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Slamdance hits 15th with vigor

2009 marks the 15th anniversary of the Slamdance Film Festival, one of the few remaining movie showcases whose sole mission is to nurture, support and introduce truly independent works from first-time filmmakers. This celebratory year takes place in Park City, Utah, January 15 – 23 and will screen about 100 films in total in all genres. However, in what is one of the toughest and most-aggressive competitions among festivals, only 20 features in the narrative and documentary feature categories combined screen in the main competition, which is strictly devoted to films without domestic theatrical distribution and budgets under $1 million, from first-time feature directors.

The Slamdance Film Festival is a true home for original and truly independent filmmaking and has remained true to its founding mandate that it is a Festival “by filmmakers, for filmmakers.” Per its custom, Slamdance always features an interesting and provocative schedule of screenings and events. The Festival has five programming sections, all films of which are selected by former Slamdance filmmakers. They are: Narrative Features, Documentaries, Special Screenings, Twilight Screenings (Slamdance’s late night series), and Shorts (the latter category will be announced shortly in a separate release).

There are also four distinct writing competitions: feature screenplay, teleplay, horror screenplay and short screenplay, with a variety of cash prizes and script option possibilities; the Anarchy Online Short Film Competition; Fireside Chats with notables from the independent film community; a $99 Special short film production project; and new this year, Slamdance will also showcase music videos.

Also new this year is Slamdance’s recently formed online venture with INDIEROAD.NET, a website created by a team of veteran entertainment and business executives to address the lack of robust distribution options available to promising new talent in the independent film field. Through a combined Slamdance/INDIEROAD.NET site (, Slamdance films will stream anytime throughout the festival period. Bringing the Festival to a worldwide audience for the first time, this ground breaking partnership will allow audiences, press and buyers the opportunity to see the festival films from a location of their choosing, even if they cannot physically attend. Each online viewing of a Slamdance film will cost $9.00, and one third of this amount for each film viewed will go directly to the filmmakers.

The 15th Opening Night Film is I Sell the Dead, written and directed by Glenn McQuaid. This horror/black comedy stars Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings, Lost, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Season of the Witch and recently announced Bubba Nosferatu: Curse of the She-Vampires), Angus Scrimm and Larry Fessenden, who also produced this film and has become a good luck charm of sorts to the Festival. Fessenden first joined the Slamdance family as the star of 2001’s Margarita Happy Hour, and then brought his own directorial touch to the fest with his film Wendigo in 2002. I Sell the Dead, set in the late 1800’s, follows duo of bumbling graverobbers who begin to unearth peculiar corpses.

As it does every year, Slamdance will run concurrently with the Sundance Film Festival. Slamdance and the box office will be headquartered and films will screen at the Treasure Mountain Inn, 255 Main Street, the Festival’s headquarters since 1998. For more information and for a complete listing of films in the Festival, visit or call 323/466-1786. Festival passes are now on sale on the web site; individual tickets go on sale online December 16.

Working towards their goal of providing a truly supportive and enriching learning environment for filmmakers, Slamdance is hosting a number of new events this year to expose filmmakers and attendees to the best opportunities, resources, and companies for independent creatives. Based primarily in the Festival’s expanded Technicolor Filmmaker Lounge at TMI, these events include daily Filmmaker Technology Demos sponsored by Media Distributors and Panasonic, themed days to focus on current issues important to independent film, such as Do-It-Yourself Marketing and Distribution Day sponsored by, and special screenings in partnership with CurrentTV, LunaFest, and Real Ideas Studio.

“On this our 15th anniversary, we celebrate our original mission of showcasing emerging talent and their creative vision,” said Peter Baxter, President and Co-Founder. “Slamdance continues to live by its mantra: By Filmmakers, For Filmmakers. After screening their films at the festival, filmmakers return each year to program. In every respect filmmakers are Slamdance's life source. Always have been and always will be. And this year we look forward to increasing our audience through new online formats we believe have the ability, in the long run, to level the playing field for the independent filmmaker.”

Slamdance 2009 will screen 29 movies. 68%, or 20 films, of the feature films are from the USA. 17%, or 4 films, of the features are from Canada. 9%, or 3 movies, are from the UK and 6%, or 2 films, are from Europe. 31% of Slamdance’s feature directors this year are female. Moreover, there are a host of specific interest films, ranging from Spanish language/Latino interest, African American content, Asian focus, gay oriented, urban themed, animation and youth-based, among others.

“Our narrative line-up is more diverse than previous years, both in range of subjects and stories, and via an equal showing of comedic and dramatic films,” said Drea Clark, Executive Director / Chair of Feature Programming. “Always seemingly prescient, indie filmmakers have really been ahead of the mainstream curve this year in providing more humorous escapist fare, more honestly depicted romances and some truly compelling emotional turns. It’s been a heartening journey over my last ten years with Slamdance, in watching the technical and storytelling prowess of first time filmmakers evolve and start to catch up with their raw talent, and I know we have some extraordinary future stars in our line-up, just ready to break out in the same manner as our more notable alumni.”

The 2009 Slamdance Film Festival is honored to be presented by Kodak. Major and Official Festival Sponsors include Indie Road, host of the Slamdance/Indie Road online streaming festival, the Directors Guild of America, Dos Equis, All Seasons Resorts, Colourmovie, CurrentTV, Discmakers, Dr. Martens, Jagermeister, Hint Water, Media Distributors, Michael Collins Whiskey, Monster Energy, OurStage, Panasonic, POM Wonderful, Real Ideas Studio,, and Technicolor. All Slamdance Film Festival sponsors and partners help sustain and expand our festival event and provide essential support for our filmmakers and the independent mission of Slamdance.


The Ante
Max Perrier (Director), Danek S. Kaus, James Chancellor & Simon Perrier (Writers)
West Coast Premiere, Black Comedy/Thriller, 2006, CANADA, 82 minutes
An innocent man becomes the killer everyone wants him to be when he gambles with his freedom in order to save it.

A Quiet Little Marriage
Mo Perkins (Director/Writer)
Utah Premiere, Drama, 2008, USA, 83 minutes. Cast: Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Cy Carter, Jimmi Simpson.
A loving young couple square off against each other in a covert, domestic battleground of their own making.

City Rats
Steve M. Kelly (Director), Simon Fantauzzo (Writer)
World Premiere, Drama, 2008, UK, 96 minutes. Cast: Susan Lynch, Kenny Doughty, Tamer Hassan.
A modern day Dickensian tale of eight haunted people who meet and fall apart while searching for redemption in each other.

The director of City Rats, Steve M. Kelly, is a huge TV director in the UK (although this is his first feature film). He directed the majority of The Doctors, and also multiple episodes of The Bill, Casualty and Judge John Deed.

I Sell the Dead (Opening Night Film)
Glenn McQuaid (Director/Writer)
US Premiere, Horror/Black Comedy, 2008, USA, 85 minutes. Cast: Dominic Monaghan, Ron Perlman, Angus Scrimm, Larry Fessenden.
Set in the late 1800’s, a duo of bumbling graverobbers begin to unearth peculiar corpses.

Mississippi Damned
Tina Mabry (Director/Writer)
World Premiere, Drama, 2009, USA, 120 minutes. Cast: DB Woodside, Malcolm David Kelly, Malcolm Goodwin, Tessa Thompson, Michael Hyatt.
Three poor Black kids in rural Mississippi reap the consequences of their family’s cycle of abuse, addiction, and violence.

Mississippi Damned won a Kodak Film Grant through FIND. Director Tina Mabry came up through FIND’s Director’s Lab and producer Morgan Stiff was part of their Producer’s Lab.

Ingrid Veninger & Simon Reynolds (Directors/Writers)
US Premiere, Coming of Age Drama, 2008, CANADA, 74 minutes
One day shared between a young boy and girl, whose story unfolds as a luminous and lyrical study of pre-teen ennui and loneliness.

Punching the Clown
Gregori Viens (Director), Henry Phillips & Gregori Viens (Writers)
World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, USA, 90 minutes. Cast: Henry Phillips
A satirical songwriter comes to LA and puts his life’s work in jeopardy.

Son of the Sunshine
Ryan Ward (Director/Writer)
World Premiere, Drama, 2008, CANADA, 95 minutes. Cast: Ryan Ward
After an experimental surgery seems to curb the symptoms of his Tourette’s Syndrome, a young man (played by writer/director Ryan Ward) must confront the complexities of his life head on.

Drake Doremus (Director), Lindsay Stidham (Writer)
World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, USA, 83 minutes. Cast: Matthew Lillard, Nora Zehetner, Shea Whigham, Christopher MacDonald.
Facing eviction from his parent’s home on his 30th birthday, a thoroughly average guy meets the girl of his dreams and creates his own rules for growing up.

You Might As Well Live
Simon Ennis (Director), Simon Ennis & Josh Peace (Writers)
World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, CANADA, 82 minutes. Cast: Michael Madsen, Stephen McHattie, Joshua Peace.
Robert R. Mutt, town loser, sets out to attain the three keys to success - money, a girl, and a championship ring.


At Any Second
Jan Fehse (Director), Jan Fehse & Christian Lyra (Writers)
International Premiere, Drama, 2008, GERMANY, 99 minutes. Cast: Sebastian Koch, Mina Tander, Wotan Wilke Mohring.
A handful of relationship-scarred individuals zigzag to a new beginning, but the danger of skidding off track is greatest in the home stretch.

At Any Second star Sebastian Koch also starred in the Academy Award (Best Foreign Language Film 2007) winning The Lives of Others.

Nancy Kissam (Director/Writer)
World Premiere, Drama, 2008, USA, 88 minutes. Cast: Laura Harring, Jill Marie Jones, Oded Fehr.
An abused wife's plan to escape her husband goes awry when she accidentally kills him, causing her to split on a cross-country drive with her best friend and his corpse in tow.

Drool is written and directed by Nancy Kissam, who won the 2007 Slamdance Screenplay Competition with this script, produced by Upload Films. Upload Films also presented an award to the 2008 winning script, Numbered, and has just signed an option deal on it.

Finding Bliss
Julie Davis (Director/Writer)
World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, USA, 104 minutes. Cast: Leelee Sobieski, Matthew Davis, Denise Richards, Kristen Johnson, Jamie Kennedy.
A cutting edge romantic comedy that explores the adult film industry through the eyes of an idealistic 25 year-old award winning film school grad.

Finding Bliss writer/director Julie Davis started her career with I Love You, Don’t Touch Me, which debuted at Sundance in 1997.

Not Forgotten
Dror Soref (Director), Dror Soref & Tomas Romero (Writers)
World Premiere, Thriller, 2009, USA, 91 minutes. Cast: Simon Baker, Paz Vega
In a Tex-Mex border town, a man and his wife must face their tortured pasts in order to save their kidnapped daughter.

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead
Jordan Galland (Director/Writer)
World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, USA, 89 minutes. Cast: Jake Hoffman, Devon Aoki, John Ventimiglia, Jeremy Sisto, Ralph Macchio. Music: Sean Lennon.
A theatre director takes a job directing a play that uncovers a two thousand year conspiracy involving vampires, Shakespeare, and the holy grail.

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead is produced by Slamdance alumni Mike Landry (Frost), and the score was created by Sean Lennon.

The Slammin’ Salmon
Kevin Heffernan (Director), Broken Lizard (Writers)
World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, USA, 92 minutes. Cast: Cobie Smulders, Michael Clarke Duncan, April Bowlby, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Paul Soter, Steve Lemme, Erik Stolhanske
The owner of a Miami restaurant indebted to the mob institutes a contest to see what waiter can earn the most money in one night.

Broken Lizard (writing/producing team for The Slammin’ Salmon) began their careers at Sundance 1997 with Puddle Cruiser. After several studio outings, The Slammin’ Salmon is the first film that Broken Lizard has produced independently since their success with Super Troopers and was shot while facing the WGA strike, as they wanted to get a film made but knew the studios would be tied up with red tape.

Weather Girl
Blayne Weaver (Director/Writer)
World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, USA, 90 minutes. Cast: Tricia O’Kelley, Mark Harmon, Jane Lynch, Kaitlin Olson, Jon Cryer, Patrick J. Adams, Ryan Devlin
A Seattle weather girl freaks out on-air over her cheating boyfriend, the morning show anchor, and moves in with her little brother.


The Conjurer
Clint Hutchison (Director), David Yarbrough & Clint Hutchison (Writers)
Utah Premiere, Thriller, 2008, USA, 88 minutes. Cast: Andrew Bowen, Maxine Bahns, John Schneider.
A grieving young couple relocates to a rural farm, and encounters disturbing occurrences surrounding an old cabin with a dark history.

Mum and Dad
Steven Shiel (Director/Writer)
North American Premiere, Horror, 2008, UK, 86 minutes
A murderous and perverse family imprison a young woman in their suburban house of horrors where she discovers she has to become part of the family—and join them in their insanity—or die.


Graphic Sexual Horror
Barbara Bell & Anna Lorentzon (Directors/Writers)
World Premiere, 2009, USA, 85 minutes
A look behind the terrifying façade of, the most notorious of the ‘violent porn’ websites, while exploring the dark mind of its artistic creator and asking hard questions about personal responsibility.

Hard To Be An Indian
Beth Toni Kruvant (Director), Jonah Kruvant (Writer)
World Premiere, 2007, USA, 84 minutes
The trials and tribulations of an inner city school and the principal, Jewish alumni and gang members who return it to safety and restore its former glory.

Lost Sparrow
Chris Billing (Director/Writer)
World Premiere, 2009, USA, 78 minutes
Filmmaker Chris Billing probes at his family history while investigating the tragic 1978 deaths of his adopted Crow Indian brothers.

Oh My God, It’s Harrod Blank
David Silverberg (Director/Writer)
World Premiere, 2008, USA, 75 minutes
A portrait of the eccentric art-car artist Harrod Blank, following him from his youth in the woods to his current multi-faceted career as creator and head of a nationwide art-car movement. With appearances by his father, filmmaker Les Blank.

The Road to Fallujah
Mark Manning (Director/Writer)
World Premiere, 2009, USA, 85 minutes
Exploring Mark Manning’s unique access as the only westerner to live with the people of Fallujah immediately following the November 2004 battle that destroyed their ancient and holy city, offering an in-depth and humanizing look at current issues in Iraq.

Second Sight
Alison McAlpine (Director/Writer)
US Premiere, 2008, SCOTLAND/CANADA, 51 minutes
A cinematic, non-fiction ghost story featuring the last generation of Gaelic storytellers on Scotland’s Isle of Skye.

Smile Til It Hurts
Lee Storey (Director/Writer)
North American Premiere, 2009, USA, 81 minutes
The amazing true story of Up With People, the singing group that represented an establishment-friendly alternative to the counter-culture.

Zachary Levy (Director/Writer)
World Premiere, 2008, USA, 113 minutes
A man strong enough to bend a penny with just his fingers, Stanless Steel reaches middle age, career disappointments and difficult personal relationships that begin to test his strengths and force him to struggle with the weaknesses around him—including his own.

Unwanted Witness
Juan Jose Lozano (Director/Writer)
US Premiere, 2008, SWITZERLAND/FRANCE, 87 minutes
In the middle of Colombia’s humanitarian tragedy, a journalist fights to report and disclose the barbarity of the conflict.

Zombie Girl
Justin Johnson, Aaron Marshall, Erik Mauck (Directors/Writers)
Utah Premiere, 2008, USA, 91 minutes
An inside look at the two years that it took 12-year-old Emily Hagins to write and direct her feature-length zombie movie, Pathogen.

"The films we watch every year continually surprise and impress us with their skill, vision, creativity, and artistry,” said Sam Roberts, Slamdance’s Director of Film Competitions / Chair of Documentary and Shorts Programming. “This year we are more excited than ever to showcase a slate of feature films we believe truly reflects the diversity of independent voices and content, and shows the best work from emerging and first time filmmakers. Independent films cover a wealth of subjects, styles, formats, genres, and purposes, and this year's submissions had more genuinely great films of every description than I have ever seen. I love our slate this year, and I hope you will too.”


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