Magazine article Screen International

Park City Heat

Magazine article Screen International

Park City Heat

Article excerpt

The 2013 Sundance Film Festival (Jan 17-27) boasts a rich mix of US and international projects. Screen speaks to the festival's organisers about the 'immediacy and fearlessness' in this year's programme.

"From our rarified perch of looking at these films, in general I would say independent film is thriving," posits Sundance festival director John Cooper. And it would take a brave person to contradict him, given how Sundance has re-established itself in recent years as a cinematic taste-maker.

One need only cast an eye at awards season hopefuls such as Beasts Of The Southern Wild, The Sessions and Arbitrage or consider the latter's promising digital distribution performance alongside Bachelorette to understand Park City has a habit of setting the tone of the conversation for the rest of the year.

The 2013 selection sees a rich mix of returning film-makers including Cherien Dabis (May In The Summer), Drake Doremus (Breathe In) and Lynn Shelton (Touchy Feely), international talents such as Park Chan-wook (with his English-language debut Stoker) and Sebastian Silva (Crystal Fairy and Magic Magic) and a star roster of Nicole Kidman (Stoker), Ashton Kutcher (closing night film jOBS), Shia LaBeouf (The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman), Steve Carell (The Way, Way Back) and Steve Coogan (The Look Of Love).

"We are seeing returning film-makers who are sustaining themselves and continuing to work in the independent film vein; actors who continue to support independent film by being in these films and taking risks," says Cooper. "What we noticed first and foremost is there's a particular immediacy and fearlessness; a head-on push to deliver stories that are personal and brave. There's a great potential for the films across all the programmes to reach an audience, so that's good news." Director of programming Trevor Groth adds: "One thing we're happy with is how the individual sections shaped up this year. It's been an ongoing process of fine-tuning which film works in each section.

"This year I feel completely satisfied with how each piece fell into place. Last year we noticed Premieres looked similar to the US Dramatic Competition - everything was for sale and there were a lot of first-time directors apart from Spike Lee and Stephen Frears.

"This year we set out to programme films with a little more high-power directors but without sacrificing quality, so we've got the likes of Jane Campion, Richard Linklater and Park Chan-wook." Groth describes the US Dramatic Competition as being "as strong as it has ever been" and notes the NEXT section has expanded to 10 films. …

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