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February 1, 2011 3:11 AM
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Sundance 2011: A Complete Guide To All The Films

The scene at the Sundance Film Festival. Photo by Brian Brooks.

This is indieWIRE's frequently updated guide to the festival's films, divided by program, with links to reviews, interviews and criticWIRE grades (currently, hundreds of grades have been entered so click on each film page to see what films critics and bloggers think are the best of Sundance 2011).

More: Latest Reviews | Latest Interviews | Complete Coverage

Blogs: Anne Thompson | Eric Kohn | Peter Knegt | Sydney Levine | Spout | Eugene Hernandez

U.S. Dramatic Competition

Another Earth (Director: Mike Cahill; Screenwriters: Mike Cahill and Brit Marling) — On the eve of the discovery of a duplicate Earth, a horrible tragedy irrevocably alters the lives of two strangers, who begin an unlikely love affair. Cast: William Mapother, Brit Marling, Jordan Baker, Robin Lord Taylor, Flint Beverage.

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criticWIRE average: B (more grades)
Filmmaker interview
indieWIRE Review

Another Happy Day (Director and screenwriter: Sam Levinson) — A pair of reckless siblings are dragged into a chaotic family wedding by their overwrought mother. Cast: Demi Moore, Kate Bosworth, Jeffrey DeMunn, Ellen Barkin, Ellen Burstyn, Thomas Haden Church.

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criticWIRE average: B- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Benavides Born (Director: Amy Wendel; Screenwriters: Daniel Meisel and Amy Wendel) — A high school senior in a forgotten town has earned admission to the University of Texas at Austin but can't afford to go. Her one shot is a scholarship for winning the State Powerlifting Championship. Cast: Corina Calderon, Jeremy Ray Valdez, Joseph Julian Soria, Julia Vera, Julio César Cedillo.

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criticWIRE average: B- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Circumstance/U.S.A., Iran (Director and screenwriter: Maryam Keshavarz) — A wealthy Iranian family struggles to contain a teenager's growing sexual rebellion and her brother's dangerous obsession. Cast: Nikohl Boosheri, Sarah Kazemy, Reza Sixo Safai, Soheil Parsa, Nasrin Pakkho.

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criticWIRE average: A- (more grades)

Gun Hill Road (Director and screenwriter: Rashaad Ernesto Green) — After three years in prison, Enrique is back in his beloved Bronx, back in the arms of an estranged wife and back in the life of his teenage son, who is stumbling towards a transformation that will put the bonds of their embattled family to the test. Cast: Esai Morales, Judy Reyes, Harmony Santana, Vanessa Aspillaga.

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criticWIRE average: B- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

HERE (Director: Braden King; Written By: Braden King and Dani Valent) — On assignment to create a new, more accurate satellite survey of Armenia, an American cartographer forms a powerful bond with an Armenian expatriate and art photographer. Cast: Ben Foster and Lubna Azabal with Narek Nersisyan, Yuri Kostanyan and Sofik Sarkisyan.

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criticWIRE average: B- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Higher Ground (Director: Vera Farmiga; Screenwriters: Carolyn S. Briggs and Tim Metcalfe) — A frustrated young mother turns to a fundamentalist community for answers, but after years of dogma and loss, she must find the courage to ask the questions that will help her reclaim her life. Cast: Vera Farmiga, Joshua Leonard, John Hawkes, Dagmara Dominczyk, Norbert Leo Butz.

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Homework (Director and screenwriter: Gavin Wiesen) — Quirky, rebellious George has no ambitions other than to cut his next class. But one day, one girl gives him the perfect reason to figure out who he really is. Cast: Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts, Michael Angarano, Elizabeth Reaser with Rita Wilson and Blair Underwood.

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criticWIRE average: C+ (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

The Ledge (Director and screenwriter: Matthew Chapman) — Perched on a ledge, a man says he must jump by noon, while a cop races against time to get to the bottom of it. Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Liv Tyler, Patrick Wilson and Terrence Howard with Christopher Gorham.

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criticWIRE average: D- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Like Crazy (Director: Drake Doremus; Screenwriters: Drake Doremus and Ben York Jones) — A young American guy and a young British girl meet in college and fall in love. Their love is tested when she is required to leave the country and they must face the challenges of a long-distance relationship. Cast: Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston.

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)
Filmmaker interview
indieWIRE Review

Little Birds (Director and screenwriter: Elgin James) — Amidst the stark landscape of the Salton Sea, two 15-year-old girls test the limits of their friendship when one follows the other to Los Angeles, only to discover that the boredom of home may be better than learning to survive in the big city. Cast: Juno Temple, Kay Panabaker, Leslie Mann, Kate Bosworth, Kyle Gallner.

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criticWIRE average: C+ (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Director and screenwriter: Sean Durkin) — Haunted by painful memories and increasing paranoia, a damaged woman struggles to re-assimilate with her family after fleeing an abusive cult. Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Brady Corbet, Hugh Dancy, John Hawkes, Sarah Paulson.

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criticWIRE average: A- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview
indieWIRE Review

On the Ice (Director and screenwriter: Andrew Okpeaha MacLean) — On the snow-covered Arctic tundra, two teenagers try to get away with murder. Cast: Josiah Patkotak, Frank Qutuq Irelan, Teddy Kyle Smith, Adamina Kerr, Sierra Jade Sampson.

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criticWIRE average: B- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Pariah (Director and screenwriter: Dee Rees) — When forced to choose between losing her best friend or destroying her family, a Bronx teenager juggles conflicting identities and endures heartbreak in a desperate search for sexual expression. Cast: Adepero Oduye, Pernell Walker, Kim Wayans, Charles Parnell, Aasha Davis.

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)

A scene from Jeff Nichols' "Take Shelter." [Photo courtesy of Sundance Film Festival]

Take Shelter (Director and screenwriter: Jeff Nichols) — A working-class husband and father questions whether his terrifying dreams of an apocalyptic storm signal something real to come or the onset of an inherited mental illness he's feared his whole life. Cast: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon, Kathy Baker.

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)
Filmmaker interview
indieWIRE Review

Terri (Director: Azazel Jacobs; Screenwriters: Patrick Dewitt and Azazel Jacobs) — Orphaned to an uncle who is fading away, mercilessly teased by his peers and roundly ignored by his teachers, Terri is alienated and alone. When the dreaded vice-principal sees something of himself in Terri, they establish a friendship which opens Terri up to the possibility that life is not something to be endured, but something to be shared, and even enjoyed. Cast: Jacob Wysocki, John C. Reilly, Creed Bratton, Olivia Crocicchia, Bridger Zadina.

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)
indieWIRE Review


U.S. Documentary Competition

Beats, Rhymes and Life (Director: Michael Rapaport) — The story of the rise and influence of one of the most innovative and influential hip hop bands of all time, the collective known as A Tribe Called Quest.

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criticWIRE average: B (more grades)

BEING ELMO: A Puppeteer’s Journey (Director: Constance Marks) — The Muppet Elmo is one of the most beloved characters among children across the globe. Meet the unlikely man behind the puppet – the heart and soul of Elmo – Kevin Clash.

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Buck (Director: Cindy Meehl) — In a story about the power of non-violence, master horse trainer Buck Brannaman uses principles of respect and trust to tame horses and inspire their human counterparts.

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criticWIRE average TBD (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Connected: A Declaration of Interdependence (Director: Tiffany Shlain; Screenwriters: Tiffany Shlain, Ken Goldberg, Carlton Evans and Sawyer Steele) — Connected is an exhilarating stream-of-consciousness ride through the interconnectedness of humankind, nature, progress and morality at the dawn of the 21st century.

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criticWIRE average: C (more grades)

Crime After Crime (Director: Yoav Potash) — Debbie Peagler is a survivor of brutal domestic violence incarcerated for her connection to the murder of her abuser. Two decades later a pair of rookie land-use attorneys cut their teeth on her case, attracting global attention to the troubled intersection of domestic violence and criminal justice.

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criticWIRE average: A- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Hot Coffee (Director: Susan Saladoff) — Following subjects whose lives have been devastated by an inability to access the courts, this film shows that many long-held beliefs about our civil justice system have been paid for by corporate America.

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criticWIRE average: B- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

How to Die in Oregon (Director: Peter D. Richardson) — In 1994 Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. How to Die in Oregon gently enters the lives of terminally ill Oregonians to illuminate the power of death with dignity.

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criticWIRE average: A- (more grades)

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (Director: Marshall Curry) — The Earth Liberation Front is a radical environmental group that the FBI calls America's 'number one domestic terrorist threat.' Daniel McGowan, an ELF member, faces life in prison for two multi-million dollar arsons against Oregon timber companies. But who is really to blame?

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criticWIRE average: B- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

The Last Mountain (Director: Bill Haney; Screenwriters: Bill Haney and Peter Rhodes) — A coal mining corporation and a tiny community vie for the last great mountain in Appalachia in a battle for the future of energy that affects us all.

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criticWIRE average A- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Miss Representation (Director: Jennifer Siebel Newsom; Screenwriters: Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Jessica Congdon) — Miss Representation uncovers how American mainstream media’s limited and disparaging portrayals of women contribute to the under-representation of women in power positions – creating another generation of women defined by youth, beauty and sexuality, and not by their capacity as leaders.

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criticWIRE average: B (more grades)

Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times (Director: Andrew Rossi; Screenwriters: Kate Novack and Andrew Rossi) — Unprecedented access to the New York Times newsroom yields a complex view of the transformation of a media landscape fraught with both peril and opportunity.

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criticWIRE average: A- (more reviews)
Filmmaker interview

The Redemption of General Butt Naked (Directors: Eric Strauss and Daniele Anastasion) — A brutal warlord who murdered thousands during Liberia's horrific 14-year civil war renounces his violent past and reinvents himself as an Evangelist, facing those he once terrorized.

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criticWIRE average: C+ (more grades)
Filmmaker interview
indieWIRE Review

A scene from Jon Foy's "Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles." [Photo courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival]

Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles (Director: Jon Foy) — An urban mystery unfurls as one man pieces together the surreal meaning of hundreds of cryptic tiled messages that have been appearing in city streets across the U.S. and South America.

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criticWIRE grade: B+ (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Sing Your Song (A film by Susanne Rostock) — Most people know the lasting legacy of Harry Belafonte, the entertainer; this film unearths his significant contribution to and his leadership in the civil rights movement in America and to social justice globally.

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criticWIRE average B (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Troubadours (Director: Morgan Neville) — A musical journey tracing the lives and careers of James Taylor and Carole King, pillars of the Calfornia singer/songwriter scene, which converged in and around LA's Troubadour Club in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

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criticWIRE average: B- (more grades)

We Were Here (Director: David Weissman) — A deep and reflective look at the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco and how individuals rose to the occasion during the first years of this unimaginable crisis

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criticWIRE average A- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview


World Dramatic Competition

Abraxas/Japan (Director: Dai Sako; Screenwriters: Dai Sako and Naoki Kato) — After botching a speech on career guidance at a local high school, a depressed Zen monk with a heavy metal past realizes that only music can revive his spirit. Cast: Suneohair, Rie Tomosaka, Manami Honjou, Ryouta Murai, Kaoru Kobayashi. International Premiere

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criticWIRE average: TBD (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

All Your Dead Ones (Todos Tus Muertos)/Colombia (Director Carlos Moreno; Screenwriters: Alonso Torres and Carlos Moreno) — One morning, a peasant wakes to find a pile of bodies in the middle of his crops. When he goes to the authorities, he quickly realizes that the dead ones are a problem nobody wants to deal with. Cast: Alvaro Rodríguez, Jorge Herrera, Martha Marquez, Harold Devasten, John Alex Castillo. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average TBD (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

The Cinema Hold Up (Asalto Al Cine)/Mexico (Director: Iria Gómez Concheiro; Screenwriters: Iria Gómez Concheiro and Juan Pablo Gómez) — Four childhood friends in Mexico’s Guerrero colony toy with the idea of robbing a cinema. Each hopes that the heist will hurtle them past life’s obstacles, only to realize that the caper risks the only thing they have: their friendship. Cast: Gabino Rodríguez, Juan Pablo de Santiago, Ángel Sosa, Paulina Avalos. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average TBD (more grades)

A Few Days of Respite (Quelque Jours de Repit)/Algeria, France (Director and screenwriter: Amor Hakkar) — A pair of gay men who have escaped from Iran seek safe harbor in a small French village, where a lonely middle-aged woman offers aid. Cast: Marina Vlady, Samir Guesmi, Amor Hakkar. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: TBD (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

The Guard/Ireland (Director and screenwriter: John Michael McDonagh) — A small-town cop in Ireland has a confrontational personality, a subversive sense of humor, a fondness for prostitutes and absolutely no interest whatsoever in the international drug-smuggling ring that has brought a straight-laced FBI agent to his door. However, a surreal chain of events pulls him into the action. Cast: Don Cheadle, Brendan Gleeson, Mark Strong, Liam Cunningham, David Wilmot, Fionnula Flanagan. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B (more grades)
Filmmaker interview
indieWIRE Review

Happy, Happy (Sykt Lykkelig)/Norway (Director: Anne Sewitsky; Screenwriter: Ragnhild Tronvoll) — A perfect housewife, who just happens to be sex-starved, struggles to keep her emotions in check when an attractive family moves in next door. Cast: Agnes Kittelsen, Henrik Rafaelsen, Maibritt Saerens, Joachim Rafaelsen. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average TBD (more grades)

Kinyarwanda/Rwanda, USA (Director and screenwriter: Alrick Brown) — Based on accounts from survivors, Kinyarwanda tells the story of Rwandans who crossed the lines of hatred during the 1994 genocide, turning mosques into places of refuge for Muslims and Christians, Hutus and Tutsis. Cast: Edouard Bamporiki, Cassandra Freeman, Cleophas Kabasiita, Hadidja Zaninka, Kennedy Mazimpaka, Hassan Kabera. World Premiere

A scene from Carlos Moreno's"All Your Dead Ones." [Photo courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival]

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criticWIRE average TBD (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Lost Kisses (I baci mai dati)/Italy (Director: Roberta Torre; Screenwriters: Roberta Torre and Laura Nuccilli) — A 13-year-old girl in the deprived outskirts of a sprawling Sicilian city becomes a local celebrity to her needy community when word spreads that she just might be able to perform miracles. Cast: Donatella Finocchiaro, Pino Micol, Giuseppe Fiorello, Carla Marchese, Martina Galletta, Tony Palazzo. International Premiere

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criticWIRE average: TBD (more grades)

Mad Bastards/Australia (Director: Brendan Fletcher; Screenwriters: Brendan Fletcher in collaboration with Dean Daley-Jones, Greg Tait and John Watson) — In a frontier town of northern Australia’s Kimberley Region, an urban street warrior meets his match in a local cop. Performances and stories from real people in Kimberley are woven through the music of legendary Broome musicians, The Pigram Brothers. Cast: Dean Daley-Jones, Greg Tait, John Watson, Ngaire Pigram, Lucas Yeeda. International Premiere

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criticWIRE average: TBD (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Restoration (Boker Tov Adon Fidelman)/Israel (Director: Yossi Madmoni; Screenwriter: Erez Kav-El) — Aided by a young and mysterious apprentice, an antique furniture restorer struggles to keep his workshop alive, while his relationship with his own estranged son, who is trying to close down the shop, begins to disintegrate. Cast: Sasson Gabay, Henry David, Nevo Kimchi, Sarah Adler. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: TBD (more grades)

The Salesman (Le Vendeur)/Canada (Director and screenwriter: Sébastien Pilote) — Car salesman Marcel Lévesque operates by the rules of a bygone era, turning on the charm to make his quota. But the increasing decline of his fading industrial town threatens to plummet this peddler of dreams into an unfriendly reality. Cast: Gilbert Sicotte, Nathalie Cavezzali. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Ticket to Paradise (Boleto al Paraiso)/Cuba (Director: Gerardo Chijona Valdes; Screenwriters: Gerardo Chijona Valdes, Francisco Garcia Gonzalez and Maykel Rodriguez Ponjuan) — A teenage girl running away from her father's sexual harassment meets a young rocker who has escaped to Havana with his misfit group of friends. Set in 1993, during a period of acute shortages in Cuba, the local AIDS hospice begins to look like an unlikely refuge to the hopeless teens. Cast: Miriel Cejas, Héctor Medina, Dunia Matos, Jorge Perugorria, Luis A. Garcia. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: TBD (more grades)

Tyrannosaur/United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Paddy Considine) — For Joseph, a man plagued by self-destructive violence and rage, a chance of redemption appears in the form of Hannah, a Christian charity shop worker with a devastating secret of her own. Cast: Peter Mullan, Eddie Marsan, Olivia Colman. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)
Filmmaker interview
indieWIRE Review

Vampire/Japan, Canada (Director and screenwriter: Iwai Shunji) — On the surface, Simon seems like a fairly normal, average young man, devoted to his teaching job and ailing mother. Secretly, he is compelled to hunt through online chat rooms and message boards, searching for the perfect girl who will ensure his own survival. Cast: Kevin Zegers, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rachel Leigh Cook, Kristin Kreuk, Aoi Yu and Adelaide Clemens. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: C- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

-This guide continues on the next page-

World Documentary Competition

An African Election/Ghana, Switzerland, U.S.A. (Director: Jarreth Merz) — The 2008 presidential elections in Ghana, West Africa, serve as a backdrop for this feature documentary that looks behind the scenes at the complex, political machinery of a third-world democracy struggling to avoid civil war and establish stability for good. North American Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

The Bengali Detective/India, U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Phil Cox) — Chubby, dance-obsessed private-detective Rajesh Bharti and his motley band of helpers tackle poisonings, adultery and the occasional murder on the frenzied streets of Kolkata. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

The Blackpower Mixtape 1967-1975/Sweden, U.S.A. (Director: Göran Olsson) — From 1967 to 1975, Swedish journalists chronicled the Black Power movement in America. Combining that 16mm footage, undiscovered until now, with contemporary audio interviews, this film illuminates the people and culture that fueled change and brings the movement to life anew. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: A- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Family Portrait in Black and White/Canada, Ukraine (Director: Julia Ivanova) — In a small Ukrainian town, Olga Nenya, raises 16 black orphans amidst a population of Slavic blue-eyed blondes. Their stories expose the harsh realities of growing up as a bi-racial child in Eastern Europe. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: C+ ( href="http://www.indiewire.com/film/family_portrait_in_black_and_white/" target="_blank">more grades)
Filmmaker interview

The Flaw/United Kingdom (Director: David Sington) — Within a few months in 2008, several American financial institutions failed, and before you knew it the U.S.A. was in the red. An imaginative blend of archive, animation and personal stories delivers a devastating indictment of the unfettered capitalism which has led to crippling, catastrophic income inequality in the land of the free. North American Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

The Green Wave (Irans grüner Sommer)/Germany (Director: Ali Samadi Ahadi) — Animated blogs and tweets tell the story of democracy under fire and hopes dashed as protesters are arrested, tortured and raped during Iran’s tumultuous elections of June 2009. North American Premiere

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criticWIRE grades: C+ (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

A scene from Stand Van De Sterren's "Position Among the Stars." [Photo courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival]

Hell and Back Again/U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Danfung Dennis) — Told through the eyes of one Marine from the start of his 2009 Aghanistan tour to his distressing return and rehabilitation in the U.S., we witness what modern “unconventional” warfare really means to the men who are fighting it. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: A- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

KNUCKLE/Ireland, United Kingdom (Director: Ian Palmer) — An epic 12-year journey into the brutal and secretive world of Irish Traveler bare-knuckle fighting, this film follows a history of violent feuding between rival clans. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Position Among the Stars (Stand Van De Sterren)/Netherlands (Director: Leonard Retel Helmrich) — The effects of globalization in Indonesia’s rapidly changing society ripple into the life of a poor Christian woman living in the slums of Jakarta with her Muslim sons and teenage granddaughter. International Premiere

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criticWIRE average: A (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Project Nim/United Kingdom (Director: James Marsh) — From the Oscar-winning team behind Man on Wire comes the story of Nim, the chimpanzee who was taught to communicate with language as he was raised and nurtured like a human child. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: A- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview
indieWIRE Review

Senna/United Kingdom (Director: Asif Kapadia; Screenwriter: Manish Pandey) — The story of the legendary racing driver and Brazilian hero Ayrton Senna takes us on the ultimate journey of what it means to become the greatest when faced with the constant possibility of death. North American Premiere

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criticWIRE average: A- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure/Australia, U.S.A. (Director: Matthew Bate) — When two friends tape-recorded the fights of their violently noisy neighbors, they accidentally created one of the world's first 'viral' pop-culture sensations. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B- (more grades)


NEXT

Bellflower/U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Evan Glodell) — A ballad for every person who has ever loved and lost – with enough violence, weapons, action and sex to tell a love story with apocalyptic stakes. Cast: Evan Glodell, Jessie Wiseman, Tyler Dawson, Rebekah Brandes.

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criticWIRE average: B (more grades)
Filmmaker interview
indieWIRE Review

The Lie/U.S.A. (Director: Joshua Leonard; Screenwriters: Jeff Feuerzeig, Joshua Leonard, Mark Webber and Jess Weixler, based on the short story by T. Coraghessan Boyle) — A man overwhelmed and disappointed with life tells a lie to avoid going to work… what could possibly go wrong? Cast: Joshua Leonard, Jess Weixler, Mark Webber, Alia Shawkat, Jane Adams and Kelli Garner.

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criticWIRE average: B (more grades)
Filmmaker interview
indieWIRE Review

Lord Byron/U.S.A. (Director: Zack Godshall; Screenwriters: Zack Godshall and Ross Brupbacher) — When he's not pursuing women, Byron is smoking weed and loafing around. But he's grown restless in his middle-age and feels the need to escape – he just doesn't know where to go. Cast: Paul Batiste, Gwendolyn Spradling, Kayla Lemaire.

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criticWIRE average: B- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

The Off Hours/U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Megan Griffiths) — A passing truck driver brings an unfamiliar sense of optimism to a woman working the night shift at a quiet diner, reminding her it's never too late to become the person you always wanted to be. Cast: Amy Seimetz, Ross Partridge, Scoot McNairy, Lynn Shelton, Bret Roberts, Tony Doupe.

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criticWIRE average: B (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Prairie Love/U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Dusty Bias) — When a mysterious vagrant living out of his car among the snowy plains discovers a nearly-frozen local with a pen-pal girlfriend, he sees an opportunity to change his lonely existence. Cast: Jeremy Clark, Holly Lynn Ellis, Garth Blomberg.

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criticWIRE average: B (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

Restless City/U.S.A. (Director: Andrew Dosunmu; Screenwriter: Eugene M. Gussenhoven) — An African immigrant survives on the fringes of New York City. Music is his passion, life is a hustle and falling in love is his greatest risk. Cast: Danai Gurira, Anthony Okungbowa, Babs Olusanmokun.

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criticWIRE average: TBD (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

sound of my voice/U.S.A. (Director: Zal Batmanglij; Screenwriters: Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling) — A young couple infiltrates a cult that meets in a basement in the San Fernando Valley. Cast: Christopher Denham, Nicole Vicius, Brit Marling.

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criticWIRE average: A- (more grades)
Filmmaker interview

to.get.her/U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Erica Dunton) — Five girls come together for one fateful night where anything goes. They all had secrets, but their friendship was the only thing they knew to be true. Cast: Jazzy De Lisser, Chelsea Logan, Adwoa Aboah, Jami Eaton, Audrey Speicher.

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criticWIRE average: D+ (more grades)
Filmmaker interview


Premieres

Cedar Rapids/U.S.A. (Director: Miguel Arteta; Screenwriter: Phil Johnston) — A wholesome and naive small-town Wisconsin man travels to big city Cedar Rapids, Iowa to represent his company at a regional insurance conference. Cast: Ed Helms, Sigourney Weaver, Alia Shawkat, John C. Reilly, Rob Corddry, Anne Heche.

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criticWIRE average: B- (more grades)

The Convincer/U.S.A. (Director: Jill Sprecher; Screenwriters: Jill Sprecher & Karen Sprecher) — An insurance salesman, caught in a caper involving a rare musical instrument, sets off a series of dramatic consequences. Cast: Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, Billy Crudup, David Harbour.

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criticWIRE grades: C+ (more grades)

The Details/U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jacob Aaron Estes) — When hungry raccoons discover worms living under the sod in a young couple’s backyard, the pest problem sets off a wild and absurd chain reaction of domestic tension, infidelity, organ donation and murder by way of bow and arrow. Cast: Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney, Tobey Maguire.

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criticWIRE average: C+ (more grades)

The Devil’s Double/Belgium (Director: Lee Tamahori; Screenwriter: Michael Thomas) — An extraordinary chapter in recent history providing a chilling vision of the House of Saddam comes to life through the eyes of the man who knew too much. Cast: Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier, Mimoun Oaissa, Raad Rawi, Philip Quast.

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criticWIRE average: C+ (more grades)

Flypaper/U.S.A. (Director: Rob Minkoff; Screenwriters: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore) — When two gangs try to rob the same bank at the same time, a clever hostage in the middle must save the day. Cast: Patrick Dempsey, Ashley Judd, Mekhi Phifer, Jeffrey Tambor, Tim Blake Nelson, Pruitt Taylor Vince.

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criticWIRE average C (more grades)

The Future/Germany, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Miranda July) — When a couple decides to adopt a stray cat their perspective on life changes radically, literally altering the course of time and space and testing their faith in each other and themselves. Cast: Hamish Linklater, Miranda July, David Warshofsky, Isabella Acres, Joe Putterlik.

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criticWIRE average:B (more grades)
indieWIRE Review

I Melt with You/Canada, U.S.A. (Director: Mark Pellington; Screenwriter: Glenn Porter, based on the story by Glenn Porter and Mark Pellington) — Four friends gather every year to celebrate their friendship. This year they are unexpectedly forced to confront a forgotten promise they made 25 years earlier. As they examine choices they've made, they realize that what they said they would do with their lives and what they have done are entirely different. Cast: Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, Christian McKay, Carla Gugino.

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criticWIRE average: C- (more grades)

Life in a Day/U.S.A. (Director: Kevin Macdonald) — Life in a Day is a historic global experiment to create the world’s largest user-generated feature film. On July 24, 2010, professional and amateur filmmakers captured a glimpse of their lives on camera and uploaded the footage to YouTube, serving as a time capsule for future generations.

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)

Margin Call/U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: JC Chandor) — Over a 24-hour period during the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis, the key people at a investment bank struggle to decide how to handle an emergency business situation while examining the personal and moral implications of every action they take. Cast: Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Stanley Tucci.

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criticWIRE average C+ (more grades)

The Music Never Stopped (Director: Jim Kohlberg; Screenwriters: Gwyn Lurie and Gary Marks, based on the story “The Last Hippie” by Oliver Sacks) — A father struggles to bond with his estranged son who suffers a brain tumor that prevents him from forming new memories. He learns to embrace his son’s choices and to try to connect with him through the power of music. Cast: J.K. Simmons, Julia Ormond, Cara Seymour, Lou Taylor Pucci, Mia Maestro. Salt Lake City Gala Film.

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criticWIRE average: C+ (more grades)

My Idiot Brother/U.S.A. (Director: Jesse Peretz; Screenwriters: Evgenia Peretz and David Schisgall) — After serving time for selling pot, Ned successively moves in with each of his three sisters as he tries to get back on his feet. His best intentions quickly bring the family to the cusp of chaos and ultimately the brink of clarity. Cast: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer.

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)
indieWIRE Review

A scene from Kevin Smith's "Red State." [Photo courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival]
Perfect Sense/United Kingdom (Director: David Mackenzie; Screenwriter: Kim Fupz Aakeson) — A poetic and magnetic love story about two people who start to fall in love just as the world begins to fall apart. Cast: Ewan McGregor, Eva Green, Ewen Bremner, Stephen Dillane, Connie Nielsen.

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)

Red State/U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kevin Smith) — A group of misfits encounter extreme fundamentalism in Middle America. Cast: Michael Parks, Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner, John Goodman, Melissa Leo.

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criticWIRE average: C (more grades)
indieWIRE Review

Salvation Boulevard/U.S.A. (Director: George Ratliff; Screenwriters: Doug Max Stone and George Ratliff, based on the novel by Larry Beinhart) — An evangelical preacher who has captivated a city with his charm frames an ex-hippie for a crime he did not commit. Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Greg Kinnear, Marisa Tomei.

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criticWIRE average:C (more grades)

The Son of No One/U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Dito Montiel) — Two men in post-9/11 New York are forced to relive two murders they committed as young boys. Their lives start to unravel by the threat of the revelation of these shocking and personal secrets. Cast: Channing Tatum, Al Pacino, Juliette Binoche. CLOSING NIGHT FILM

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criticWIRE average:C (more grades)

Win Win/U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Tom McCarthy, based on the story by Tom McCarthy and Joe Tiboni) — When a disheartened attorney moonlighting as a high school wrestling coach stumbles across a star athlete, things seem to be looking up. That is, until the boy's mother shows up fresh from rehab and flat broke, threatening to derail everything. Cast: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor.

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)

Documentary Premieres

Becoming Chaz/U.S.A. (Directors: Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato) — Born biologically female, Chastity Bono invites the viewer into a deeply personal journey as he transitions from female to male, embracing his true self, which is Chaz.

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criticWIRE average: B (more grades)

Bobby Fischer Against the World/U.S.A. (Director: Liz Garbus) — The drama of late chess-master Bobby Fischer's career was undeniable,as he careened from troubled childhood, to World Champion and Cold War icon, to a fugitive on the run.

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)

Granito/U.S.A. (Director: Pamela Yates) — A documentary film intertwines with Guatemala’s turbulent history and emerges as an active player in a nation’s struggle to heal itself and serve up justice.

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criticWIRE average: B- (more grades)

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold/U.S.A. (Director: Morgan Spurlock) — A documentary about branding, advertising and product placement is financed and made possible by branding, advertising and product placement.

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criticWIRE average: B- (more grades)

The Interrupters/U.S.A. (Director: Steve James) — From the Academy Award-winning director of Hoop Dreams comes a story of ex-gang members who are now protecting their communities from the violence they themselves once employed.

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criticWIRE average: A (more grades)

Magic Trip/U.S.A. (Directors: Alison Ellwood and Alex Gibney) — In 1964 Ken Kesey, author of 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,' and his band of Merry Pranksters set out on a cross-country road trip to the New York World's Fair. Fueled by large doses of LSD, they filmed the entire journey. Forty-plus years later, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney and co-director Alison Ellwood use that footage, audio recordings and photographs to create an immersion experience of the legendary trip.

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criticWIRE average: B- (more grades)

Reagan/U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Eugene Jarecki) — Reagan examines the enigmatic career of one of the revered architects of the modern world – icon, screen star, and two-term president Ronald Reagan.

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)

Rebirth/U.S.A. (Director: Jim Whitaker) — Weaving together five stories of individuals whose lives were profoundly altered by the 9/11 attack with unprecedented time-lapse footage of Ground Zero composed over ten years, what emerges is a chronicle of grief’s evolution and a nation healing.

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criticWIRE average: A- (more grades)

These Amazing Shadows/U.S.A. (Directors: Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton) — The history and importance of the National Film Registry unfolds in a roll call of American cinema treasures that reflects the diversity of film, and indeed the American experience itself.

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criticWIRE average: C (more grades)

-This guide continues on the next page-

Park City at Midnight

The Catechism Cataclysm/U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Todd Rohal) — After becoming disinterested with the church, a priest tracks down his old classmate, a former metalhead whom he idolized in high school. When the two embark on a canoeing trip together, all hell breaks loose. Cast: Steve Little, Robert Longstreet, Walter Dalton, Miki Ann Maddox, Koko Lanham. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B (more grades)
indieWIRE Review

Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same/U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Madeleine Olnek) — A shy greeting card store employee unknowingly falls for a lesbian space alien while two government agents closely track their romance. Cast: Lisa Haas, Susan Ziegler, Jackie Monahan, Cynthia Kaplan, Dennis Davis, Alex Karpovsky, Rae C Wright. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)

Corman’s World: Exploits Of A Hollywood Rebel/ U.S.A. (Director: Alex Stapleton) — Tracks the triumphant rise of Hollywood’s most prolific writer-director-producer, the true godfather of independent filmmaking. Cast: Jack Nicholson, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, James Cameron, Roger Corman. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)

Hobo with A Shotgun/Canada (Director: Jason Eisener; Screenwriter: Johnathan Davies) — A hobo hops from a train with dreams of a fresh life in a new city, but instead finds himself trapped in an urban hell. When he witnesses a brutal robbery, he realizes the only way to deliver justice is with a shotgun in his hands and two shells in the chamber. Cast: Rutger Hauer, Molly Dunsworth, Gregory Smith, Brian Downey. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B- (more grades)

The Oregonian/U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Calvin Lee Reeder) — After surviving a brutal car accident, a simple farm woman limps down the road into the nightmarish unknown. Cast: Lindsay Pulsipher, Robert Longstreet, Matt Olsen, Lynne Compton, Barlow Jacobs, Chadwick Brown, Jed Maheu, Roger M. Mayer. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B (more grades)
indieWIRE Review

Septien/U.S.A. (Director: Michael Tully) — A reclusive sports hustler returns home to his family farm after years of absence to reunite with his two eccentric, unhinged and emotionally damaged brothers. Cast: Robert Longstreet, Onur Tukel, Michael Tully, Rachel Korine, Mark Robinson, John Maringouin. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B- (more grades)

Troll Hunter (Trolljegeren)/Norway (Director: Andre Ovredal) — A group of student filmmakers get more than they bargained for when tangling with a man tasked with protecting Norway from giant trolls. Cast: Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Hans Morten Hansen, Johanna Mørch, Tomas Alf Larsen. International Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B (more grades)
indieWIRE Review

The Woman/U.S.A. (Director: Lucky McKee; Screenwriters: Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee) — When a successful country lawyer captures and attempts to “civilize” the last remaining member of a violent clan that has roamed the Northeast coast for decades, he puts the lives of his family in jeopardy. Cast: Pollyanna McIntosh, Sean Bridgers, Angela Bettis, Lauren Ashley Carter, Zach Rand. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)


Spotlight

Attenberg/Greece (Director and screenwriter: Athina Rachel Tsangari) — Marina, a young woman living with her father in a decaying, seaside factory town, acquires a new perspective on the mysteries of human nature after she meets a stranger. Cast: Ariane Labed, Yorgos Lanthimos, Vangelis Mourikis, Evangelia Randou. U.S. Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B (more grades)

Elite Squad 2 (Tropa de Elite 2)/Brazil (Director: José Padilha; Screenwrtiers: Bráulio Mantovani, José Padilha and Rodrigo Pimentel) — Captain Nascimento of Rio de Janeiro’s special operations police unit has a new enemy: widespread corruption within the city. Cast: Wagner Moura, Seu Jorge, Tainá Müller, André Ramiro, Milhem Cortaz. International Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B (more grades)

I Saw the Devil (Akmareul boattda)/South Korea (Director and screenwriter: Kim Jee-woon) — A young secret agent tracks a brutal serial killer who murdered his fiancée. Cast: Byung-hun Lee, Min-sik Choi. U.S. Premiere

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criticWIRE average: A- (more grades)

In a Better World (Hævnen)/Denmark (Director: Susanne Bier; Story: Susanne Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen, Screenplay: Anders Thomas Jensen) — The lives of two Danish families become intertwined as an extraordinary but risky friendship develops. Cast: Mikael Persbrandt, Trine Dyrholm, Ulrich Thomsen, Markus Rygaard and William Jøhnk Nielsen. U.S. Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)

Incendies/Canada (Director: Denis Villeneuve; Screenwriters: Denis Villeneuve, Valérie Beaugrand-Champagn and Wajdi Mouawad) — A mother's last wish sends Jeanne and Simon, twins living in Canada, on a journey to the Middle East in search of their tangled roots. Cast: Lubna Azabal, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, Maxim Gaudette.

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criticWIRE average: A- (more grades)

Kaboom/U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Gregg Araki) — A science fiction story centered on the sexual awakening of a group of college students. Cast: Thomas Dekker, Haley Bennett, Chris Zylka, Roxane Mesquida, Juno Temple. U.S. Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B- (more grades)

Letters From the Big Man/U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Christopher Munch) — An artist and government hydrologist surveying a remote part of southwestern Oregon befriends a sasquatch man and must take bold steps to protect his privacy, as well as her own. Cast: Lily Rabe, Jason Butler Harner, Isaac C. Singleton Jr., Jim Cody Williams, Fiona Dourif. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: D (more grades)

Meek's Cutoff/U.S.A. (Director: Kelly Reichardt; Screenwriter: Jon Raymond) — In 1845, three families who have hired mountaineer Stephen Meek to guide their wagons over the Cascade Mountains get lost and face hunger, thirst and a lack of faith in their instincts for survival. Cast: Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Zoe Kaza, Bruce Greenwood, Shirley Henderson.

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)

Old Cats (Gatos Viejos)/Chile (Directors and screenwriters: Pedro Peirano and Sebastián Silva) — An old woman who realizes that her mind is quickly deteriorating desperately tries to hide this condition from her daughter, who waits keenly for any sign of senility in order to take her apartment. Cast: Bélgica Castro, Claudia Celedón, Catalina Saavedra, Alejandro Sieveking.

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)

Submarine/United Kingdom, U.S.A. (Director: Richard Ayoade; Screenwriter: Richard Ayoade from the novel by Joe Dunthorne) — Fifteen-year-old Oliver Tate has two big ambitions: to save his parents' marriage and to lose his virginity before his next birthday. Cast: Craig Roberts, Paddy Considine, Sally Hawkins, Yasmin Paige. U.S. Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B+ (more grades)

Uncle Kent/U.S.A. (Director: Joe Swanberg; Screenwriters: Joe Swanberg and Kent Osborne) — A pothead cartoonist in Los Angeles spends a weekend trying to sleep with his visiting house guest – a woman from New York he met on Chatroulette. Cast: Kent Osborne. World Premiere

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criticWIRE average: B- (more grades)
indieWIRE Review


New Frontiers

Jess + Moss/U.S.A. (Director: Clay Jeter; Screenwriters: Clay Jeter and Debra Jeter) — Jess (18) and Moss (12) are second cousins who have spent their summers together since either of them can remember. Without immediate families that they can relate to, and lacking friends their own age, all they have is each other. Through a series of memories and vignettes, 'Jess + Moss' recounts the events of the last summer they shared together. Shot entirely on location with a variety of expired and often degraded film stocks, 'Jess + Moss' captures the evocative and haunting character of the dark fire tobacco fields of rural Western Kentucky. Cast: Sarah Hagan, Austin Vickers. World Premiere.

The Mill & the Cross/Poland, Sweden (Director: Lech Majewski; Screenwriters: Michael Francis Gibson and Lech Majewski) — A visually vibrant and masterful work that seamlessly fortifies rich painterly compositions with digital effects, bringing Peter Brugel’s 1564 painting, The Way to Calvary, to real life. Cast: Rutger Hauer, Michael York, Charlotte Rampling, Joanna Litwin. World Premiere

The Nine Muses/U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: John Akomfrah) — An allegorical fable divided into overlapping musical chapters, this film retells the history of mass migration to post-war Britain through the suggestive lens of Homer's epic poem, The Odyssey. North American Premiere

!Women Art Revolution/U.S.A. (Director: Lynn Hershman Leeson) — One part of a transmedia project that includes the interactive video installation RAW WAR presented at New Frontier, this seminal documentary depicts the history of women artists who have used art as an activist practice to fight oppression and protest gender and racial exclusion – creating what many historians feel is the most significant art movement of the late-20th century. U.S. Premiere

The Woods/U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Matthew Lessner) — When promised change that did not come, eight young Americans move deep into to the woods to start their own society. Cast: Justin Phillips, Toby David, Adam Mortemore, Nicola Persky, Chris Edley. World Premiere.

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4 Comments

  • Edward Douglas | February 1, 2011 12:57 AMReply

    Roger, click on "More Grades"... most of those letter grades are averages of the actual grades/reviews submitted by various critics

  • Roger J | January 27, 2011 8:55 AMReply

    The letter grades are really useless. Can't you require at least a little bit of context/commentary other than just a letter? At least link to full reviews where the exist, but it'd be great if that were required.

  • Ethan | January 27, 2011 6:46 AMReply

    ARE YOU UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT SHOUTING WILL MAKE PEOPLE TAKE YOU MORE SERIOUSLY?

  • SUNDANCE IS OLD, STALE AND STUCK IN THE 60S | January 23, 2011 2:33 AMReply

    SUNDANCE MOVING TO THE COMMIE LEFT ..WILL BRING IT DOWN. SOMEBODY TELL REDFORD THIS ISN’T THE 60’S!!! INDEPENDENT FILM ARE NOT ANTI-AMERICAN!!! SUNDANCE IS OVER WITH. EXCEPT FOR ROOKIES!! AND FILM THIEVES!! OR ECOTARDS AND GLOBAL SCAM FILMS!!

    WHEN YOU’RE SO BROKE YOU NEED FORD FOUNDATION AND THAT COMMUNIST SOROS MONEY..FUNDING YOUR FESTIVAL?? ITS DONE. TAKING OVER SUNDANCE FOR GOVERNMENT PROPAGANDA, IS NOT WHAT OUR INDUSTRY NEEDED. OR WANTED!!!! THE BIGGEST INVESTORS LEFT, THE FIRST DAY!!!