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OK....It's Sundance Time Again

Mohammed moves to the mountain as the 2011 edition of the Sundance Film Festival, the only world class film event to take place at a ski resort, kicks off tomorrow, with not one film but a cross-section of some of the Festival's strongest and most buzzed titles. John Cooper, the new Sundance honcho since last year, has done away with the traditional single Opening Night Gala and replaced it with a series of films. "It was almost impossible to find a film that represented the entire program, and if you have one opening film, it's so talked about, it's the only thing happening and tends to be the lead story. I wanted the lead story to be a lot of films and a lot of subjects," said festival director John Cooper, who did away with the single opening-night premiere last year. "Other festivals have to have the big celebrity opening and have a lot of foreign dignitaries parading around. Our feeling is, let's just show a bunch of different films and get started."

The feature-length lineup for the first night: director Dee Rees' urban teen drama PARIAH, whose executive producers include Spike Lee; Susanne Rostock's SING YOUR SONG, a documentary about singer and activist Harry Belafonte; John Michael McDonagh's Irish crime romp THE GUARD with Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle; and PROJECT NIM, a documentary about a chimpanzee raised like a human child that was directed by James Marsh, whose 2008 film MAN ON WIRE premiered at Sundance and went on to win the documentary Academy Award.


This is expected to be a strong year for Sundance, what with the strong showing of American indie films and quality international titles in the current awards season. In reviewing last year's crop, the Festival was instrumental in launching the international careers of such films as WINTER'S BONE (which won the Grand Prize and now is set to be an Oscar contender), the zeitgeist comedy THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT (which might win Annette Bening her first Oscar), BLUE VALENTINE (with its sure to be nominated stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams), Nicole Holofcener's acerbic New York comedy PLEASE GIVE, the Australian gangster epic ANIMAL KINGDOM (that may snag an award for its momma grizzly Jacki Weaver), the Duplass Brothers comedy hit CYRUS, the Robert Duvall-starrer GET LOW, the Tilda Swinton swooner I AM LOVE, Rodrigo Garcia's superb ensemble drama MOTHER AND CHILD and the Gaspar Noe fantasmagoria INTO THE VOID.

Documentary films, considered the strongest section in the Festival, were also assisted in their rise this year by their appearance at last year's event. Among these celebrated titles (which will probably include this year's Oscar winner) are JEAN MICHEL BASQUIAT: THE RADIANT CHILD, JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK, THE OATH, RESTREPO, THE TILLMAN STORY, WAITING FOR SUPERMAN, A FILM UNFINISHED, LAST TRAIN HOME, WASTE LAND, COUNTDOWN TO ZERO, EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP and the mockumentary CATFISH.

What films will emerge this year....stay tuned.

Sandy Mandelberger, Festival Circuit Editor 


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About Festival Circuit

Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

Coverage of the world of film festivals on the international film festival circuit.

New York

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