 submissions. Each film is a world premiere.
Art & Copy (Director: Doug Pray; screenwriter: Timothy J. Sexton)
Rare interviews with the most influential advertising creative minds of our age illustrate the wide-reaching effect advertising and creativity have on modern culture.
Boy Interrupted (Director: Dana Perry)
An intimate look at the life, mental illness and death of a young man told from the point of view of the filmmaker: his mother.
Chasing the Flame (Director: Greg Barker)
Examines the role of the United Nations and the international community through the life and experiences of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the U.N.'s High Commissioner for Human Rights, including interviews with those who knew and worked with him over the course of his extraordinary career.
The Cove (Director: Louie Psihoyos; screenwriter: Mark Monroe)
Dolphins are dying, whales are disappearing, and the oceans are growing sick. The horrors of a secret cove nestled off a small coastal village in Japan are revealed by a group of activists led by Ric O'Barry, the man behind Flipper.
Crude (Director: Joe Berlinger)
The inside story of the "Amazon Chernobyl" case in the rain forest of Ecuador, the world's largest oil-related environmental lawsuit.
Dirt the Movie (Directors: Bill Benenson, Gene Rosow)
The story of the relationship between humans and dirt humorously details how humans are rapidly destroying the last natural resource on Earth.
The General (El General) (Director: Natalia Almada)
As the great-granddaughter of Mexican President Plutarco Elias Calles, one of Mexico's most controversial revolutionary figures, filmmaker Natalia Almada paints an intimate portrait of Mexico.
Good Hair (Director: Jeff Stilson)
Comedian Chris Rock turns documentary filmmaker when he sets out to examine the culture of African-American hair and hairstyles.
Over the Hills and Far Away (Director: Michel Scott)
Chronicles the journey of the Isaacson family as they travel through Mongolia in search of a mysterious shaman they believe can heal their autistic son.
The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court (Director: Pamela Yates)
A battle of monumental proportions unfolds as International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo faces down warlords, genocidal dictators and world superpowers in bringing perpetrators of crimes against humanity to justice.
Reporter (Director: Eric Daniel Metzgar)
Set in Africa, this documentary chronicles, in verite fashion, the haunting, physically grueling and shocking voyage of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof.
The September Issue (Director: R.J. Cutler)
With unprecedented access, R.J. Cutler and his crew shot for nine months as they captured Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour and her team preparing the 2007 Vogue September issue, widely accepted as the "fashion bible" for the year's trends.
Shouting Fire: Stories From the Edge of Free Speech (Director: Liz Garbus)
An exploration of the history and current state of free speech in America narrated by the filmmaker's father, First Amendment attorney Martin Garbus.
We Live in Public (Director: Ondi Timoner)
The story of the Internet's revolutionary impact on human interaction as told through the eyes of maverick Web pioneer Josh Harris and his transgressive art project that shocked New York.
When You're Strange (Director: Tom DiCillo)
The first feature documentary about the Doors enters the dark and dangerous world of one of America's most influential bands, using only footage shot between 1966 and 1971.
William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe (Directors: Sarah Kunstler, Emily Kunstler)
With clients including Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and the Chicago 10, civil-rights attorney William Kunstler was one of the most famous lawyers of the 20th century. Filmmakers Emily and Sarah Kunstler explore their father's life, from movement hero to "the most hated lawyer in America."
WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION
This year's 16 films were selected from a record 1,012 submissions.
Before Tomorrow (Le Jour Avant Lendemain) / Canada (Directors: Madeline Piujuq, Marie-Helene Cousineau)
A wise old woman fights to survive impossible circumstances with her young grandson in the Canadian Arctic. Cast: Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq, Paul-Dylan Ivalu, Madeline Piujuq Ivalu, Mary Qulitalik, Tumasie Sivuarapik. U.S. premiere
Bronson / U.K. (Director: Nicolas Winding Refn; screenwriter: Brock Norman Brock)
Traces the transformation of Mickey Peterson into Britain's most notorious, dangerous and charismatic prisoner, Charles Bronson. Cast: Tom Hardy. North American premiere
Carmo, Hit the Road / Spain (Director-screenwriter: Murilo Pasta)
A lonely, handicapped smuggler and a beautiful girl embark on a reckless ride through a South American border landscape. Cast: Mariana Loureiro, Fele Martinez, Seu Jorge. World premiere
The Clone Returns (Kuron Wa Kokyo-Wo Mezasu) / Japan (Director-screenwriter: Kanji Nakajima)
A Japanese astronaut who dies during a mission is subsequently resurrected as a clone and returns to his childhood home. Cast: Mitsuhiro Oikawa, Eri Ishida, Hiromi Nagasaku. North American premiere
Dada's Dance / China (Director: Zhang Yuan; screenwriter: Li Xiaofeng)
Dada is a flirtatious young woman who lives with her mother in a small town. Having to fend off the constant advances of her mother's boyfriend, who tells her she is adopted, she undertakes a journey in search of her birth mother. Cast: Li Xinyun, Li Xiaofeng, Gai Ge, Chen Jun. World premiere
An Education / U.K. (Director: Lone Scherfig; screenwriter: Nick Hornby)
In the early 1960s, a sharp 16-year-old with sights set on Oxford meets a handsome older man whose sophistication enraptures and sidetracks her and her parents. Cast: Peter Sarsgaard, Carey Mulligan, Alfred Molina, Emma Thompson. World premiere
Five Minutes of Heaven / U.K. (Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel; screenwriter: Guy Hibbert)
Two men from the same town but from different sides of the Irish political divide discover that the past is never dead -- in fact, it isn't even past. Cast: Liam Neeson, James Nesbitt, Anamaria Marinca. World premiere
A French Gigolo (Cliente) / France (Director-screenwriter: Josiane Balasko)
An attractive, successful fiftysomething woman regularly treats herself to the sexual services of young men selected on Internet sites. When one particular escort becomes a habit, the relationship gets a bit more complicated. Cast: Nathalie Baye, Eric Caravaca, Isabelle Carre, Josiane Balasko. World premiere
Heart of Time (Corazon del Tiempo) / Mexico (Director-screenwriter: Alberto Cortes)
In La Esperanza de San Pedro, Chiapas, in the midst of the Zapatista struggle, a young woman makes serious waves when she falls in love with a revolutionary fighter from the mountains. Cast: Rocio Barrios. North American premiere
Louise-Michel / France (Directors: Benoit Delepine, Gustave Kervern)
When a French factory is abruptly closed by its corrupt management, a group of disgruntled female workers pool their paltry compensation money and hire a hit man to knock off the corrupt executive behind the closure. Cast: Yolande Moreau, Bouli Lanners. North American premiere
Lulu and Jim (Lulu und Jimi) / Germany (Director: Oskar Roehler)
Bright, garish colors, rock 'n' roll and wild dance numbers mark this road movie about lovers fleeing from the evil powers of a 1950s deeply bigoted German society. Cast: Jennifer Decker, Ray Fearon, Katrin Sass, Rolf Zacher, Udo Kier. World premiere
The Maid (La Nana) / Chile (Director-screenwriter: Sebastian Silva)
When her mistress brings on another servant to help with the chores, a bitter and introverted maid wreaks havoc on the household. Cast: Catalina Saavedra, Claudia Celedon, Mariana Loyola, Alejandro Goic, Andrea Garcia-Huidobro. North American premiere
One Day in a Life (Un Altro Pianeta) / Italy (Director-screenwriter: Stefano Tummolini)
One languid summer day, a man heads to the beach in search of sunshine and bit of peace, but finds himself tangled up in the dramas of an eclectic group of nearby sunbathers. Cast: Antonio Merone, Lucia Mascino. World premiere
Unmade Beds / U.K. (Director-screenwriter: Alexis Dos Santos)
Two young foreigners find romance in the vibrant, artistic underground of London's East End. Cast: Deborah Francois, Fernando Tielve. World premiere
Victoria Day / Canada (Director-screenwriter: David Bezmozgis)
Over the course of one week in 1988, the search for a missing teammate, parental expectations, a burgeoning sexual awakening and the rock concert of the century all threaten to jolt a 16-year-old into adulthood. Cast: Mark Rendall, Sergiy Kotelenets, Nataliya Alyexeyenko, Holly Deveaux, John Mavrogiannis. World premiere
Zion and His Brother (Zion Ve-Achiv) / France and Israel (Director-screenwriter: Eran Merav)
In this gritty story of a working-class Tel Aviv single-parent family, the disappearance of a young boy drives a wedge between two teenage brothers whose loyalty had been unshakable. Cast: Reuven Badalov, Ronit Elkabetz, Tzahi Grad. World premiere
WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
This year's 16 films were selected from 744 submissions.
Afghan Star / Afghanistan and U.K. (Director: Havana Marking)
After 30 years of war and Taliban rule, "Pop Idol" has come to television in Afghanistan -- and millions are watching and voting for their favorite singer. This film follows the dramatic stories of four contestants as they risk their lives to sing. North American premiere
Big River Man / U.S. (Director: John Maringouin)
An overweight, wine-swilling Slovenian world record-holding endurance swimmer resolves to brave the mighty Amazon -- in nothing but a Speedo. World premiere
Burma VJ / Denmark (Director: Anders Oestergaard)
In September 2007, Burmese journalists risking life imprisonment to report from inside their sealed-off country are suddenly thrown onto the global stage as their pocket-camera images of the Saffron Revolution make headlines everywhere. World premiere
The End of the Line / U.K. (Director: Rupert Murray)
Based on the book by journalist Charles Clover, the film reveals the devastating effects of global overfishing on fish stocks and the health of our oceans. World premiere
The Glass House / U.S. (Director: Hamid Rahmanian)
Follows four teenage girls striving to overcome drug addiction, abandonment and abuse by attending a rehabilitation center in Tehran, Iran. North American premiere
Kimjongilia / France and U.S. (Director: N.C. Heikin)
Defectors from North Korea finally speak out about the terrifying reality of their lives and escapes. World premiere
Let's Make Money /Austria, China, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and U.S. (Director: Erwin Wagenhofer)
From the factories of India to financial markets in Singapore to massive housing developments in Spain and offshore banks in New Jersey, the film reveals the complex and shocking workings of global money flow. World premiere
Nollywood Babylon / Canada (Directors: Ben Addelman, Samir Mallal)
Welcome to the wacky world of Nollywood, Nigeria's bustling homegrown movie industry. U.S. premiere
Old Partner / South Korea (Director: Chung-ryoul Lee)
A humble octogenarian farmer lives out his final days with his spitfire wife and his loyal old ox in the Korean countryside. North American premiere
Prom Night in Mississippi / Canada (Director: Paul Saltzman)
When a small-town Mississippi high school resolves to hold its first integrated senior prom, strong emotions fly and traditions are challenged to their core. World premiere
The Queen and I (Drottningen och jag) / Sweden (Director: Nahid Persson Sarvestani)
Swedish filmmaker Sarvestani, an Iranian exile who helped overthrow the Shah's regime in 1979, confronts her own assumptions and complex truths about Iran when she enters the life of the Shah's widow. World premiere
Quest for Honor / Kurdistan and U.S. (Director: Mary Ann Bruni)
A former teacher and tireless activist works with local lawmen, Kurdish government agencies and her colleagues to investigate and eradicate honor killings in the tribal regions of Kurdistan. World premiere
Rough Aunties / U.K. (Director: Kim Longinotto)
Fearless, feisty and unwavering, the "Rough Aunties" protect and care for the abused, neglected and forgotten children of Durban, South Africa. North American premiere
Thriller in Manila / U.K. (Director: John Dower)
A tale of betrayal stoked by the racial politics of 1970s America, the film chronicles the most intense and bitter sporting rivalry to date: the 1975 final boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. North American premiere
Tibet in Song / U.S. (Director: Ngawang Choephel)
Through the story of Tibetan music, the film depicts the determined efforts of Tibetan people, in Tibet and in exile, to preserve their unique cultural identity. Choephel served six years of an 18-year prison sentence for filming in Tibet. World premiere
211:Anna / Italy (Directors: Paolo Serbandini, Giovanna Massimetti)
The story of Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist and human-rights activist who risked her life to report the truth about the Chechen conflict and President Vladimir Putin. World premiere