42 world, nine NorthAmerican and nine US premieres are among the Independent Feature Film andinaugural World Cinema competitions announced yesterday (29) by organisers atthe Sundance Film festival, which is set to run in Park City, Utah, from Jan20-30 2005.
Both the Independent andWorld Cinema banners carry dramatic and documentary strands. Internationaldramatic entries offer a colourful assortment of stories from Angola, Denmark,Ecuador and Japan, among others, and their independent US counterparts, whileno less entertaining, espouse an introspection and emotional honesty that inthe view of festival director Geoffrey Gilmore attempts to chronicle the"multiplicity of aesthetics" at work in American life. Documentaries across theboard cover some of the most pressing topics of modern times, including theEnron scandal, human cloning, gay rights, the Chechen conflict, and the Rwandangenocide.
"Over this last decade Ihave seen an incremental creep in the quality of independent US cinema,"Gilmore told Screendaily.com. "It continues to improve. In 15 years of doingthis I have never had films across the board with this level of quality andsome of the aesthetic qualities will challenge audiences. A lot of this work isabout a regional perception of American values. In recent months we've seen andheard much about the red state-blue state divide in America and typically theregions have been presented as some kind of freak show. However we have anumber of films from the South in competition and there's an honesty to them thatreally makes you reflect."
Those titles are Ira Sach's FortyShades Of Blue, about aMemphis-based Russian woman's personal awakening; Craig Brewer's Hustle& Flow, which follows a Memphispimp in the grip of mid-life crisis; Phil Morrison's Junebug, about a Chicago art dealer's introduction to herNorth Carolina in-laws; and Tim Kirkman's Loggerheads, focusing on three estranged families in NorthCarolina. Other tiles in the strand include Miranda July's quirky drama MeAnd You And Everyone We Know, the2003 Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Labsgraduate that IFC will release in the US; Steve Buscemi's Lonesome Jim, a family drama about a 27-year-old who moves back in withhis parents; Travis Wilkerson's Who Killed Cock Robin', which charts the efforts of young men in a depressedMontana town to make sense of their lives; and Mike Mills' Thumbsucker, about a person's chaotic attempts to break free from histhumb addiction.
Independent US documentariesinclude Jessica Sanders' After Innocence, which follows the efforts of wrongfully convicted men freed by DNAevidence as they try to assimilate back into society; Alex Gibney's Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room, documenting theinside story of the cataclysmic business scandal; Ellen Perry's The Fall ofFujimori, about the former Peruvianpresident's flight on charges of corruption and murder; Murderball, Henry-AlexRubin and Dana Adam Shapiro's film about quadriplegic rugby; Eugene Jarecki'sexploration of American militarism in Why We Fight; and Greg Whiteley's sex, drugs and rock and rollfilm New York Doll.
Just as Gilmore wants theIndependent Feature Film strands to broaden Americans' appreciation of cinemaaway from studio-produced titles, so he has high hopes for the inaugural WorldCinema categories. "We're looking for new discoveries here," he said, addingthat Sundance's global search for new talent would set it apart from the moreauteur-driven focus of some major international festivals that take place inthe first half of the year like Berlin and Cannes. "We've done internationalfilms at Sundance for a long time, but I'm trying to give it some import atSundance," he said. "I want to open up the discussion on international filmsand don't want them to be marginalised. We want to give them legitimacy in ourmarketplace."
Titles in the World Cinemadramatic competition include Susanne Bier's Danish drama Brothers, about shifting family dynamics when one of a pairof brothers is sent to war in Afghanistan; Sebastian Cordero'sEcuadorian-Mexican thriller Cronicas, about a reporter on the trail of a serial killer; Zeze Gamboa'sAngolan-Portuguese-French co-production The Hero, about an Angolan civil war veteran's struggle tosurvive when he returns home; Arild Ostin Ommundsen's Norwegian romance MonsterThursday; Gaby Dellal's On AClear Day (UK), about a man'sattempt to swim the English Channel; and Jun Ichikawa's Tony Takitani, which centres on an illustrator who sparks tragedywhen he asks his wife to forego designer clothes.
World Cinema documentariesinclude Pirjo Honkasalo's Finnish title The 3 Rooms Of Melancholia, which explores the Chechen conflict from theperspective of a Russian military boys academy, a war-torn town and achildren's refugee camp; Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man (USA-Canada) about the death of two grizzly bearactivists in late 2003; Mercedes Moncada's Nicaraguan-Mexican-Spanishco-production El Inmortal, whichcharts the legacy of the Nicaraguan war on a family; Sean McAllister's UK film TheLiberace Of Baghdad, about Iraq'srenowned pianist Samir Peter, who inhabits a heavily fortified Baghdad hotel ashe awaits a visa to grant him a new life in the US; Michale Boganim's OdessaOdessa (Israel-France), whichfocuses on the disappearing Odessa Jewish community; and Peter Raymont'sCanadian documentary Shake Hands With The Devil: The Journey Of RomeoDallaire, following Canadian Lt GenRomeo Dallaire's controversial command of the UN mission to Rwanda during the1994 genocide.
A total of 2,613 featureswere submitted for consideration, including 1,385 US and 1,228 internationaltitles. By way of comparison, Sundance received 2,485 submissions for 2004,with 1,285 coming from the US and 1,200 from abroad.
The American Spectrum,Frontier, Park City At Midnight, Special Screenings, Sundance Collection andPremieres categories will be announced on Nov 30, and short films will beunveiled on Dec 6.
Dir: David Ocanas. Scr: Robert Nelms.
A young American lawyer's structured world unravels when her search for hermissing sister pulls her into a labyrinth of confusion and psychologicaldeception in Tijuana, Mexico.
Dir: Rian Johnson. Scr: RianJohnson.
A teenage loner pushes his way into the underworld of a high school crime ringto investigate the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend.
Dir: Craig Lucas. Scr: Craig Lucas.
A grief-stricken screenwriter unknowingly enters a three-way relationship witha woman and her film executive husband - to chilling results.
Dir: Scott Coffey. Scr: ScottCoffey.
A comic portrait of a young woman's struggle for integrity, happiness and aHollywood acting career.
Forty Shades Of Blue
Dir: Ira Sachs. Scr: MichaelRohatyn and Ira Sachs.
A Russian woman living in Memphis with a much older rock-n-roll legendexperiences a personal awakening when her husband's estranged son comes tovisit.
How The Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer
Dir: Georgina Garcia Riedel. Scr: Georgina Garcia Riedel
Three generations of women in a Mexican-American family experience sexualawakenings over the course of a summer.
Hustle & Flow
Dir: Craig Brewer. Scr: Craig Brewer.
With help from his friends, a Memphis pimp in a mid-life crisis attempts tobecome a successful rapper.
Dir: Phil Morrison. Scr:Angus MacLachlan.
A dealer in "outsider" art travels from Chicago to North Carolina to meet hernew in-laws, challenging the equilibrium of this middle class Southern home.
Dir: Tim Kirkman. Scr:Tim Kirkman.
Three overlapping stories of estranged families in three regions of NorthCarolina.
Dir: Steve Buscemi. Scr: James C Strouse.
Failing to make it on his own, 27-year-old Jim moves back in with his parentsand deals with crippling family obligations.
Me And You And Everyone We Know
Dir: Miranda July. Scr: Miranda July.
A lonely shoe salesman and an eccentric performance artist struggle to connectin this unique take on contemporary life.
Dir: Robinson Devor. Scr: Robinson Devor and Charles Mudede.
An African-born bicycle cop encounters strange and mysterious situations on hispolice beat in urban Seattle.
Dir: Marcos Siega. Scr:Skander Halim.
A 15-year-old girl incites chaos among her friends and a media frenzy when sheaccuses her drama teacher of sexual harassment.
The Squid And The Whale
Dir: Noah Baumbach. Scr: Noah Baumbach.
In 1980s Park Slope Brooklyn, the Berkman family goes through a divorce andpainful truths about the marriage come to light.
Dir: Mike Mills. Scr: MikeMills.
Justin throws himself and everyone around him into chaos when he attempts tobreak free from his addiction to his thumb.
Who Killed Cock Robin'
Dir: Travis Wilkerson. Scr: Travis Wilkerson.
In depressed Butte, Montana, young men struggle to forge modest lives and makesense of it all.
Dir: Jessica Sanders
Follows wrongfully convicted men freed by DNA evidence after decades in prison asthey struggle to re-establish themselves in society.
Dir: Paul Provenza
One hundred superstar comedians tell the same filthy joke - one sharedprivately by comics since Vaudeville.
The Devil And Daniel Johnston
Dir: Jeff Feuerzeig
Daniel Johnston, manic-depressive genius singer/songwriter/artist is revealedin this portrait of madness, creativity and love.
The Education Of Shelby Knox
Dirs: Marion Lipschutz andRose Rosenblatt
A 15-year-old girl's transformation from conservative Southern Baptisttoliberal Christian and ardent feminist parallels her fight for sexeducation and gay rights in Lubbock, Texas.
Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room
Dir: Alex Gibney
The suspenseful, darkly comic, and ultimately tragic inside-story of one ofhistory's greatest business scandals.
The Fall Of Fujimori
Dir: Ellen Perry
President Alberto Fujimori risked everything to win Peru's war on terror, butin doing so became an international fugitive, wanted for corruption, kidnappingand murder.
Dirs: Eric Black and FraukeSandig
A scientific and social exploration of the future of human reproductivetechnology.
Mardi Gras: Made In China
Dir: David Redmon
This examination of cultural and economic globalisation follows the life-cycleof Mardi Gras beads from a small factory in Fuzhou, China, to Mardi Gras in NewOrleans, and to art galleries in New York City.
Dirs: Henry-Alex Rubin andDana Adam Shapiro
A film about quadriplegics who playfull-contact rugby in Mad Max-style wheelchairs
New York Doll
Dir: Greg Whiteley
A recovering alcoholic and recently converted Mormon, Arthur "Killer" Kane, ofrock band The New York Dolls is given a chance at reuniting with his band after30 years.
Ring Of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story
Dirs: Dan Klores and Ron Berger
A story of violence, love, sex, politics and media centered on the life ofGriffith, six-time world welterweight champion.
Dir: Mark Becker
A troubadour returns home to scratch out a living in Mexico after years oftrying to get ahead in San Francisco.
Shakespeare Behind Bars
Dir: Hank Rogerson
Twenty male inmates in a Kentucky prison form an unlikely Shakespearean actingtroupe.
Dir: Heather Rae
A chronicle of legendary Native American poet/activist John Trudell's travels,spoken word performances and politics.
Twist Of Faith
Dir: Kirby Dick
A man confronts the trauma of past sexual abuse as a boy by a Catholic priest,only to find his decision shatters his relationships with his family, communityand faith.
Why We Fight
Dir: Eugene Jarecki
This film places the Iraqi war in historical context and examines the forces -economic, political and ideological - that drive American militarism.
WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Dir: Susanne Bier. Scr: Anders Thomas Jensen.
Two brothers must negotiate changing roles and shifting family dynamics whenone is sent to war in Afghanistan. US Premiere
Dir: Sebastian Cordero. Scr: Sebastian Cordero.
Thriller about a reporter from Miami who travels to Ecuador in pursuit of aserial killer known as the Monster of Babahoyo. US Premiere
The Forest For The Trees (Germany)
Dir: Maren Ade. Scr: Maren Ade.
As an awkward idealistic high school teacher begins her first job in the city,things turn out to be much tougher than she had imagined. US Premiere
Green Chair (SouthKorea)
Dir: Park Chul-su. Scr: Park Chul-su.
When an ordinary housewife is convicted for seducing a minor, reckless loveleads to obsession and creeping doubt. World Premiere
Dir: Zeze Gamboa. Scr: Carla Baptista.
A 20-year veteran of the Angolan civil war returns to the capital city ofLuanda, where he faces the challenges of assimilation and survival.USPremiere
Kekexili: Mountain Patrol(China)
Dir: Lu Chuan. Scr: Lu Chuan.
True story about volunteers protecting antelope against poachers in theunforgiving mountains of Tibet. North American Premiere
Lila Says (France/Italy/UK)
Dir: Ziad Doueiri. Scr: Ziad Doueiri and Joelle Touma.
Two inner-city teenagers engage in an obsessive, innocent flirtation fueled byLila's sexually explicit overtures. US Premiere
Dir: Jorge Gaggero. Scr: JorgeGaggero.
A wealthy woman and her live-in housekeeper must adjust their entrenchedroutine and relationship when Buenos Aires is plunged into economic crisis.North American Premiere
Monster Thursday (Norway)
Dir: Arild Ostin Ommundsen. Scr: Arild Ostin Ommundsen and Gro Elin Hjelle.
Quirky romantic drama set in remote coastal Norway takes the viewer on atumultuous ride through surfing aspirations, extreme weather and love. NorthAmerican Premiere
On A Clear Day (UK)
Dir: Gaby Dellal. Scr: Alex Rose.
Frank determines to salvage his self-esteem and tackle his demons by attemptingthe ultimate test of endurance - swimming the English Channel. World Premiere
Dir: Eduardo Pinto. Scr: Brian Maya and Federico Finkielstain.
Two petty criminal party boys get in over their heads when a kidnapping goesawry. World Premiere
Dir: Malgosia Szumowska. Scr: Malgosia Szumowska and Przemek Nowakowski.
A pregnant 22-year-old with a dreary job, a difficult home life and an absentboyfriend learns to love her life and share this love with the child in herwomb. World Premiere
This Charming Girl (SouthKorea)
Dir: Lee Yoon-Ki. Scr: Lee Yoon-Ki.
Restrained yet engaging study of a female post office worker's emotional life.North American Version
Tony Takitani (Japan)
Dir: Jun Ichikawa. Scr: Jun Ichikawa.
When technical illustrator Tony Takitani asks his wife to resist herall-consuming obsession for designer clothes, the consequences aretragic.US Premiere
Dir: Joaqu'n Oristrell. Scr: Joaqu'n Oristrell, Teresa de Peligr' andDominic Harari.
A Freudian comedy set in 1913 Barcelona that questions sexual taboos through aSherlock Holmes-style investigation.US Premiere
Wolf Creek (Australia)
Dir: Greg Mclean. Scr: Greg Mclean.
Factually-based story of three road-trippers in remote Australia who areplunged into danger when they accept help from a friendly local. World Premiere
WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
The 3 Rooms Of Melancholia(Finland)
Dir: Pirjo Honkasalo
A searing examination of the unrelenting Chechen conflict, observed through theprisms of a Russian military boys academy, a war-torn town and a children'srefugee camp. North American Premiere
Dhakiyarr Vs The King(Australia)
Dirs: Tom Murray and Allan Collins
Seventy years after his controversial murder trial and subsequentdisappearance, an Australian Aboriginal's descendants seek to restore what wasdenied him: his honour. North American Premiere
Grizzly Man (USA/Canada)
Dir: Werner Herzog
A devastating and heart-wrenching take on grizzly bear activists TimothyTreadwell and Amie Huguenard, who were killed in October 2003 while livingamong grizzlies in Alaska. World Premiere
I Am Cuba, The Siberian Mammoth (Brazil)
Dir: Vicente Ferraz
This film examines the creation and exhibition of the propaganda film I AmCuba, a Soviet/Cuban collaborationunknown in the West until the 1990s. North American Premiere
Dir: Mercedes Moncada
A family is torn apart by theconflict in Nicaragua, leaving brother fighting brother and illustratingreligious manipulation, male chauvinism and poverty as part of the destructivelegacy of war. World Premiere
The Liberace Of Baghdad(UK)
Dir: Sean McAllister
Held up in a heavily fortified Baghdad hotel, Iraq's most famous pianist SamirPeter tries to survive the "peace" of post-war Iraq as he waits for the visathat will grant him a new life in America. North American Premiere
Dir: Michale Boganim
A voyage from the Ukraine to New York to Israel, portraying the wanderings,hopes and illusions of the vanishing Odessa Jewish community. World Premiere
Shake Hands With The Devil: The Journey Of Romeo Dallaire (Canada)
Dir: Peter Raymont
The story of Canadian Lt Gen. Romeo Dallaire and his controversial command ofthe United Nations mission to Rwanda during the 1994 genocide.US Premiere
Shape Of The Moon (TheNetherlands)
Dir: Leonard Retel Helmrich
Three generations of a family weather the challenges of living in modern-dayIndonesia, the largest Muslim community on the globe. North American Premiere
Unknown White Male (UK)
Dir: Rupert Murray
The true story of Doug Bruce, who woke up on Coney Island with no memory of hislife. World Premiere
Dir: Simone Bitton
A meditation on the separation fence in Israel-Palestine that imprisons onepeople while enclosing the other. US Premiere
Yang Ban Xi - The 8 Modelworks (The Netherlands)
Dir: Yan Ting Yuen
The story of lives inextricably linked to the Yang Ban Xi, the propagandaspectacles that replaced traditional opera during the Cultural Revolution inChina. World Premiere