December 4, 2008

The Sundance List

One of the most important days in the indie film world was yesterday, the unveiling of the Sundance Film Fest's competition lists.

For the US dramatic competition 16 films were accepted out of 1,026 submissions. That's about a 1.6% chance of getting picked. Yowsa.

Here are the women directed and women centric films. (Please let me know if I miss anything or get anything wrong)

US Dramatic Competition
Amreeka (Director-screenwriter: Cherien Dabis)
When a divorced Palestinian woman and her teenage son move to rural Illinois, they find their new lives replete with challenges. Cast: Nisreen Faour, Melkar Muallem, Hiam Abbass, Yussuf Abu-Warda, Alia Shawkat.

Brief Interviews With Hideous Men (Director-screenwriter: John Krasinski)
When her boyfriend leaves with little explanation, a doctoral candidate in anthropology tries to remedy her heartache by interviewing men about their behavior. Cast: Julianne Nicholson, John Krasinski, Timothy Hutton, Dominic Cooper, Christopher Meloni, Bobby Cannavale.

Cold Souls (Director-screenwriter: Sophie Barthes)
In the midst of an existential crisis, a famous American actor explores soul extraction as a relief from the burdens of daily life. Cast: Paul Giamatti, Dina Korzun, David Strathairn, Emily Watson, Lauren Ambrose, Oksana Lada.

The Greatest (Director-screenwriter: Shana Feste)
After the tragic loss of their teenage son, a family is again thrown into turmoil by the arrival of a young woman. Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon, Carey Mulligan, Johnny Simmons, Aaron Johnson, Zoe Kravitz.

Humpday (Director-screenwriter: Lynn Shelton)
A farcical comedy about straight male bonding gone a little too far. Cast: Mark Duplass, Joshua Leonard, Alycia Delmore, Lynn Shelton, Trina Willard.

Paper Heart (Director: Nicolas Jasenovec)
Even though performer Charlyne Yi doesn't believe in love, she bravely embarks on a quest to discover its true nature -- a journey that takes on surprising urgency when she meets an unlikely fellow traveler, actor Michael Cera. Cast: Charlyne Yi, Michael Cera, Nicolas Jasenovec, Jake Johnson.

Push (Based on the Novel by Sapphire) (Director-screenwriter: Lee Daniels)
Based on the acclaimed best-selling novel by Sapphire, the film is the redemptive story of Precious Jones, a girl in Harlem struggling to overcome tremendous obstacles and discover her own voice. Cast: Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe, Paula Patton, Mo'Nique Imes, Lenny Kravitz.

Toe to Toe (Director-screenwriter: Emily Abt)
The story of an interracial friendship put to the test by the intense pressures of a competitive Washington prep school. Cast: Sonequa Martin, Louisa Krause, Silvestre Rasuk, Anwan Glover, Gaius Charles.

U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION (16 films were selected from 879 submissions.)

Boy Interrupted (Director: Dana Perry)
An intimate look at the life, mental illness and death of a young man told from the point of view of the filmmaker: his mother.

The General (El General) (Director: Natalia Almada)
As the great-granddaughter of Mexican President Plutarco Elias Calles, one of Mexico's most controversial revolutionary figures, filmmaker Natalia Almada paints an intimate portrait of Mexico.

The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court (Director: Pamela Yates)
A battle of monumental proportions unfolds as International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo faces down warlords, genocidal dictators and world superpowers in bringing perpetrators of crimes against humanity to justice.

The September Issue (Director: R.J. Cutler)
With unprecedented access, R.J. Cutler and his crew shot for nine months as they captured Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour and her team preparing the 2007 Vogue September issue, widely accepted as the "fashion bible" for the year's trends.

Shouting Fire: Stories From the Edge of Free Speech (Director: Liz Garbus)
An exploration of the history and current state of free speech in America narrated by the filmmaker's father, First Amendment attorney Martin Garbus.

We Live in Public (Director: Ondi Timoner)
The story of the Internet's revolutionary impact on human interaction as told through the eyes of maverick Web pioneer Josh Harris and his transgressive art project that shocked New York.

William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe (Directors: Sarah Kunstler, Emily Kunstler)
With clients including Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and the Chicago 10, civil-rights attorney William Kunstler was one of the most famous lawyers of the 20th century. Filmmakers Emily and Sarah Kunstler explore their father's life, from movement hero to "the most hated lawyer in America."

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION (16 films were selected from 1,012 submissions.)
Before Tomorrow (Le Jour Avant Lendemain) / Canada (Directors: Madeline Piujuq, Marie-Helene Cousineau)
A wise old woman fights to survive impossible circumstances with her young grandson in the Canadian Arctic. Cast: Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq, Paul-Dylan Ivalu, Madeline Piujuq Ivalu, Mary Qulitalik, Tumasie Sivuarapik. U.S. premiere

Dada's Dance / China (Director: Zhang Yuan; screenwriter: Li Xiaofeng)
Dada is a flirtatious young woman who lives with her mother in a small town. Having to fend off the constant advances of her mother's boyfriend, who tells her she is adopted, she undertakes a journey in search of her birth mother. Cast: Li Xinyun, Li Xiaofeng, Gai Ge, Chen Jun. World premiere

An Education / U.K. (Director: Lone Scherfig; screenwriter: Nick Hornby)
In the early 1960s, a sharp 16-year-old with sights set on Oxford meets a handsome older man whose sophistication enraptures and sidetracks her and her parents. Cast: Peter Sarsgaard, Carey Mulligan, Alfred Molina, Emma Thompson. World premiere

A French Gigolo (Cliente) / France (Director-screenwriter: Josiane Balasko)
An attractive, successful fiftysomething woman regularly treats herself to the sexual services of young men selected on Internet sites. When one particular escort becomes a habit, the relationship gets a bit more complicated. Cast: Nathalie Baye, Eric Caravaca, Isabelle Carre, Josiane Balasko. World premiere

Heart of Time (Corazon del Tiempo) / Mexico (Director-screenwriter: Alberto Cortes)
In La Esperanza de San Pedro, Chiapas, in the midst of the Zapatista struggle, a young woman makes serious waves when she falls in love with a revolutionary fighter from the mountains. Cast: Rocio Barrios. North American premiere

Louise-Michel / France (Directors: Benoit Delepine, Gustave Kervern)
When a French factory is abruptly closed by its corrupt management, a group of disgruntled female workers pool their paltry compensation money and hire a hit man to knock off the corrupt executive behind the closure. Cast: Yolande Moreau, Bouli Lanners. North American premiere

The Maid (La Nana) / Chile (Director-screenwriter: Sebastian Silva)
When her mistress brings on another servant to help with the chores, a bitter and introverted maid wreaks havoc on the household. Cast: Catalina Saavedra, Claudia Celedon, Mariana Loyola, Alejandro Goic, Andrea Garcia-Huidobro. North American premiere

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION (16 films were selected from 744 submissions.)
Afghan Star / Afghanistan and U.K. (Director: Havana Marking)
After 30 years of war and Taliban rule, "Pop Idol" has come to television in Afghanistan -- and millions are watching and voting for their favorite singer. This film follows the dramatic stories of four contestants as they risk their lives to sing. North American premiere

The Glass House / U.S. (Director: Hamid Rahmanian)
Follows four teenage girls striving to overcome drug addiction, abandonment and abuse by attending a rehabilitation center in Tehran, Iran. North American premiere

Kimjongilia / France and U.S. (Director: N.C. Heikin)
Defectors from North Korea finally speak out about the terrifying reality of their lives and escapes. World premiere

The Queen and I (Drottningen och jag) / Sweden (Director: Nahid Persson Sarvestani)
Swedish filmmaker Sarvestani, an Iranian exile who helped overthrow the Shah's regime in 1979, confronts her own assumptions and complex truths about Iran when she enters the life of the Shah's widow. World premiere

Quest for Honor / Kurdistan and U.S. (Director: Mary Ann Bruni)
A former teacher and tireless activist works with local lawmen, Kurdish government agencies and her colleagues to investigate and eradicate honor killings in the tribal regions of Kurdistan. World premiere

Rough Aunties / U.K. (Director: Kim Longinotto)
Fearless, feisty and unwavering, the "Rough Aunties" protect and care for the abused, neglected and forgotten children of Durban, South Africa. North American premiere

211:Anna / Italy (Directors: Paolo Serbandini, Giovanna Massimetti)
The story of Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist and human-rights activist who risked her life to report the truth about the Chechen conflict and President Vladimir Putin. World premiere