"Infinitely Polar Bear"
Mark Ruffalo stars as a father suffering from bipolar disorder whose decision to go off of his medication worries his wife (Zoe Saldana). While he tries to keep his family life under control, his mood imbalances put his wife and their children to the test. While it sounds like downbeat stuff, the film's director, Maya Forbes, has written the likes of such kid fare as "The Rocker" and "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days," which hints that "Infinitely Polar Bear" may be equal parts drama and comedy. The film was reported to have been shot right before summer, leaving one to assume it had plenty of time to be completed in order to premiere next January.
"Kill the Messenger"
Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb, this film follows Webb as played by Jeremy Renner as he uncovers the CIA's role in trafficking cocaine into the US and arming Contra rebels in Nicaragua. The film goes further though as Webb then becomes the target of a smear campaign orchestrated by the CIA that drives him to the point of suicide . "Kill the Messenger" is bound to stir up some controversy over what the CIA actually did and didn't do, but with Michael Cuesta's background in directing politically dynamic action such as in "Homeland," "Kill the Messenger" is bound to be a compelling film to watch.
"Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter"
“Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter” follows Kumiko, a Japanese woman who upon seeing a large sum of money buried and forgotten in a fictional film, is convinced that it is real and decides to leave Tokyo and hike through the snow-cloaked vastness of Minnesota in search of that underground fountain of wealth. Directed by David Zellner and starring Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi ("47 Ronin," "Pacific Rim"), the plot brings to mind everything a Sundance film should be: unique. In addition to the presumed endless ambition of a character set on fulfilling the wildest of dreams, the Tokyo-Minnesota setting transition is a rare one to look out for.
Director Lynn Shelton is obviously no stranger to Sundance, showing up there this year with "Touchy Feely" and previously with "Humpday." And given her latest film "Laggies" was in post as of July, it seems like a safe bet to make it her third. Written by Andrea Seigel (the first time Shelton has directed a feature that wasn't from her own pen), the film stars Keira Knightley as a young woman who, after being proposed to by her boyfriend, pretends to go on a business retreat that is actually just hanging out with her new -- 16-year old -- friend Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz). Sam Rockwell, Mark Webber and Kaitlyn Dever (a breakout in "Short Term 12") round out the promising cast.
Of all the so-called "mumblecore" filmmakers to emerge over the past 10 years, Aaron Katz has stood out for his gentle, poetic stories of lost souls: "Dance Party, U.S.A.," "Quiet City" and "Cold Weather" were all accomplished cinematic tapestries rooted in highly sympathetic, believable characters. Filmmaker Martha Stephens garnered similar acclaim for her low-key 2012 feature "Pilgrim Song." So the prospects of the directors teaming up, as they have to co-direct the feature "Land Ho!," is promising. The movie hails from the all-too-familiar mold of the road trip drama, as a pair of ex-brother-in-laws travel across Iceland -- but with these people involved, it's easy to assume there's a lot more going on that just a pair of people in a car.
Two years after winning raves at Sundance for his "Keep The Lights On," Ira Sachs could return to Sundance with another gay love story, though this doesn't sound quite as brutal as the semi-autobiographical "Lights." "Love Is Strange" stars John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as Ben and George, who after 39 years together decided to take advantage of the new marriage laws and tie the knot in New York City. On the return from their honeymoon, and on account of their vows, Ben gets fired from his longtime job as a choir director for a co-ed Catholic school. Suddenly, with no real savings to count on, the couple finds that they can’t afford the rent on their small Chelsea apartment. The film looks like an age demographic not often served in LGBT cinema (or in any cinema, really) and we're very curious to see where Sachs takes us after keeping those lights on two years ago.
“Ping Pong Summer”
Following “Septien” and “Cocaine Angel,” filmmaker Michael Tully is back with what looks to be his most mainstream effort to date, “Ping Pong Summer,” starring Susan Sarandon, who described the film to Indiewire as “’The Karate Kid’ with ping-pong.’” "Ping Pong Summer" is set in 1985 at the family beach town where Tully spent his childhood summers. At the heart of the film is a 13-year old boy from the Maryland suburbs obsessed with ping pong and hip hop. Finally on his eagerly anticipated family vacation, he meets a new best friend and a new worst enemy. In addition to Sarandon, the film also stars John Hannah ("Four Weddings and a Funeral"), Lea Thompson ("Back to the Future"), Amy Sedaris ("Strangers with Candy") and Robert Longstreet ("Pineapple Express"). The film wrapped principal photography late last year, and given the star pedigree and Tully’s track record, a Sundance debut seems likely.
"The Daily Show" will arrive in Park City should host Jon Stewart make his way to Sundance with his directorial debut, "Rosewater." The comic took a leave of absence from his day job back in July to shoot the project alongside Shohreh Aghdashloo and Gael García Bernal. Written by Stewart, Maziar Bahari and Aimee Molly, and based on Maziar Bahari's 2011 memoir "Then They Came For Me: A Family's Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival," the film centers on an Iranian-Canadian journalist (Bernal) detained in Tehran for over 100 days during the 2009 presidential election in Iran. Stewart covered Bahari's imprisonment extensively on his show. Footage from the film was screened for buyers in Toronto this September, so chances are it's ready to screen in its entirety at Sundance.