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'The Raid,' 'Wuthering Heights,' 'Your Sister's Sister,' 'Monsieur Lazhar' & More Pack Their Bags For Sundance

Festivals
by Kevin Jagernauth
December 1, 2011 5:12 PM
4 Comments
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More news from Park City, as yesterday brought us the competition movies vying to win some awards at Sundance, and today brings more movies headed to the fest with an emphasis on world cinema and midnight offerings. So if you're lucky enough to be heading to Utah, here are some movies to note.

Falling into the former category and oddly not the latter, Indonesia's hugely buzzed "The Raid" will bring the smackdown. Gareth Evans' film premiered at TIFF in the fall to gangbuster reviews, and an acquistion from Sony who will remake it via Screen Gems and send the original to theaters through Sony Pictures Classics. But this will be a rare chance to screen the film with a game crowd in the oxygen thin mountain air.

Another fall festival title, Andrea Arnold's evocative take on "Wuthering Heights" will travel to Sundance. The film played Venice and TIFF and divided viewers, with finding the director's take enthralling while others couldn't stand it.

Meanwhile, no stranger to Sundance, "Humpday" director Lynn Shelton returns with "Your Sister's Sister." Co-starring Emily Blunt and Mark Duplass, the film is an examination of a sibling relationship that is put to the ultimate test. While this writer was lukewarm on the movie when we caught up with it at TIFF, the audience we saw it with loved it and with game performances from the three leads, it should do well.

"Monsieur Lazhar"? You may not have heard of it, but Canada's Oscar entry has been building buzz north of the border. Written and directed by Philippe Falardeau, this crowd-pleasing dramedy tells the story of an Algerian refugee who lands a teaching job in an elementary school where the students are still recovering from the suicide of their previous teacher. Reviews have been strong and it earned the Best Canadian Feature at TIFF, so you may want to track it down.

Also headed to Sundance: "Tim And Eric's Billion Dollar Movie" which goes VOD on the second day of the festival; "Black Rock," Katie Aselton's indie thriller starring Lake Bell and Kate Bosworth and "Shut Up And Play The Hits" a doc on the final days of LCD Soundsystem. The slate of new titles below for the fest, which runs from January 19-29.

SPOTLIGHT

Corpo Celeste / Italy (Director and screenwriter: Alice Rohrwacher) — After moving back to southern Italy with her mother and older sister, 13-year-old Marta struggles to find her place, restlessly testing the boundaries of an unfamiliar city and the catechism of the Catholic church. Cast: Yle Vianello, Salvatore Cantalupo, Anita Caprioli, Renato Carpentiere.

Declaration Of War / Belgium (Director: Valérie Donzelli, Screenwriters: Jérémie Elkaïm, Valérie Donzelli) — A young couple embark upon a painful, enlightening journey when they discover that their newborn child is very ill. Cast: Valérie Donzelli, Jérémie Elkaïm, César Desseix. North American Premiere.

Elena / Russia (Director: Andrei Zvyagintsev, Screenwriter: Oleg Negin) — A meditative, modern-noir tale about an older woman, Elena, who marries the wealthy business man for whom she worked and, when his health fails, is forced to deal with his estranged daughter who threatens her inheritance. Cast: Andrey Smirnov, Nadezhda Markina, Elena Lyadova, Alexey Rozin.

Monsieur Lazhar / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Philippe Falardeau) — An elegant reflection on loss and death focused on an Algerian immigrant teacher who brings emotional stability to a Montreal middle school class shaken by the suicide of their well-liked teacher. Cast: Fellag, Sophie Nélisse, Émilien Néron, Danielle Proulx, Brigitte Poupart.

The Orator (O le Tulafale) / New Zealand (Director and screenwriter: Tusi Tamasese) — A Samoan villager must defend his land and family when they are threatened by powerful adversaries. Cast: Fa’afiaula Sagote, Tausili Pushparaj, Salamasina Mataia, Ioata Tanielu.

The Raid / Indonesia (Director and screenwriter: Gareth Evans) — All hell breaks loose when an elite SWAT team, given orders to raid a run-down Jakarta apartment building that houses the city’s most notorious crime boss, is forced to fight their way to freedom or die trying. Cast: Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Joe Taslim, Doni Alamsyah. U.S. Premiere.

Where Do We Go Now? / France, Lebanon, Italy, Egypt (Director: Nadine Labaki, Screenwriters: Nadine Labaki, Jihad Hojeily, Rodney Al Haddad, with the collaboration of Thomas Bidegain) — A group of Lebanese women try to ease religious tensions between Christians and Muslims in their village. Cast: Claude Baz Moussawbaa, Layla Hakim, Nadine Labaki, Yvonne Maalouf, Antoinette Noufaily. U.S. Premiere

Wuthering Heights / United Kingdom (Director: Andrea Arnold, Screenwriters: Andrea Arnold, Olivia Hetreed) — A freshly conceived retelling of Emily Bronte’s classic novel about Heathcliff and Cathy, two teenagers whose passionate love for each other creates a storm of vengeance. Cast: Kaya Scodelario, James Howson, Solomon Glave, Shannon Beer, Steve Evets. U.S. Premiere

Your Sister's Sister / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lynn Shelton) — While still mourning the recent death of his brother, a bereft and confused man finds love and direction in a most unexpected place. Cast: Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mark Duplass. U.S. Premiere

PARK CITY AT MIDNIGHT

Black Rock / U.S.A. (Director: Katie Aselton, Screenwriter: Mark Duplass) — Three childhood friends set aside their personal issues and reunite for a girls' weekend on a remote island off the coast of Maine. One wrong move turns their weekend getaway into a deadly fight for survival. Cast: Katie Aselton, Lake Bell, Kate Bosworth.

Excision / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Richard Bates, Jr.) — A disturbed and delusional high school student with aspirations of a career in medicine goes to extremes to earn the approval of her controlling mother. Cast: AnnaLynne McCord, Traci Lords, Ariel Winter, Roger Bart, John Waters.

Grabbers / Ireland, United Kingdom (Director: Jon Wright, Screenwriter: Kevin Lehane) — When the residents of an idyllic Irish fishing village are attacked by mysterious, blood-sucking sea creatures, a high blood alcohol content could be the only thing that gets them through the night. Cast: Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley, Russell Tovey, Bronagh Gallagher.

The Pact / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Nicholas McCarthy) — As a woman struggles to come to grips with her past in the wake of her mother's death, an unsettling presence emerges in her childhood home. Cast: Caity Lotz, Casper Van Dien.

SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS / United Kingdom (Directors: Dylan Southern, Will Lovelace) — A documentary that follows LCD Soundsystem front man James Murphy over a crucial 48-hour period, from the day of their final gig at Madison Square Garden to the morning after, the official end of one of the best live bands in the world.

Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim) — After two guys are given a billion dollars to make a movie, their Hollywood dreams run off course and they decide to rehabilitate a run-down shopping mall in an attempt to make the money back. Cast: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim.

V/H/S / U.S.A. (Directors: Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Radio Silence, Screenwriters: Simon Barrett, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence) — When a group of misfits is hired by an unknown third party to burglarize a desolate house and acquire a rare VHS tape, they discover more found footage than they bargained for. Cast: Joe Swanberg, Calvin Reeder, Adam Wingard, Sophia Takal, Kate Lyn Sheil.

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COMPLIANCE / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Craig Zobel) — When a prank caller convinces a fast food restaurant manager to interrogate an innocent young employee, no one is left unscathed. Based on true events. Cast: Ann Dowd, Pat Healy, Dreama Walker, Bill Camp, Philip Ettinger.

I AM NOT A HIPSTER / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Destin Daniel Cretton) — Set in the indie music and art scene, this is a character-driven story exploring themes of love, loss and what it means to be creative in the face of tragedy. Cast: Dominic Bogart, Alvaro Orlando, Brad William Henke, Tammy Minoff, Kandis Erickson, Lauren Coleman.

KID-THING / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: David Zellner) — A rebellious girl whose existence is devoid of parental guidance, spends her time roaming the land, shoplifting, and vandalizing. Her routine is broken one day while playing in the woods when she hears a woman calling from a mysterious hole in the ground, asking for help. Cast: Sydney Aguirre, Susan Tyrrell, Nathan Zellner, David Zellner.

Mosquita y Mari / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Aurora Guerrero) — A friendship between two 15-year-old Latinas becomes complex as they struggle to recognize the sexual undercurrent in their relationship. Cast: Fenessa Pineda, Venecia Troncoso, Joaquín Garrido, Laura Patalano, Dulce Maria Solis.

My Best Day / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Erin Greenwell) — Karen’s life as a small-town receptionist is turned upside down when the father she never knew calls for a refrigerator repair. That day she encounters a sister addicted to off track betting, a brother struggling with grade school heartache and bullies, and a load of fireworks. Cast: Rachel Style, Ashlie Atkinson, Raúl Castillo, Jo Armeniox, Robert Salerno, Harris Doran.

Pursuit of Loneliness / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Laurence Thrush) — An elderly patient dies in a county hospital leaving no known next of kin. Over the next 24 hours, four central characters try to find a family member to contact regarding the death of this anonymous individual. Cast: Joy Hille, Sandra Escalante, Sharon Munfus, Kirsi Toivanen, Natalie Fouron. Sleepwalk With Me / U.S.A. (Co-directors: Mike Birbiglia and Seth Barrish, Screenwriters: Mike Birbiglia, Ira Glass, Joe Birbiglia, Seth Barrish) — Reluctant to confront his fears of love, honesty, and growing up, a budding standup comedian has both a hilarious and intense struggle with sleepwalking. Cast: Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose, Carol Kane, James Rebhorn, Cristin Milioti.

That's What She Said / U.S.A. (Director: Carrie Preston, Screenwriter: Kellie Overbey) — Armed with nothing but their addictions and lots of personal baggage, two best friends and a mysterious young interloper battle a series of misadventures on their quest for love in New York City. Cast: Anne Heche, Marcia DeBonis, Alia Shawkat.

TWENTY-EIGHT HOTEL ROOMS / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Matt Ross) — Seen only as fragments in the secret world of hotel rooms, a long-term affair becomes perhaps the most significant relationship of a couple’s lives. Cast: Chris Messina, Marin Ireland.

NEW FRONTIER With media installations, multimedia performances, transmedia experiences, panels, film screenings, and more, New Frontier highlights work that celebrates experimentation and the expansion of cinema culture through the convergence of film, art, and new media technology. These films complement the previously announced installations and performances in the New Frontier venue at the Festival.

Bestiaire / Canada, France (Director: Denis Côté) — The boundaries we place around animals are provocatively and formally explored in this meditation on the relationship between nature and humanity. World Premiere

An Oversimplification of Her Beauty / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Terence Nance) — A quixotic young man humorously courses live action and various animated landscapes as he tries to understand himself after a mystery girl stands him up. Cast: Terence Nance, Namik Minter, Chanelle Pearson. World Premiere

THE PERCEPTION OF MOVING TARGETS / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Weston Currie) — A segmenting journey into the dreams of four neighbors. Cast: Brighid Thomas, Cherie Blackfeather, Gerald Casey, Tom Wood, Jin Camou.

Room 237 / U.S.A. (Director: Rodney Ascher) — This experimental documentary explores the numerous theories about the real meaning of Stanley Kubrick's film The Shining. World Premiere

whiteonwhite:algorithmicnoir / U.S.A., Kazakhstan (Directors: Eve Sussman | Rufus Corporation, Screenwriters: Eve Sussman, Kevin Messman, Jeff Wood) — A computer program assembles raw elements of music, dialogue, sound and footage shot in Kazakhstan into a generative noir mystery film in this live algorithmic performance. Cast: Jeff Wood, Marina Fedorenko.

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4 Comments

  • Erik McClanahan | December 7, 2011 2:08 AMReply

    Good to see Elena is going there. It's fantastic.

  • jingmei | December 3, 2011 6:17 AMReply

    Yeah, it sounds makes sense since network works around the world. Also Your Sister's Sister, already known about it.

  • MJ | December 2, 2011 6:46 PMReply

    Sundance is so hard to get films into and then they give a slot to Wuthering Heights when it has already played theatrically everywhere else throughout the world to mixed reviews. Seems all about who you know.

  • Matt | December 1, 2011 5:22 PMReply

    Wuthering Heights has U.S. distribution already via Oscilloscope Laboratories.

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