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2013 Sundance Film Festival Preview

Last year’s Sundance Film Festival was an amazing experience in which I saw 22 films in one week; you can read my complete 2012 Sundance Film Festival Wrap-Up article here.  This year, our group shall be there for a few more days to get in almost the entire festival (Jan. 17-27).  The 2013 Program Guide features countless promising films and panel discussions.  It should be another wonderful, albeit cold and sleep-deprived, experience in Park City, Utah.  Keep an eye on The Modern Allegory’s Twitter account and/or Facebook page for brief updates throughout the festival, and eventually a 2013 Wrap-Up article and reviews for each screening will be posted.

I divided up this wrap-up article into two main sections: 1) my tentative schedule, and 2) other notable films – the second section is on PAGE 2.  In the first section, I pre-ranked the films I plan to see, then I list out my tentative schedule with brief synopses and reviews.  The listings have links to the film’s Sundance page and its IMDB page (the title link sends you to the film’s IMDB page; the Sundance link will be provided at the end of each review snippet). I haven’t heard or read much about the World Cinema or Documentary categories, so most of my tentative schedule is with U.S. Dramatic Competition films, Premieres, Short Film Programs, and Midnight at Park City movies (I’m sure by the middle of the Festival we’ll hear about what international and documentary features are buzzing and worth seeing).


Pre-Festival Rankings of Tentatively Scheduled Films

(*asterisked films purchased in advance via package or advanced tickets)

  1. Stoker
  2. Don Jon’s Addiction*
  3. Upstream Color*
  4. Before Midnight
  5. The Way, Way Back
  6. Breathe In
  7. Afternoon Delight
  8. S-VHS*
  9. The East
  10. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
  11. jOBS*
  12. A.C.O.D.*
  13. The Spectacular Now
  14. Once Upon a Quantum Symmetry: Science and Cinema
  15. The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman*
  16. Sweetwater*
  17. Virtually Heroes*
  18. In a World…*
  19. The Lifeguard*
  20. Kill Your Darlings
  21. In Fear*
  22. Touchy Feely*
  23. Mud
  24. Toy’s House*
  25. Prince Avalanche*
  26. The Rambler*
  27. Magic Magic*
  28. Very Good Girls
  29. Shorts Program IV*
  30. Sightseers
  31. Metro Manila*
  32. Hell Baby
  33. Blue Caprice
  34. Shorts Program I

Tentative Schedule

*Asterisked films already purchased – others will be bought at Festival if available*


Friday, January 18



Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: Chris wants to finally show sheltered Tina the world, and he wants to do it his way—on a journey through the British Isles in his beloved Abbey Oxford Caravan, visiting such illustrious sites as the National Tramway Museum, the Ribblehead Viaduct, the Cumberland Pencil Museum, and the rolling countryside in between. But it doesn’t take long for the dream to fade. Litterbugs, noisy teenagers, and prebooked caravan sites soon conspire to shatter Chris’s dreams and send him, and anyone who rubs him the wrong way, over a very jagged edge.

Sundance Category: Spotlight

Director: Ben Wheatley

Stars: Steve Oram, Alice Lowe

Sundance review snippet:

  • Heralding a bold new voice in British genre filmmaking, Ben Wheatley’s third feature continues his recent tear of pitch-black comedies full of violent repercussions (Kill List, Down Terrace). Sightseers premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in the Directors’ Fortnight program and remains one of our favorite comedies of the year. [Sundance Page]




The Spectacular Now

Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: Sutter Keely lives in the now. It’s a good place for him. A high school senior, charming and self-possessed, he’s the life of the party, loves his job at a men’s clothing store, and has no plans for the future. A budding alcoholic, he’s never far from his supersized, whisky-fortified 7UP cup. But after being dumped by his girlfriend, Sutter gets drunk and wakes up on a lawn with Aimee Finicky hovering over him. Not a member of the cool crowd, she’s different: the “nice girl” who reads science fiction and doesn’t have a boyfriend. She does have dreams, while Sutter lives in a world of impressive self-delusion. And yet they’re drawn to each other.

Sundance Category: U.S. Dramatic Competition

Director: James Ponsoldt

Stars: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bob Odenkirk, Miles Teller,

Sundance review snippet:

  • Adapted from Tim Tharp’s novel, The Spectacular Now captures the insecurity and confusion of adolescence without looking for tidy truths. Young actors rarely portray teens with the maturity that Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley display, and they are phenomenal together. Funny, compassionate, and poignant, James Ponsoldt’s third feature again demonstrates his ability to lay bare the souls of his characters. [Sundance Page]




Shorts Program I

Release Date: N/A

Sundance Category: Shorts Competition


–       The tale of Elmer Modlin, who, after appearing in Rosemary’s Baby, fled with his family to a far-off country and shut himself away in a dark apartment for 30 years.

–       A guilt-ridden, but well-intentioned, yuppie goes to great lengths to prove she is a decent person.

–       When two young men photograph a gigantic fish leaping from the sea, their small town becomes a tourist attraction in this story about the old and the new.

–       A mysterious and disturbing suburban narrative about a listless young mother who is torn between family duty and self-serving fantasies.

–       An aspiring drummer enters an elite conservatory’s top jazz orchestra.




Saturday, January 19


Blue Caprice

Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: Blue Caprice is inspired by the Beltway sniper attacks during which two men, John Muhammed and Lee Malvo, conducted a siege of terror on the Washington, D.C. area. Their method: a series of random shootings in public places. Their weapon: a sniper rifle, fired from the trunk of a blue Chevrolet Caprice. The film investigates the genesis of those horrific events from the point of view of the two shooters, whose distorted father-son relationship facilitated their long and bloody journey across America.

Sundance Category: NEXT

Director: Alexandre Moors

Stars: Isaiah Washington, Tequan Richmond, Joey Lauren Adams, Tim Blake Nelson, Al Sapienza

Sundance review snippet:

  • Marked by captivating performances, lyrical camerawork, and a fractured structure, Blue Caprice documents the mechanisms that lead its subjects to embrace physical violence. Eschewing the conventional approach familiar to the genre, director Alexandre Moors utilizes a formidable cinematic lexicon to concoct a harrowing psychological exploration of the two cold-blooded killers that will make a forceful impact on audiences that remains long after the lights come up. [Sundance Page]




Breathe In


Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: As summer turns to fall, music teacher Keith Reynolds privately reminisces about his days as a starving artist in the city. While his wife, Megan, and daughter, Lauren, look forward to Lauren’s final year of high school, Keith clings to those evenings he’s asked to sub as a cellist with a prestigious Manhattan symphony. When Megan decides the family should host foreign exchange student Sophie, the British high school senior soon rekindles an impetuous aspect of Keith’s personality.

Sundance Category: Premieres

Director: Drake Doremus

Stars: Guy Pearce, Felicity Jones, Kyle MacLachlan, Amy Ryan

Sundance review snippet:

  • Drake Doremus, winner of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for Like Crazy, reunites with actress Felicity Jones and cowriter Ben York Jones for this passionate ensemble drama of family dysfunction. Ditching the hand-held aesthetic of his past works, Doremus conceives a grander story of love and heartache, only heightened by his lead character’s symphonic avocation, while maintaining his keen eye for intimate performance. [Sundance Page]






Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: Ellis and Neckbone are best friends approaching the twilight of their youth. While exploring, they stumble upon the hiding place of charismatic outlaw Mud (played with controlled charm by a well-cast Matthew McConaughey), who takes a quick liking to the boys and recruits them to his cause: the search for true love and a clean getaway.

Sundance Category: Spotlight

Director: Jeff Nichols

Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Paulson, Michael Shannon, Sam Shepard

Sundance review snippet:

  • Illustrating a vibrant imagination, sumptuous attention to detail, and a remarkable gift for extracting magnetic performances from a talented ensemble, Nichols hurtles us into the middle of a lush adventure, ensnaring the excitement every youngster feels when trouble lurks everywhere and anything is possible. Steeped in the vanishing myth of the Deep South, a place that Nichols dearly loves, Mud’s handcrafted vision shines through in each richly textured frame and proves a tall tale for the ages. [Sundance Page]




Sunday, January 20


Ain’t Them Bodies Saints

Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: Bob Muldoon and Ruth Guthrie, an impassioned young outlaw couple on an extended crime spree, are finally apprehended by lawmen after a shootout in the Texas hills. Although Ruth wounds a local officer, Bob takes the blame. But four years later, Bob escapes from prison and sets out to find Ruth and their daughter, born during his incarceration.

Sundance Category: U.S. Dramatic

Director: David Lowery

Stars: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Keith Carradine, Rami Malek,

Sundance review snippet:

  • The barren landscapes of David Lowery’s debut feature evoke the mythology of westerns and saturate the dramatic space with fatalism and an aching sense of loss. Aided by powerfully restrained performances by Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, and Ben Foster, Lowery incorporates an unnerving tension into the film, teetering it at the edge of violence.
  • The beautiful, irreconcilable dilemma of the story is that Ruth—compelled by the responsibilities of motherhood and her evolving relationship with the deputy she shot—remains haunted by her intense feelings for Bob. Each of them longs for some form of peace. Ironically, it’s Bob, the unrepentant criminal trapped in the romantic image of a bygone past, who is driven by an almost righteous sense of clarity. Following in the footsteps of Badlands and Bonnie and Clyde, Lowery’s humanism transcends the genre. [Sundance Page]




The East


Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: Someone is attacking big corporate CEOs and forcing them to consume harmful products they manufacture. An elite private intelligence firm is called into action and contracts ex-FBI agent Sarah Moss to infiltrate a mysterious anarchist collective, The East, suspected to be responsible. Skilled, focused, and bent on success, Sarah goes undercover and dedicates herself to taking down the organization. She soon finds, however, that the closer she gets to the action, the more she sympathizes with the group’s charismatic leaders.

Sundance Category: Premieres

Director: Zal Batmanglij

Stars: Ellen Page, Alexander Skarsgård, Julia Ormond, Brit Marling, Patricia Clarkson

Sundance review snippet:

  • After the warm reception he received for 2011’s Sound of My Voice, director Zal Batmanglij returns to the Sundance Film Festival with this stunning sophomore effort, which marks his second

    collaboration with the irresistibly alluring, multitalented Brit Marling. Featuring a fantastic supporting cast, including Patricia Clarkson, Ellen Page, and Alexander Skarsgård, The East is a taut and timely thriller that resonates deeply with the complexity of today’s explosive socioeconomic landscape. [Sundance Page]





Release Date: March 1, 2013 (limited)

Sundance Synopsis: After India’s father dies in an auto accident, her Uncle Charlie, whom she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her emotionally unstable mother, Evelyn. Soon after his arrival, India begins to suspect this mysterious, charming man has disturbing ulterior motives, but instead of feeling outrage or horror, the friendless girl becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

Sundance Category: Premieres

Director: Chan-wook Park

Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode, Dermot Mulroney, Lucas Till, Jacki Weaver, Alden Ehrenreich

Sundance review snippet:

  • Visionary filmmaker Park Chan-Wook, whose Old Boy and Three…Extremes both played at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005, returns with another macabre story, one that marks his first venture into English-language cinema. Armed with an inspired script, a world-class cast, and a wickedly playful nature, he subverts audience expectations by employing delightful visual trickery and placing a magnet over the moral compass of the film, giving complex and sympathetic motivations for the characters’ violent actions. Featuring a gasp-inducing performance from Nicole Kidman, Stoker is a haunting, Hitchcockian tale as unsettling as it is stunning. [Sundance Page]




Before Midnight


Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: We meet Celine and Jesse nine years after their last rendezvous. Almost two decades have passed since their first encounter on a train bound for Vienna, and we now find them in their early forties in Greece. Before the clock strikes midnight, we will again become part of their story.

Sundance Category: Premieres

Director: Richard Linklater

Stars: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy

Sundance review snippet:

  • Director Richard Linklater continues his enchanting tale of a chance meeting between two strangers, bringing to it a nuanced perspective only gained by years lived. As it does in each film in the series, life carries with it new responsibilities and attitudes, forcing the two dreamers to reassess what they want next. Bolstered by an increasingly refined onscreen chemistry between lead actors Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight is a fitting third chapter in one of the great love stories of American independent cinema. [Sundance Page]




Monday, January 21


Upstream Color*

Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: Kris is derailed from her life when she is drugged by a small-time thief. But something bigger is going on. She is unknowingly drawn into the life cycle of a presence that permeates the microscopic world, moving to nematodes, plant life, livestock, and back again. Along the way, she finds another being—a familiar, who is equally consumed by the larger force. The two search urgently for a place of safety within each other as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of their wrecked lives.

Sundance Category: U.S. Dramatic Competition

Director: Shane Carruth

Stars: Shane Carruth, Amy Seimetz, Andrew Sensenig, Brina Palencia, Mollie Milligan

Sundance review snippet:

  • Shane Carruth’s sensuously directed and much anticipated sophomore effort (his feature debut, Primer, won the Sundance Film Festival 2004 Grand Jury Prize) is a truly remarkable film that lies beyond the power of language to communicate while it delivers a cohesive sensory experience. With its muscular cinematic language rooted in the powerful yearnings felt before words can be formed, Upstream Color is an entirely original, mythic, romantic thriller that goes in search of truths that lie just beyond our reach. [Sundance Page]




The Way, Way Back


Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: The Way, Way Back tells the story of 14-year-old Duncan’s awkward, funny, and sometimes painful summer vacation with his mother, Pam, her overbearing boyfriend, Trent, and his daughter, Steph. Although Duncan has a tough time fitting in and finding his place, he does find an unlikely ally and mentor in Owen, a carefree employee at the local water park

where Duncan gets a job. Over the course of the summer, as his mother drifts further away, Duncan—with encouragement from Owen—begins to open up and come into his own.

Sundance Category: Premieres

Director: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash

Stars: Steve Carrell, AnnaSophia Robb, Sam Rockwell, Amanda Peet, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, Robert Capron, Jim Rash

Sundance review snippet:

  • Mining the caverns of human vulnerability for the humor necessary to make life bearable, first-time directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash have transformed their terrific screenplay into a bittersweet comedy that is both charming and insightful. Boasting an extraordinary ensemble of some of the most revered actors working today, as well as a young actor destined to join their ranks, The Way, Way Back brims with nostalgia for the magical time of adolescence, as well as the great coming-of-age films of the 1980s that captured its wide-eyed confusion and wonder. [Sundance Page]




Afternoon Delight

Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: Rachel is a quick-witted and lovable, yet tightly coiled, thirtysomething steeped in the creative class of Los Angeles’s bohemian, affluent Silver Lake neighborhood. Everything looks just right—chic modernist home, successful husband, adorable child, and a hipster wardrobe. So why is she going out of her gourd with ennui? Plagued by purposelessness, Rachel visits a strip club to spice up her marriage and ends up meeting McKenna, a stripper whom she becomes obsessed with saving. She decides to adopt McKenna as her live-in nanny, and this bold move unleashes unimagined and colorful waves of change into her life and community. It becomes clear that Rachel is feverishly, desperately trying to save her own sense of who she is.

Sundance Category: U.S. Dramatic Competition

Director: Jill Soloway

Stars: Juno Temple, Josh Radnor, Jane Lynch, Annie Mumolo

Sundance review snippet:

  • In a perfect storm of hilarious writing, performance, and direction, first-timer Jill Soloway pinpoints the ambivalence of privileged, educated women seduced by an idealized vision of marriage and motherhood, yet deadened by the stultifying realities of preschool auctions, lackluster sex lives, and careers that have gone kaput. Afternoon Delight compassionately revels in the existential trials of a Peter Pan generation battling too many choices, resisting adulthood, and distractedly tapping their iPhones instead of tuning in to what matters. [Sundance Page]




Tuesday, January 22


The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman*


Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: Obeying the last wish of his deceased mother, young American Charlie travels to Eastern Europe with no plans. He lands in a truly unknown place—wilder, weirder, and more foreign than he could have ever imagined. Committed to spontaneous, explosive, and instinctive acts, Charlie now finds himself pursuing an equally lost soul named Gabi, a mysterious Romanian woman unable to shake her dark, violent past.

Sundance Category: Premieres

Director: Fredrik Bond

Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Aubrey Plaza, Rupert Grint, Evan Rachel Wood, Mads Mikkelsen, Til Schweiger, Melissa Leo

Sundance review snippet:

  • Fredrik Bond’s stylistically assured debut feature spins a euphoric fable of high-stakes romance, where wearing your heart on your sleeve will leave you a bloody mess. A dynamic lead performance by Shia LaBeouf sees him pummeled at every turn as he desperately fights for the magnetic Evan Rachel Wood. The couple squares off against a dream pairing of movie bad guys: Mads Mikkelsen and Til Schweiger. This gorgeously shot adventure, with a hard-charging score setting its pace, provides a truly unique vision of the pain and ecstasy of love. [Sundance Page]




Once Upon a Quantum Symmetry: Science & Cinema [Panel Discussion]


Release Date: N/A

Sundance Synopsis: Ever since Méliès shot a rocket to the moon, cinema has had a wondrous fascination with science and technology. Movies can show us the working science of today, and with surprising prescience, the science of tomorrow. During our 10-year collaboration with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, we’ve traveled from synapses in the brain to distant universes—hitting an infinite number of galaxies along the way, and proving that both scientists and filmmakers are creative, imaginative, speculative, and adventurous.

Sundance Category: Panel Discussion


  • Paula Apsell (moderator), director of the WGBH Science Unit and senior executive producer of the nation’s most watched science series, PBS’s NOVA, has overseen hundreds of acclaimed, award-winning science documentaries, including The Fabric of the Cosmos with Brian Greene.
  • Darren Aronofsky won the 1998 Sundance Film Festival Directing Award for his first feature, Pi. His other films—Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, The Fountain, and Black Swan—have garnered numerous Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Independent Spirit Award nominations and wins.
  • Scott Burns is a screenwriter, director, and producer whose screenplays include Contagion, The Informant!, The Bourne Ultimatum, and Pu-239, which he also directed. He was a producer on the Academy Award–winning An Inconvenient Truth.
  • Dr. André Fenton, professor at New York University’s Center for Neural Science, is a neuroscientist, biomedical engineer, and entrepreneur whose work relates to memory, electrical brain activity, and cognitive dysfunction.
  • Dr. Lisa Randall studies theoretical particle physics and cosmology at Harvard University, where she is a Frank J. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science. She is also the author of Warped Passages and Knocking on Heaven’s Door and the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees.




Very Good Girls


Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: Best friends—introspective Lilly and free-spirited Gerry—spend their last summer at home in New York City before parting ways for college. The girls meet Brooklyn boy David, whom they both fall for, and Lilly soon begins a secret relationship with him. As Lilly’s home life falls apart after she discovers her father’s affair and Gerry becomes more obsessed with David, Lilly seeks solace in her first romance. However, a tragedy in Gerry’s family catapults Lilly back into reality, and she must face the consequences of her actions.

Sundance Category: Premieres

Director: Naomi Foner

Stars: Dakota Fanning, Elizabeth Olsen, Demi Moore, Peter Sarsgaard, Ellen Barkin, Clark Gregg, Richard Dreyfuss

Sundance review snippet:

  • Very Good Girls is a refreshing representation of contemplative, smart, and curious teenage girls, who experience their everyday lives with a sophistication and grace that most of their peers lack. Naomi Foner’s intimate story emanates a raw nostalgia for that painful time when we waver precariously between adolescence and young adulthood. [Sundance Page]




Virtually Heroes*


Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: A sarcastic, self-aware character in a video game, Sgt. Books, becomes frustrated by the screwy logic of his universe: the pointless battles, superpowerful bosses, and an endless supply of virtual Vietcong. He can’t get the girl who appears at the end of each level, and he can’t get through to his gung-ho partner. To find answers to the questions posed by his odd existence, Books abandons his mission and seeks help from a straight-talking monk, delightfully played by another onscreen hero who also once received words of wisdom from a man in a robe.

Sundance Category: Park City at Midnight

Director: G.J. Echternkamp

Stars: Robert Baker, Brent Chase, Katie Savoy, Mark Hamill

Sundance review snippet:

  • The first Roger Corman production to screen at the Sundance Film Festival, Virtually Heroes is a war picture, a satire of video-game culture, a buddy comedy, and an existential mind trip wrapped up into one outrageous film that works on many surprising levels. Injecting the low-budget/high-concept film with a full dose of razor-sharp wit, director G. J. Ecthernkamp embraces the base and the profound as he seeks to unlock the cheat codes of life. [Sundance Page]




Wednesday, January 23

Magic Magic*


Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: If Alicia could just get some sleep, everything would be all right. As she and her close friend Sarah make their way through rural Chile with Sarah’s boyfriend, his sister, and their strange American friend Brink, Alicia’s insomnia slowly takes control. The difference between what is happening in reality and what is happening in her own mind becomes less and less clear to her. After she takes a stab at hypnosis to help solve the problem, things only get worse. As her waking nightmare continues, will her “friends” be her salvation or her downfall?

Sundance Category: Park City at Midnight

Director: Sebastián Silva

Stars: Juno Temple, Michael Cera, Emily Browning, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Agustín Silva

Sundance review snippet:

  • Writer/director Sebastián Silva crafts an unsettling film that examines sexual repression and the fear of loss. With vivid characters in conflict, evocative landscapes, and Christopher Doyle and Glenn Kaplan’s fluid cinematography, Silva shows how the smallest choices we make can have significant and insurmountable consequences. [Sundance Page]




In a World…*

Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: Carol Solomon is a struggling vocal coach. Propelled by the hubris of her father, Sam Sotto, the reigning king of movie-trailer voice-over artists, Carol musters the courage to pursue her secret aspiration to be a voice-over star. Her fiery sister, Dani, becomes a trusted confidante, and Carol engages the skills of a charming sound techie named Louis. Armed with renewed confidence, Carol lands her first voice-over gig—a primo spot—nabbing the job from industry bad boy Gustav Warner. And then the real trouble begins. Carol becomes entangled in a web of dysfunction, sexism, unmitigated ego, and pride.

Sundance Category: U.S. Dramatic Competition

Director: Lake Bell

Stars: Lake Bell, Fred Melamed, Demetri Martin, Rob Corddry, Nick Offerman, Geena Davis, Jeff Garlin

Sundance review snippet:

  • Lake Bell returns (her short film Worst Enemy played at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival) with her enchanting feature directorial debut. The multitalented Bell also wrote and stars in this hilarious comedy. With the help of a captivating ensemble cast that includes Fred Melamed, Demetri Martin, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, and Rob Corddry, In A World… brings its viewer into an idiosyncratic world where one woman fights the odds and finally finds her voice. [Sundance Page]






Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: Carter has spent much of his life mediating fights between his acrimoniously divorced, ill-behaved mother and father and taking on the role of designated authority figure to his carefree younger brother, Trey. Inspired by Trey’s sudden engagement, Carter resolves to negotiate a truce between his parents, a process that nearly unhinges him. Adding insult to injury, a frantic sprint back to his childhood therapist, Dr. Judith, reveals he was a prime subject in her self-help book on the “least-parented, least-nurtured generation” ever. Dr. Judith may not be able to help him, but she’s delighted he’s come back and inspired a sequel.

Sundance Category: Premieres

Director: Stu Zicherman

Stars: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jessica Alba, Adam Scott, Richard Jenkins, Jane Lynch, Catherine O’Hara, Amy Poehler, Clark Duke

Sundance review snippet:

  • Adam Scott’s increasingly befuddled everyman is flanked by vivacious comic performances from Catherine O’Hara and Amy Poehler as his stubborn mom and sassy stepmom, respectively. Stuart Zicherman’s charming feature debut explores the joys and frustrations of life in a modern family, allowing that romance is never impossible, even for a hopelessly scarred adult child of divorce. [Sundance Page]




Shorts Program IV*

Release Date: N/A

Sundance Category: Shorts Competition


–       A man wakes up with a hangover, only to discover the consequences of his actions.

–       This dialogue-free film about an execution describes what happens when the system becomes more important than human life.

–       An African family, lost in America, travels to a Louisiana church to find a cure for its problem child.

–       After a career spent mining his music from the shadows, one fan creates a chain reaction for the lead singer of a black metal band.

–       A man arrives in beautiful Jeju Island and pays a woman to act as his partner while he visits his ill father in this tale of beauty among base human acts.

  • GUN (17 minutes)

–       Roy purchases a handgun to protect his wife and newborn baby after a terrifying home invasion. The newfound sense of power Roy feels carrying the weapon becomes an obsession, leading him down a reckless path that may have tragic consequences.

–       Fatine has ventured far from the village to meet her older lover. When a small boy catches her, all she wants to do is go home.




In Fear*


Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: In Jeremy Lovering’s chilling debut, a young couple fights to survive one night-turned-nightmare. Driving to a music festival, Tom and Lucy have plans to stay at a countryside hotel. But with hotel signs leading them in circles and darkness falling, they soon become lost in a maze of country roads…and the target of an unknown tormentor.

Sundance Category:

Director: Jeremy Lovering

Stars: Alice Englert, Allen Leech, Iain De Caestecker

Sundance review snippet:

  • Reminiscent of vintage psychological thrillers and bolstered by newcomers Iain De Caestecker and Alice Englert in its main roles, In Fear plays out in real time and hinges on a claustrophobic, unrelentingly tense visual style. Looking to shed pretense and genuinely scare his actors, Lovering withheld the script and often concealed what was about to happen to the characters. Add a dark forest, and the fear became real.
  • Though propelled by visceral thrills, the film transcends genre and offers a study in fear itself, creating a cerebral fable in which fear—of the dark, of the unknown, of ourselves—governs our nature, compels our choices, and may well seal Tom and Lucy’s fate. [Sundance Page]




Thursday, January 24


Prince Avalanche*


Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: An odd couple of sorts, meditative and stern Alvin and his girlfriend’s brother, Lance, dopey and insecure, leave the city behind to spend the summer in solitude repainting traffic lines down the center of a country highway ravaged by wildfire. As they sink into their job in the remarkable landscape, they learn more than they want to about each other and their own limitations. An unlikely friendship develops through humor and nasty exchanges, leading to surprising affection.

Sundance Category: Premieres

Director: David Gordon Green

Stars: Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch, Lance LeGault

Sundance review snippet:

  • Adapted from Icelandic film Either Way, Prince Avalanche is driven by wonderful performances by Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch, and Lance LeGault. Writer/director David Gordon Green gets back to his independent roots with this character study, which shows his knack for realistically capturing people and finding meaning in their lives and dreams. With a soundtrack by Explosions in the Sky and David Wingo and gorgeous cinematography by Tim Orr, Prince Avalanche bucks convention by exploring male bonding in a refreshingly genuine way. [Sundance Page]




Toy’s House*

Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: Joe Toy, on the verge of adolescence, finds himself increasingly frustrated by his single father, Frank’s, attempts to manage his life. Declaring his freedom once and for all, he escapes to a clearing in the woods with his best friend, Patrick, and a strange kid named Biaggio and announces that they are going to build a house there—free from responsibility and parents. Once their makeshift abode is finished, the three young men find themselves masters of their own destiny, alone in the woods.

Sundance Category: U.S. Dramatic Competition

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Stars: Alison Brie, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Nick Robinson

Sundance review snippet:

  • Jordan Vogt-Roberts, director of the short Successful Alcoholics, which screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, returns with a feature film debut fueled by teenage angst and childlike imagination. Anchored by the comedic performances of newcomers Nick Robinson, Moises Arias, and Gabriel Basso, Vogt-Roberts and screenwriter Chris Galletta create a humorous coming-of-age tale that deftly combines moments of heartfelt rebellion and complete lunacy. [Sundance Page]






Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: Inside a darkened house looms a column of TVs littered with VHS tapes, a pagan shrine to forgotten analog gods. The screens crackle and pop endlessly with monochrome vistas of static—white noise permeating the brain and fogging concentration. But you must fight the urge to relax: this is no mere movie night. Those obsolete spools contain more than just magnetic tape. They are imprinted with the very soul of evil.

Sundance Category: Park City at Midnight

Sundance review snippet:

  • From the demented minds that brought you last year’s V/H/S comes S-VHS, an all-new anthology of dread, madness, and gore. This follow-up ventures even further down the demented path blazed by its predecessor, discovering new and terrifying territory in the genre. This is modern horror at its most inventive, shrewdly subverting our expectations about viral videos in ways that are just as satisfying as they are sadistic. The result is the rarest of all tapes—a second generation with no loss of quality. [Sundance Page]




Touchy Feely*

Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: What happens when a family’s delicate psychic balance suddenly unravels? Abby is a free-spirited massage therapist. Her brother, Paul, an emotional zombie, owns a flagging dental practice, where he enlists the assistance of his equally emotionally stunted daughter, Jenny. Suddenly, transformation touches everyone. Abby develops an uncontrollable aversion to bodily contact, which seriously hinders her chosen profession and the passionate love life she once shared with her boyfriend. Meanwhile, rumors of Paul’s “healing touch” begin to miraculously invigorate his practice. As Abby navigates through an identity crisis, her brother discovers a whole new side of himself.

Sundance Category: U.S. Dramatic Competition

Director: Lynn Shelton

Stars: Ellen Page, Rosemarie DeWitt, Allison Janney, Scoot McNairy, Ron Livingston, Josh Pais

Sundance review snippet:

  • Boasting superb performances from an ensemble cast that includes Rosemarie DeWitt, Josh Pais, Ellen Page, Scoot McNairy, Allison Janney, Ron Livingston, and newcomer Tomo Nakayama, Touchy Feely is about learning to live in your own skin—literally and figuratively. Written and directed by talented Sundance alumnus Lynn Shelton (Humpday, Your Sister’s Sister), Touchy Feely bristles with originality, coupled with Shelton’s trademark sensitivity to the foibles of human nature. [Sundance Page]




The Rambler*


Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: Upon release from prison, a solitary man known only as “the Rambler” embarks on a mysterious journey en route to reconnecting with his long-lost brother. Traversing treacherous back roads, lost highways, and isolated small towns, he unearths a multitude of bizarre and wickedly depraved slices of Americana.

Sundance Category: Park City at Midnight

Director: Calvin Reeder

Stars: Dermot Mulroney, Lindsay Pulsipher, Natasha Lyonne

Sundance review snippet:

  • In this expansion of his short film of the same name, which screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008, writer/director Calvin Lee Reeder absorbs the audience into his surreal universe, complete with a rich visual palette and an immersive soundscape. Anchored by Dermot Mulroney’s brilliantly laconic lead performance, The Rambler is a seminal road movie, filled with bizarre supernatural hallucinations, shocking episodes of violence, and enough dark humor that some twisted minds may even call it a comedy. No matter how you attempt to categorize this film, you’re not likely to find anything quite like it for miles around. [Sundance Page]




Friday, January 25




Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: Against the backdrop of the American Old West, newlyweds Miguel and Sarah struggle to make a living cultivating their small patch of land. Soon a much bigger struggle arises as powerful landowner and community preacher Prophet Josiah makes a play for their property. As he launches his diabolical plot to take their land, an eccentric big-city sheriff comes to town. Things soon go from bad to worse, culminating in a jaw-dropping, hell-hath-no-fury showdown.

Sundance Category: Premieres

Director: Logan Miller

Stars: Vic Browder, Chad Brummett, Jenny Gabrielle, Ed Harris, Jason Isaacs, January Jones,

Sundance review snippet:

  • Sweetwater boldly establishes its own identity while remaining true to the tenets of the western genre. Wonderfully cinematic, this expressive tale is superbly directed by the Miller brothers, who extract strong performances from the ensemble cast. Ed Harris is especially striking in a bravura role as the sheriff. With the magnificent New Mexico countryside as their canvas, the Miller brothers imaginatively stroke their cinematic brush across an intense but humorous film. [Sundance Page]




The Lifeguard*

Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: Leigh, a whip-smart former valedictorian on the verge of 30, is living a seemingly perfect life in New York. When her work aspirations and love life suddenly come crashing down, she hightails it back to the cocoon of the Connecticut suburb where she grew up. Picking up right where her teen halcyon days left off, she moves into her old room with her parents, reunites with her bosom buddies who never left town, and steps back into her high school job as a condo-complex lifeguard. As she takes a transgressive journey back to adolescence, including entering into a forbidden affair, Leigh’s bold flirtation with disaster triggers a ripple effect all around her.

Sundance Category: U.S. Dramatic Competition

Director: Liz W. Garcia

Stars: Kristen Bell, Martin Starr, Mamie Gummer, Amy Madigan

Sundance review snippet:

  • Wry, sexy, entertaining, and bittersweet, The Lifeguard revels in the fantasy of reverting to a responsibility-free time and cleverly coaxes its characters into the realization that safety can sometimes be a trap. With her witty, emotionally persuasive script, first-time director Liz Garcia invents a delectable coming-of-age story for our times. [Sundance Page]




Kill Your Darlings

Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: While he is attending Columbia University in 1944, the young Allen Ginsberg’s life is turned upside down when he sets eyes on Lucien Carr, an impossibly cool and boyishly handsome classmate. Carr opens Ginsberg up to a bohemian world and introduces him to William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. Repelled by rules and conformity in both life and literature, the four agree to tear down tradition and make something new, ultimately formulating the tenets of and giving birth to what became the Beat movement. On the outside, looking in, is David Kammerer, a man in his thirties desperately in love with Carr. When Kammerer is found dead, and Kerouac, Burroughs, and Carr are arrested in conjunction with the murder, the nascent artists’ lives change forever.

Sundance Category: U.S. Dramatic Competition

Director: John Krokidas

Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Elizabeth Olsen, Michael C. Hall, Ben Foster, Dane DeHaan, Jack Huston, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kyra Sedgwick, David Cross

Sundance review snippet:

  • Daniel Radcliffe fearlessly takes on the role of the young Ginsberg on a journey of discovery—to find his sexuality and his voice as a writer. Cowriter/director John Krokidas takes on this less-explored early chapter of the Beats and captures the period with visual flair, kinetic energy, and imagination. Kill Your Darlings is the riveting true story of a crime, a friendship, and the nexus that spawned a cultural movement. [Sundance Page]




Metro Manila*


Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: Seeking a brighter future in megacity Manila, Oscar Ramirez and his family flee their impoverished life in the rice fields of the northern Philippines. But the sweltering capital’s bustling intensity quickly overwhelms them, and they fall prey to the rampant manipulations of its hardened locals. Oscar catches a lucky break when he’s offered steady work for an armored truck company and gregarious senior officer Ong takes him under his wing. Soon, though, the reality of his work’s mortality rate and the murky motives of his new partner force Oscar to confront the perils he faces in his new job and life.

Sundance Category: World Dramatic Competition

Director: Sean Ellis

Stars: Jake Macapagal, Althea Vega, John Arcilla

Sundance review snippet:

  • Director Sean Ellis’s return (The Broken premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival) vividly captures the desperation of life amongst the squalid Manila slums, then ratchets up the tension, creating an intense thriller with a poignant humanity and palpable dramatic stakes. In the role of Oscar, Jake Macapagal brings emotional depth to the wrenching choices he must make to sustain his family. [Sundance Page]




Saturday, January 26



Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: In 1976, college dropout Steve Jobs heralded a revolution within the confines of his parents’ garage. Jobs, along with friend and technical wizard Steve Wozniak, unleashed the “homebrew” Apple 1 personal computer kit onto an unsuspecting public, producing 200 units by hand and shipping each one themselves (monitor and keyboard not included). Apple Inc. was born, and the world would never be the same. Today hundreds of millions of users around the world remain tethered to the remarkable products that Jobs championed—his impact on the world of technology was undoubtedly colossal, but his effect on our culture was simply immeasurable.

Sundance Category: PremieresClosing Night Film

Director: Joshua Michael Stern

Stars: Ashton Kutcher, Dermot Mulroney, James Woods, Matthew Modine, Lukas Haas, J.K. Simmons

Sundance review snippet:

  • Although the road that Jobs traveled to become CEO of the company he cofounded was a tumultuous one, director Joshua Michael Stern unfurls his story with relative ease, and Ashton Kutcher’s highly nuanced portrayal of the technology icon adroitly captures the essence of a man who changed the way we live. [Sundance Page]




Don Jon’s Addiction*


Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: Jon Martello objectifies everything in his life: his apartment, his car, his family, his church, and, of course, women. His buddies even call him Don Jon because of his ability to pull “10s” every weekend without fail. Yet even the finest flings don’t compare to the transcendent bliss he achieves alone in front of the computer watching pornography. Dissatisfied, he embarks on a journey to find a more gratifying sex life, but ends up learning larger lessons of life and love through relationships with two very different women.

Sundance Category: Premieres

Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Brie Larson, Tony Danza

Sundance review snippet:

  • Crass, funny, and startlingly sincere, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon’s Addiction resonates with its utterly authentic realization of people and place, transcending New Jersey stereotypes by infusing its characters with tantalizing complexities. Gordon-Levitt’s chemistry with costars Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore ignites the screen with heat and emotion. With abundant charm and formidable wit, Don Jon’s Addiction marks the evolution of an incredibly talented actor into a truly gifted writer/director. [Sundance Page]




Hell Baby


Release Date: TBA

Sundance Synopsis: Expectant couple Jack and Vanessa move into the most haunted fixer-upper in New Orleans—a house with a deadly demonic curse. When things soon spiral out of control, it’ll take the help of Vanessa’s Wiccan sister, a nosey “neighbor” who lives in their crawl space, two local detectives, and a pair of elite Vatican exorcists to save them—or is it already too late?

Sundance Category: Park City at Midnight

Director: Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon

Stars: Thomas Lennon, Leslie Bibb, Rob Corddry

Sundance review snippet:

  • Revered as two of the minds behind the hilarious sketch television shows Reno 911!, The State, and Viva Variety and the screenwriters of big-budget comedies like the Night at the Museum films, comedians Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant finally unleash their codirectorial debut. Featuring a seasoned comedic ensemble, including scene stealers Leslie Bibb and Keegan Michael Key, this raucous horror spoof sics the devilish humor of its creators on the most sacred of genre conventions: the haunted house, an exorcism, and one pissy demon child. [Sundance Page]






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