Sundance unveils Spotlight, Midnight, New Frontier sections
Park City At Midnight features cannibalism, demonic possession and the follow-up to the 2012 festival’s shocker, V/H/S. Spotlight entries include Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers, Chilean Oscar submission No and acclaimed Israeli documentary The Gatekeepers.
“I couldn’t be more pleased to announce the films selected for these sections because they illustrate the tremendous creativity and vibrancy of the independent film community,” said director of programming Trevor Groth.
“Spotlight features our favourite films that have premiered at other festivals and the Park City At Midnight and New Frontier sections are comprised of films that are bound to shock, intoxicate, derange or dazzle. Expect the unexpected when you venture down the path of these cinematic sensations.”
New Frontier will once again be situated at The Yard and showcases films, media installations, multimedia performances, transmedia experiences and panel discussions. The roster includes Travis Mathews and James Franco’s Interior. Leather Bar, in which the filmmakers act on the rumour than an excised 40-minute sequence from the 1980 Al Pacino drama Cruising may have contained S&M footage and imagine what that footage might have looked like.
All films are world premieres unless stated otherwise, with the exception of Spotlight entries. The festival provided all synopses used below.
Regardless of where these films have played throughout the world, the Spotlight programme is a tribute to the cinema we love.
Fill The Void (Israel)
Director: Rama Burshtein
A devout 18-year-old Israeli is pressured to marry the husband of her late sister. Declaring her independence is not an option in Tel Aviv’s ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community, where religious law, tradition and the rabbi’s word are absolute.
Cast: Hadas Yaron, Yiftach Klein, Irit Sheleg, Chaim Sharir, Razia Israely, Hila Feldman.
Gangs Of Wasseypur (India)
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Exiled and outcast for robbing British trains, Shahid Khan spurs a revenge battle that passes down generations. Shahid’s son vows to get his father’s honor back, becoming the most feared man in the Indian town of Wasseypur.
Cast: Manoj Bajpai, Nawazuddin Siddique, Richa Chadda, Huma Qureshi, Tigmanshu Dhulia.
The Gatekeepers (Israel, Germany, Belgium, France)
Director: Dror Moreh
Since its stunning military victory in 1967, Israel has hoped to achieve a long-lasting peace. Forty-five years later, this has yet to happen. Six former heads of Israel’s Secret Service reflect on the successes and failures of the “peace process.” Documentary.
Director: Jeff Nichols
Two teenage boys encounter a fugitive and form a pact to help him evade the bounty hunters on his trail and reunite him with his true love.
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Loflan, Reese Witherspoon.
North American premiere
Director: Pablo Larrain
When Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet calls for a referendum to decide his permanence in power, the opposition persuades a young advertising executive to head its campaign. With limited resources and under scrutiny, he conceives a plan to win the election.
Cast: Gael García Bernal, Alfredo Castro, Antonia Zegers, Luis Gnecco, Marcial Tagle, Néstor Cantillana.
Director: Ben Wheatley
Chris wants to show girlfriend Tina his world, but when events conspire against the couple, their dream caravan holiday takes a very wrong turn.
Cast: Alice Lowe, Steve Oram.
Stories We Tell (Canada)
Director: Sarah Polley
Sarah Polley is both filmmaker and detective as she investigates the secrets kept by a family of storytellers. She unravels the paradoxes to reveal the essence of family: always complicated, warmly messy and fiercely loving. Documentary.
PARK CITY AT MIDNIGHT
From horror flicks to comedies to works that defy any genre, these unruly films will keep you edge-seated and wide awake. Each is a world premiere. All US unless otherwise indicated.
Director: Chris Nelson
Loveable losers Kate and Chloe take a road trip back to their hometown to claim the beauty pageant crown that eluded them as children, only to discover what really counts: friendship.
Cast: June Raphael, Casey Wilson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Alicia Silverstone, Jon Cryer, Brian Geraghty.
Directors: Robert Ben Garant
An expectant couple moves into the most haunted fixer-upper in New Orleans – a house with a demonic curse. Things spiral out of control and soon only the Vatican’s elite exorcism team can save the pair – or can it?
Cast: Rob Corddry, Leslie Bibb, Keegan Michael Key, Riki Lindholme, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel.
In Fear (UK)
Director: Jeremy Lovering, Story by: Jeremy Lovering
Trapped in a maze of country roads with only their vehicle for protection, Tom and Lucy are terrorized by an unseen tormentor exploiting their worst fears. Eventually they realize they’ve let the evil in – it’s sitting in their car.
Cast: Alice Englert, Iain De Caestecker, Allen Leech.
Director: Christina Voros
A story of sex, submission and big business is told through the eyes of the unlikely pornographers whose 9-to-5 work days are spent within the confines of the San Francisco armoury, home to the sprawling porn production facilities of Kink.com. Documentary.
Director: Calvin Lee Reeder
After being released from prison, a man known as “The Rambler” stumbles upon a strange mystery as he attempts the treacherous journey through back roads and small towns en route to reconnecting with his long-lost brother.
Cast: Dermot Mulroney, Lindsay Pulsipher, Natasha Lyonne, James Cady, Scott Sharot.
Directors: Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Edúardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Huw Evans, Jason Eisener.
Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his abandoned house and find another collection of mysterious VHS tapes. In viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realize there may be terrifying motives behind the student’s disappearance.
Cast: Adam Wingard, Lawrence Levine, L.C Holt, Kelsy Abbott, Hannah Hughes.
Director: GJ Echternkamp
Two self-aware characters in a Call Of Duty-style video game struggle with their screwy, frustrating existence.To find answers, one abandons his partner and mission, seeking to unravel the cheat codes of life.
Cast: Robert Baker, Brent Chase, Katie Savoy, Mark Hamill, Ben Messmer.
We Are What We Are
Director: Jim Mickle
A devastating storm washes up clues that lead authorities closer and closer to the cannibalistic Parker family.
Cast: Bill Sage, Ambyr Childers, Julia Garner, Michael Parks, Wyatt Russell, Kelly McGillis.
With media installations, multimedia performances, transmedia experiences, panels, films and more, New Frontier highlights work that celebrates experimentation and the expansion of cinema culture through the convergence of film, art, and new media technology.
Charlie Victor Romeo
Directors: Robert Berger, Karlyn Michelson
Award-winning theatrical documentary derived entirely from black box transcripts of six real-life major airline emergencies brought to the screen with cutting-edge stereoscopic 3D technology.
Cast: Patrick Daniels, Irving Gregory, Noel Dinneen, Sam Zuckerman, Debbie Troche, Nora Woolley.
Fat Shaker (Iran)
Director: M Shirvani
An obese father and his handsome, deaf son share extraordinary experiences in Tehran. Then a beautiful young woman upsets the balance of their relationship, forcing them to renegotiate their position with each other and the world around them.
Cast: Levon Haftvan, Maryam Palizban, Hassan Rostami, Navid Mohammadzadeh
Interior. Leather Bar.
Directors: Travis Mathews, James Franco
To avoid an X rating, it was rumored that 40 minutes of gay S&M footage was cut from the controversial 1980 film, Cruising. Filmmakers James Franco and Travis Mathews re-imagine what was in the lost footage.
Cast: Val Lauren, James Franco, Travis Mathews, Christian Patrick, Brenden Gregory.
Director: Sebastian Hofman is dead and can no longer hide it. Before surrendering to his living death, he forms an unusual friendship with Luly, the manager of the 24-hour gym where he works as a night guard.
Cast: Alberto Trujillo, Lourdes Trueba, Hugo Albores.
The Meteor (Canada)
Director: François Delisle
Forty-something Pierre, his mother and his wife are linked by crime, guilt and loneliness. Like casualties of love and desire, they are dying to stick their heads above water and breathe the air of life.
Cast: Noémie Godin Vigneau, François Delisle, Laurent Lucas, Brigitte Pogonat, François Papineau, Andrée Lachapelle.
Artists: Yannick Jacquet and Marc Ferrario aka Mandril, of AntiVJ
AntiVJ artists Yannick Jacquet and Marc Ferrario blend painting with light projection to transform the walls of New Frontier into a luminous, three-dimensional cityscape that feels strangely familiar yet impossible to locate. With its disorienting sense of time and space, Cityscape 2095 places spectators on the observatory deck of a skyscraper, where they take in a sprawling, imaginary city as it glitters over the course of one day.
Coral: Rekindling Venus
Artist: Lynette Wallworth
Inspired by the first collaboration among the international science community to witness the celestial Transit Of Venus in 1761, Lynette Wallworth’s visually stunning Coral: Rekindling Venus is an augmented-reality and full-dome planetarium presentation designed to nurture an emotional connection between a global audience and the planet’s endangered coral reefs. This epic project features original deep-sea photography, augmented-reality artwork and music by Antony and the Johnsons. Presented at the New Frontier venue in Park City, Salt Lake City’s Clark Planetarium and other locations nationally. Details to be announced.
E.M-bed.de/d, Datamosh, Augmented Real
Artist: Yung Jake
Rap artist Yung Jake is Net art incarnate, flowing lyrics about tweet culture, data-moshing, hashtags, and memes as he blows up on Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, and Instagram in his HTML5 music video, E.M-bed.de/d. This MC drops unexpectedly into your browser sessions, streams into festival screenings, Skype-bombs live DJ performances, and pops out of floors and magazines in augmented-reality music videos.
Artist: Joanie Lemercier of AntiVJ
Inspired by the 2010 Icelandic volcanic eruption that wreaked travel havoc across Europe, Eyjafjallalokull is a stunning, three-dimensional, audiovisual mapping installation that challenges audiences’ perception of space by creating an optical illusion that transforms the walls of New Frontier into a sweeping digital vista that artistically recreates the seismic event.
North Of South, West Of East
Artist: Meredith Danluck
North Of South, West Of East enhances narrative storytelling by wrapping the film around the entire room. Presented to an audience in swivel chairs, Meredith Danluck’s remarkable four-channel narrative feature deftly unspools a darkly humorous tale of small-town folks as they try to make sense of a post-hope America. Shot on location in Detroit, Michigan, and Marfa, Texas, this unique film features fantastic performances by Ben Foster, Stella Schnabel, and Sue Galloway, and a soundtrack by Marfa local punk band Solid Waste.
Artist: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s beautifully resonant, interactive media installation swaths the central lounge of New Frontier with images of the warm, breathing flesh of its visitors. Pulse Index records the heart rates and fingerprints of participants and exhibits them in a beautiful Fibonacci pattern. Place your finger into the custom-made sensor, and your fingerprint appears on the largest cell of the display, pulsating to your heartbeat. Your print then travels down the sequence to join those of all the others who have visited the room, immersing the community space with the radiant glow of the human touch.
What’s He Building In There?
Artists: Klip Collective
Ricardo Rivera and the Klip Collective transform the entire front of the New Frontier venue into an interactive, 3-D projection-mapped parable, inspired by the Tom Waits song. Sip a hot beverage in the outdoor lounge and watch the walls and windowpanes dissolve into a story about a man on a mysterious mission inside the building. Use the X-ray flashlight to peek at what he is up to.