Ten Sundance features poised for acquisition


Big Fan
Director: Robert D. Siegel
(U.S. dramatic competition)

The script drew interest from Todd Field and Jason Reitman. Then Darren Aronofsky came close to directing, and he liked the writing so much that he engaged Siegel to pen "The Wrestler" for him. Siegel now makes his directorial debut with the tale of a rabid New York Giants fan (comedian Patton Oswalt in his first dramatic turn) whose life is turned upside down after an altercation with his favorite player.

Brooklyn's Finest
Director: Antoine Fuqua
(Out of competition)

This film was making headlines even before it was made thanks to the rags-to-riches tale of its screenwriter, Michael Martin, a former tollbooth worker. Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke and Don Cheadle star in three intertwining stories about Brooklyn policemen. A rare Sundance premiere in the mold of a studio thriller, "Finest" could take Fuqua back to his acclaimed "Training Day" roots.

An Education
Director: Lone Scherfig
(World dramatic competition)

Nick Hornby's novels have translated well to the screen (2000's "High Fidelity," 2002's "About a Boy"), so the film of his first original screenplay is much anticipated. Set in the 1960s, a whip-smart 16-year-old girl (Carey Mulligan) becomes intrigued by an older man (Peter Sarsgaard). Danish director Scherfig (2000's "Italian for Beginners") could see her profile raised significantly with a splashy sale, but with both "Education" and "The Greatest" in competition, it's Mulligan who could be this year's breakout Sundance star.

The Greatest
Director: Shana Feste
(U.S. dramatic competition)

The debut by writer-director Feste attracted an ensemble cast that includes Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon and Carey Mulligan to the story of a family coping with the death of their teenage son. Feste is already being heralded as a powerful new filmmaker, although the dark subject matter could cramp hopes of a major sale.

I Love You Phillip Morris
Director: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
(Out of competition)

The writers of "Bad Santa" turn their dyspeptic comedy eye to the real-life story of a married con man who gets busted, lands in a Texas prison and falls in love with his male cellmate. Audiences might be drawn to the darkly comic pairing of Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor, and adding to the intrigue is the possibility of protests aimed at Utah's supporter of California's same-sex marriage ban.

Paper Heart
Director: Nicholas Jasenovec
(U.S. dramatic competition)

The quasi-doc (it's partly nonfiction, partly improvised) about the love life of "Superbad" star Michael Cera and actress Charlyne Yi has been anointed one of the It films of the festival. Heavily hyped Sundance titles have a tendency to disappoint, but given its star power and a novel premise, expect a ton of buyer interest -- and if it's the Judd Apatow-esque enterprise some imagine, scores of offers.

Director: Jonas Pate
(Out of competition)

It has all the ingredients of a Sundance hit: a movie star (Kevin Spacey) going edgy as a pot-smoking psychoanalyst with Hollywood clientele; the unlikely acting trio of Saffron Burrows, Robin Williams and Gore Vidal; and a rising director who co-created NBC's sci-fi series "Surface" and helmed genre shows like "Battlestar Galactica" and "Chuck."

Director: David Mackenzie
(Out of competition)

Ashton Kutcher is a charismatic and fashionable Los Angeles gigolo who sleeps with older women. But it's not a documentary, it's a comedic morality tale from the director of 2003's "Young Adam." The "Is Kutcher playing Kutcher?" curiosity will draw crowds. Whether that buzz translates to major distributor interest remains to be seen.

The September Issue
Director: R.J. Cutler
(Documentary competition)

Cutler was granted rare access to Anna Wintour, the enigmatic editor of Vogue, for more than two decades, and the result is an inside look at the nine-month process leading up to the magazine's anticipated September 2007 issue. Intense media interest could fuel buyers -- or maybe just hype.

World's Greatest Dad
Director: Bob Goldthwait
(Out of competition)

In directing the dark comedies "Shakes the Clown" (1991) and "Sleeping Dogs Lie" (a Sundance debut in 2006), Goldthwait has moved far past his nails-on-a-chalkboard voices from the "Police Academy" movies. This year, he brings the story of a man who writes a fake suicide note for his son and watches it become a publishing sensation. The material is quirky -- Richard Kelly's Darko Films produced -- but with Robin Williams starring, don't be surprised if distributors take a close look.

Profiles reported and written by Matthew Belloni, Jay Fernandez, Gregg Kilday, Borys Kit and Steven Zeitchik