By Eugene Hernandez | Indiewire December 5, 2006 at 7:38AM
Now thirteen years old, the Slamdance Film Festival will open its 2007 event with Allan Moyle's "Weirdsville," starring Scott Speedman, Wes Bentley, Taryn Manning, Greg Bryk, Matt Frewer and Maggie Castle. The screwball comedy is described as the story of "two junkies on the run from a satanic cult, a cabal of midget knights, a vengeful drug dealer, and a mouse, in a little town called Weirdsville." Running January 18 - 27 in Park City, UT alongside the annual Sundance Film Festival, Slamdance boasted 3,600 submissions for fewer than 100 festival slots this year, according to organizers.
"Taking into account this year's festival film submissions, it's clear to see independent filmmaking has increased its standing in the world of entertainment," said Peter Baxter, president and co-founder of Slamdance, in a statement. "What sets Slamdance's program apart this year is the sense of pure independent filmmaking at its best...a passionate combination that offers a high level of entertainment, social and commercial value. In most ways the program represents the spirit of the Slamdance ID. This 13 year-old teenager breaks rules, has stayed true to its roots and embodies the spirit of independent creativity."
Planners noted today, in an announcement, that they will have an equal number of films in both the narrative and documentary competitions for the first time. The complete Slamdance feature competition lineups, with 10 films in each, have been announced today, along with special screenings.
Slamdance will again be based at the Treasure Mountain Inn on Main Street in Park City, including "best of" fest screenings in Salt Lake City on January 27th.
Festival organizers limit access to the feature competition to first-time feature filmmakers working with a budget under one million dollars. According to an announcement, each film is programmed by a majority rule among the selection committee comprised of filmmakers, including Slamdance festival alums.
Festival alumni have a place in this year's event. Among those returning to Slamdance this year include Jeremy Saulnier, winner of the event's grand jury prize for best short in 2004 for "Crabwalk." He is in the narrative competition with "Murder Party," while Slamdance alum Seth Gordon (a 2002 participant in the festival's Anarchy Online sidebar with "Squirt) is in the doc competition this year with "King of Kong." Finally, in the 21+ Screenings section, 2003 Slamdance alum Sean Meredith who last attended the fest with "In Smog and Thunder," returns to Slamdance this year with "Dante's Inferno."
"Slamdance has officially become rebel teenagers as we celebrate our 13th birthday. This year, we have decided to concentrate our narrative and documentary features closer to home," said Sarah Diamond, Slamdance director of programming, in a statement, "highlighting an extraordinary group of Made in the USA movies. They are all brilliant, illuminating and entertaining examples of terrific filmmaking, of course, but that's all they have in common as their genres and scope couldn't be more different...or welcome."
Slamdance Feature Film Lineup (information provided by the festival):
Narrative Feature Competition
"American Fork," directed by Chris Bowman
The life and times of Tracy Orbison, a grocery clerk with the mind of a dreamer, the soul of a poet and the body of a really fat man. (World Premiere)
"American Zombie," directed by Grace Lee
Two filmmakers team up to document a group of zombies in Los Angeles and their struggle to gain acceptance in the human community. (World Premiere)
"Bangkok," directed by Colin Drobnis
When Paul, a career soldier, is discharged from the Army, he sets off for Southeast Asia in search of his long lost MIA father. Quickly adrift in the seductive, unfamiliar landscape of modern day Asia, he's targeted by a Bible-toting pickpocket and the two men strike an uneasy friendship.
"Crime Fiction," directed by Will Slocombe
James Cooper is a hopeless writer. After a late-night argument with his girlfriend spirals out of control, James winds up with blood on his hands and a body in his trunk. And he finally finds a story. (World Premiere)
"The Death of Michael Smith," written/directed by Daniel Casey
Set in the shadows of a harsh Detroit winter, "The Death of Michael Smith" follows three men with the same name, inextricably linked to a mysterious murder. (World Premiere)
"Murder Party," written/ directed by Jeremy Saulnier
A random invitation to a Halloween party leads a lonesome man through the desolate wastes of Brooklyn and into the hands of a rogue collective intent on murdering him for the sake of their art. (World Premiere)
*Saulnier previously won the Slamdance 2004 Grand Jury Sparky Award for Best Narrative Short, "Crabwalk"
"Over the GW," written/directed by Nick Gaglia
Based on a true story of two teenage siblings who get sucked into an abusive, cult-like drug rehabilitation program. (World Premiere)
"The Path of Most Resistance, "written/directed by Peter Kelley
Solitude is an essential part of Tom McKenna's secretive profession, but this New Year's Eve, which promises to be the most important night of his life, Tom is confronted with a complication he couldn't have anticipated, and faced with an extraordinary choice - which path will he choose?
"Tijuana Makes Me Happy," written/directed by Dylan Verrechia
A boy will do anything to become a man and win the heart of a young prostitute, even fight his rooster.
"Under the Sun," written/directed by Baran bo Odar
August 1984, a long hot summer weekend: twelve year old Viktor is sent to his aunt's where he is confronted with the strange adult world, his older cousin and the neighbor's dog. (US Premiere)
Documentary Feature Competition
"Bad Boys of Summer," written/directed by Tiller Russell, Loren Mendell
Battling prison violence and racial tension, the coach of the San Quentin Giants tries to change the lives of his convict baseball players during their final season together. (World Premiere)
"Ballad of AJ Weberman," written/directed by James Bluemel and Oliver Ralfe
A portrait of obsession and eccentricity this film tells the story of AJ Weberman, Bob Dylan's most infamous fan, founder of Garbology, and New York counter-culture odd-ball. (US Premiere)
"Children of God: Lost and Found," directed by Noah Thomson
"Children of God: Lost and Found" is a first-person account of growing up in the controversial, evangelical Christian cult known as the Children of God. Director Noah Thomson tells his story and the story of others like him who were born into the group and later left as young adults. (World Premiere)
"Dream in Doubt," written/directed by Tami Yeager
When his brother is murdered in America's first post-9/11 revenge killing, Rana Singh Sodhi begins a journey to reclaim his American dream and fight the hate that continues to threaten his community. (World Premiere)
"King of Kong," directed by Seth Gordon
Obsession and the pursuit of excellence push diehard gamers to break World Records on classic arcade games like Q*bert, Joust, Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong. (World Premiere)
"Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa," written/directed by Jeremy Stulberg and Randy Stulberg
In the remote New Mexico desert, disillusioned Gulf War veterans, desperate teenage runaways and survivalists form a post-modern "Wild West" with a vigilante code all its own. (World Premiere)
"Red Without Blue," written/directed by Brooke Sebold, Benita Sills & Todd Sills
The intimate bond between two identical twin brothers is challenged when one decides to transition from male to female; this is the story of their evolving relationship, and the resurrection of their family from a darker past. (World Premiere)
"Rock the Bells," written/directed by Casey Suchan and Denis Hennelly
Personifying the fierce independence and Do-It-Yourself spirit of the Hip Hop movement, producer Chang Weisberg puts everything on the line for his impossible dream of reuniting notorious no-shows The Wu-Tang Clan.
"Row Hard No Excuses," written/ directed by Luke Wolbach
Two middle-aged American men set out to win the "world's toughest race"--three thousand miles across the Atlantic in a rowboat--is it a noble quest or an ill-fated nightmare? (World Premiere)
"Unsettled," written/directed by Adam Hootnick
During the Gaza withdrawal of 2005, three young Israelis will be forced from their homes, two soldiers will be sent to evict them, and one activist will try to help her country avoid a war. Can one generation change history? (World Premiere)
Narrative Special Screening Features
"Crashing," written/directed by Gary Walkow
Starring: Campbell Scott, Lizzy Caplan, Izabella Miko, Alex Kingston, David Cross, Stephen Gyllenhaal, Cory Singer, Calleigh White
Based on Campbell Scott's novel
Executive Producers: Anthony & Joe Russo
Novelist Richard McMurray crashes on the couch of two coed writing students and starts secretly writing about their lives. (World Premiere)
"You are Here," written/directed by Henry Pincus
Starring: Bijou Phillips, Lauren German, Danny Masterson, Katie Cassidy, Patrick Fleuger, Adam Campbell, Chris Lowell, Michael Biehn
Music: Score by BC Smith. Songs by Bloc Party, The Rapture, Nouvelle Vague, The Rakes, LCD Soundsystem, Felix Da Housecat, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Stars
A group of twenty-something friends try to piece together what happened to them over the course of one crazy night in Los Angeles. Told from their varying perspectives, "You Are Here" is a fast-paced, kinetic story about love, friendship and what it means to be young and carefree. (World Premiere)
Documentary Special Screening Features
"Alice Neel," written/directed by Andrew Neel
Portrait painter Alice Neel (1900-1984) abandoned almost all the comforts of a "normal" life and family in her quest to document the 20th century, one soul at a time. (World Premiere)
"Ganja Queen," directed by Janine Hosking
Behind the scenes of the controversial trial of Schapelle Corby, a young woman accused of smuggling ten pounds of marijuana into Bali, Indonesia. (World Premiere)
"Super Amigos," written/directed by Arturo Perez Torres
Mexico City is not Gotham City, but if you were to run into any of the five masked activists who protect this metropolis, you'd wonder if you were not living inside a comic book. (World Premiere)
"Dante's Inferno," directed by Sean Meredith
Written by Sean Meredith, Paul Zaloom, and Sandow Birk
Starring: Dermot Mulroney, James Cromwell, Martha Plimpton, Paul Zaloom, Tony Hale, John Fleck, Dana Snyder.
A satirical update of Dante's classic travelogue of the underworld, reinterpreted in a postmodern melding of apocalyptic graphic novel meets Victorian-era toy theater. (World Premiere)
"Cold Prey," directed by Roar Uthaug
Cast: Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Victoria Winge, Tomas Alf Larsen, Rolf Kristian Larsen, Endre Martin Blindheim Midtstigen
Music: (Magnus Beite)
They catch sight of a mountain hotel in the distance, and decide to find shelter there. The hotel lies empty and silent, obviously closed down years ago. The phone lines are dead, and the youngsters realize they have to spend the night in the hotel. (North American Premiere)
"Homo Erectus," directed by Adam Rifkin
Cast: Adam Rifkin, Ali Larter, David Carradine, Gary Busey, Talia Shire, Carol Alt
"Homo Erectus," a comedy set in prehistoric times, follows the exploits of the
hapless Ishbo, a philosophical caveman who yearns for more out of life than sticks, stones and raw meat. (World Premiere)