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Sundance: Stars and sex are abundant in Premieres titles

Published December 5, 2012 1:12 pm

29 titles • Documentary topics range from Anita Hill to The Eagles.
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The stars will descend on Park City for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival — with a slate of films that include stories about computer pioneer Steve Jobs, porn star Linda Lovelace, attorney Anita Hill and the legendary rock band The Eagles.

Oh, and a fair amount of sex.

The Sundance Institute announced the 29 titles in the Premieres and Documentary Premieres programs Monday, Dec. 3. (Last week, Sundance officials announced titles in the festival's competition categories, which includes the directorial debut of Utahn Jerusha Hess's film "Austenland," adapted from South Jordan author Shannon Hale's novel. The festival also announced the titles in the Spotlight, Park City at Midnight and New Frontier sections.)

Complex sexual relationships are a theme common to several of the top films, said festival director John Cooper. The films explore issues of love and control, "not just for power, but the human nature for desire," Cooper said.

Among the Premieres titles Cooper cited for sexual themes are: "Don Jon's Addiction," starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt ("Looper") as a lothario; "Two Mothers," in which Naomi Watts and Robin Wright portray friends who begin affairs with each other's sons; "Very Good Girls," starring Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen as teens seeking to lose their virginity; and two movies set in the porn industry — "The Look of Love," a portrait of British porn publisher Paul Raymond (Steve Coogan), and "Lovelace," the dramatized biography of the "Deep Throat" star (played by Amanda Seyfried).

Sexual politics are explored in one of the more promising Documentary Premieres: "Anita," director Freida Lee Mock's profile of Anita Hill, the attorney-turned-academic whose accusations of sexual harassment against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas ignited a firestorm. Hill is expected to be in Park City to help promote the film.

Other Documentary Premieres titles will profile former Vice President Dick Cheney, NBA phenom Jeremy Lin, actor and mental-health advocate Mariel Hemingway, and rock supergroup The Eagles.

What's likely to be one of the most emotional screenings will be the debut of the documentary "Which Way Is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington." Director Sebastian Junger profiles his friend Hetherington, with whom he directed the 2010 Sundance documentary "Restrepo." Hetherington was killed in April 2011, while covering the Libyan uprising.

Another sure-to-be-emotional documentary on the slate is also the Salt Lake City Gala selection. "The Crash Reel" is director Lucy Walker's portrait of snowboarder Kevin Pearce, whose Olympic dreams were cut short when he suffered a traumatic brain injury in an accident on the Park City Mountain Resort's halfpipe. The film also features snowboarder Sarah Burke, who was killed in an accident on the same halfpipe in January.

One Premieres title relives a bit of Sundance history: "Before Midnight," the third movie in director Richard Linklater's series exploring the on-again, off-again relationship between an American man (Ethan Hawke) and a Frenchwoman (Julie Delpy). The original film, "Before Sunrise," debuted as the opening-night film of the 1995 Sundance Film Festival.

Steve Jobs' life will be detailed in "jOBS," a drama starring Ashton Kutcher as the Apple Computers founder.

Among the movie stars who will be on screen are: Kate Bosworth, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Tony Danza, James Franco, Rupert Grint, Ed Harris, Emile Hirsch, Jennifer Hudson, Holly Hunter, Richard Jenkins, Nicole Kidman, Scarlett Johansson, Shia LaBeouf, Josh Lucas, Brit Marling, Demi Moore, Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Guy Pearce, Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Amy Ryan, Jordin Sparks, Sharon Stone and Mia Wasikowska.

The 2013 Sundance Film Festival runs Jan. 17-27 in Park City, and at venues in Salt Lake City, Ogden and the Sundance resort.

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