Oddities abound in Sundance's non-competition slate
The noncompetition titles at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival promise some familiar faces, some new voices and some stuff that's way, way out there.
Selections for the Spotlight, Park City at Midnight and New Frontier programs were announced Thursday.
The Spotlight section features films the programmers liked from other festivals, primarily Toronto and Cannes. Among the highlights: the fugitive drama "Mud," starring Matthew McConaughey and directed by Jeff Shannon (whose "Take Shelter" wowed Sundance audiences in 2011), and actor/director Sarah Polley's personal documentary "Stories We Tell."
Offbeat comedies and severe violence are showcased in the Park City at Midnight program, which specializes in genre films. A few stars show up there, including comedian Rob Corddry and "Star Wars" icon Mark Hamill.
And the likely buzz in the avant-garde New Frontier slate will fall on "Interior. Leather Bar.," a speculative drama co-directed by actor James Franco.
The last part of the Sundance slate, the Premieres and Documentary Premieres sections, will be announced Monday, Dec. 3. The festival runs Jan. 17-27 in Park City and at venues in Salt Lake City, Ogden and the Sundance resort.
"Fill the Void" • (Israel) A devout 18-year-old Israeli woman (Hadas Yaron) is pressured to marry her late sister's husband, with no options for independence within Tel Aviv's ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community. Written and directed by Rama Burshtein. Israel's official entry for the Academy Awards.
"Gangs of Wasseypur" • (India) After Shadid Khan is exiled for robbing British trains, his son vows to get his father's honor back in a battle for revenge crossing generations. Directed by Anurag Kashyap, who co-wrote with Zeishan Quadri.
"The Gatekeepers" • (Israel, Germany, Belgium, France) Dror Moreh directs this documentary, interviewing six former heads of Israel's Secret Service to talk about the "peace process" that for 45 years has failed to achieve peace.
"Mud" • Writer-director Jeff Nichols ("Take Shelter," Sundance '11) returns with this drama in which two teen boys (Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland) form a pact with a fugitive (Matthew McConaughey) to evade bounty hunters and reunite with his true love (Reese Witherspoon).
"No" • (Chile) A young advertising executive (Gael Garcia Bernal) is hired to mount the opposition campaign to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet's 1988 referendum to maintain power. Directed by Pablo Larrain, written by Pedro Peirano.
"Sightseers" • (U.K.) A caravan holiday goes very wrong for a guy (Steve Oram) and a gal (Alice Lowe). Ben Wheatley directs this comedy, which Oram and Lowe wrote.
"Stories We Tell" • (Canada) Actor and filmmaker Sarah Polley unearths the secrets in her own family tree in this documentary.
Park City at Midnight
"Ass Backwards" • Two loser friends (June Diane Raphael and Casey Wilson, who wrote the screenplay) go back to their hometown to claim the beauty pageant crown that eluded them in childhood. Chris Nelson directs. The cast includes Vincent D'Onofrio, Alicia Silverstone, Jon Cryer and Brian Geraghty.
"Hell Baby" • The "Reno 911" team of Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon wrote and directed this horror-comedy in which the Vatican's elite exorcism team comes to the rescue of a New Orleans couple when their new house reveals a demonic curse. The cast includes Rob Corddry, Leslie Bibb, Keegan Michael Key, Riki Lindhome, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel and Michael Ian Black.
"In Fear" • (U.K.) Driving on country roads with only their vehicle for protection, a couple (Alice Englert, Allen Leech) discover they've let the evil into the car. Written and directed by Jeremy Lovering.
"kink" • Christina Voros directs this documentary about the 9-to-5 work days of the San Francisco porn studios of the website Kink.com.
"The Rambler" • Writer-director Calvin Lee Reeder ("The Off Hours," Sundance '11) tells of an ex-con known as "The Rambler" (Dermot Mulroney) trying to get to his long-lost brother and encountering a strange mystery. The cast includes Lindsay Pulsipher and Natasha Lyonne.
"S-VHS" • (U.S., Canada) The sequel to the found-footage horror anthology "V/H/S" (Sundance '12), this time with two private eyes searching for a missing student and coming upon another cache of mysterious tapes. The directors this time are Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Eduardo Sanchez ("The Blair Witch Project," Sundance '99), Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Huw Evans ("The Raid: Redemption," Sundance '12) and Jason Eisener.
"Virtually Heroes" • Two characters (Robert Baker, Brent Chase) in a "Call of Duty"-style video game become self-aware, with one of them abandoning the other to figure out the cheat codes of life. Directed by G.J. Echternkamp, written by Matt Yamashita. The cast includes Katie Savoy, Mark Hamill and Ben Messmer.
"We Are What We Are" • "Stake Land" director Jim Mickle, co-writing again with Nick Damici, puts viewers on the trail of the cannibalistic Parker family. The cast includes Bill Sage, Ambyr Childers, Julia Garner, Michael Parks, Wyatt Russell and Kelly McGillis.
New Frontier films
"Charlie Victor Romeo" • A long-running theatrical documentary, taken entirely from transcripts of cockpit voice recorders from six real airline emergencies, is brought to the screen in state-of-the-art 3-D technology. Directed by Robert Berger and Karlyn Michelson, written by Berger, Patrick Daniels and Irving Gregory. The cast includes Daniels, Gregory, Noel Dinneen, Sam Zuckerman, Debbie Troche and Nora Woolley.
"Fat Shaker" • (Iran) Writer-director M. Shirvani's drama tracks the experiences of an obese father and his handsome, deaf son in Tehran and the disruption to their relationship brought by the arrival of a beautiful young woman.
"Interior. Leather Bar." • Screenwriter Travis Matthews and star James Franco co-direct this speculative drama, which re-imagines what the 40 minutes of gay S&M footage rumored to have been cut from the 1981 movie "Cruising" would have looked like. Matthews and Franco appear in the film, along with Val Lauren, Christian Patrick and Brenden Gregory.
"Halley" • (Mexico) Alberto (Alberto Trujillo) is a night security guard at a 24-hour gym, but he's suffering from a condition in which he slowly decomposes. Before he accepts his fate, he strikes up an unusual friendship with the gym's manager, Luly (Lourdes Trueba). Sebastian Hofmann directed this drama, co-writing with Julio Chavezmontes.
"The Meteor" • (Canada) Pierre (played by FranÃ§ois Delisle, the film's writer-director) is serving a prison term, visited by his aging mother and left behind by his wife though all three remain linked to Pierre's crime, guilt and loneliness.
New Frontier installations
The following descriptions are from the Sundance Film Festival press release:
"Cityscape 2095" • Artists: Yannick Jacquet, Mandril, Thomas VaquiÃ© [AntiVJ]. "AntiVJ artists Yannick Jacquet and Marc Ferrario blend painting with light projection to transform the walls of New Frontier into a luminous, three-dimensional cityscape that feels strangely familiar yet impossible to locate. With its disorienting sense of time and space, 'Cityscape 2095' places spectators on the observatory deck of a skyscraper, where they take in a sprawling, imaginary city as it glitters over the course of one day."
"Coral: Rekindling Venus" • Artist: Lynette Wallworth. "Inspired by the first collaboration among the international science community to witness the celestial transit of Venus in 1761, Lynette Wallworth's visually stunning 'Coral: Rekindling Venus' is an augmented-reality and full-dome planetarium presentation designed to nurture an emotional connection between a global audience and the planet's endangered coral reefs. This epic project features original deep-sea photography, augmented-reality artwork and music by Antony and the Johnsons. Presented at the New Frontier venue in Park City, Salt Lake City's Clark Planetarium and other locations nationally. Details to be announced."
"E.M-bed.de/d, Datamosh, Augmented Real" • Artist: Yung Jake. "Rap artist Yung Jake is Net art incarnate, flowing lyrics about tweet culture, data-moshing, hashtags, and memes as he blows up on Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, and Instagram in his HTML5 music video, 'E.M-bed.de/d.' This MC drops unexpectedly into your browser sessions, streams into Festival screenings, Skype-bombs live DJ performances, and pops out of floors and magazines in augmented-reality music videos."
"Eyjafjallalokull" • Artist: Joanie Lemercier [AntiVJ]. "Inspired by the 2010 Icelandic volcanic eruption that wreaked travel havoc across Europe, 'Eyjafjallalokull' is a stunning, three-dimensional, audiovisual mapping installation that challenges audiences' perception of space by creating an optical illusion that transforms the walls of New Frontier into a sweeping digital vista that artistically recreates the seismic event."
"North of South, West of East" • Artist: Meredith Danluck. "'North of South, West of East' enhances narrative storytelling by wrapping the film around the entire room. Presented to an audience in swivel chairs, Meredith Danluck's remarkable four-channel narrative feature deftly unspools a darkly humorous tale of small-town folks as they try to make sense of a posthope America. Shot on location in Detroit, Michigan, and Marfa, Texas, this unique film features fantastic performances by Ben Foster, Stella Schnabel, and Sue Galloway, and a soundtrack by Marfa local punk band Solid Waste."
"Pulse Index" • Artist: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. "Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's beautifully resonant, interactive media installation swaths the central lounge of New Frontier with images of the warm, breathing flesh of its visitors. Pulse Index records the heart rates and fingerprints of participants and exhibits them in a beautiful Fibonacci pattern. Place your finger into the custom-made sensor, and your fingerprint appears on the largest cell of the display, pulsating to your heartbeat. Your print then travels down the sequence to join those of all the others who have visited the room, immersing the community space with the radiant glow of the human touch."
"What's He Building in There?" • Artists: Klip Collective. "Ricardo Rivera and the Klip Collective transform the entire front of the New Frontier venue into an interactive, 3-D projection-mapped parable, inspired by the Tom Waits song. Sip a hot beverage in the outdoor lounge and watch the walls and windowpanes dissolve into a story about a man on a mysterious mission inside the building. Use the X-ray flashlight to peek at what he is up to."