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Sundance 2013 Wishlist: 25 Films We Hope Will Head To Park City

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire November 21, 2012 at 12:31PM

Thanksgiving is an anxious holiday for indie filmmakers as the Sundance Film Festival begins making its round of calls with (hopefully) good news. The first round of programming announcements are expected following the four-day holiday weekend, with over 100 features expected over various sections of the January 2013 festival. Ahead of those announcements, Indiewire is offering 25 films as a Sundance wish list. Basically, it's a wholly unscientific collection of films that might reasonably make the cut and/or we hope will make it to Park City. Much more so than fellow festival powerhouses Cannes or Toronto, Sundance is a hard lineup to predict. Tiny films from up-and-coming directors often end up being the most talked about films at the festival (who'd ever heard of Benh Zeitlin or Quvenzhané Wallis this time last year?). Of course, some of the lineup will be comprised of more high-profile possibilities -- and it's all but certain that some of the festival's breakouts are not going to be on our list. So with those caveats in mind, here are 25 titles to consider (in alphabetical order). And if you have a title to add, tell us in the comments.
21
Brian Brooks

Thanksgiving is an anxious holiday for indie filmmakers as the Sundance Film Festival begins making its round of calls with (hopefully) good news. The first round of programming announcements are expected following the four-day holiday weekend, with over 100 features expected over various sections of the January 2013 festival.

Ahead of those announcements, Indiewire is offering 25 films as a Sundance wish list. Basically, it's a wholly unscientific collection of films that might reasonably make the cut and/or we hope will make it to Park City.

Much more so than fellow festival powerhouses Cannes or Toronto, Sundance is a hard lineup to predict. Tiny films from up-and-coming directors often end up being the most talked about films at the festival (who'd ever heard of Benh Zeitlin or Quvenzhané Wallis this time last year?). Of course, some of the lineup will be comprised of more high-profile possibilities -- and it's all but certain that some of the festival's breakouts are not going to be on our list.

So with those caveats in mind, here are 25 titles to consider (in alphabetical order). And if you have a title to add, tell us in the comments.

"A.C.O.D.," directed by Stu Zicherman
Stu Zicherman and Ben Karlin's "A.C.O.D." (or "Adult Children Of Divorce") has promising roots, as the satirical comedy began as a Blacklist script favorite in 2008 before being picked up and attracting an array of talent. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who recently showcased her acting prowess in "Smashed," was cast among more seasoned comic veterans such as Amy Poehler, Adam Scott and Jane Lynch. The film will be produced by Black Bear Pictures and revolves around one man as he participates in a follow-up study about children of divorce after unknowingly taking part in the initial study years before. This will be Zicherman's directorial debut. [Justin Krajeski]

"Admission"

Admission," directed by Paul Weitz
This grown-up romantic comedy may seem too mainstream — and Tina Fey a little too big a star — for an indie-film showcase like Sundance. But director Paul Weitz (mostly) has an indie sensibility despite his frequent work for studios, so it’s not a total stretch. Fey’s co-star Paul Rudd has made the trip to Park City numerous times, most recently with the 2011 comedy “Our Idiot Brother,” which the Weinstein Co. acquired for release last year. Yes, this story of a college admissions officer and an unruly prospective student is a Universal project, but its March release date puts Sundance in a prime promotional window to kickstart the film’s release. [Jay A. Fernandez]

"Are We Not Men?" directed by Tony Pemberton
From director Tony Pemberton, whose last film, "Beyond the Ocean," garnered a Grand Jury Prize nomination at Sundance in 2000, comes the authorized feature-length Devo documentary three years in the making. "Are We Not Men?" promises an unusual glimpse into secretive inner workings of all things Devo, from artistic process to quotidian habits. Given the band's long-standing rapport with indie-rock types, nerds and artists the world over, it's hard to imagine this year's lineup without Pemberton's latest somewhere in the mix.   [Christopher Pomorski]

"Before Midnight"

"Before Midnight," directed by Richard Linklater
Even since it was announced in September that Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy had completed the second sequel in their immensely beloved "Before Sunrise/set" series, "Before Midnight," it quickly became a strong contender for Sundance (and for the most anticipated indie film of 2013). The film sees Delpy and Hawke reprise their roles of Celine and Jesse in the film, which takes place nine years after 2004's "Sunset" and was shot in Messinia, Greece. In a statement back in September, Linklater, Hawke and Delpy said of the film and their collaboration:  "It's great to be back together again, this time in beautiful Greece to revisit the lives of Celine and Jesse nine years after Jesse was about to miss his flight." Were it to world premiere in Park City, it would come 18 years after "Before Sunrise" did the same. [Peter Knegt]

"Blue Caprice," directed by Alexandre Moors
While "Blue Caprice" may be Alexandre Moors' feature film debut behind the camera, Moors has long had a hand in directing well-received and much-discussed music videos and commercials. His latest project, starring Isaiah Washington, has already amassed a fair amount of buzz despite maintaining a low profile. The film will tackle the real-life story of the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks in Washington, D.C. from the perspective of the perpetrators; the cast features Joey Lauren Adams, Tim Blake Nelson, and Leo Fitzpatrick. [Justin Krajeski]

"Can a Song Save Your Life?" directed by John Carney
With Maroon 5 crooner Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green in its cast, "Can a Song Save Your Life?" is sure to boast more judges of NBC's The Voice than any other 2013 Sundance contender. Also on the roster of this New York City music drama are Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld, Catherine Keener and, just to up the film's music credentials another notch, Mos Def. Director John Carney's earlier film "Once," about a busking guitarist in Dublin, screened in Park City in 2007. [Christopher Pomorski]

"The Canyons"

"The Canyons," directed by Paul Schrader
With a pair of lurid grindhouse-style trailers to its name and a personnel list that includes Lindsay Lohan and porn star James Deen, "The Canyons" might not seem like a natural fit for Park City. But wait, there's more. Art house veteran Paul Schrader helms this noir-flavored Los Angeles tale of glamor, sex and surveillance, and with Gus Van Sant rounding out the cast, "The Canyons" might turn out to have just the sort of indie pedigree Sundance selection committees look kindly upon.  [Christopher Pomorski]

"Carrie," directed by Kimberly Pierce
It's hard to believe, but Kimberly Pierce -- a filmmaker synonymous with the independent film movement -- has never had a film play at the Sundance Film Festival. Her big indie breakout "Boys Don't Cry" premiered at the Venice Film Festival of all places, while her follow-up "Stop-Loss" first bowed at SXSW. So wouldn't it be ironic if her first stab at the mainstream, her anticipated remake of Brian De Palma's seminal horror classic "Carrie," marks her first effort to bring her to Park City. Without Pierce's pedigree, and that of one of its stars Julianne Moore (who has some serious indie cred), "Carrie" wouldn't have made our cut given that Screen Gems and MGM are distributing it wide this coming March. But given that the festival's played host to some higher profile premieres over the past several years -- "Cedar Rapids," anyone? -- the odds are looking in "Carrie"'s favor. [Nigel M. Smith]

Devil’s Knot," directed by Atom Egoyan
The infamous West Memphis Three murder case has played out in documentary form at Sundance since 1996, when Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofky’s first “Paradise Lost” played the festival. Then Amy Berg’s up-to-the-minute “West of Memphis” doc played Park City last year. So having Atom Egoyan’s fictional treatment in the line-up seems a sure thing. If it does show up, it will involve a mix of unusually big star power, with Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth in central roles, and indie-film stalwarts, such as Elias Koteas, Amy Ryan and Alessandro Nivola in supporting parts. Though his movies often premiere at Cannes, Egoyan is a regular at the Sundance labs, and “Devil’s Knot” still seeks distribution, so Sundance would be a smart play. [Jay A. Fernandez]

"The Double," directed by Richard Ayoade
Comedian-actor-director Richard Ayoade's directorial debut "Submarine" was a Sundance breakthrough simply because it managed to take the familiar coming-of-age mold and deliver a nostalgia-laden combination of touching, somber and funny moods. His sophomore feature -- not to be confused with the Richard Gere spy movie from 2011 -- revolves around a man "driven insane by the appearance of his doppleganger," according to an official synopsis. The man in question is played by Jesse Eisenberg, reigning king of young American neuroses, and thus a great fit for the material and Ayoade's penchant for deadpan comedy. Co-written by Harmony Korine's brother Avi, the movie also stars Mia Wasikowska and Wallace Shawn, a first-rate cast of versatile actors whose involvement hint at a project with potential to transcend the conventional boundaries of the comedy genre -- just like, come to think of it, "Submarine." Our fingers are crossed for a delightfully odd character study. [Eric Kohn]

"Drinking Buddies," directed by Joe Swanberg
When the news came out that prolific microbudget American filmmaker Joe Swanberg was making a relationship comedy with movie stars, I was among the initial skeptics. But it sounds like "Drinking Buddies," which stars Anna Kendrick, Olivia Wilde and Ron Livingston, has come together in the tradition of Swanberg's other movies: shot and edited on a quick time frame, heavily improvised and attuned to the intimate experiences of young adulthood. Set around the platonic friendship of two Chicago residents working a brewery, the movie sounds like a traditional Swanbergian take on relationship politics. As the filmmaker improves his technique each time out, the movies are less impressive for their honesty and more for their skill, which makes this project -- bound to receive more attention than anything he's done before -- worth anticipating whether or not you've been a fan of Swanberg's earlier films. There's no question that his process, like the director, continues to mature. [Eric Kohn]

"GBF," directed by Darren Stein
Darren Stein's breakout film "Jawbreaker" debuted at the 1999 Sundance, and while he's got a stellar cast of comedic actors in line for his new film "G.B.F." (that stands for gay boyfriend).  Megan Mullally, Horatio Sanz and Natasha Lyonne join a cast of up-and-coming young actors who have had notable roles in some of the best youth-focused television and film.  The story, as told in our Will You See This Movie? column, is a too-good-to-be-true story of Stein meeting first time writer George Northy at the Outfest Screenwriting Lab and knowing that he needed to make this film.  The film just wrapped shooting, but it may just be ready for this year's Sundance. [Bryce J. Renninger]

"Friended To Death," directed by Sarah Smick
Sarah Smick's "Friended to Death" sounds like just the kind of low-frills comedy that Sundance wants for its NEXT (or U.S. Dramatic) Competition.  The dark comedy about one man in a midlife rut who fakes his own death using a social media platform.  The film stars rising comedic actors Ryan Hansen ("Party Down") and Zach McGowan (the naked guy on "Shameless") and is directed by recently minted Columbia grad Smick.  Read more about Smick's feelings on being a woman writing a bromance in our feature of the film's production. [Bryce J. Renninger]

"God Love Uganda," directed by Roger Ross Williams
Oscar-winning director Roger Ross Williams is perhaps best known for getting cut off by his producer during his acceptance speech for his documentary short "Music By Prudence."  Williams' feature-length documentary "God Loves Uganda" explores the evangelizing of Christian gospel in the East African nation.  Williams, whose father and brother are both pastors and grew up singing in a Baptist choir, set out to Uganda to complicate media portrayals of Africa by looking at the various ways Christianity lives in Uganda.  [Bryce J. Renninger]

“Inside Llewyn Davis," directed by Joel & Ethan Coen
The Coen Brothers haven’t screened a new movie at Sundance since their 1985 debut “Blood Simple,” which won the grand jury prize that year. And their increased stature in the years since has led to premieres at Cannes and the fall festivals for most of their films. So “Llewyn Davis,” a look at a singer-songwriter in 1960s New York City starring Oscar Isaac, may be a longshot to be a part of the 2013 program. But the film also has Scott Rudin as a producer and stars Justin Timberlake, Garrett Hedlund and Carey Mulligan, who blew up at Sundance in 2009 with “An Education,” so its folkie sensibility and funky cast sounds like just the right fit. [Jay A. Fernandez]

"James Franco's Forty Minutes," directed by Travis Mathews and James Franco
"James Franco's Forty Minutes" is a project where Franco and art porn director Travis Mathews attempt to recreate the lost forty minutes of William Friedkin's cult film "Cruising."  Friedkin's film was a lightning rod for the NYC gay community at the time of its shooting, but after it was done and went to the censors, Friedkin worked tirelessly to get it cut down to something that passed the board.  Franco and Mathews, working with the idea that most of what was cut (and subsequently lost) was  scenes of sex in the dark underground bars that are the original film's settings, both shot an imagined version of those forty minutes and also shot behind-the-scenes footage of the actors contemplating their participation of the project and Franco's own coming-to-understanding of all the issues behind the creation of these forty minutes.  This hybrid film got a minor sneak peek as a 42-minute version when that version premiered at a clothing store-cum-temporary gallery in New York's SoHo earlier this year.  A longer version, which Mathews was working on when Indiewire caught up with him could make a debut at Sundance's New Frontiers or U.S. doc program. [Bryce J. Renninger]

"Kill My Darlings," directed by John Krokidas
John Krokidas has assembled a remarkable cast for his long gestating directorial debut, "Kill Your Darlings." The film -- which surrounds the 1944 murder of David Kammerer that drew together the great poets of the beat generation: Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs -- features Daniel Radcliffe (as Ginsberg), Ben Foster (as Burroughs) and Jack Huston (as Kerouac) alongside Elizabeth Olsen, Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Jason Leigh and David Cross (who plays Louis Ginsberg here after his memorable turn as Allen Ginsberg in Todd Haynes' "I'm Not There). The film finished shooting in March, and seems like a certainty for Sundance. [Peter Knegt]

"Lovelace," directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (who made their narrative debut with Sundance premiere "Howl" a few years ago after decades of incredible doc work like "Common Threads" and "The Celluloid Closet") are taking on the story of notorious porn star Linda Lovelace (née Boreman) in a very likely Sundance premiere, "Lovelace." Starring Amanda Seyfried in title role, "Lovelace" offers a very promising ensemble cast backing her up: Peter Sarsgaard, Juno Temple, James Franco, Adam Brody, Chloë Sevigny, Hank Azaria and Sharon Stone (as Lovelace's mother). In an article on Indiewire earlier this year, "Lovelace" producer Heidi Jo Markel said of Seyfried's casting: "Casting was crazy. We didn't come upon Amanda right away. We actually immediately approached her camp and we approached a few other actresses. We pinched ourselves that we got an actress as brave and fearless as Amanda." [Peter Knegt]

"May in the Summer," directed by Cherien Dabis
In 2009, Cherien Dabis's "Amreeka" debuted at the Sundance Film Festival before heading off to Cannes and recieving multiple Indie Spirit and Gotham Award nominations including best feature. Her follow up, "May in Summer," was shot this summer and seems like a shoo-in for Dabis' return to Sundance. Starring Hiam Abbass ("The Visitor"), Alia Shawkat (who was also in "Amreeka") and Dabis herslef, the film centers on a thirtysomething Palestinian American May (Dabis) who travels to Amman to reunite with divorced mother Nadine (Abbass), a devout Christian who disapproves of May's Muslim fiancé. [Peter Knegt]

"Mutual Friends," directed by Matthew Watts
Plenty of movies feature a bevvy of characters with separate plots whose stories converge over the course of a big event. So what makes Matthew Watts' New York-set comedy about seven intertwining stories stand out from the pack? Each story was written by a different writer. As Watts told Indiewire late last year while in the midst of filming his romantic comedy, he rounded up a group of friends to pitch shorts, with some parameters in place to ensure the stories could all connect. The finished product, which Watts referred to as "an indie, New York centric, micro-budget 'Love Actually,'" takes place in one day to track a group of 30-somethings, all headed to a surprise party that's destined to fail. The ensemble includes Caitlin Fitzgerald ("Newlyweds"), Cheyenne Jackson ("30 Rock"), Michael Chernus ("Higher Ground") and Michael Stahl-David ("Cloverfield"). "Mutual Friends" wrapped production last November, so chances are the folks at Sundance have seen the culmination of Watts' experiment. Whether they liked what they saw -- we'll know by next week. [Nigel M. Smith]

"Side Effects," directed by Steven Soderbergh
With a February 8 release, distributor Open Roads is likely banking on Steven Soderbergh's latest to screen at the festival -- and it looks like a definite possibility for the "Premieres" section. The medical drama sees the incredibly prolific auteur reuniting with Channing Tatum, the star of his summer sleeper hit "Magic Mike." Rooney Mara leads the film, in her first role since bagging an Oscar nomination for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," as Emily Hawkins, who at the outset of the trailer is reunited with her husband (Tatum) following a stint he served behind bars. Rather than leave her in great spirits, his return ups her anxiety, leading her to take meds to regulate her spiraling feelings. Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Vinessa Shaw round out the cast. [Nigel M. Smith]

"Touchy Feely," directed by Lynn Shelton
Lynn Shelton is following up her immensely acclaimed "Your Sister's Sister" (which screened at Sundance earlier this year after premiering in Toronto) with "Touchy Feely," which reunites Shelton with her one of her "Sister"s, Rosemarie DeWitt. DeWitt -- playing a massage therapist who suddenly finds the human body repulsive -- is joined by Ellen Page, Ron Livingston, Josh Pais, Scott McNairy and Allison Janney in the film. Said to feature multiple storylines, it's a departure from the focused three person narratives of both "Sister" and its predecessor, "Humpday." In post-production as of late summer, it seems like a safe -- and very welcome -- bet for a Sundance premiere. [Peter Knegt]

Trance," directed by Danny Boyle
Director Danny Boyle has been a Telluride kind of guy since the Colorado mountain festival gave his “Slumdog Miilionaire” a slot in 2008 that started the avalanche to a best picture Oscar. Two years later he snuck “127 Hours” there instead of taking it to Venice or Sundance. But since his new one, “Trance,” wasn’t ready for the 2012 Telluride edition, it makes Sundance a real possibility. His usual distributor, Fox Searchlight, always uses Sundance for both picking up new titles (“Martha Marcy May Marlene,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild”) and launching word-of-mouth promotion on homegrown projects (“Cedar Rapids,” “Cyrus”). Boyle’s “28 Days Later…” (also Searchlight) played Sundance in 2003, and “Trance,” a crime thriller about a lost painting that stars James McAvoy, has a March release date scheduled, so the timing makes the new film a very likely entry. [Jay A. Fernandez]

"Warm Bodies," directed by Jonathan Levine
After "50/50"'s positive reception in 2011, Jonathan Levine has made a directorial return with "Warm Bodies," a zombie love story backed by Summit Entertainment. Nicholas Hoult, of "X-Men: First Class" fame, will star as a zombie who develops feelings for a human girl played by Teresa Palmer. Adapted from Isaac Marion's novel of the same name, the film will focus on their developing relationship and its effects on the post-apocalyptic zombie universe. Dave Franco, John Malkovich and Analeigh Tipton also star. [Justin Krajeski]

The 2013 Sundance Film Festival runs January 17-27, 2013.





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