Selena Gomez sent Austin into a frenzy back when "Spring Breakers" screened at SXSW this year, and she's in all likelihood set to do the same in Park City should her latest indie "Rudderless" world premiere there as expected. The film marks the big-screen directorial debut of William H. Macy (he directed an HBO TV movie back in 1988), and stars Gomez, alongside Macy, Laurence Fishburne, Felicity Huffman, Billy Crudup and Anton Yelchin. In the musical drama, Crudup stars as a grieving father who forms a band after discovering music written by his late son.
"Squirrel to the Nuts"
It's been well over a decade since seminal American filmmaker (and current Indiewire blogger) Peter Bogdonavich directed a narrative feature, and even as he's remained busy with journalistic pursuits and documentary work, it's hard not to wonder what sort of stories the man behind "The Last Picture Show" could tell today. Wonder no longer: Aided by producers Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach, "Squirrel to the Nuts" finds Bogdonavich returning to the screwball comedy genre that he explored so well with the likes of "Paper Moon" and "What's Up, Doc?" in the early seventies. With a high-profile cast that includes Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson, Will Forte and Cybill Shepherd, in addition to a screenplay co-written by Bogdonavich and ex-wife Louise Stratten, the project -- in which Wilson plays a Broadway director who falls in love with a prostitute -- holds the potential to realize some of Bodgdonavich's old school charm with a fresh set of faces.
"St. Vincent De Van Nuys"
From his own Blacklisted script, filmmaker Theodore Melfi makes his directorial debut with "St. Vincent De Van Nuys," which finds none other than Bill Murray playing the the title character, a misanthropic, bawdy, hedonistic war veteran who becomes an unlikely mentor to the boy who lives next door. Melissa McCarthy plays the boy's mother, while Naomi Watts turns up as a Russian prostitute who develops a close relationship with St. Vincent. The script was compared to the likes of "As Good As It Gets" and "Silver Linings Playbook," so they might wait for the more Oscar-appropriate Toronto to launch the film. But if it hits Sundance instead, expect it to rise to the top of many a to-see list.
Considering it received the backing of Sundance Institute, Cinereach and the IDFA Forum in its road to completion, Yance Ford’s "Strong Island" seems like an extremely likely inclusion in the doc programming at Sundance come January. The film follows William Ford, a black 24-year-old teacher who was killed in 1992 after arguing with a white 19-year-old mechanic over a repair job. The mechanic shot him, and even though Ford was unarmed he claimed self-defense and charges were not pursued. Twenty-two years later, Ford's sister Yance is returning to the scene of the crime with this sure to be eye-raising film.
"Two Faces of January"
Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac star in this adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel of the same name, with Mortensen and Dunst starring as a couple who have fled to Greece after the con-artist husband killed a police officer. Oscar Isaac plays a stranger who weasels his way into their lives, causing unexpected repercussions. Seeing as the author of the source material also penned "The Talented Mr. Ripley," we can expect plenty of globe-trotting characters hanging out in luxurious locations cloaked in a tinge of intrigue and tension. Still in post-production after filming last fall, the sumptuousness and excitement of "Two Faces of January" would certainly liven up the snow-infested streets of Park City.
Student Academy Award nominee Leah Meyerhoff (“Twitch”) has generated a lot of buzz for her feature debut “Unicorns” after nabbing an Emerging Narrative Filmmaker Grant from IFP, an All Access Grant from the Tribeca Film Institute and making it onto the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Emerging Visions program. So what of the finished product? Hopefully we’ll know soon should it premiere at Sundance. The coming of age story stars a slew of indie darlings, most of whom have been to Park City before, including Julia Garner (“We Are What We Are”), Amy Seimetz (“Upsteam Color”), Joshua Leonard (“Humpday”) and Natalia Dyer (“The Healer”). The film centers on a teenage girl who escapes her obligations to her disabled mother by running away with an older boy, and escaping into her beautifully twisted fantasy life.
"Welcome To Me"
Shira Piven -- who is married to comedic filmmaker Adam McKay (the "Anchorman" movies) -- makes her move to film after directing over 20 stage productions. And she sure does have a strong cast and an immensely promising premise on her side. Kristen Wiig tops the cast as Alice Klieg, a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder who wins millions of dollars, quits her meds and buys her own talk show. Will Ferrell, Linda Cardellini, Jennifer Jason Leigh and James Marsden round out the cast. The film finished production just last month, so it will be tight for Sundance (and perhaps more suited for SXSW).
"White Bird In a Blizzard"
Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Angela Bassett and Gabourey Sidibe offer director Gregg Araki a remarkable cast to work with in his follow up to "Kaboom," "White Bird in a Blizzard." Following a young woman whose life is thrown into chaos when her mother disappears, the film also appears to be the first dramatic take from Araki since his acclaimed 2005 film "Mysterious Skin." We like our Araki dramatic or comedic, so either way we're in if this makes its way to Park City.
Filmmaker Lawrence Michael Levine has cropped up as an actor in movies ranging from "Richard's Wedding" to "Green," written and directed by his partner Sophia Takal. But it was Levine's 2010 directorial debut "Gabi on the Roof in July" that displayed a truly distinctive New York filmmaking voice with a contemporary point of view of the city's youth culture. "Wild Canaries," which co-stars Takal, Levine, Jason Ritter and Alia Shawkat, also promises a uniquely New York tale: a Brooklyn couple finds out their neighbor, who lives in a rent-controlled department, has died, and they suspect it may have been murder. Levine and Takal has already showed an incredible range with a mixture of projects that combine black comedy and straightforward drama, which makes the premise of "Wild Canaries" especially promising.
Casey Cipriani, Ramzi Nadim Xavier De Coster, James Hiler, Clint Holloway, Peter Knegt, Eric Kohn and Nigel M. Smith contributed to this article.