L Mag correspondent Danielle DiGiacomo is attending this year's Sundance Film Festival, which runs from the 20th through the 30th. Watch this space for her dispatches from the festival—and in the meantime, a preview.
All over the country, young filmmakers are pulling all-nighters to get their final sound mixes finished, while agents and executives are replenishing their long-john collections and thousands of filmlovers are getting ready to head out to the snowy hills of Park City, Utah. Meanwhile, we're gearing up to join what is already being discussed as a one of the strongest and most diverse Sundances in recent years.
Sundance, long known for plucking talents out of insider baseball buzz-land and into Weinstein consciousness, follows in this tradition with Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s On the Ice, Dee Ree’s Pariah, and Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene, from three directors previously known for much-lauded shorts. On the Ice is the story of Inupiaq teenagers facing tragedy in Alaska isolation, Pariah the coming-of-age tale of a Bronx teenager dealing with her sexual identity, and Martha Marcy May Marlene (pictured above) explores of a woman’s journey back to normalcy after leaving a cult.
Among the higher-profile entries is Vera Farmiga’s directorial debut Higher Ground, starring herself as a woman on a spiritual journey; Jesse Peretz’s My Idiot Brother, starring indie comedy mainstays Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, and Zooey Deschanel, and the latest works from Miguel Arteta, Miranda July, and Kevin Smith.
On the nonfiction side, Marshall Curry takes on the dramatic story of the Earth Liberation Front in If a Tree Falls; James Marsh (Man on Wire) explores the life of the chimpanzee who was raised as a human in a 1970s experiment in Project Nim; an David Sington (In the Shadow of the Moon) dissects the 2007 financial collapse in The Flaw.
Yet even with all the industry hobnobbing and acquisitions announcements, there is room for some obscure, offbeat fun. Who could pass up the undeniable pleasure of the Park City at Midnight Selections like Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same, or the Norwegian tour-de-force The Troll Hunter? Lesbians, aliens, trolls, and Vera Farmiga. Onward to Sundance 2011!