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The 2022 Sundance Film Festival runs from Jan. 20 - 30, in Park City, Utah

Sundance and other Park City Festivals news, past and future.   #sundance @sundancefest


The Return of Hal Hartley

Thursday, January 11-----One of the highlights of the upcoming Sundance Film Festival (at least for me) is the opportunity to see the latest film from Hal Hartley, who really put independent film on the map back in the day when it was still a small community of individual risktakers. With such films as THE UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH (1989), TRUST (1990), SIMPLE MEN (1992) and AMATEUR (1992), Hartley stood at the nexus of European film artistry and American independent virtuosity. His last few films have had limited release and the question of "what ever happened to Hal Hartley?" circulated in indie circles. Well, the answer is...he's back, at Sundance, with his quirky thriller FAY GRIM, which screens in the Spectrum section.

FAY GRIM is a sequel of sorts to Hartley's HENRY FOOL (1997). Eight years have passsed since the infamous Henry Fool fled the country, abandoning his wife, Fay Grim, and their son. Played to Hartley-esque perfection by indie queen Parker Posey, Fay is falling to pieces, her son is expelled from school, and Fay's brother, Simon (Hartley regular James Urbaniak), the reviled garbageman/poet, is serving a 10 year sentence for aiding Henry's escape. From this mass of melodrama comes Hartley's smartest and funniest film in years.

Enter CIA agent Fulbright, played by the always-interesting Jeff Goldblum, who strikes a bargain with Fay that springs Simon from jail and sends her to Paris to retrieve her husband's long-lost memoirs. Spies, terrorists and dreamers collide in the city of light, with Hartley's characteristic wistfulness, cadences and signature downbeat tone. Can a neurotic mom from Queens elude spy agencies and Afghan terrorists before her ex-husband is killed over eight volumes of illogical gibberish?

Hartley has teamed up with producers Jason Kliot and Joana Vicente of HDNet Films to create a frothy, anarchic and compelling mystery-cum-thriller that brings the elusive filmmaker back to form. With distribution in place from Magnolia Pictures later this year, audiences can again rediscover the particular artistry of a filmmaker whose original voice has not diminished. Where is Hal Hartley? Coming to Park City and then to a theater near you.

Sandy Mandelberger
Sundance Online Dailies Editor

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