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Sundance roundup: The kids are not alright
Sydney Aguirre plays Annie, a girl left to her own devices, in "Kid Thing," playing at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. (Photo courtesy Sundance Institute)
A scene from "Kid Thing." Courtesy image.
A scene from "Kid Thing." Courtesy image
Sydney Aguirre plays Annie, a girl left to her own devices, in "Kid Thing," playing at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. (Photo courtesy Sundance Institute)
Michael Rainey Jr. plays Woody, who learns some harsh lessons about the world in the drama "LUV." (Photo by Bill Gray  |  Courtesy Sundance Institute)
A scene from "Luv." Courtesy Bill Gray
Michael Rainey Jr. (left) and Common star in the drama "LUV," screening in the U.S. Dramatic competition at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. (Photo by Bill Gray  |  Courtesy Sundance Institute)
A scene from "About the Pink Sky."
Courtesy Keiichi Kobayashi
A scene from "About the Pink Sky."
Courtesy Keiichi Kobayashi
A scene from "About the Pink Sky."
Courtesy Keiichi Kobayashi

Izumi (Ai Ikedea) is a high-schooler whose good heart leads to difficulties in the Japanese drama "About the Pink Sky."
Courtesy Keiichi Kobayashi
(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
Michael Rainey Jr., star of the movie "LUV," attends the screening of the movie at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City on Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, at the Eccles Theatre. "LUV" is the story of a shy 11-year-old boy who forms a bond with his troubled uncle over the course of one day.
Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) rides the family's raft in a scene from "Beasts of the Southern Wild," by director Benh Zeitlin. (Courtesy Sundance Institute)
Newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis, in a scene from director Benh Zeitlin's drama "Beasts of the Southern Wild." (Courtesy Sundance Institute)
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Zeitlin and co-writer Lucy Alibar took as their first inspiration a play Alibar wrote, which borrowed from her own childhood. “I grew up in the woods with a wild man for a father,” Alibar said.

Watching her father get ill, when she was 18 or 19, was devastating. “The sense of losing a parent,” Alibar said, “[is like] the whole universe coming apart.”

Woody, the boy in “LUV,” watches his universe crumble when he sees how his beloved uncle really makes his money – embroiled in the world of drugs and thugs on Baltimore’s meanest streets.

To play Woody, director Sheldon Canlis said he needed “a kid with an old soul.” He found that kid in Rainey, making only his second movie. (The first was filmed in Italy and had him speaking Italian.)

Canlis recalled an instance when Michael Rainey’s soul really showed through in filming. During one particularly emotional scene, Canlis and crew were filming at 5 a.m. and brought Michael onto the set when the child had been sleeping for 90 minutes in a van. Canlis asked Rainey, “Can you be emotionally vulnerable? Can you get there? He said [in a low voice] ‘yes.’ ” And he nailed it.

movies@sltrib.com; facebook.com/nowsaltlake

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At a glance

Screenings: The kids are not alright roundup

“About a Pink Sky” » Friday, 10 p.m., Holiday Village Cinema 4, Park City

“For Ellen” » Friday, 11:30 a.m., Library Center Theatre, Park City

“The End of Love” » Friday, 8:30 a.m., The MARC, Park City

“Kid-Thing” » Friday, 9 p.m., Broadway Centre Cinema, Salt Lake City; and Saturday, Jan. 28, 10 a.m., Holiday Village Cinema 4, Park City

“LUV” » Friday, 9:45 p.m., Broadway Centre Cinema 3, Salt Lake City; and Saturday, Jan. 28, 9 a.m., Egyptian Theatre, Park City

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” » The last Sundance screening of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” was Jan. 26, but the movie was purchased on Tuesday by Fox Searchlight, and is expected to be released later this year.

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