An EW Sundance Preview

By Chris Nashawaty
Updated January 19, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

Like an annual plague of Hollywood locusts, the buzz has once again descended upon us. As we sift through the hype leading up to the annual Sundance Film Festival (Jan. 18-28), we’re reminded that last year there was little early heat on, say, You Can Count on Me. No, the film that was being buzzed about was Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez‘s porn saga Rated X, which fizzled out like a stale Alka-Seltzer tablet. So instead of begging for a pie in the face and predicting the breakout hits, we’ll just forecast some of the possible highlights:

— SUNDANCE OR SOTHEBY’S? Thanks to a potential Hollywood strike, this could be the strongest seller’s market in years. But some, like Fine Line president Mark Ordesky, disagree: ”I don’t buy that ‘strike effect.’ There will be bidding wars, but not because of the strike.”

— YOU CAN GO HOME AGAIN A slew of ghosts from Sundance past — Richard Linklater (1991’s Slacker), Allison Anders (1992’s Gas Food Lodging), and Tom DiCillo (1995’s Living in Oblivion) — will unspool their latest films. Meanwhile, indie stalwarts Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Steve Buscemi, Samuel L. Jackson, Kate Winslet, and Gary Oldman will appear in front of the camera, while Julianne Moore will receive the Piper-Heidsieck Tribute to Independent Vision.

— SOME EARLY BUZZ MAGNETS There’s strong advance word on New Line’s screen adaptation of the Off Broadway hit Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and for The Business of Strangers, which looks like a sort of reverse In the Company of Men and stars Stockard Channing and Julia Stiles. Also, acquisitions folks are looking forward to the Drew Barrymore-produced Donnie Darko, DiCillo’s Double Whammy (starring Denis Leary and Elizabeth Hurley), and Michael Apted‘s WWII thriller Enigma.

— SWAYZE Yes, the lion-maned star of Dirty Dancing will be in the house, perhaps making a Travolta-esque comeback bid for indie cred in Green Dragon. Okay, so here’s one prediction: Swayze’s back, dammit!