The Sundance Film Festival will give the world its first look at Amanda Seyfried as a porn star in the bio-pic Lovelace and Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs in a chronicle of the Apple entrepreneur’s life in jOBS — just two high-profile projects in a packed Premieres section for the indie showcase.
The festival, which runs from Jan. 17-27 in Park City, Utah, already announced its competition lineup and Midnight Movies last week, but this non-competitive group is typically the place where films with celebrity-filled casts and best-known directors debut.
Other titles in today’s announcement include Before Midnight, the third film in the Richard Linklater-directed Ethan Hawke-July Delpy Before Sunrise and Before Sunset series — as well as new films from Steve Carell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Naomi Watts, Brit Marling, Paul Rudd, and Dakota Fanning. Directors Jane Campion, Park Chan-Wook, and Michael Winterbottom are also bringing their latest projects.
Many films in the Premieres group are from actors or filmmakers who had previous success at Sundance, such as Lovelace‘s Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, who brought Howl to the festival three years ago, and Gordon-Levitt, who has become a Park City fixture with his crowdsourced filmmaking endeavor hitRECord.org.
Among the other Sundance favorites: Filmmaker Drake Doremus, whose long-distance love story Like Crazy was the breakout film of Sundance two years ago. He returns this time with Breathe In, co-written with longtime collaborate Ben York-Jones, which also stars their Like Crazy actress Felicity Jones as a visitor from abroad. Only this time, she’s an exchange student, upending the homelife of her host family.
“It’s a different style,” says Sundance festival director John Cooper. “There’s more play between all the different characters. That family dynamic is harder to pull off. It has more weight to it, because he’s moving away from youth.”
Watts and Robin Wright co-star in Two Mothers, a drama about two women who fall in love with each other’s sons. It’s directed by French filmmaker Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel) and fits a theme of sex and power that presented itself throughout Sundance’s selections this year. “It’s the kind of performances that you don’t see come around very often. The chemistry between all four of them, it’s scintillating,” says festival programmer Trevor Groth. “It just really swept me away.”
Festivalgoers are forever seeking the next Little Miss Sunshine at Sundance, and this year brings a movie that — on the surface, at least — sounds like it might fit the bill. It might just be because The Way, Way Back also co-stars Steve Carell and Toni Collette, who shared seats on that earlier hit’s yellow, VW bus, but it also comes from the promising writer-directors Jim Rash (Dean Pelton on NBC’s Community) and Nat Faxon, who shared an Oscar with Alexander Payne for the adapted screenplay of The Descendants.
The plot also focuses on a young kid, this time a 14-year-old boy who spends the summer with his mother and her new boyfriend and comes of age while working at a seaside waterpark for the season. But Cooper and Trevor say it has more in common with another Sundance favorite, 2009’s Adventureland. “That’s a fairer comparison than Little Miss Sunshine,” Groth says. “There’s a nostalgic quality to it, like the films we watched in the ’80s. More like a Meatballs.”
And see here for the Premiere Documentary lineup.
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Sundance’s Premiere Dramas, with descriptions straight from the festival listings:
Carter is a well-adjusted Adult Child of Divorce. So he thinks. When he discovers he was part of a divorce study as a child, it wreaks havoc on his family and forces him to face his chaotic past. (Director: Stuart Zicherman, Screenwriters: Ben Karlin, Stuart Zicherman) Cast: Adam Scott, Richard Jenkins, Catherine O’Hara, Amy Poehler, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clark Duke.
We meet Jesse and Celine nine years on in Greece. Almost two decades have passed since their first meeting on that train bound for Vienna. Before the clock strikes midnight, we will again become part of their story. (Director: Richard Linklater, Screenwriters: Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater.) Cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Xenia Kalogeropoulou, Ariane Labed, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick.
Unable to cope with a suddenly demanding public and battling advanced alcoholism, Jack Kerouac seeks respite in three brief sojourns to a cabin in Big Sur, which reveal his mental and physical deterioration. (Director and screenwriter: Michael Polish) Cast: Jean-Marc Barr, Kate Bosworth, Josh Lucas, Radha Mitchell, Anthony Edwards, Henry Thomas.
When a foreign exchange student arrives in a small upstate New York town, she challenges the dynamics of her host family’s relationships and alters their lives forever. (Director: Drake Doremus, Screenwriters: Drake Doremus, Ben York Jones) Cast: Guy Pearce, Felicity Jones, Amy Ryan, Mackenzie Davis.
Don Jon’s Addiction
In Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s charming directorial debut, a selfish modern-day Don Juan attempts to change his ways. (Director and screenwriter: Joseph Gordon-Levitt) Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, Rob Brown.
An operative for an elite private intelligence firm goes into deep cover to infiltrate a mysterious anarchist collective attacking major corporations. Bent on apprehending these fugitives, she finds her loyalty tested as her feelings grow for the group’s charismatic leader. (Director: Zal Batmanglij, Screenwriters: Zal Batmanglij, Brit Marling) Cast: Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgård, Ellen Page, Toby Kebbell, Shiloh Fernandez, Patricia Clarkson.
The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete
Separated from their mothers and facing a summer in the Brooklyn projects alone, two boys hide from police and forage for food, with only each other to trust. A story of salvation through friendship and two boys against the world. (Director: George Tillman Jr., Screenwriter: Michael Starrbury) Cast: Skylan Brooks, Ethan Dizon, Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks, Anthony Mackie, Jeffrey Wright.
The true story of one of the greatest entrepreneurs in American history, jOBS chronicles the defining 30 years of Steve Jobs’ life. jOBS is a candid, inspiring and personal portrait of the one who saw things differently. (Director: Joshua Michael Stern, Screenwriter: Matt Whiteley) Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Dermot Mulroney, Josh Gad, Lukas Haas, J.K. Simmons, Matthew Modine.
The Look of Love
The true story of British adult magazine publisher and entrepreneur Paul Raymond. A modern day King Midas story, Raymond became one of the richest men in Britain at the cost of losing those closest to him. (Director: Michael Winterbottom, Screenwriter: Matt Greenhalgh) Cast: Steve Coogan, Anna Friel, Imogen Poots, Tamsin Egerton.
Deep Throat, the first pornographic feature film to be a mainstream success, was an international sensation in 1972 and made its star, Linda Lovelace, a media darling. Years later the “poster girl for the sexual revolution” revealed a darker side to her story. (Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman, Screenwriter: Andy Bellin) Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Hank Azaria, Adam Brody, James Franco, Sharon Stone.
The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman
Traveling abroad, Charlie Countryman falls for Gabi, a Romanian beauty whose unreachable heart has its origins in Nigel, her violent, charismatic ex. As the darkness of Gabi’s past increasingly envelops him, Charlie resolves to win her heart, or die trying. (Director: Fredrik Bond, Screenwriter: Matt Drake) Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood, Mads Mikkelsen, Rupert Grint, James Buckley, Til Schweiger.
Two highway road workers spend the summer of 1988 away from their city lives. The isolated landscape becomes a place of misadventure as the men find themselves at odds with each other and the women they left behind. (Director and screenwriter: David Gordon Green) Cast: Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch.
After India’s father dies in an auto accident, her Uncle Charlie comes to live with her and her mother, Evelyn. Soon after his arrival, India suspects that this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives but becomes increasingly infatuated with him. (Director: Park Chan-Wook, Screenwriter: Wentworth Miller) Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Dermot Mulroney, Jacki Weaver, Nicole Kidman.
In the late 1800s, a fanatical religious leader, a renegade Sheriff, and a former prostitute collide in a blood triangle on the rugged plains of the New Mexico Territory. (Directors: Logan Miller, Noah Miller, Screenwriter: Andrew McKenzie) Cast: Ed Harris, January Jones, Jason Isaacs, Eduardo Noriega, Steven Rude, Amy Madigan.
Top of the Lake
A 12-year-old girl stands chest deep in a frozen lake. She is five months pregnant, and won’t say who the father is. Then she disappears. So begins a haunting mystery that consumes a community. (Directors: Jane Campion, Garth Davis, Screenwriters: Jane Campion, Gerard Lee) Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Holly Hunter, Peter Mullan, David Wenham. This six-hour film will screen once during the Festival.
This gripping tale of love, lust and the power of friendship charts the unconventional and passionate affairs of two lifelong friends who fall in love with each other’s sons. France (Director: Anne Fontaine, Screenwriter: Christopher Hampton) Cast: Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Xavier Samuel, James Frechevile.
Very Good Girls
In the long, half-naked days of a New York summer, two girls on the brink of becoming women fall for the same guy and find that life isn’t as simple or safe as they had thought. (Director and screenwriter: Naomi Foner) Cast: Dakota Fanning, Elizabeth Olsen, Boyd Holbrook, Demi Moore, Richard Dreyfuss, Ellen Barkin.
The Way, Way Back
Duncan, an introverted 14-year-old, comes into his own over the course of a comedic summer when he forms unlikely friendships with the gregarious manager of a rundown water park and the misfits who work there. (Directors and screenwriters: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash) Cast: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Liam James.
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Anita Hill, an African-American woman, charges Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas with sexual harassment in explosive Senate hearings in 1991 – bringing sexual politics into the national consciousness and fueling 20 years of international debate on the issues. (Director: Freida Mock)
The Crash Reel
The jaw-dropping story of one unforgettable athlete, Kevin Pearce; one eye-popping sport, snow boarding; and one explosive issue, traumatic brain injury. An epic rivalry between Kevin and Shaun White culminates in a life-changing crash and a comeback story with a difference. (Director: Lucy Walker)
History of the Eagles
Using never-before-seen home movies, archival footage and new interviews with all current and former members of the Eagles, this documentary provides an intimate look into the history of the band and the legacy of their music. (Director: Alison Ellwood)
Jeremy Lin came from a humble background to make an unbelievable run in the NBA. State high school champion, all-Ivy League at Harvard, undrafted by the NBA and unwanted there: his story started long before he landed on Broadway. (Director: Evan Leong)
A growing number of environmentalists are renouncing decades of antinuclear orthodoxy and have come to believe that the most feared and controversial technology known to mankind is probably our greatest hope. (Director: Robert Stone)
Running from Crazy
Mariel Hemingway, granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, strives for a greater understanding of her family history of suicide and mental illness. As tragedies are explored and deeply hidden secrets are revealed, Mariel searches for a way to overcome a similar fate. (Director: Barbara Kopple)
Through interviews and performances with the legendary musicians and producers who worked at America’s greatest unsung recording studio, Sound City, we explore the human element of music, and the lost art of analog recording in an increasingly digital world. (Director: Dave Grohl)
We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks
In 2010, WikiLeaks and its sources used the power of the Internet to usher in what was for some a new era of transparency and for others the beginnings of an information war. (Director: Alex Gibney)
When I Walk
At 25, filmmaker and artist Jason DaSilva finds out he has a severe form of multiple sclerosis. This film shares his personal and grueling journey over the next seven years. Along the way, an unlikely miracle changes everything. (Director: Jason DaSilva)
Which Way is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington
Shortly after the release of his documentary Restrepo, photographer Tim Hetherington was killed in Libya. Colleague Sebastian Junger traces Hetherington’s work across the world’s battlefields to reveal how he transcended the boundaries of image-making to become a luminary in his profession. (Director: Sebastian Junger)
The World According to Dick Cheney
How did Dick Cheney become the single-most-powerful nonpresidential figure in American history? This multi-layered examination of Cheney’s life, career, key relationships and controversial worldview features exclusive interviews with the former vice president and his closest allies. (Directors: R.J. Cutler, Greg Finton)