The 2015 Sundance Film Festival (Jan 22-31), has selected 118 feature-length films, representing 29 countries and 45 first-time filmmakers, including 19 in competition. 103 feature films will be world premieres.
Australians are exerting a strong presence in the world cinema dramatic competition, where there are two Australian world premieres. Set to screen on the opening day is Kim Farrant’s Australian-Irish drama Strangerland (pictured), starring Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes as parents newly living in the outback and searching for their missing teenage kids with the help of Hugo Weaving’s cop; while Ariel Kleiman’s Partisan, stars Vincent Cassel as man raising his young son to be a hitman, in a paradise, which we assume is Australia (the film was partly shot in Melbourne).
Still on the Antipodean front, Toni Collette plays an alcoholic mum whose son (Jack Reynor) raises money for her rehab treatment by becoming involved with the mob in Gerard Barrett’s heart-wrenching Irish drama Glassland; while Kodi-Smit McPhee stars alongside Michael Fassbender in the Kiwi-produced American western Slow West (below).
In the US dramatic competition Guy Pearce is following up his AACTA nominated role for The Rover with a comic turn alongside Cobie Smulders as mismatched personal trainers in Results, written and directed by Andrew Bujalski (Computer Chess). In the post-apocalyptic Z for Zachariah directed by Craig Zobel (Compliance) Queenslander Margot Robbie, a huge force in The Wolf Of Wall Street, believes she is the last human on Earth and then meets two men, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Chris Pine who compete for her affections. Their relationship becomes tenuous when their primal urges begin to reveal their true nature. Should be interesting.
In a festival replete with comedies—and comedians—Kiwi Jemaine Clemente stars in James C. Strouse’s People Places Things as a newly single graphic novelist balancing being a parent to his young twin daughters and teaching a classroom full of college students. Jack Black, still full of insecurities, is facing his 20-year school reunion in The D Train, which also features James Marsden, Kathryn Hahn, Jeffrey Tambor and Mike White. Kristen Wiig is a woman whose boyfriend is sleeping with her daughter in Marielle Heller The Diary of a Teenage Girl, which also has Alexander Skarsgård exercising his funny bone. Sebastián Silva (Magic Magic) has also cast The Bridesmaids actress in Nasty Baby, his drama about a gay couple trying to have a baby with the help of their best friend, while Sarah Silverman likewise shows her dramatic chops as a mother falling apart in I Smile Back.
The US documentaries competition includes:
- Hot Girls Wanted, boasts a first-ever look at the realities inside the world of the amateur porn industry and the steady stream of 18- and 19-year-old girls entering into it
- How to Dance in Ohio, follows a group of autistic teenagers and young adults preparing for a spring formal
- Larry Kramer in Love and Anger, observes the author, activist, and playwright Larry Kramer as one of the most important and controversial figures in contemporary gay America.
On the international documentary front, the UK’s Listen to Me Marlon is immediately intriguing with its access to unseen Marlon Brando archives, while the biggest curiosity of the line-up is The Visit by Danish director Michael Madsen. The film explores humans' first encounter with alien intelligent life and received unprecedented access to the United Nations' Office for Outer Space Affairs, leading space scientists and space agencies.
“The visual concept in The Visit will either be shit or gold, but it’s never been done before,” claims Madsen. We shall see.