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Scouring the Globe and Finding Films About American Values, More on Sundance ’05

Scouring the Globe and Finding Films About American Values, More on Sundance '05

Scouring the Globe and Finding Films About American Values, More on Sundance ’05

by Eugene Hernandez

A scene from Don Roos’ “Happy Endings,” which will open Sundance ’05. Image provided by the festival.

The 63 new titles announced yesterday for this year’s Sundance Film Festival, 60 of which are feature-length films, bring the total feature lineup for Sundance ’05 to 120 films (a drop from last year). “Happy Endings,” the new film from Don Roos (“The Opposite of Sex”), will open the festival on January 20, 2005, again in Park City, UT. The Lions Gate Films movie, opening in theaters next July, features Tom Arnold, Jesse Bradford, Bobby Cannavale, Sarah Clarke, Steve Coogan, Laura Dern, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Lisa Kudrow, Jason Ritter, and David Sutcliffe.

“Its an inventive, really wonderful, smart and witty comedy about relationships and about life,” Sundance Film Festival chief Geoff Gilmore told indieWIRE yesterday, talking further about this year’s event. Gilmore added that the opener underscores an important festival theme this year that is an inquiry into American values. But not in a didactic fashion, he added.

“Maybe that’s what independent film does all the time,” Gilmore mused, “Depicting personal stories and a range of inquiry — that seems really pronounced in a lot of different work.”

A number of films in the festival’s primarily star-driven Premieres section showcase will arrive at the event with distribution in place. Sony Pictures Classics will present four films, including the world premiere of Chris Terrio‘s “Heights” and the U.S. premieres of Kim Ki-duk‘s “3-Iron,” Matthew Vaughn‘s “Layer Cake” and Stephen Chow‘s “Kung Fu Hustle.”

The world premiere of Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato‘s “Inside Deep Throat,” from Universal, is a doc that takes a look at the legacy of the notorious porn film with interviews featuring Gerard Damiano, Harry Reems, John Waters, Erica Jong, Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal.

From Focus Features is Damien O’Donnell‘s “Rory O’Shea Was Here,” John Maybury‘s “The Jacket” is from Warner Independent Pictures, George C. Wolfe‘s “Lackawanna Blues” comes from HBO, Columbia/Tri Star presents “Mirrormask” from director Dave McKean, Andy Fickman‘s musical “Reefer Madness” is from Showtime, and Mike Binder‘s “Upside of Anger” is due for release by New Line in March. All are among the world premieres set to have a platform at the event.

“Inside Deep Throat,” one of 24 premiere films set for the festival. Image provided by the Universal.

Of course, a number of new titles announced yesterday will be on the minds of buyers. Among the films without distribution is Richard Shepard‘s “The Matador,” a film with Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Hope Davis, Phillip Baker Hall, Adam Scott, and Dylan Baker that Gilmore expects will be a hot property for the industry. Michael Hoffman‘s “Game 6,” with Michael Keaton, Robert Downey, Jr., Ari Graynor, Katherine O’Hara, Griffin Dunne, Bebe Neuwirth, and Shalom Harlow is also anticipated; it is the first project from Serenade Films. Also of interest is a high-profile new project from IFC Films, Rebecca Miller‘s “The Ballad of Jack and Rose,” featuring Daniel Day-Lewis, Camilla Belle, Catherine Keener, and Beau Bridges.

A total of 24 films will screen in the Premieres section, while 15 are set for the indie American Spectrum, which features a number of new movies from under the radar. In the Park City at Midnight and Special Screenings sections, 8 films will be presented, while 6 are set for the Frontier section and 2 for the Sundance Collection sidebar.

Chatting with indieWIRE, Gilmore emphasized that he pounded the pavement even harder this year when trying to find films for one of the fewer slots available.

“It’s awfully hard to cover the world,” Gilmore explained, noting that he and his team or programmers (John Cooper, Trevor Groth, Shari Frilot, and Caroline Libresco) traveled far and wide to find new fest films. “I think we did a remarkable job doing that — (our) travel was instrumental in producing some really special work.” Gilmore also singled out the efforts of Sundance doc head Diane Weyermann, and others on the staff.

“The thing that most dismays me is to ever have missed a film,” Gilmore explained, “And I am a perfectionist about it — I am very demanding.” Continuing he added, “We really have a very, very strong team of people who look at an awful lot of stuff, not a lot gets by,” he said, estimating that his group will considered some 6,000 feature and short films overall during the course of the year.

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