The upcoming Sundance Film Festival is taking shape with the titles programmed for its non-competition slots unveiled today following the announcement of its competition sections yesterday. While the The New York Times noted in its write up about the competition that there was a noticeable dirth of stars, the Sundance Premieres section should provide the photo agencies and gawkers (and iW's own iPOP) a bit of a celebrity fix.
Director Miguel Arteta ("Chuck & Buck") returns to Park City with "Cedar Rapids," starring Ed Helms, Sigourney Weaver, John C. Reilly and Anne Heche about a small town businessman who heads to Iowa for a work conference. Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin and Billy Crudup star in Jill Sprecher's ("Clockwatchers") latest effort, "The Convincer." Director Mark Pellington ("Going All the Way") is also making the return trip to Sundance with "I Melt with You" starring Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven and Rob Lowe, while relative newcomer JC Chandor is screening his feature, "Margin Call" in Premieres with Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons and Stanley Tucci.
Kevin Smith ("Clerks") will return to Utah with, perhaps appropriately, "Red State" with Michael Parks, John Goodman and Melissa Leo, while George Ratliff ("Joshua") will be making the return trip with his latest, "Salvation Boulevard," starring Pierce Brosnan, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Greg Kinnear and Marisa Tomei.
"The Premieres section is not micro-budget - they're big names," Sundance Film Festival head John Cooper told indieWIRE this week. He went on to say that this year's lineup in the section includes a larger number of films that are for sale compared to previous years. "Fox Searchlight has two films - 'Cedar Rapids' and 'Win Win' - otherwise everything is for sale..."
A new addition this year, as previously announced, is Sundance's Documentary Premieres section, which will showcase "big subjects" and new work by veteran filmmakers of the medium. Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato ("The Eyes of Tammy Faye") are heading back to the festival with their latest, "Becoming Chaz" about Chastity Bono's transition from biological female to male. Liz Garbus ("Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech") will screen her latest, "Bobby Fischer Against the World" in the section about the late chess-master and Morgan Spurlock ("Super Size Me") will take his new project "The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, which turns the lens on branding, advertising and product placement to Documentary Premieres.
Cooper and Sundance director of programming, Trevor Groth, also touted this year's Spotlight lineup. Unlike its US competition and Premieres sections, some titles included in the sidebar have had debuts at other festivals around the world.
"One of my favorite areas of the festival is Spotlight because we can bring some films to the Sundance community like Gregg Araki's 'Kaboom' (Cannes) and Denis Villeneuve's [Toronto winner] 'Incendies.' There are also some new films there from established filmmakers like Joe Swanberg ('Uncle Kent')."
The 2011 Sundance Film Festival takes place January 20 - 30 in Park City, Ogden and Sundance, UT.
[Editor's Note: The original version of this story noted "Win Win" as the closing night film. It is in fact "The Son of No One" by Dito Montiel.]