Sundance announces Premieres lineup

Posted by on Dec 5, 2011 in News & Reviews | No Comments

Stephen Frears, Spike Lee pics to bow at fest; documentaries also announced

Fifteen world-premiere titles from filmmakers including Stephen Frears, Julie Delpy and Spike Lee are set to screen next month in Sundance’s Premieres section, which, for the first time in recent memory, will feature not a single pic with distribution already in place.

“It’s a bit of a new paradigm, even for us,” festival director John Cooper said before announcing the third and final feature lineup for the 28th annual event, including the eight world preems bowing in Documentary Premieres. Describing the no-distrib situation as “a fluke in some ways … a curiosity, not a trend,” Cooper said he and his staff are anticipating typically healthy sales activity during the fest’s Jan. 19-29 run in Park City, Utah.

The number of Premieres bowing at Sundance with distribution varies from year to year. The most recent edition featured just two, Fox Searchlight’s “Cedar Rapids” and “Win Win,” while the 2010 fest boasted a whopping five: “Get Low” and “Please Give” (Sony Classics), “Jack Goes Boating” (Overture), “Nowhere Boy” (the Weinstein Co.) and “The Runaways” (Apparition).

Given that the Premieres section is generally reserved for the festival’s starriest, most commercial fare, buyer interest will be heavily focused on such distrib-seeking titles as Frears’ gambling pic “Lay the Favorite,” toplining Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Rebecca Hall; Delpy’s “2 Days in New York,” starring the helmer and Chris Rock; Lee’s “Red Hook Summer”; Leslye Headland’s “Bachelorette,” starring Dunst, Isla Fisher and Lizzy Caplan; Marshall Lewy’s “California Solo,” featuring Robert Carlyle; and Lee Toland Krieger’s “Celeste and Jesse Forever,” toplining Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg.

Also lined up for Premieres berths are Jamie Travis’ “For a Good Time, Call … ” with Ari Graynor and Lauren Anne Miller; Christopher Neil’s “Goats,” featuring David Duchovny and Vera Farmiga; Michael Walker’s “Price Check,” starring Parker Posey and Eric Mabius; Rodrigo Cortes’ “Red Lights,” with Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver and Robert De Niro; and Jake Schreier’s “Robot and Frank,” starring Langella and Sarandon, which will receive a Salt Lake City gala on Jan. 20.

The section will feature two helmers who have previously competed at Sundance: James Marsh (“Man on Wire,” “Project Nim”) for his thriller “Shadow Dancer,” starring Andrea Riseborough; and Josh Radnor (“Happythankyoumoreplease”) for “Liberal Arts,” featuring Elizabeth Olsen and the director. Nicholas Jarecki, brother of filmmakers Andrew and Eugene, joins the lineup with his first fiction feature, “Arbitrage,” starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Tim Roth. (It’ll be a Jarecki-heavy festival: Eugene Jarecki’s “The House I Live In” will bow in the documentary competition.)

Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal’s “The Words,” starring Bradley Cooper, has been selected as the festival’s closing-night film.

On Jan. 26, Premieres will host an interactive live performance/exhibition featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his collaborative HitRecord production company, inviting audiences to engage using their digital devices. HitRecord was launched in the 2010 fest’s New Frontier section.

Of the eight nonfiction titles slated for Documentary Premieres, the Peter Jackson-produced, Amy Berg-directed “West of Memphis” looks to attract significant attention as the latest film to chronicle the travails of the West Memphis Three. Two other docus in the selection are centered around music: Joe Berlinger’s “Untitled Paul Simon Project” and “Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap,” the directing debut of rapper-actor Ice-T.

Rounding out the nonfiction slate are Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ “About Face,” Mark Kitchell’s “A Fierce Green Fire,” Stacy Peralta’s “Bones Brigade: An Autobiography,” Rory Kennedy’s “Ethel” and James Redford’s “The D Word: Understanding Dyslexia.” Redford is the son of Sundance Institute founder Robert Redford.

Inaugurated as a fixture of the Sundance program earlier this year, Documentary Premieres will be based primarily at the 550-seat Park City Municipal Athletic & Recreation Center, previously known as the Racquet Club. Venue was shut down this year for remodeling.


“…Red Lights – Directed by Rodrigo Cortes. A psychologist and her assistant with an interest in paranormal activity find themselves investigating a world-renowned psychic. With Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Elizabeth Olsen and Toby Jones. …”

By Justin Chang

Read full article | Variety