Sundance announces specialty slates: Spotlight, Next, New Frontier, Midnight
Mike Birbiglia in a scene from his movie "Sleepwalk With Me," based on his stand-up comedy. Adam Beckman | Courtesy Sundance Institute
Here are the 30 titles in the non-competition specialty categories of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival:
Highlighting “the cinema we love,” say Sundance programmers, even if they have played at other festivals.
- Corpo Celeste • (Italy) Marta, age 13, moves from Switzerland back to southern Italy with her mother and younger sister — and tests the limits of a new city and the Catholic church’s catechism. Written and directed by Alice Rohrwacher.
- Declaration of War • (Belgium) When their newborn child is very ill, a young couple begins a painful, enlightening journey. Directed by Valérie Donzelli, who wrote with Jérémie Elkaïm.
- Elena • (Russia) A noir drama in which an older woman marries her wealthy employer, but when his health fails, he reconnects with his daughter from a previous marriage — threatening the wife’s inheritance. Directed by Andrei Zvyagintsev (“The Return”), written by Oleg Negin.
- Monsieur Lazhar • (Canada) An Algerian-born substitute teacher in Montreal (played by the one-named comedian Fellag) must help his class heal after their regular teacher commits suicide. Written and directed by Philippe Falardeau.
- The Orator (O le Tulafale) • (New Zealand) A Samoan villager defends his taro farm and his family from powerful adversaries. Written and directed by Tusi Tamasese.
- The Raid • (Indonesia) A SWAT team goes into a dilapidated Jakarta building to take down a crime lord, and the cops must fight their way out in this spectacularly violent (judging from the red-band trailer) thriller. Written and directed by Gareth Evans.
- Where Do We Go Now? • (France/Lebanon/Italy/Egypt) An audience favorite at Toronto, the film tells of a group of Lebanese women trying to ease religious tensions in their village. Directed by Nadine Labaki, who co-wrote with Jihad Hojeily and Rodney Al Haddad, with the collaboration of Thomas Bidegain.
- Wuthering Heights • (United Kingdom) Director Andrea Arnold (“Fish Tank,” “Red Road”) adapts Emily Brontë’s classic romance between poor Heathcliff (James Howson) and his foster sister Catherine (Kaya Scodelario). Arnold and Olivia Hetreed wrote the script.
- Your Sister’s Sister • A guy (Mark Duplass) mourning his brother’s death, and pining for his brother’s old girlfriend (Emily Blunt), ends up alone with her lesbian sister (Rosemarie DeWitt), as writer-director Lynn Shelton (“Humpday”) returns to Sundance.
Park City at Midnight
Wild genre movies — horror, comedy and rock ‘n’ roll.
- Black Rock • Three childhood friends (Lake Bell, Kate Bosworth, Katie Aselton) reunite on a remote island off the coast of Maine — when a wrong move turns the weekend into a fight for survival. Aselton (“The Freebie”) directs a script by her husband, actor-director Mark Duplass.
- Excision • A disturbed high-school student (AnnaLynne McCord) aspires to a career in medicine, and goes to extremes to earn her mom’s approval. Written and directed by Richard Bates Jr., the cast includes Traci Lords, Ariel Winter, Roger Bart, Marlee Matlin, Malcolm McDowell and John Waters.
- Grabbers • (Ireland/United Kingdom) Blood-sucking sea creatures attack an Irish village, and the residents figure out that a high blood-alcohol content may the only thing to save them. Directed by Jon Wright, written by Keven Lehane.
- The Pact • As a woman (Caity Lotz) deals with her mother’s death, something unsettling emerges in her childhood home. Written and directed by Nicholas McCarthy.
- Shut Up and Play the Hits • Directors Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace follow James Murphy, frontman of the band LCD Soundsystem, for 48 hours — including the band’s final gig ever, in Madison Square Garden.
- Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie • Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, the guys behind “Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job,” are writers, directors and stars of this comedy, about two guys given a billion dollars to make a movie —but things don’t go to plan. Also starring Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly and Zach Galifianakis.
- V/H/S • Found footage rears its ugly head when some people burglarize a desolate house and find a rare VHS tape. A horror collaboration directed by Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg and the YouTube sensations Radio Silence; written by Simon Barrett, Bruckner, West, McQuaid and Radio Silence.
How low can you go? Budget-wise. (Get your head out the gutter.)
- Compliance • A prank caller convinces a fast-food manager to interrogate a young employee, with dire consequences. Based on true events. Written and directed by Craig Zobel (“Great World of Sound,” Sundance 2007).
- I Am Not a Hipster • Love, loss and creativity in the indie music and art scene. Writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton’s short “Short Term 12” won the top prize at Sundance 2008.
- Kid-Thing • A rebel girl, loose in the world, encounters a woman calling for help from a mysterious hole in the ground. Written and directed by David Zellner (“Goliath,” Sundance 2008).
- Mosquita y Mari • Two Latina girls, age 15, begin to recognize a sexual tension in their friendship. Written and directed by Aurora Guerrero.
- My Best Day • Erin Greenwell wrote and directed this comedy, which begins when Karen (Rachel Style), a small-town receptionist, answers a call from her father, whom she never knew, in need of a refrigerator repairman.
- Pursuit of Loneliness • Four people try to locate the next-of-kin for an elderly patient who dies in a county hospital. Written and directed by Laurence Thrush.
- Sleepwalk With Me • Comedian Mike Birbiglia stars in this tale, based on his book and one-man show, about his struggle with sleepwalking. Birbiglia and Seth Barrish directed; the film was written by Birbiglia, his brother Joe, Barrish and “This American Life” host Ira Glass. The cast includes Lauren Ambrose, Carol Kane and James Rebhorn.
- That’s What She Said • Two best friends and a mysterious stranger, all with problems, seek love in New York City. Directed by Carrie Preston (Arlene from “True Blood”), written by Kellie Overbey. The cast includes Anne Heche, Marcia DeBonis and Alia Shawkat.
- Twenty-Eight Hotel Rooms • A long-term affair between two people (Chris Messina, Marin Ireland) is seen through fragments in hotel rooms. Written and directed by Matt Ross.
Grand experiments that stretch the bounds of cinema.
- Bestiaire • (Canada) Director Dennis Côté meditates on “the boundaries we place around animals.”
- An Oversimplification of Her Beauty • Through live-action and animated scenes, an artist tries to understand himself after a mystery girl stands him up. Written by, directed by and starring Terence Nance.
- The Perception of Moving Targets • Billed as “a segmented journey into the dreams of four neighbors.” Directed and written by Weston Currie.
- Rome 237 • Director Rodney Ascher’s experimental documentary about the meaning of Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.” (Do your homework and put “The Shining” on your Netflix queue now.)
- whiteonwhite:algorithmicnoir • (United States/Kazakhstan) A “generative noir mystery film” is assembled in a live algorithmic performance, as a computer program assembles raw elements of music, dialogue, sound and footage shot in Kazakhstan. Directed by Eve Sussman and her team, Rufus Corporation; written by Sussman, Kevin Messman and Jeff Wood.
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