The first two movies slotted for the 2023 Sundance Film Festival have been announced, and they’re a couple of independent classics: A landmark 1995 road trip restored to its original, uncensored vision, and a pioneering 1998 story of redemption through poetry.
The Sundance Institute, Robert Redford’s nonprofit arts group, announced Wednesday the two films will be shown at the 2023 festival as part of its From the Collection series, a showcase for restored films from the independent-movie pantheon.
One of the films is writer-director Gregg Araki’s 1995 drama “The Doom Generation,” which follows two teen friends (James Duval and Rose McGowan) who pick up a drifter (Johnathon Schaech), and embark on a cross-country journey fueled by sex, violence and mini-marts.
According to Sundance, the festival will screen Araki’s uncensored director’s cut — which hasn’t been seen by audiences since the movie’s 1995 run on the festival circuit. The theatrical cut, released after its festival run, had some of its sexual and violent content removed, particularly in the final reel, and another edit removed 20 more minutes (without Araki’s permission) to secure an R rating so Blockbuster Video would rent out copies.
“Needless to say, I’m thrilled that ‘The Doom Generation’ can finally be experienced in its full glory in this remastered and restored edition,” Araki said in a statement issued through Sundance.
The movie is being remastered in 4K by Strand Releasing. It will be shown at a widescreen ratio of 1:1.85, not the pan-and-scan cuts that have circulated for years.
The other film is “Slam,” which won the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic films at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. Director Mark Levin’s movie centered on a young black performance poet (played by Saul Williams, one of the film’s writers) who is put in a D.C. prison for a minor marijuana offense, but finds redemption behind bars through his poems.
“‘Slam’ anticipated a cycle of poetry via the spoken word movement that democratized the voices and voicing of poetry for new generations,” Williams said in a statement. “We are still experiencing its ripple in popular culture and academia, worldwide. With its focus not only on poetry, but criminal justice and marijuana, ‘Slam’ remains a testament of the times.”
“Slam,” which will mark its 25th anniversary in 2023, is being digitally restored from the 35mm interpositive, and a new DCP (digital cinema projection) created in a collaboration among Sundance Institute, the Academy Film Archive, the UCLA Film & Television Archive, and Lionsgate.
Both screenings will be followed by conversations with the filmmakers and special guests; dates and other details will be announced later.
The festival will announce its full slate of new films in December. The festival will return to in-person screenings in Park City, Salt Lake City and the Sundance Mountain Resort — after two years of online-only events because of COVID-19 — running from Jan. 19 to 29, with online screenings planned for Jan. 24-29.