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Sundance unleashes Midnight, Spotlight selections

The 2015 selection includes a strong Latin American flavour, led by Eli Roth’s Chilewood psychosexual Park City At Midnight entry Knock Knock starring Keanu Reeves and Lorenza Izzo.

Mexico-based Dark Factory’s thriller Reversal also premieres in the section, while the New Frontier film slate includes Carlos Moreno’s Liveforever from Colombia-Mexico.

Spotlight — Sundance programmers’ tribute to their favourite films of 2014 — includes Argentinean box office smash and Academy Awards submission Wild Tales (pictured) from Damián Szifrón.

Among the Midnight films are Rodney Ascher’s sleep paralysis documentary The Nightmare, Bruce McDonald’s Hellions from Canada, Cop Car from the US starring Kevin Bacon and Irish-UK forest-set The Hallow from Corin Hardy.

Spotlight selections also feature Yann Demange’s feted UK thriller ‘71, Kornél Mundruczó’s Hungarian drama White God and Mia Hansen-Løve’s Eden from France. Canadian auteur Guy Maddin is back withThe Forbidden Room, which he co-directed with Evan Johnson, in New Frontier Films.

“This year’s Park City At Midnight selections have much to offer genre enthusiasts,” said director of programming Trevor Groth. “With everything from futuristic fantasies to paranormal nightmares, it’s an all-out trip to the cinematic edge.”

Senior programmer and New Frontier exhibition curator Shari Frilot added: The content creators in the 2015 edition of New Frontier radically challenge the very notion of storytelling.

“Working with virtual reality and new gaming technologies, these artists, filmmakers, journalists, media scientists, game designers and creative technologists present a peek at the dawn of a bold new cinematic world, through an unprecedented exploration of the most basic state of being.”

The Sundance Film Festival takes place from January 22-February 1 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah.

The line-up follows. All synopses provided by the festival.

SPOTLIGHT

6 Desires: DH Lawrence and Sardinia (UK-Italy)
Mark Cousins
In winter 1921, DH Lawrence and his wife journeyed to Sardinia, and he chronicled their experiences in Sea And Sardinia. Now, Mark Cousins retraces Lawrence’s footsteps. The film is conceived partly as a letter to Lawrence — or “Bert” — a detail that’s typical of the film’s inviting sense of conversational intimacy.
International premiere

‘71 (UK)
Yann Demange
‘71 takes place over a single night in the life of a young British soldier accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot on the streets of Belfast in 1971. Unable to tell friend from foe, he must survive the night alone and find his way to safety.
Cast: Jack O’Connell, Paul Anderson, Richard Dormer, Sean Harris, Barry Keoghan, Martin McCann.

99 Homes (USA)
Ramin Bahrani
A father struggles to get back the home that his family was evicted from by working for the greedy real-estate broker who’s the source of his frustration.
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, Laura Dern, Tim Guinee, Cullen Moss, JD Evermore.

Aloft (Spain-France-Canada)
Claudia Llosa
Aloft tells the story of a struggling mother, Nana, and her evolution to becoming a renowned healer. When a young artist tracks down Nana’s son 20 years after she abandoned him, she sets in motion an encounter between the two that will bring the meaning of their lives into question.
Cast: Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy, Mélanie Laurent, William Shimell.
North American premiere

Eden (France)
Mia Hansen-Løve
Mia Hansen-Løve’s electronic-dance-music epic follows the rise and fall of a DJ (based on her brother, Sven, a contemporary of Daft Punk) who gets into the rave scene in 1994 and spends the next 20 years navigating the French club scene.
Cast: Félix de Givry, Pauline Etienne, Greta Gerwig, Brady Corbet, Arsinee Khanjian, Vincent Macaigne.

Girlhood (France)
Céline Sciamma
Oppressed by her family, dead-end school prospects, and the boys law in the neighbourhood, Marieme starts a new life after meeting a group of three free-spirited girls. She changes her name, dress, and quits school to be accepted in the gang, hoping to find a way to freedom.
Cast: Karidja Touré, Assa Sylla, Lindsay Karamoh, Mariétou Touré, Idrissa Diabaté, Simina Soumaré.

The Tribe (Ukraine)
Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy
Set at a Ukrainian boarding school for the deaf, the film’s narrative unfolds purely through sign language without a need for employing subtitles or voiceover, resulting in a unique, never-before-seen cinematic experience that engages the audience on a new level.
Cast: Grigoriy Fesenko, Yana Novikova, Rosa Babiy, Alexander Dsiadevich.

White God (Hungary)
Kornél Mundruczó
When young Lili is forced to give up her beloved dog, Hagen, because its mixed-breed heritage is deemed unfit by The State, she and the dog begin a dangerous journey back towards each other.
Cast: Zsófia Psotta, Sandor Zsótér, Szabolcs Thuróczy, Lili Monori, László Gálffi, Lili Horváth.
US premiere

Wild Tales (pictured, Argentina-Spain)
Damián Szifrón
Inequality, injustice and the demands of the world cause stress and depression for many people. Some of them, however, explode. This is a movie about those people. Vulnerable in the face of an unpredictable reality, the characters of Wild Tales cross the thin line dividing civilisation and barbarism.
Cast: Ricardo Darín, Julieta Zyberberg, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Darío Grandinetti, Erica Rivas, Oscar Martínez.

PARK CITY AT MIDNIGHT

Cop Car (USA)
Jon Watts
Two 10-year-old boys steal an abandoned cop car.
Cast: Kevin Bacon, James Freedson-Jackson, Hays Wellford, Shea Whigham, Camryn Manheim.
World premiere

The Hallow (Ireland-UK)
Corin Hardy
When a London-based conservationist is sent to Ireland to survey an area of ancient forest believed by the superstitious locals to be hallowed ground, he unwittingly disturbs a horde of terrifying beings and must fight to protect his family.
Cast: Joseph Mawle, Bojana Novakovic, Michael McElhatton, Michael Smiley.
World premiere

Hellions (Canada)
Bruce McDonald, Screenwriter: Pascal Trottier
Teenage Dora Vogel must survive a Halloween night from hell when malevolent trick-or-treaters come knocking at her door.
Cast: Chloe Rose, Robert Patrick, Rossif Sutherland, Rachel Wilson, Peter DaCunha, Luke Bilyk.
World premiere

It Follows (USA)
David Robert Mitchell
After a strange sexual encounter, a teenager finds herself haunted by nightmarish visions and the inescapable sense that something is after her.
Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe.

Knock Knock (USA)
Eli Roth
Two beautiful young girls walk into a married man’s life and turn a wild fantasy into his worst nightmare.
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo, Ana De Armas, Aaron Burns, Ignacia Allamand, Colleen Camp.
World premiere

The Nightmare (USA)
Rodney Ascher
A documentary-horror film exploring the phenomenon of sleep paralysis through the eyes of eight people. They (and a surprisingly large number of others) often find themselves trapped between the sleeping and awake realms, unable to move but aware of their surroundings while subject to disturbing sights and sounds.
World premiere

Reversal (USA)
JM Cravioto
A gritty psychological thriller about a young woman chained in a basement of a sexual predator who manages to escape. However, right when she has a chance for freedom, she unravels a hard truth and decides to turn the tables on her captor.
Cast: Tina Ivlev, Richard Tyson, Bianca Malinowski.
World premiere

Turbo Kid (Canada-New Zealand)
Anouk Whissell, Francois Simard, Yoann-Karl Simard
In a post-apocalyptic future, The Kid, an orphaned outcast, meets a mysterious girl. They become friends until Zeus, the sadistic leader of the Wasteland, kidnaps her. The Kid must face his fears and journey to rid the Wasteland of evil and save the girl.
Cast: Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside, Aaron Jeffery, Edwin Wright.
World premiere

NEW FRONTIER FILMS


The Forbidden Room (Canada)
Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson
A submarine crew, a feared pack of forest bandits, a famous surgeon, and a battalion of child soldiers all get more than they bargained for as they wend their way toward progressive ideas on life and love.
Cast: Geraldine Chaplin, Caroline Dhavernas, Roy Dupuis, Udo Kier, Charlotte Rampling, Karine Vanasse.
World premiere

Liveforever (Colombia-Mexico)
Carlos Moreno
Driven by the music and dancing she finds along the way, a teenager leaves home willing to try anything her provocative and tolerant city has to offer, even if she burns out in the process. Inspired by the best-selling novel Que Viva La Música by Andres Caicedo.
Cast: Paulina Davila, Alejandra Avila, Luis Arrieta, Juan Pablo Barragan, Nelson Camayo, Christian Tappan.
World premiere

The Royal Road (USA)
Jenni Olson
This cinematic essay, a defense of remembering, offers up a primer on the Spanish colonisation of California and the Mexican American War alongside intimate reflections on nostalgia, butch identity and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo — all against a contemplative backdrop of 16mm urban California landscapes.
Cast: Jenni Olson, Tony Kushner.
World premiere

Sam Klemke’s Time Machine (Australia)
Matthew Bate
Sam Klemke has filmed and narrated 50 years of his life, creating a strange and intimate portrait of what it means to be human.
World premiere

Station To Station (USA)
Doug Aitken
Station To Station is composed of 60 individual one-minute films featuring different artists, musicians, places, and perspectives. This revolutionary feature-length film reveals a larger narrative about modern creativity.
World premiere

Things Of The Aimless Wanderer (Rwanda-UK)
Kivu Ruhorahoza
A white man meets a black girl, then she disappears. The white man tries to understand what happened to her while also trying to finish a travelogue. Things Of The Aimless Wanderer is a film about the sensitive topic of relations between “locals” and Westerners, about paranoia, mistrust, and misunderstandings.
Cast: Justin Mullikin, Grace Nikuze, Ramadhan Bizimana, Eliane Umuhire, Wesley Ruzibiza, Matt Ray Brown.
World premiere

NEW FRONTIER INSTALLATIONS

1979 Revolution Game
Artists: Navid Khonsari, Vassiliki Khonsari
1979 Revolution Game presents an innovative approach to non-fiction storytelling. Designed to engage players with an immersive “on the ground” experience of the Iranian Revolution, the game integrates an emotionally impactful narrative with interactive moral choices and intuitive touchscreen gameplay while remaining true to history.

Assent
Artist: Oscar Raby
This immersive documentary uses virtual reality technology to put the user in the footsteps of director Oscar Raby’s father, who in 1973 was a 22-year-old army officer stationed in the north of Chile on the day when the Caravan Of Death came to his regiment.

Birdly
Artist: Max Rheiner
Flying is one of the oldest dreams of humankind. Birdly is an experiment to capture this dream, to simulate the experience of being a bird from a first-person perspective. This embodiment is conducted through a full-body virtual reality set-up.

Dérive
Artist: François Quévillon
This interactive installation uses the audience’s body motions and positions to explore 3D reconstructions of urban and natural spaces that are transformed according to live environmental data, including meteorological and astronomical phenomena.

Evolution Of Verse
Artist: Chris Milk
Chris Milk, working with visual effects powerhouse Digital Domain and virtual reality production company VRSE.works, has created this photo-realistic CGI-rendered 3D virtual reality film that takes the viewer on a journey from beginning to new beginning.

Kaiju Fury!
Artist: Ian Hunter
A dark energy experiment leads to a devastating attack by monstrous Kaiju, and you are standing at ground zero — all in 360-degree, stereoscopic 3D cinematic virtual reality. You will “be there” as the beasts lay waste to a crumbling city and humanity makes its last stand.
Cast: Susie Abromeit, Bill Lippincott, Daniel Martin, Brian Dodge, Vincient Chiantelli​.

Paradise
Artist: Pleix
Paradise is certainly not paradisiacal if you look at it through our eyes. But neither is it totally devoid of humor, melancholy and absurdity. Perhaps it is first and foremost life as it is, and then a touch exaggerated in the digital overdrive.

Perspective; Chapter I: The Party
Artists: Rose Troche, Morris May
A young college woman attends a party with the intention of shedding her shy girl persona. At the same party a young man is after a similar reinvention. They meet, drink and misinterpreted signals turn into things that cannot be undone. Virtual reality simulators let viewers experience both characters.
Cast: Tabitha Morella, Caleb Thomas, Zachary Zagoria, Anna Grace Barlow.

Possibilia
Artists: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Possibilia is a multi-layered narrative experience from acclaimed directing duo the Daniels. The story of two quarreling lovers splits exponentially into more and more possible worlds as their relationship unravels. Cast: Alex Karpovsky, Zoe Jarman.

Project Syria
Artist: Nonny de la Peña
More than one million children have fled Syria and news reports indicate children are being specifically targeted in the violence. By combining pioneering virtual reality technologies with audio and video captured during a real event, audiences feel transported to the powerful scene, becoming witnesses as the intense tragedy unfolds.

The VR works Of Felix & Paul
Artists: Félix Lajeunesse, Paul Raphaël
Felix & Paul’s groundbreaking live-action virtual reality experiences range from independent documentary to fictional work with major Hollywood studios and stars. These experiences let viewers sit in the room with musicians making music, roam the Mongolian plains with yak herders and experience an encounter with the afterlife​.

Way To Go
Artist: Vincent Morisset
It is a walk in the woods. It is an astonishing online and virtual reality interactive experience, a restless panorama, a mixture of hand-made animation, 360-degree video capture, music, dreaming and code; but mostly it is a walk in the woods, c’mon!

Zero Point
Artist: Danfung Dennis
Zero Point, a 3D and 360-degree documentary for the Oculus Rift headset, creates an entirely new digital dimension. From combat training simulations at the Department Of Defense to research labs at Stanford to indie game developers and hackers, this immersive experience highlights the future of virtual reality.

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