Magazine article Variety

Indie Fest Gets Marvelous Twist

Magazine article Variety

Indie Fest Gets Marvelous Twist

Article excerpt

The 2018 Slamdance Film Festival runs Jan. 19-25 in Utah with 10 narrative films and eight documentaries being showcased, nine of which are world premieres, and with work originating from America, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany and the Netherlands. This is the 24th annual celebration of firsttime filmmakers and their passion projects, with the festival having always been seen as the edgy alternative to Sundance, bridging the mainstream and the indie world of filmmaking and storytelling.

"This year's competition lineup truly embodies who we are as an organization," says Peter Baxter, who cofounded Slamdance back in 1995 and serves as its president. "We seek to offer that unfiltered cinematic voice and it's that particular voice that we're looking to embrace each year. We're not about hot trends and blockbuster programming, but rather, finding those films that celebrate humanity in a special way."

The festival's openingnight attraction is the documentary "Pick of the Litter," an endearing piece about the adoption process for guide dogs that spans two years and shows the lives of five amazing animals. Some of this year's other promising titles include "Human Affairs," which stars Kerry Condon ("Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"); gonzo-comedy "Rock Steady Row," featuring Diamond White ("Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween"); the trippy-sounding "Charlie and Hannah's Grand Night Out" from writer-director Bert Scholiers; the interconnected drama "Birds Without Feathers" from writer-director Wendy McColm; and punk-rock romance "Fake Tattoos," from writer-director Pascal Plante.

"This year's crop of films comes from a very organic place in terms of their construction and attitude," Baxter says. "Across all programs of the festival, we're highlighting work from filmmakers who exhibit an honest and raw sense of storytelling."

This year, one of the festival's biggest new wrinkles is the Russo Fellowship Award, with the Russo brothers ("Welcome to Collinwood," "Captain America: Civil War," "Avengers: Infinity War") on hand to present the winner with a $25,000 cash prize, as well as mentorship from the siblings as the winning filmmaker develops the next project.

The brothers premiered their experimental and non-linear first film, "Pieces," at Slamdance in 1997. …

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