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MARY AND MAX From First-Time Feature Director Adam Elliot to Open Silver Anniversary Festival in Park City, Utah
Park City, UT--2009 Sundance Film Festival will screen 118 feature-length films including 89 world premieres, 17 North American premieres, and 4 U.S. premieres representing 21 countries with 42 first-time filmmakers. The Festival which opens on January 15 in Park City with the world premiere of Mary and Max, a clay animation feature film from Academy Award-winning short film creators Adam Elliot and producer Melanie Coombs. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Toni Collette and narrated by Barry Humphries, Mary and Max is the tale of two unlikely pen pals Mary, a lonely, eight-year-old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne, and Max, a forty-four-year old, severely obese man living in New York. The story is based on the director's own pen-friendship that has also lasted over twenty years.
The screening of the Closing Film on January 23, the second Friday of the Film Festival, will signal the start of the final weekend. This year's Closing Film is the world premiere of Earth Days, a history of our environmental undoing seen through the eyes of nine Americans whose work and actions launched the modern environmental movement. The Salt Lake City Gala on Friday, January 16 will feature the world premiere of The September Issue, screening in Documentary Competition. With unprecedented access, director R.J. Cutler and his crew shot for nine months to capture Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour and her team preparing the 2007 Vogue September issue, widely accepted as the fashion bible for the year's trends.
Whether personal reflective pieces or larger films with established talent, the films screening out of competition have enormous possibility for success down the line, said Geoffrey Gilmore, Director, Sundance Film Festival. Across all the categories there are some truly excellent films in this year's Festival.
Added John Cooper, Director of Programming, Sundance Film Festival, There are some terrific acting ensemble works in Premieres section and I am counting on some surprise commercial interest in Midnight and Spectrum this year.
To showcase the diversity of contemporary independent cinema, the Sundance Film Festival Premieres section offers the latest work from American and international directors and world premieres of highly anticipated films.
Films screening in Premieres are
500 Days of Summer/USA. (Director Marc Webb; Screenwriters Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber): When an unlucky greeting card copywriter is dumped by his girlfriend, the hopeless romantic shifts back and forth through various periods of their 500 days together in hopes of figuring out where things went wrong. Cast Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. World Premiere
Adventureland/USA (Director and Screenwriter Greg Mottola): In 1987, a recent college graduate takes a nowhere job at his local amusement park and discovers the job is perfect preparation for the real world. Cast Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds, Bill Hader. World Premiere
Brooklyn's Finest/ USA (Director Antoine Fuqua; Screenwriter Michael C. Martin): After enduring vastly different career paths, three unconnected Brooklyn cops wind up at the same deadly location. Cast Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes, Don Cheadle, Ellen Barkin. World Premiere
Earth Days/USA (Director Robert Stone): The history of our environmental undoing through the eyes of nine Americans whose work and actions launched the modern environmental movement. World Premiere. Closing Night Film
Endgame/UK (Director Pete Travis; Screenwriter Paula Milne): A political thriller in which a businessman initiates covert discussions between the African National Congress and white intellectuals to try and find a peaceful solution to the Apartheid regime. Cast William Hurt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jonny Lee Miller, Mark Strong. World Premiere
I Love You Philip Morris/USA (Directors and Screenwriters Glenn Ficarra and John Requa): The true story about con artist and imposter Steven Jay Russell, a married father whose exploits land him in the Texas criminal justice system. Based on the novel by Houston Chronicle crime reporter Steve McVicker. Cast Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro. World Premiere
The Informers/USA (Director Gregor Jordan; Screenwriters Bret Easton Ellis and Nicholas Jarecki): A drama based on Bret Easton Ellis' novel, set in the 1980s, focusing on wealthy Angelinos consumed by a decadent lifestyle. Cast Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Winona Ryder, Mickey Rourke. World Premiere
In the Loop/UK (Director Armando Iannucci; Screenwriters Armando Iannucci and Jesse Armstrong): A fast-paced film about Britain and America's special relationship in the lead-up to a war no one seems to be able to stop. Cast Peter Capaldi, James Gandolfini, Tom Hollander. World Premiere
Manure/USA (Director Michael Polish; Screenwriters Mark Polish and Michael Polish): A comic tale centered on manure salesmen in the early 1960s. Cast Téa Leoni, Billy Bob Thornton, Kyle MacLachlan. World Premiere
Mary and Max/Australia (Director and Screenwriter Adam Elliot): The tale of two unlikely pen pals Mary, a lonely, eight-year-old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne, and Max, a forty-four-year old, severely obese man living in New York. Cast Philip Seymour Hoffman (voice):, Toni Collette (voice):, Barry Humphries (voice):. World Premiere, Opening Night Film
The Messenger/USA (Director Oren Moverman; Screenwriters Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman): Two soldiers from different generations form a unique bond as they cope with their assignment with the Army Casualty Notification department. Cast Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton, Jena Malone, Eamonn Walker. World Premiere
Moon/UK (Director Duncan Jones; Screenwriter Nathan Parker): Before returning to Earth after three years on the moon, things go horribly wrong for astronaut Sam Bell. Cast Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey. World Premiere
Motherhood/USA (Director and Screenwriter Katherine Dieckmann): A mother of two from Manhattan is having a day that would challenge even the toughest maternal multi-tasker. Cast Uma Thurman, Minnie Driver, Anthony Edwards. World Premiere
Rudo and Cursi (Rudo y Cursi):/Mexico (Director and Screenwriter Carlos Cuarón): Two siblings rival each other inside the world of professional soccer. Cast Diego Luna, Gael García Bernal, Guillermo Francella. U.S. Premiere
Shrink/USA (Director Jonas Pate; Screenwriter Thomas Moffett): Unable to come to grips with a recent personal tragedy, Los Angeles' top celebrity psychiatrist loses faith in his ability to help his patients. Cast Kevin Spacey, Keke Palmer, Mark Webber, Dallas Roberts, Saffron Burrows. World Premiere
Spread/USA (Director David Mackenzie; Screenwriter Jason Dean Hall): A handsome young man survives in Los Angeles by seducing wealthy older women. Cast Ashton Kutcher, Anne Heche. World Premiere
A tribute to the abundance of compelling new voices and the creative spirit in independent filmmaking, the Spectrum program presents out-of-competition dramatic and documentary films from some of the most promising filmmakers in the world today.
Dramatic films screening in Spectrum are
Against the Current/USA (Director and Screenwriter Peter Callahan): Facing the anniversary of his pregnant wife's tragic death, thirty-five-year old Paul Thompson enlists the help of two friends to help him swim the length of the Hudson River. Cast Joseph Fiennes, Justin Kirk, Elizabeth Reaser, Mary Tyler Moore, Michelle Trachtenberg. World Premiere
The Anarchist's Wife (La Mujer del Anarquista):/Germany/Spain (Directors Marie Noelle and Peter Sehr; Screenwriters Marie Noelle and Ray Loriga): During the Spanish Civil War an idealistic young lawyer combating Franco's Fascist troops is separated from his wife and children. Cast Maria Valverde, Juan Diego Botto, Nina Hoss, Ivana Baquero, Jean-Marc Barr. North American Premiere
Barking Water/USA (Director and Screenwriter Sterlin Harjo): Irene and Frankie have had a tumultuous relationship for forty years. As Frankie lies on his deathbed, Irene comes back to him one last time to break him from the hospital and take him home. Cast Richard Ray Whitman, Casey Camp- Horenik. World Premiere
Children of Invention/USA (Director and Screenwriter Tze Chun): Two young children living illegally in a model apartment outside Boston are left to fend for themselves when their mother is arrested for unwittingly taking part in an illegal pyramid scheme. Cast Cindy Cheung, Michael Chen, Crystal Chiu. World Premiere
Everything Strange and New/USA (Director and Screenwriter Frazer Bradshaw): Trapped by a life he never intended, a man struggles to navigate family, sexuality and drug addiction. Cast Jerry McDaniel, Beth Lisick, Rigo Chacon Jr., Luis Saguar. World Premiere
Helen/Canada/Germany (Director and Screenwriter Sandra Nettelbeck): A successful music professor fights her own clinical depression. Cast Ashley Judd, Goran Visnijic. World Premiere
The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle/USA (Director and Screenwriter David Russo): After losing his high-paying job, Dory takes a gig as a night janitor in order to pay rent. Alone late at night inside a market research firm, he discovers something worse than his new job cleaning toilets - a conniving corporate executive has made him the subject of a bizarre experiment. Cast Marshall Allman, Vince Vieluf, Natasha Lyonne, Tania Raymonde, Tygh Runyan. World Premiere
Johnny Mad Dog/France (Director Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire; Screenwriters Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire and Jacques Fieschi): A fifteen-year-old kid-soldier fighting in Africa is armed to the hilt and inhabited by the mad dog he dreams of becoming. Cast Christophe Minie, Daisy Victoria Vandy. North American Premiere
La Mission/USA (Director and Screenwriter Peter Bratt): A traditional, Latino father in San Francisco's Mission District struggles to come to terms with his teenage son's homosexuality. Cast Benjamin Bratt, Erika Alexander, Jeremy Ray Valdez, Talisa Soto Bratt, Jesse Borrego. World Premiere
Lymelife/USA. (Director Derick Martini; Screenwriters Derick Martini and Steven Martini): Set in the 1970s, a unique take on the dangers of the American dream seen through the innocent eyes of a fifteen- year-old boy. Cast Alec Baldwin, Kieran Culkin, Timothy Hutton, Cynthia Nixon, Emma Roberts. U.S. Premiere
The Missing Person/USA (Director and Screenwriter Noah Buschel): Private detective John Rosow is hired to tail a man on a train from Chicago to Los Angeles. En route, Rosow uncovers that the man's identity is one of the thousands presumed dead after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Cast Michael Shannon, Amy Ryan, Frank Wood. World Premiere
Once More with Feeling/USA (Director Jeff Lipsky; Screenwriter Gina O'Brien):A comedy about a psychiatrist who undergoes a midlife crisis and pursues his long-lost ambition of becoming a singer through karaoke. Cast Drea de Matteo, Linda Fiorentino, Chazz Palminteri, Susan Misner, Lauren Bittner. World Premiere
The Only Good Indian/USA (Director Kevin Willmott; Screenwriter Tom Carmody): Set in early 1900s Kansas, a teenage Native American boy is taken from his family and forced to attend an Indian training school to assimilate into White society. Cast Wes Studi, Winter Fox Frank, J. Kenneth Campbell. World Premiere
Pomegranates and Myrrh (Al Mor wa al Rumman):/Palestinian Territories (Director and Screenwriter Najwa Najjar): The wife of a Palestinian prisoner searches for freedom. Cast Ali Suliman, Yasmine Al Massri, Ashraf Farah, Hiam Abbass. North American Premiere
The Vicious Kind/USA (Director and Screenwriter Lee Toland Krieger): Suffering insomnia and testy by nature, Caleb Sinclaire reluctantly picks up his brother Peter at college and brings him and his new girlfriend Emma home to his estranged father's house for Thanksgiving. Cast Brittany Snow, Adam Scott, J.K. Simmons, Alex Frost. World Premiere
World's Greatest Dad/USA (Director and Screenwriter Bobcat Goldthwait): A comedy about a high school poetry teacher who learns that the things you want most may not be the things that make you happy. Cast Robin Williams, Daryl Sabara, Alexie Gilmore, Tom Kenny, Geoffrey Pierson. World Premiere
The films screening in Spectrum Documentary Spotlight are
It Might Get Loud/USA (Director Davis Guggenheim): The history of the electric guitar from the point of view of three legendary rock musicians. Cast The Edge, Jimmy Page, Jack White. U.S. Premiere
No Impact Man/USA (Directors Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein): The documentary follows the Beavan family as they abandon their high consumption Fifth Avenue lifestyle in an attempt to make a no- net environmental impact for the course of one year. Cast Michelle Conlin, Colin Beavan. World Premiere
Passing Strange/USA (Director Spike Lee; Lyrics Stew; Music Stew and Heidi Rodewald): A musical documentary about the international exploits of a young man from Los Angeles who leaves home to find himself and 'the real'. A theatrical stage production of the original Tony-Award winning book by Stew. Cast De Adre Aziza, Daniel Breaker, Eisa Davis, Colman Domingo, Stew. World Premiere
Tyson/USA (Director James Toback): An intimate look at the complex life of former heavyweight
champ Mike Tyson. Cast Mike Tyson. North American Premiere
Why We Laugh Black Comedians on Black Comedy/USA (Director Robert Townsend; Quincy Newell): Using rare archival clips along with provocative interviews with many of today's leading comedians and social critics, Why We Laugh celebrates the incredible cultural influence and social impact black comedy has wielded over the past 400 years. Cast Chris Rock, Bill Cosby, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Steve Harvey, Dick Gregory. World Premiere
Wounded Knee/USA (Director Stanley Nelson; Screenwriter Marcia Smith): In 1973, American Indian groups took over the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota to draw attention the 1890 massacre. Though the federal government failed to keep many of the promises that ended the siege, the event succeeded in bringing to the world's attention the desperate conditions of Indian reservation life. World Premiere
The Yes Men Fix the World/France/ USA (Directors Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno and Kurt Engfehr): A pair of notorious troublemakers sneak into corporate events disguised as captains of industry, then use their momentary authority to expose the biggest criminals on the planet. Cast Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno. World Premiere
PARK CITY AT MIDNIGHT
Park City at Midnight offers eight films that are likely to amuse, surprise, or shock the bleary-eyed viewer and offer a lively last stop in the nightly film-going circuit.
The films screening in Park City at Midnight this year are
Black Dynamite/USA (Director Scott Sanders; Screenwriters Michael Jai White, Scott Sanders, and Byron Minns): When The Man murders his brother, pumps heroin into local orphanages, and floods the ghetto with adulterated malt liquor, 1970s African-American action legend Black Dynamite is the one hero willing to take him on. Cast Michael Jai White, Tommy Davidson, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Byron Minns, James McManus. World Premiere
The Carter/USA (Director Adam Bhala Lough): An in-depth, intimate look at the artist Dwayne Lil' Wayne Carter Jr, proclaimed by many as the greatest rapper alive Cast Lil' Wayne, Brian Williams, Cortez Bryant. World Premiere
Død Snø (Dead Snow):/Norway (Director Tommy Wirkola; Screenwriters Tommy Wirkola and Stig Frode Henriksen): A group of teenagers had all they needed for a successful ski vacation; cabin, skis, snowmobile, toboggan, copious amounts of beer and a fertile mix of the sexes. Certainly, none of them anticipated not returning home alive! However, the Nazi-zombie battalion haunting the mountains had other plans. Cast Vegard Hoel, Stig Frode Henriksen, Charlotte Frogner, Jenny Skavlan, Jeppe Beck Laursen. North American Premiere
Grace/USA (Director and Screenwriter Paul Solet): After losing her unborn child, Madeline Matheson insists on carrying the baby to term. Following the delivery, the child miraculously returns to life, but when the baby develops a desperate appetite for human blood, Madeline is faced with a mother's ultimate decision. Cast Jordan Ladd, Samantha Ferris, Gabrielle Rose, Malcom Stewart, Stephen Park, Serge Houde. World Premiere
The Killing Room/USA (Director Jonathan Liebesman; Screenwriters Gus Krieger and Ann Peacock): Four individuals sign up for a psychological research study only to discover that they are now subjects of a brutal, classified government program. Cast Chloe Sevigny, Peter Stormare, Clea DuVall, Timothy Hutton, Nick Cannon. World Premiere
Mystery Team/USA (Director Dan Eckman; Screenwriters Dominic Dierkes, Donald Glover, and DC Pierson): A group of kid detectives called The Mystery Team struggle to solve a double murder to prove they can be real detectives before they graduate from high school. Cast Dominic Dierkes, D.C. Pierson, Donald Glover, Aubrey Plaza, Bobby Moynihan. World Premiere
Spring Breakdown/USA (Director Ryan Shiraki; Screenwriters Ryan Shiraki and Rachel Dratch): Three thirtysomething friends attempt to break the monotony of their uninspired lives by vacationing at a popular spring break getaway for college students. Cast Rachel Dratch, Amy Poehler, Parker Posey, Will Arnett, Rachel Hamilton. World Premiere
White Lightnin'/ UK (Director Dominic Murphy; Screenwriters Shane Smith and Eddy Moretti): The outrageous cult story of Jesco White, the dancing outlaw. Cast Ed Hogg, Carrie Fisher, Muse Watson, Wallace Merck, Clay Steakley. World Premiere
The Festival's Frontier section explores the experimental world of filmmaking. Utilizing new directions in filmmaking and innovative aesthetic approaches, work in the Frontier category challenges and provokes audiences.
Lunch Break/Exit/USA (Director Sharon Lockhart): Lunch Break and Exit yield from Lockhart's timely new film and photographic series about the bleak state of U.S. labor. In Lunch Break, a single tracking shot through a long corridor where workers take their lunch hour at the massive shipyard, Bath Iron Works in Maine, reveals how 42 workers spend their lunch break. In Exit, the frame constantly fills with teaming workers each day as they head for home after a long day s work.
O'er the Land/USA (Director Deborah Stratman): A meditation on our national psyche and the milieu of elevated threat, O'er the Land addresses gun culture, national identity, wilderness, consumption, patriotism and the possibility of personal transcendence.
Stay the Same Never Change/USA (Director and Screenwriter Laurel Nakadate): A mix of visual fact and narrative fiction starring a group of amateur actors in Kansas City. Whether it's a family man looking for beauty or a young woman obsessed with polar bears and Oprah, the characters in this humorous film reveal quiet lives full of sadness and desire. Cast Dirk Cowan, Julie Potratz, Emily Boullear, Cyan Meeks, Tate Buck. World Premiere
Where is Where?/(Director Eija Liisa-Ahtila):Where is Where? is an experimental, four channel film based on an incident which happened during the struggle for independence in Algeria. As a reaction to the acts of violence committed by the French, two young Algerian boys murder their friend, a French boy of the same age. The film starts from the present day when the Death enters the house of a poet who is attempting to write about the incident. World Premiere
Artist Spotlight The Works of Maria Marshall/USA (Director Maria Marshall): Maria Marshall's disturbing and gorgeously composed video projections provoke the psychological dimensions of cinema. Often violent and always visually charming, Marshall often uses her two sons in the main roles of her films. Her work tackles fundamental subjects of motherhood, socialization and life experience and takes us back to the world of childhood as a pretext in order to evoke the anxiety of adults.
You Won't Miss Me/USA (Director Ry Russo-Young): A portrait of a modern day rebel, Shelly Brown, a twenty-three year-old alienated urban misfit recently released from a psychiatric hospital. Cast Stella Schnabel, Rene Ricard. World Premiere
For the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, 118 feature-length films were selected including 89 world premieres, 17 North American premieres, and 4 U.S. premieres representing 21 countries with 42 first- time filmmakers, including 28 in competition. These films were selected from 3,661 feature- length film submissions composed of 1,905 U.S. and 1,756 international feature-length films.
2009 Sundance Film Festival Sponsors
The 2009 Sundance Film Festival Sponsors help sustain not only the Festival but also the year-round programs of the non-profit Sundance Institute. Their support is crucial to the Institute's mission of nurturing independent artists, inspiring risk-taking, and encouraging diversity in the arts. This year's Festival Sponsors include Presenting Sponsors - Entertainment Weekly, HP and Honda; Leadership Sponsors - American Express, Delta Air Lines, DIRECTV, Google, Microsoft Corporation and; Sustaining Sponsors - Blockbuster Inc., FilterForGood, a partnership between Brita and Nalgene, the National Milk Mustache got milk? Campaign, Le Tourment Vert Absinthe Francaise, L Oréal Paris, The New York Times, Ray-Ban, Sony Electronics, Inc., Stella Artois, Timberland, and Utah Film Commission. Sundance Channel is the Official Television Network of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.
Sundance Film Festival
The Sundance Film Festival is the premier showcase for U.S. and international independent film, held each January in and around Park City, Utah. Presenting approximately 120 dramatic and documentary feature-length films in seven distinct categories and between 60 and 80 short films each year, the Sundance Film Festival has introduced American audiences to some of the most ground-breaking films of the past two decades, including sex lies and videotape, Maria Full of Grace, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, An Inconvenient Truth, Trouble the Water and Central Station.
Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, Sundance Institute is a not-for-profit organization that fosters the development of original storytelling in film and theatre, and presents the annual Sundance Film Festival. Internationally recognized for its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, film composers, playwrights and theatre artists, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Angels in America, Spring Awakening, Boys Don't Cry and Born into Brothels. www.sundance.org
Gregg Schwenk is a writer, educator, and entrepreneur. He reports on a number of various subjects including: film, art, technology and politics. Mr. Schwenk is an adjunct professor at CSUF's Center for Entertainment and Tourism located in Orange County, California. He is also a consultant and advisor to several entertainment and technology firms. In 2005, Mr. Schwenk was appointed by the US Secretary of Commerce, to the District Export Council. He has a BA from the University of California, Berkeley and completed the Advanced Management Program at USC.