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Independent Film Festival – The Road to Park City: A Sundance Preview

 

Sundance Film Festival The Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah is only a few weeks away, with this year’s edition taking place from January 19th to 29th. As usual, the festival will be showcasing a wide variety of independent short and feature-length films. Whether you will get a chance to watch some of these films in Utah, or have to be a little more patient, we figured we would give you a little preview by going through some of the interesting films being presented at this year’s festival. There is a lot of quality content in this year’s program; we’ve merely narrowed down the list for you to help you get a head start.

California Solo
Director: Marshall Lewy
Screenwriter: Marshall Lewy
U.S.A., 2012, 93 min, color
English

Director Marshall Lewy’s second feature film tells the tale of washed-up rocker Lachlan MacAldonich, played by Robert Carlyle. Once a guitar player for a famous rock band, MacAldonich now lives a humble life in a dingy apartment in California, while working on an organic farm. After he is arrested for drunk driving, Lachlan is threatened by possible deportation: the only way he can avoid it is by proving that his departure would cause severe hardship on a loved one. The situation forces MacAldonich to dig up the past and face some relationships that he thought would never resurface.

Fishing Without Nets
Director: Cutter Hodierne
Screenwriter: Cutter Hodierne, John Hibey
Kenya, 2011, 17 min, color,
Somalian with English subtitles
Short

L.A.-based director Cutter Hodierne makes his Sundance debut this year with a short film on Somali pirates, told from their own perspective. The film comes a few years after all the media attention that happened regarding piracy off the Somali coast. Not unfamiliar with life at sea, Hodierne spent the first three years of his life sailing in the South Pacific Ocean on a 32-foot sailboat. Not much more is known about the movie at this point but the trailer looks exceptional. We will definitely be hearing more about this director.

China Heavyweight
Director: Yung Chang
Screenwriter: Yung Chang
Canada/China, 2012, 89 min, color,
Chinese/Sichuanese with English subtitles

Canadian director Yung Chang’s 2008 Sundance debut Up the Yangtze went on the become one of the year’s top-grossing documentary releases in the box-office. This year, Yung Chang returns
to Sundance with his sophomore feature-length documentary entitled China Heavyweight. The documentary follows Chinese athletic coaches as they scout the poor, rural areas of southwestern China for undiscovered boxing talent. The young boys and girls are rounded up and put through an intensive training program with the goal of representing their country in the Olympics in mind. In the meantime, their coach, Qi Moxiang, trains for a fight of his own.

Excision
Director: Richard Bates Jr.
Screenwriter: Richard Bates Jr.
U.S.A., 2011, 81 min, color,
English

In 2008, Richard Bates Jr.’s short-film Excision won a total of 24 awards and was screened at film festivals around the world. This year’s edition of Sundance will be showcasing the feature-length version of the film. AnnaLynne McCord plays troubled teenager Pauline, whose bizarre behavior and psychosexual fantasies lead her to become the outcast of her school and home. Her younger sister Grace is the only person who understands her. Things take an even weirder turn when Pauline decides that it is time for her to lose her virginity.

Teddy Bear
Director: Mads Matthiesen
Screenwriter: Mads Matthiesen, Martin Pieter Zandvliet
Denmark, 2011, 93 min, color,
Danish with English subtitles

Danish-born director Mads Matthiesen brings his fist feature-length to Sundance this year. Teddy Bear explores the paradox in between champion bodybuilder Dennis’ impressive physical stature and his social ineptitude. Dennis travels to Thailand, embarking on a personal quest to overcome his insecurities and fears.

The Orator
Director: Tusi Tamasese
Screenwriter: Tusi Tamasese
New Zealand, 2011, 110 min, color,
Samoan with English subtitles

Saili is a little person who lives a happy life with his wife and stepdaughter, working as a taro farmer in a small village. When his family and plantation are threatened, he must defend them. The Orator studies the complexities of life in a village where tradition is the main existing form of law. Tusi Tamasese’s first feature is also the fist Samoan feature film; it is New Zealand’s entry in the foreign language category for this year’s Academy Awards.

Oslo, August 31st
Director: Joachim Trier
Screenwriters: Joachim Trier, Eskil Vogt
Based on a novel by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle
Norway, 2011, 96 min, color,
Norwegian with English subtitles

With his sophomore feature-film and second Sundance appearance, director Joachim Trier explores a day in the life of Anders, a recovering drug addict. Anders earns a day out of rehab and heads down to Oslo to visit his sister and old friends, facing the big city’s temptations yet again. Oslo, August 31st examines a defining chapter in a young man’s difficult transition to adulthood.

Shut Up and Play the Hits
Director: Dylan Southern, Will Lovelace
United Kingdom, 2011, 105 min, color,
English

Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace document the final 48 hours in the career of influential New York band LCD Soundsystem. The fly-on-the-wall music documentary leads up to the band’s final performance, last year in New York’s Madison Square Garden. This is the directing team’s second feature-length, after 2011’s No Distance Left to Run, a documentary on British band Blur.

Indie Game: The Movie
Directors: Lisanne Pajot, James Swirsky
Canada, 2011, 103 min, color,
English

Indie Game: The Movie follows the lives of four independent video game developers in their struggle to create and survive, far removed from the offices of major video game developers. Though both Pajot and Swirsky are no strangers behind the camera, Indie Game: The Movie is their first feature-length documentary.

½ Revolution
Director:
Omar Shargawi, Karim El Hakim
Denmark/Egypt, 2011, 72 min, color,
Arabic/Danish/English with English subtitles

½ Revolution closely examines the tumultuous start to Egypt’s revolution early last year, as demonstrators took to the streets and clashes ensued. Shargawi and El Hakim promise an inside look at the historical events that helped pave the way for change in Egypt.

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Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the discovery and development of independent artists and audiences. Through its programs, the Institute seeks to discover, support, and inspire independent film and theatre artists from the United States and around the world, and to introduce audiences to their new work.

For a complete guide of films and events happening at this year’s festival, as well as information regarding lodging, festival passes and tickets, please visit Sundance’s official website.

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