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Sony Pictures Classics Gets Sundance Pic ‘Smashed’

By | Monday March 5, 2012 @ 7:10am PST
Mike Fleming

NEW YORK (March 5, 2012) – Sony Pictures Classics announced today that they have acquired all worldwide rights to SMASHED. The film, directed by James Ponsoldt (OFF THE BLACK), is produced by Jonathan Schwartz (Like Crazy) and Andrea Sperling (Like Crazy) of Super Crispy Entertainment, who were honored at Sundance this year with a Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Independent Film Producing, as well as Jennifer Cochis. The film is executive produced by Audrey and Zygi Wilf. SPC previously worked with Sperling on the 2005 feature, THE QUIET.

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Indomina Buying 2012 Sundance Film ‘LUV’

By | Wednesday February 8, 2012 @ 4:02pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that Indomina Entertainment is making a distribution deal on LUV, the Sheldon Candis-directed film that premiered January 23 at the Eccles Theatre. The deal will be in the low seven-figures and includes a TV component. This comes as the film screens at EFM. The film is about an 11-year old boy who awaits the return of his missing mother, and who lives with his grandmother and Uncle Vincent. He idolizes the latter, a man who is fresh off an 8-year prison stretch and who takes it upon himself to help the youth become a man. When Vincent’s attempts to open a business doesn’t work out, and pressure is brought to bear by his old Baltimore crime boss Mr. Fish, the youth’s growth into manhood accelerates. The film stars Common, Dennis Haysbert, Michael Rainey Jr., Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton and Michael Kenneth Williams. ICM and Cinetic Media repped the title at Sundance, and Eric Christenson at Hollywood Studios International is repping the film overseas. Jason Michael Berman produced the film with W. Michael Jenson, Gordon Bijelonic, Datari Turner, Joel Newton, James R. Rosenthal, Common and Derek Dudley.

This is the second Indomina deal at Sundance, after the distributor bought the Ice-T directed The Art of Rap.

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Sundance Kubrick Doc ‘Room 237′ Lands At IFC Films

By | Wednesday February 8, 2012 @ 10:00am PST

Exclusive: IFC Films has picked up Sundance ’12 Stanley Kubrick doc Room 237. A world premiere in the festival’s New Frontier section, the experimental documentary directed by Rodney Ascher explores the numerous theories about the “real meaning” of Kubrick’s film The Shining. Word has it the film will screen this Spring in the New Directors/New Film series in New York and Cannes is a likely bet to debut the film across the Atlantic. IFC Films will roll out the film later this year via a theatrical/day and date VOD release.

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Weinstein Company Names New Shingle Radius And Acquires Edgy Sundance Comedy ‘Bachelorette’

By | Tuesday February 7, 2012 @ 4:35pm PST
Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Well that was fast. I’ve confirmed the Bachelorette deal and the fact Tom Quinn and Jason Janego’s company will be called Radius. Release is below the original scoop.

EXCLUSIVE: The Sundance distribution deals continue to flow. The Weinstein Company is closing a deal for North American distribution rights to Bachelorette, an edgy comedy written and directed by Leslye Headland. I’m hearing that the deal is in the vicinity of $2 million, and that the plan is for a multi-platform day and date release with a theatrical component. It’s the first significant festival acquisition made by Tom Quinn and Jason Janego since they joined The Weinstein Company to start a new company that takes advantage of the multi-platform release strategy. They’ve named the new company Radius.

The film premiered Monday January 23 at the Eccles Theater, and stars Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, James Marsden, Adam Scott and Kyle Bornheimer. It’s produced by Brice Dal Farra, Claude Dal Farra, Jessica Elbaum, Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and Lauren Munsch. The logline: Unresolved issues between four high school friends come roaring back to life when the least popular of them gets engaged to one of the most eligible bachelors in New York City and asks the others to be bridesmaids in her wedding. CAA brokered the deal. Some of the buyers I spoke to the night of the screening came in expecting Bridesmaids, but while the comedy and dialogue was raucous, … Read More »

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Sundance: 10 Producers To Keep Watching

By | Saturday January 28, 2012 @ 3:39pm PST

Sundance has no shortage of producers and producers-to-be scurrying around Park City. So Deadline has assembled a Top 10 to keep an eye on post-fest. Some are fairly new to producing while others more established but all their careers are moving up:

Dan Janvey, Josh Penn, Michael Gottwald – Beasts Of The Southern Wild
This trio’s credits producing shorts include Benh Zeitlin’s Glory At Sea. ButZeitlin’s much lauded Beasts Of The Southern Wild went from standing ovation to Fox Searchlight acquisition this week. They are all part of a filmmaking/artist group based in Louisiana dubbed Court 13, a self-described collective of “madcap artists and animators of junk that seek to tell huge stories out of small parts.” The group professes a DIY attitude to make “films about communities as a community.”

Jason Michael Berman - LUV
After producing a series of shorts in the early 2000s, Berman co-produced his first feature The Dry Land which screened in competition at 2010 Sundance and won Best New International Feature at Edinburgh. He returned to Sundance with Jess + Moss in 2011 in addition to producing two other films. LUV about a shy 11-year-old boy who forms a bond with his troubled uncle screened in competition. Currently he is completing Brian Dannelly’s Struck By Lightning with Allison Janney, Chris Colfer, Sarah Hyland, Christina Hendricks, Dermot Mulroney, Rebel  Wilson.

Marie-Therese Guirgis and Lucas Joaquin - Keep The Lights On
Her former producer credits include 2003′s cult hit Tarnation and doc Unknown White Male but Guirgis is known for her connections, passion and energy. She made an indelible mark on U.S. distribution as a principal at Wellspring Media releasing a treasure trove of indie and foreign-language films including … Read More »

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Sundance Screenings Finale: The Highs, The Lows, The Polarizing Films

By | Saturday January 28, 2012 @ 3:46am PST

As the Sundance Film Festival wraps, two films are the prevailing standouts — The Surrogate and Beasts Of The Southern Wild. But Red Lights and Filly Brown have been the titles consistently coming up short along with Lay The Favorite. Sundance founder Robert Redford warned attendees on Day One to explore the fest’s various nooks and crannies before guessing which films would be hits or misses. Here’s my reporting:

FEATURES
The Surrogate, directed by Ben Lewin
This film is the obvious commercial hit and awards contender coming out of Sundance this year and it already caught a $6 million acquisition deal as Deadline reported Monday. This film proves that there are still films that arrive with little fanfare and then break out. Starring Helen Hunt (in a terrific performance) and John Hawkes and William H. Macy, pic centers on a man who is confined to an iron lung and at age 38 makes it a goal to lose his virginity. All the buzz bodes well for Lewin who proves that reinventing yourself is possible at any age. Born in 1946, Lewin has a bevy of TV writing and directing credits with a sprinkling of features like Georgiawhich received two AFI Award nominations way back in 1989.

Beasts Of The Southern Wild directed by Benh Zeitlin
This is the fest’s artistic smash to date. The filmmakers had the “dream” Sundance premiere at the Eccles Theatre complete with a standing ovation and immediate buzz at hobnobbing events. Instantly speculation began about who would snag the film populated by unknown actors. Fox Searchlight did. This is the first film by co-writer/director Benh Zeitlin and the team behind Court 13. ”Court 13 is an ethos we have on approaching a story and production,” Zeitlin told me. “The arc is made through homemade objects, actors that are non-professional, and a crew that is chosen for their courage and art rather than pure skill.”

Your Sister’s Sister directed by Lynn Shelton
This film about grief had its U.S. debut at Sundance after a Toronto fest premiere initiated buzz. Sundance’s comparatively smaller lineup is giving the film some breathing room and good word of mouth for performances by Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mark Duplass, and Mike Birbiglia. The film follows Jack who is grieving over his bother’s loss and heads to his father’s cabin unaware that a woman is already staying there with similar circumstances.
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Julie Delpy “Done With Acting”: Sundance

By | Tuesday January 24, 2012 @ 11:49pm PST

She began acting at the age of 14 when she was discovered by Jean-Luc Godard who cast her in 1985′s Détective. Two years later, she received a César Award Nomination for Most Promising Actress. She won international acclaim after starring in the 1990 film Europa Europa. She then became a staple of the 1990s independent film movement with major roles in significant pics like director Richard Linklater’s 1995 Before Sunrise. So when a thesp of the caliber of Julie Delpy tells me today that she’s leaving that profession, it’s a watershed moment in indie film. Granted, acting for the  French-born actress, writer, director, and singer-songwriter is only one part of her multi-pronged career. She was even nominated for an Adapted Screenplay Oscar for co-writing 2004′s Before Sunset, the sequel to Before Sunrise. But she told me tonight a day after the Sundance premiere of her comedy 2 Days In New York, one of the 30 or so films where she has acted and/or written and/or directed, ”I think I’m done with acting. Before, I just acted in movies with people I knew. Now I don’t want to pursue acting. I will pursue writing and directing.”

Delpy also thinks NY is likely the end of this film series which began in 2007 with 2 Days In Paris, so there will be no third installment set in LA or Tokyo. (“I’m not a James Bond girl.”) She … Read More »

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UPDATE: Tracy Morgan Released From Hospital, Says He’s Returning To ’30 Rock’ On Tuesday

By | Monday January 23, 2012 @ 3:39pm PST

Tracy Morgan HospitalizedUPDATE, 3:39 PM: Tracy Morgan has been released from Park City Medical Center after last night’s incident. He took to his Twitter feed today to explain: “The high altitude in Utah shook up this kid from Brooklyn,” he wrote. Later, he offered thanks to the hospital staff and said he was returning to production on 30 Rock tomorrow.

PREVIOUS, 12:15 AM: According to the 30 Rock star’s publicist Lewis Kay, Tracy Morgan fell ill “from a combination of exhaustion and altitude” while being honored at the Creative Coalition Spotlight Awards in Park City. “Tracy is seeking medical attention. He is with his fiancé and is grateful to the Park City Medical Center for their care. Any reports of Tracy consuming alcohol are 100% false.”

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2012 Sundance: Fest Veterans Returning With New Work

As part of our Sundance kickoff, Deadline posted a list of the famous and about-to-be-famous whose films are premiering at the festival. Now with the first full day of the event underway, I’m spotlighting a dozen Sundance veterans who have new work screening this year:

Christine Vachon, executive producer Shut Up And Play The Hits — It’s hard to imagine Sundance or even independent film without this producing tour de force. Her credits include I Shot Andy Warhol, Happiness, Velvet Goldmine, Boys Don’t Cry, Far From Heaven and many others. For this year’s edition she’s executive producing along with Keith Wood and The Creators Project on a doc spotlighting LCD Soundsystem’s final show at Madison Square Garden featuring an intimate portrait of James Murphy and his lead-up to the final concert.

Mary Jane Skalski, producer Hello I Must Be Going — Skalski has also made an indelible mark on the Sundance landscape with films stretching back into the ’90s. This century her Sundance portfolio includes The Station Agent, Mysterious Skin, The Hawk Is Dying and last year’s Pariah and Win Win. She returns as producer on Todd Louiso’s competition feature Hello I Must Be Going about a down-and-out 35-year-old woman who finds solace from a 19-year-old boy after returning home to live with her parents.

Eugene Jarecki, director of The House I Live In — Jarecki previously has taken on America’s conflicts abroad, but now turns the lens on the war on drugs which has cost 45 million arrests over four decades — making America the world’s top jailer. Jarecki’s first short, Seasons Of The Lifterbees debuted at Sundance in 1993. He won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and a Peabody Award for 2005′s Why We Fight and premiered his HBO doc Reagan at the festival last year.

Paul Dano, executive producer/actor in For Ellen — Dano may be a name in a good number of households following his stints in Fast Food Nation, There Will Be Blood and Meek’s Cutoff. In 2006, Little Miss Sunshine took Sundance by storm, in which he starred along with then-newcomer Abigail Breslin. He’s back again, starring in and executive producing For Ellen directed by So Yong Kim (also a Sundance vet who took a Special Jury Prize for In Between Days at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival). Dano plays Joby, a struggling musician who takes an overnight long-distance drive to fight his estranged wife for custody of their young daughter.
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2012 Sundance: Will New Evidence From ‘West Of Memphis’ Documentary Spark Movement In Murder Case?

Mike Fleming

2012 Sundance: Q&A With ‘West Of Memphis’ Producers Peter Jackson And Fran Walsh

West Of Memphis SundanceEXCLUSIVE: I’m hearing rumblings here in Park City that the Sundance documentary West of Memphis will include some new important evidence obtained within the last month that could have direct bearing on the future of the case. The film, which was directed by Amy Berg and financed by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, re-investigates the infamous 1993 triple child murder in Arkansas that led to the conviction and 18 year incarceration of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, despite the lack of physical evidence. The docu is driven by the results of DNA testing and forensic and other expert investigative work funded by Jackson and Walsh since 2005. On the basis of the evidence and the continued outcry over an unfair prosecution, the defendants were freed last summer after a plea deal in which they were allowed to maintain their innocence while technically pleading guilty to the murders.

Press that screened the film in New York and Los Angeles last Friday were told that a scene was missing from the movie, but weren’t given specifics. I’m hearing the new scene will be included in the print of the film shown for the first time at Sundance this morning at 8:30 AM at a press and industry screening at the Holiday Village. The film has its official premiere today at 4:45 PM at the … Read More »

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Sundance First: All Premieres Films For Sale

By | Wednesday January 18, 2012 @ 12:16am PST

Even as the Sundance Film Festival rolls into its 4th decade, there’s one “first” at this year’s edition which kicks off Thursday. The festival’s Premieres section will all screen (as of now) without distribution in place. “For the first time, all of the films in Premieres are for sale,” Sundance’s head of programming Trevor Groth tells me. Groth said that the big For Sale sign in the section was not a conscious effort on the part of programmers but instead “circumstantial”. Though he added that the change in the specialty landscape may have contributed: “A number of these films came from producers and not distributors. Maybe it’s a one-off year, but we’ll see.” The first narratives in Premieres will screen Friday evening with Celeste And Jesse Forever, director Lee Toland Krieger’s story of a troubled couple starring Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Emma Roberts, and Elijah Wood. That’s followed by Rodrigo Cortés’ metaphysical phenomena drama Red Lights with Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Elizabeth Olsen, Toby Jones, and Leonardo Sbaraglia.

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2012 Sundance: Famous Behind The Camera

The Sundance Film Festival is infamously where relatively unknown filmmakers travel to Park City and maybe leave the mountain resort on the road to glory. But this year may have more well-known names swaggering down Main Street with projects than in recent years. Here’s a snapshot of the film famous you’ll be hearing about at Sundance and why:

SPIKE LEE, director/producer, Red Hook Summer - Spike has a long history going in and out of the studio system and hitting the pavement at Sundance where he returns with his latest. The director often laments how difficult it is to get money for projects despite making $300 million on Inside Man. Fast forward several documentaries later, and Lee picks up the feature filmmaking mantle again about an Atlanta boy who is sent to spend the summer in a Brooklyn NY housing project with the grandfather he’s never met. With all titles screening in the festival’s Premieres section headed to Sundance without a distributor in place, Lee is once again counting on his indie roots for this pic.

JULIE DELPY, writer/director/star, 2 Days In New York - Delpy opened the Sundance Film Festival with Before Sunrise way back in 1995. Now she returns with 2 Days In New York – a follow up to 2007′s 2 Days In Paris. Delpy took her recent films including 2 Days In Paris to Berlin for their debuts, but is headed to Sundance with the latest. The film has sold some international territories already and the feature’s American setting is ripe for a Sundance splash, according to the film’s sales company Rezo. In no small part due to star Chris Rock who plays opposite Delpy. In the film, Delpy reprises her 2 Days In Paris character Marion who lives with her new lover Mingus (Rock) and their two kids from previous relationships. The couple get an unexpected visit from her father (played by Delpy’s real-life dad), her oversexed sister, and her outrageous boyfriend.

STEPHEN FREARS, director Lay The Favorite - You would think two Oscar nominations for Best Director not to mention multiple Awards for 2006′s The Queen (including a win for actress Helen Mirren) would mean a golden ticket for future projects and a studio backer. But such is not the case anymore and Frears will join fellow filmmakers vying for distribution at Sundance. Pic has a well-known cast including Rebecca Hall, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bruce Willis, and Joshua Jackson. This latest follows a beautiful but ditzy gal who moves to Las Vegas and meets a pro sports gambler who hones in on her natural skills for numbers to his advantage.

MICHAEL STIPE, executive producer, Me@ The Zoo - The former R.E.M. front man has his hand in film for decades now, most prominently beginning in the late 1990s as executive producer of Velvet Goldmine and producer of multiple Oscar-nominee Being John Malkovich. Ubiquitous at Sundance in the early part of the 2000s, his last big project there was 2004′s Saved via his Single Cell Pictures. His other production company C-Hundred Film Corp (with filmmaker Jim McKay) is taking Me @ The Zoo to Sundance this year where it is screening in competition. The film follows video blogger Chris Crocker whose YouTube plea “Leave Britney Alone!” has been viewed gazillion times.
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Sundance Opening Night Docu ‘Queen Of Versailles’ Sparks Lawsuit By Resort Developer

By | Wednesday January 11, 2012 @ 8:36pm PST

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival has sparked controversy little more than a week before it launches January 19th. The Sundance Institute has been hit with a lawsuit over one of the festival’s opening night films, The Queen Of Versailles, directed by Lauren Greenfield. Alleging defamation, the federal lawsuit filed by Florida developer David A. Siegel and his Westgate Resorts targets Sundance Institute, Greenfield and her husband, executive producer Frank Evers. According to an article in the Salt Lake Tribune, the lawsuit seeks $75,000 in damages from the Institute and another $75,000 from the filmmakers plus “unspecified punitive damages.”

The controversy arises from press and marketing material distributed by Sundance. The festival’s online material describes the film as having “epic dimensions of a Shakespearean tragedy” with the non-fiction feature following “billionaires Jackie and David’s rags to riches story to uncover the innate virtues and flaws of the American dream.” The film opens with the construction of the biggest house in America, inspired by France’s Versailles. The Sundance info described the construction as being financed by a “booming time-share business” that went south following the financial crisis.

An insider connected with the film told Deadline that hardly anybody has seen it, let alone David Siegel and his Westgate Resorts. Deadline called Westgate seeking comment but a voicemail message was not returned. A Sundance statement said only: “Sundance Institute maintains its long-held and firm commitment … Read More »

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Sundance Unveils Premieres And Adds Starpower to January Festival

Mike Fleming

Sundance Unveils Midnight, Next And New Frontier Films
2012 Sundance Film Festival Sets Competition Slate

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival has filled out the film schedule with a Premieres lineup of features and documentaries that add some star power to the festival. As Deadline reported last week, the festival added the Stephen Frears-directed Bruce Willis-starrer Lay The Favorite as well as a film by Julie Delpy, another that stars Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon, and another with Bradley Cooper. Most of the films come without distribution, so they will add to what is being forecast as potentially heavy dealmaking. Here’s the list:

PREMIERES

2 Days in New York / France (Director: Julie Delpy, Screenwriters: Julie Delpy, Alexia Landeau) — Marion has broken up with Jack and now lives in New York with their child. A visit from her family, the different cultural background of her new boyfriend, her sister’s ex-boyfriend, and her upcoming photo exhibition make for an explosive mix. Cast: Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau, Alex Nahon.

Arbitrage / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Nicholas Jarecki) — A hedge-fund magnate is in over his head, desperately trying to complete the sale of his trading empire before the depths of his fraud are revealed. An unexpected, bloody error forces him to turn to the most unlikely corner for help. Cast: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Nate Parker.

Bachelorette / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Leslye Headland) — Unresolved issues between four high school friends come roaring back to life when the least popular of them gets engaged to one of the most eligible bachelors in New York City and asks the others to be bridesmaids in her wedding. Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, James Marsden, Adam Scott, Kyle Bornheimer.

California Solo / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Marshall Lewy) — A former Britpop rocker has long settled for an unfettered life working on a farm outside of L.A. When he’s caught driving drunk and faces deportation, he must confront past and current demons in his life to stay in the country. Cast: Robert Carlyle, Alexia Rasmussen, Kathleen Wilhoite, A Martinez, Danny Masterson.

Celeste and Jesse Forever / U.S.A. (Director: Lee Toland Krieger, Screenwriters: Rashida Jones, Will McCormack) — Celeste and Jesse met in high school, married young, and at 30, decide to get divorced but remain best friends while pursuing other relationships. Cast: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Ari Graynor, Chris Messina, Elijah Wood, Emma Roberts.

For A Good Time, Call… / U.S.A. (Director: Jamie Travis, Screenwriters: Katie Anne Naylon & Lauren Anne Miller) — Lauren and Katie move in together after a loss of a relationship and a loss of a rent controlled home, respectively. When Lauren learns what Katie does for a living the two enter into a wildly unconventional business venture. Cast: Ari Graynor, Lauren Anne Miller, Justin Long, Mark Webber, James Wolk.

GOATS / U.S.A. (Director: Christopher Neil, Screenwriter: Mark Jude Poirier) — Ellis leaves his unconventional desert home to attend the disciplined and structured Gates Academy. There, he reconnects with his estranged father and for the first time questions the family dynamics. Cast: David Duchovny, Vera Farmiga, Graham Phillips, Justin Kirk, Ty Burrell.

LAY THE FAVORITE / U.S.A. (Director: Stephen Frears, Screenwriter: D.V. DeVincentis) — An adventurous young woman gets involved with a group of geeky older men who have found a way to work the sportsbook system in Las Vegas to their advantage. Cast: Bruce Willis, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rebecca Hall.

Liberal Arts / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Josh Radnor) — When 30-something Jesse is invited back to his alma mater, he falls for a 19-year-old college student and is faced with the powerful attraction that springs up between them. Cast: Josh Radnor, Elizabeth Olsen, Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney, John Magaro, Elizabeth Reaser.

Price Check / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michael Walker) — Pete is having trouble resolving a happy marriage and family life with rising debt and a job he hates. When his new boss pulls him into the maelstrom that is her life, money and opportunities come his way, but at what price? Cast: Parker Posey, Eric Mabius, Annie Parisse, Josh Pais, Cheyenne Jackson.

Red Hook Summer / U.S.A. (Director: Spike Lee, Screenwriters: James McBride, Spike Lee) — A young Atlanta boy spends his summer in Brooklyn with his grandfather, who he’s never seen before. Cast: Clarke Peters, Jules Brown, Toni Lysaith, James Ransone, Thomas Jefferson Byrd.

Red Lights / U.S.A., Spain (Director and screenwriter: Rodrigo Cortés) — Psychologist Margaret Matheson and her assistant study paranormal activity, which leads them to investigate a world-renowned psychic. Cast: Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Elizabeth Olsen, Toby Jones.

Robot and Frank / U.S.A. (Director: Jake Schreier, Screenwriter: Christopher Ford) — A curmudgeonly older dad’s grown kids install a robot as his caretaker. Cast: Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, Liv Tyler.

SALT LAKE CITY GALA FILM

Shadow Dancer / United Kingdom (Director: James Marsh, Screenwriter: Tom Bradby) — When a widowed mother is arrested in an aborted bomb plot she must make hard choices to protect her son in this heart-wrenching thriller. Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Aidan Gillen, Domhnall Gleeson, with Gillian Anderson and Clive Owen.

The Words / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Brian Klugman, Lee Sternthal) — Aspiring writer Rory Jansen finds another man’s haunting memories in a collection of lost stories and claims them as his own, propelling him to literary stardom. Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde with Zoe Saldana. CLOSING NIGHT FILM Read More »

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2012 Sundance Film Festival Sets Competition Slate

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: The Sundance Institute has unveiled the U.S. and World Cinema Dramatic and Documentary competition slate for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival that runs January 19-29. There is a total of 110 features. At the Gotham Awards earlier this week, both agents and distributors felt there would a bounty of promising films with no distribution. That could make for a lot of dealmaking, which is certainly the way it went down last January in Park City.

Here are the selections in all categories:

U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION
The world premieres of 16 American narrative feature films.

Beasts Of The Southern Wild / U.S.A. (Director: Benh Zeitlin, Screenwriters: Benh Zeitlin, Lucy Alibar) — Waters gonna rise up, wild animals gonna rerun from the grave, and everything south of the levee is goin’ under, in this tale of a six year old named Hushpuppy, who lives with her daddy at the edge of the world. Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry.

The Comedy / U.S.A. (Director: Rick Alverson, Screenwriters: Rick Alverson, Robert Donne, Colm O’Leary) — Indifferent even to the prospects of inheriting his father’s estate, Swanson whiles away his days with a group of aging Brooklyn hipsters, engaging in small acts of recreational cruelty and pacified boredom. Cast: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, Kate Lyn Sheil, Alexia Rassmusen, Gregg Turkington.

The End Of Love / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Mark Webber) — A young father unravels following the loss of the mother of his child. Cast: Mark Webber, Shannyn Sossamon, Michael Cera, Jason Ritter, Amanda Seyfried, Frankie Shaw.

Filly Brown / U.S.A. (Directors: Youssef Delara, Michael D. Olmos, Screenwriter: Youssef Delara) — A Hip Hop-driven drama about a Mexican girl who rises to fame and consciousness as she copes with the incarceration of her mother through music. Cast: Lou Diamond Phillips, Gina Rodriguez, Jenni Rivera, Edward James Olmos.

The First Time / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jonathan Kasdan) — Two high schoolers meet at a party. Over the course of a weekend, things turn magical, romantic, complicated and funny, as they discover what it’s like to fall in love for the first time. Cast: Brittany Robertson, Dylan O’Brien, Craig Roberts, James Frecheville, Victoria Justice.

For Ellen / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: So Yong Kim) — A struggling musician takes an overnight long-distance drive in order to fight his estranged wife for custody of their young daughter. Cast: Paul Dano, Jon Heder, Jena Malone, Margarita Levieva, Shay Mandigo.

Hello I Must Be Going / U.S.A. (Director: Todd Louiso, Screenwriter: Sarah Koskoff) — Divorced, childless, demoralized and condemned to move back in with her parents at the age of 35, Amy Minsky’s prospects look bleak – until the unexpected attention of a teenage boy changes everything. Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Blythe Danner, Christopher Abbott, John Rubinstein, Julie White. DAY ONE FILM

Keep The Lights On / U.S.A. (Director: Ira Sachs, Screenwriters: Ira Sachs, Mauricio Zacharias) — An autobiographically inspired story of a passionate long-term relationship between two men driven by addiction and secrets but bound by love and hopefulness. Cast: Thure Lindhardt, Zachary Booth, Julianne Nicholson, Souleymane Sy Savane, Paprika Steen.

LUV / U.S.A. (Director: Sheldon Candis, Screenwriters: Sheldon Candis, Justin Wilson) — An orphaned 11-year-old boy is forced to face the unpleasant truth about his beloved uncle during one harrowing day in the streets of Baltimore. Cast: Common, Michael Rainey Jr., Dennis Haysbert, Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton.

Middle Of Nowhere / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ava DuVernay) — When her husband is incarcerated, an African-American woman struggles to maintain her marriage and her identity. Cast: Emayatzy Corinealdi, David Oyelowo, Omari Hardwick, Lorraine Touissant, Edwina Findley.

Nobody Walks / U.S.A. (Director: Ry Russo-Young, Screenwriters: Lena Dunham, Ry Russo-Young) — Martine, a young artist from New York, is invited into the home of a hip, liberal LA family for a week. Her presence unravels the family’s carefully maintained status quo, and a mess of sexual and emotional entanglements ensues. Cast: John Krasinski, Olivia Thirlby, Rosemarie DeWitt, India Ennenga, Justin Kirk.

Safety Not Guaranteed / U.S.A. (Director: Colin Trevorrow, Screenwriter: Derek Connolly) — A trio of magazine employees investigate a classified ad seeking a partner for time travel. One employee develops feelings for the paranoid but compelling loner and seeks to discover what he’s really up to. Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni.

Save The Date / U.S.A. (Director: Michael Mohan, Screenwriters: Jeffrey Brown, Egan Reich, Michael Mohan) — As her sister Beth prepares to get married, Sarah finds herself caught up in an intense post-breakup rebound. The two fumble through the redefined emotional landscape of modern day relationships, forced to relearn how to love and be loved. Cast: Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, Martin Starr, Geoffrey Arend, Mark Webber.

Simon Killer / France, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Antonio Campos) — A recent college graduate goes to Paris after breaking up with his girlfriend of 5 years. Once there, he falls in love with a young prostitute and their fateful journey begins. Cast: Brady Corbet, Mati Diop, Constance Rousseau, Michael Abiteboul, Solo.

Smashed / U.S.A. (Director: James Ponsoldt, Screenwriters: Susan Burke, James Ponsoldt) — Kate and Charlie are a young married couple whose bond is built on a mutual love of music, laughter and… drinking. When Kate decides to get sober, her new lifestyle brings troubling issues to the surface and calls into question her relationship with Charlie. Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Octavia Spencer, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally.

The Surrogate / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ben Lewin) — Mark O’Brien, a 36-year-old poet and journalist with an iron lung, decides he no longer wishes to be a virgin. With the help of his therapist and the guidance of his priest, he contacts a professional sex surrogate to take him on a journey to manhood. Cast: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy. Read More »

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