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Film Festival News and Reviews: Sundance, Cannes and more

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    PARK CITY '08 REVIEW | Hope Despite A Cold Despair: Tom Hines's "Chronic Town"

    A constant haze of icy mist and cigarette smoke brings director Tom Hines' emotionally raw relationship drama "Chronic Town" beautiful grimness and undeniable power. Yet, just as the sliver of a moon hanging over cold, harsh Fairbanks, Alaska is a sign of welcome beauty, there's also a sliver of hop...

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    PARK CITY '08 DISPATCH | Queer Cinema Then and Now at Sundance '08

    A rather staggering forty-four films with either GLBT themes or a GLBT director are screening at this year's Sundance Film Festival, including new works from directors Tom Kalin ("Savage Grace"), Isaac Julien's "Derek"), Bruce LaBruce ("Otto; Or Up With Dead People"), producer Christine Vachon, as well as a screening of Gregg Araki's remastered "The Living End." The films inspired a reunion of sorts at this year's festival, anchored on Saturday night with a dinner celebrating the group of queer films. In remarks during dinner B. Ruby Rich, who coined the term "New Queer Cinema" at a Sundance panel in 1992, emotionally proclaimed the room as "...

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    iW NEWS | Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Awards Winners Announced

    The Sundance Institute and NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) announced the winners of the 2008 Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Awards. The four winners were selected from 12 finalists by an international jury which included Gregg Araki, Jeremy Pikser, Erin Cressida Wilson, Martin Rejtman, Andrucha Waddington, Shekhar Kapur and Anand Tucker. The winners were Alejandro Fernandez for "Huacho," Braden King for "Here," Aiko Nagastu for "Apoptosis" and Radu Jude for "The Happiest Girl in the World." These annual awards were created in 1996 to honor and support visionary film directors from four global regions (Europe, Latin America, the Un...

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    PARK CITY '08 SHORTS COLUMN | International Shorts and Five-Minute-or-Less Flicks Dominate Sundance

    In 2007, the Sundance Film Festival programmed 28 international short films. This year, a record number of 42 international shorts make up the 2008 Sundance Film Festival roster. While world cinema representation has expanded, running time of the 83 official short film selections has shrunk, with 25% clocking in at five minutes or less. And with only eight films exceeding the twenty-minute mark, it's clear that extremely-short shorts are enjoying a comeback in Park City. "I've always felt that anyone who is truly interested in independent film should pay attention to shorts," notes Sundance founder Robert Redford in this year's festival ca...

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    PARK CITY '08 DISPATCH | Immigration and Water Make a Sundance Splash

    Filmmakers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck returned this week to the very same podium at the Sundance Film Festival's Racquet Club Theater where two years ago they first introduced their acclaimed "Half Nelson." Boden and Fleck's latest film, "Sugar," which had its world premiere Monday at the venue, is the noble immigrant story of Miguel Santos, played by Algenis Perez Soto, an aspiring Dominican baseball player who hopes to succeed in the major leagues in the U.S. At 19, he receives a break, winning a place in the minor leagues with a team in Iowa. But, after initial success, his pitching begins to falter and he starts to question his life's ambi...

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    PARK CITY '08 REVIEW | Surprisingly Ordinary : Clark Gregg's "Choke"

    Comedy perfection. That's the reasonable expectation for "Choke," based on the great novel by rebel author Chuck Palahniuk and starring Sam Rockwell as a sex addict dealing with the illness of his mother, a role tailored to his manic strengths. But after a fantastically funny opening at a sex addict...

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    AFP: Festival film takes on water profiteers

    Documentary film "Flow," premiering at the Sundance Film Festival this week, condemns water profiteering, calling for a UN resolution to make access to clean drinking water a human right. The film by French-born director Irena Salina blasts Paris-based Suez and Vivendi Environment for commercializin...

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    PARK CITY '08 REVIEW | True Grit: Trygve Allister Diesen's "Red"

    A scene of tranquil beauty and everyday leisure turns unsettlingly violent at the start of director Trygve Allister Diesen's engaging pulp drama "Red." Avery Allan Ludlow (Brian Cox) is a widower living alone in a rural Oregon town. A regular fishing trip becomes a crime scene after a group of teens...

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    PARK CITY '08 NOTEBOOK | International Films Shine At Sundance: "Abu Raed"; "Absurdistan"; "Mermaid

    Movies made outside the United States can illuminate the individuality of distant cultures for American audiences--while simultaneously highlighting the similarities to our particular surroundings. In both its narrative and documentary components, the international entries of the Sundance Film Festi...

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    PARK CITY '08 REVIEW | Bittersweet Dreams: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's "Sugar"

    No one-hit wonders, "Half Nelson" writer-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck have created another stunning, subtle achievement with "Sugar," a deeply resonant story about a Dominican baseball talent recruited for America's minor leagues. If "Half Nelson" showed off the duo's skillful attention to ch...

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