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My Sundance 9 To Watch List

My Sundance 9 To Watch List

I haven’t gone to Sundance for the last couple years, and I don’t expect to go again this year–unless someone out there will pay me handsomely to cover for them–but I can still opine on what films I’d be excited to see.

Based on director’s past efforts, buzz, and personal interest, here’s a list of 9 titles I’ll be tracking:

Terri (Azazel Jacobs, director of “Momma’s Man”) — 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.

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin) — Based on his Cannes-winning short: 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.

HERE (Braden King) — 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.

Little Birds (Elgin James, founding member of the anti-racist street gang Friends Stand United) — 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.

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (Marshall Curry, “Street Fight”) — 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?

Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times (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.

Project Nim/United Kingdom (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

Hell and Back Again/U.S.A., United Kingdom (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

Position Among the Stars (Stand Van De Sterren)/Netherlands (Leonard Retel Helmrich) — Recent winner of IDFA’s top prize, the film looks at 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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