Sundance 2015 Spotlight entries include Cannes winner, Foreign Language Oscar contender
One day after announcing the World and US Drama and Documentary Competition entries for both, Sundance revealed the films in the Spotlight and Park City at Midnight programs, as well as the films and art installations that will be part of the New Frontiers program at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.
Drew McWeeny will be handling the Park City at Midnight announcement, just as he'll be handling our coverage of the Midnight slate from Sundance.
The Spotlight program is set aside for films that may have played in festivals around the world or even domestically, but have support amidst the Sundance selectors.
The high profile entries in the Spotlight program include Kornél Mundruczó's "White God," which won the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes last summer. It's the story of a girl who has to give up her mixed-breed dog and the journey girl and dog take to be reunited. All together now, "Awwww."
This will be the US premiere for "White God." You may recall the adorable series of red carpet photos from Cannes featuring the movie's canine star in a bow tie. We'll see if he can come up with a parka for Sundance.
Getting a North American premiere is Claudia Llosa's "Aloft," a Spanish-French-Canadian co-production starring Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy and Melanie Laurent.
And this will be the international premiere for "6 Desires: DH Lawrence and Sardinia," which finds director Mark Cousins retracing DH Lawrence and his wife's journey to Sea and Sardinia.
Several of the other Spotlight entries have been on long journeys across the festival circuit.
"Wild Tales" played at Cannes, Telluride and Toronto and recently won the NBR prize for Best Foreign Film. Damián Szifrón's film was Argentina's submission for the Foreign Language Oscar.
Yann Demange's "'71" played at the Berlin Film Festival and the drama has been a key piece of the "Jack O'Connell Is a Star" narrative that began before most American viewers saw the "Unbroken" actor in anything. It already has a spring release date.
Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy's "The Tribe," set at a Ukrainian boarding school for the deaf has been receiving rave reviews about its sign language-only storytelling, while HitFix's Gregory Ellwood had kind words to say about "Eden," which features Greta Gerwig, out of Toronto.
Also offering the possibility of Sundance star power in Spotlight is "99 Homes," from Ramin Bahrani, which has a cast led by Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon and Laura Dern.
On the New Frontiers slate, all six films are world premieres.
The 2015 Sundance Film Festival runs from January 22 to February 1 in Park City.
The biggest names are probably associated with Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson's "The Forbidden Room," which has a typically Maddin-esque logline -- "A submarine crew, a feared pack of forest bandits, a famous surgeon, and a battalion of child soldiers all get more than they bargained for as they wend their way toward progressive ideas on life and love" -- and an eclectic cast featuring Geraldine Chaplin, Caroline Dhavernas, Charlotte Rampling and Udo Kier.
As usual, formal and intellectual quirkiness dominate the New Frontiers program, which includes Jenni Olson's cinematic essay "The Royal Road," Doug Aitken's "Station to Station," which is composed of 60 one-minute short films from a variety of artists and perspectives, and "Sam Klemke's Time Machine," about a man who has filmed and narrated 50 years of his life.
Check out the full list of Spotlight and New Frontiers films, as well as the New Frontiers artists below:
6 Desires: DH Lawrence and Sardinia / United Kingdom, Italy (Director: Mark Cousins) — In winter 1921, DH Lawrence and his wife journeyed to Sardinia, and he chronicled their experiences in Sea and Sardinia. Now, Mark Cousins retraces Lawrence’s footsteps. The film is conceived partly as a letter to Lawrence — or “Bert” — a detail that’s typical of the film’s inviting sense of conversational intimacy. International Premiere
'71 / United Kingdom (Director: Yann Demange, Screenwriter: Gregory Burke) — ‘71 takes place over a single night in the life of a young British soldier accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot on the streets of Belfast in 1971. Unable to tell friend from foe, he must survive the night alone and find his way to safety. Cast: Jack O'Connell, Paul Anderson, Richard Dormer, Sean Harris, Barry Keoghan, Martin McCann.
99 Homes / U.S.A. (Director: Ramin Bahrani, Screenwriters: Ramin Bahrani, Amir Naderi, Bahareh Azimi) — A father struggles to get back the home that his family was evicted from by working for the greedy real-estate broker who's the source of his frustration. Cast: Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, Laura Dern, Tim Guinee, Cullen Moss, J.D. Evermore.
Aloft / Spain, France, Canada (Director and screenwriter: Claudia Llosa) — Aloft tells the story of a struggling mother, Nana, and her evolution to becoming a renowned healer. When a young artist tracks down Nana's son 20 years after she abandoned him, she sets in motion an encounter between the two that will bring the meaning of their lives into question. Cast: Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy, Mélanie Laurent, William Shimell. North American Premiere
Eden / France (Director: Mia Hansen-Løve, Screenwriters: Mia Hansen-Løve, Sven Hansen-Løve) — Mia Hansen-Løve's electronic-dance-music epic follows the rise and fall of a DJ (based on her brother, Sven, a contemporary of Daft Punk) who gets into the rave scene in 1994 and spends the next 20 years navigating the French club scene. Cast: Félix de Givry, Pauline Etienne, Greta Gerwig, Brady Corbet, Arsinee Khanjian, Vincent Macaigne.
Girlhood / France (Director and screenwriter: Céline Sciamma) — Oppressed by her family, dead-end school prospects, and the boys law in the neighborhood, Marieme starts a new life after meeting a group of three free-spirited girls. She changes her name, dress, and quits school to be accepted in the gang, hoping to find a way to freedom. Cast: Karidja Touré, Assa Sylla, Lindsay Karamoh, Mariétou Touré, Idrissa Diabaté, Simina Soumaré.
The Tribe / Ukraine (Director and screenwriter: Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy) — Set at a Ukrainian boarding school for the deaf, the film’s narrative unfolds purely through sign language without a need for employing subtitles or voiceover, resulting in a unique, never-before-seen cinematic experience that engages the audience on a new level. Cast: Grigoriy Fesenko, Yana Novikova, Rosa Babiy, Alexander Dsiadevich.
White God / Hungary (Director: Kornél Mundruczó, Screenwriters: Kata Wéber, Kornél Mundruczó, Viktória Petrányi) — When young Lili is forced to give up her beloved dog, Hagen, because its mixed-breed heritage is deemed “unfit” by The State, she and the dog begin a dangerous journey back towards each other. Cast: Zsófia Psotta, Sandor Zsótér, Szabolcs Thuróczy, Lili Monori, László Gálffi, Lili Horváth. U.S. Premiere
Wild Tales / Argentina, Spain (Director and screenwriter: Damián Szifrón) — Inequality, injustice, and the demands of the world cause stress and depression for many people. Some of them, however, explode. This is a movie about those people. Vulnerable in the face of an unpredictable reality, the characters of Wild Tales cross the thin line dividing civilization and barbarism. Cast: Ricardo Darín, Julieta Zyberberg, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Darío Grandinetti, Erica Rivas, Oscar Martínez.
NEW FRONTIER FILMS
The Forbidden Room / Canada (Directors: Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Screenwriters: Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Robert Kotyk) — A submarine crew, a feared pack of forest bandits, a famous surgeon, and a battalion of child soldiers all get more than they bargained for as they wend their way toward progressive ideas on life and love. Cast: Geraldine Chaplin, Caroline Dhavernas, Roy Dupuis, Udo Kier, Charlotte Rampling, Karine Vanasse. World Premiere
Liveforever / Colombia, Mexico (Director: Carlos Moreno, Screenwriters: Alberto Ferreras, Alonso Torres, Carlos Moreno) — Driven by the music and dancing she finds along the way, a teenager leaves home willing to try anything her provocative and tolerant city has to offer, even if she burns out in the process. Inspired by the best-selling novel "Que viva la música" by Andres Caicedo. Cast: Paulina Davila, Alejandra Avila, Luis Arrieta, Juan Pablo Barragan, Nelson Camayo, Christian Tappan. World Premiere
The Royal Road / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jenni Olson) — This cinematic essay, a defense of remembering, offers up a primer on the Spanish colonization of California and the Mexican American War alongside intimate reflections on nostalgia, butch identity and Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo — all against a contemplative backdrop of 16mm urban California landscapes. Cast: Jenni Olson, Tony Kushner. World Premiere
Sam Klemke's Time Machine / Australia (Director: Matthew Bate) — Sam Klemke has filmed and narrated 50 years of his life, creating a strange and intimate portrait of what it means to be human. World Premiere
Station to Station / U.S.A. (Director: Doug Aitken) — Station to Station is composed of 60 individual one-minute films featuring different artists, musicians, places, and perspectives. This revolutionary feature-length film reveals a larger narrative about modern creativity. World Premiere
Things of the Aimless Wanderer / Rwanda, United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Kivu Ruhorahoza) — A white man meets a black girl, then she disappears. The white man tries to understand what happened to her while also trying to finish a travelogue. Things of the Aimless Wanderer is a film about the sensitive topic of relations between “locals” and Westerners, about paranoia, mistrust, and misunderstandings. Cast: Justin Mullikin, Grace Nikuze, Ramadhan Bizimana, Eliane Umuhire, Wesley Ruzibiza, Matt Ray Brown. World Premiere
NEW FRONTIER INSTALLATIONS
1979 Revolution Game
Artists: Navid Khonsari, Vassiliki Khonsari
1979 Revolution Game presents an innovative approach to non-fiction storytelling. Designed to engage players with an immersive "on the ground" experience of the Iranian Revolution, the game integrates an emotionally impactful narrative with interactive moral choices and intuitive touchscreen gameplay while remaining true to history.
Artist: Oscar Raby
This immersive documentary uses virtual reality technology to put the user in the footsteps of Director Oscar Raby's father, who in 1973 was a 22-year-old army officer stationed in the north of Chile, on the day when the Caravan of Death came to his regiment.
Artist: Max Rheiner
Flying is one of the oldest dreams of humankind. Birdly is an experiment to capture this dream, to simulate the experience of being a bird from a first-person perspective. This embodiment is conducted through a full-body virtual reality setup.
Artist: François Quévillon
This interactive installation uses the audience’s body motions and positions to explore 3-D reconstructions of urban and natural spaces that are transformed according to live environmental data, including meteorological and astronomical phenomena.
Evolution of Verse
Artist: Chris Milk
Chris Milk, working with visual effects powerhouse Digital Domain and virtual reality production company VRSE.works, has created this photo-realistic CGI-rendered 3-D virtual reality film that takes the viewer on a journey from beginning to new beginning.
Artist: Ian Hunter
A dark energy experiment leads to a devastating attack by monstrous Kaiju, and you are standing at ground zero — all in 360-degree, stereoscopic 3-D cinematic virtual reality. You will "be there" as the beasts lay waste to a crumbling city and humanity makes its last stand. Cast: Susie Abromeit, Bill Lippincott, Daniel Martin, Brian Dodge, Vincient Chiantelli?.
Paradise is certainly not paradisiacal if you look at it through our eyes. But neither is it totally devoid of humor, melancholy and absurdity. Perhaps it is first and foremost life as it is, and then a touch exaggerated in the digital overdrive.
Perspective; Chapter I: The Party
Artists: Rose Troche, Morris May
A young college woman attends a party with the intention of shedding her "shy girl" persona. At the same party, a young man is after a similar reinvention. They meet, drink, and misinterpreted signals turn into things that cannot be undone. Virtual reality simulators let viewers experience both characters. Cast: Tabitha Morella, Caleb Thomas, Zachary Zagoria, Anna Grace Barlow.
Artists: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Possibilia is a multi-layered narrative experience from acclaimed directing duo the Daniels. The story of two quarreling lovers splits exponentially into more and more possible worlds as their relationship unravels. Cast: Alex Karpovsky, Zoe Jarman.
Artist: Nonny de la Peña
More than one million children have fled Syria and news reports indicate children are being specifically targeted in the violence. By combining pioneering virtual reality technologies with audio and video captured during a real event, audiences feel transported to the powerful scene, becoming witnesses as the intense tragedy unfolds.
The VR works of Felix & Paul
Artists: Félix Lajeunesse, Paul Raphaël
Felix & Paul’s groundbreaking live-action virtual reality experiences range from independent documentary to fictional work with major Hollywood studios and stars. These experiences let viewers sit in the room with musicians making music, roam the Mongolian plains with yak herders, and experience an encounter with the afterlife?.
Way to Go
Artist: Vincent Morisset
It is a walk in the woods. It is an astonishing online and virtual reality interactive experience, a restless panorama, a mixture of hand-made animation, 360-degree video capture, music, dreaming, and code; but mostly it is a walk in the woods, c'mon!
Artist: Danfung Dennis
Zero Point, a 3-D and 360-degree documentary for the Oculus Rift headset, creates an entirely new digital dimension. From combat training simulations at the Department of Defense to research labs at Stanford to indie game developers and hackers, this immersive experience highlights the future of virtual reality.