When Sundance announced the films in competition for the 2014 festival yesterday, its organizers noted that they were impressed by the caliber of cinematic artistry — mostly due to technology — that freed up filmmakers to experiment with different genres. No category of the festival is more rooted in genre than Park City at Midnight, the late-night section that specializes in horror and the supernatural, and this year’s slate has several potential breakouts. “The Midnight lineup came together in a way that is about the strongest group we’ve ever had, top to bottom,” says Trevor Groth, Sundance’s director of programming. “I think a lot of those films are going to be real hot acquisitions — titles like Dead Snow 2, The Guest, Cooties. I think all of those are going to be big business, because they work on such great, fun genre levels.”
In addition to the Midnight movies, Sundance also announced lineups for its Spotlight, New Frontier, and the inaugural Sundance Kids sections on Thursday. One highlight in the eclectic Spotlight category, which features extraordinary films that may have previously played a festival or two elsewhere, is Locke, the real-time thriller starring Tom Hardy from Eastern Promises writer Steven Knight. “This is Tom Hardy in a car the entire time, speaking on a phone…as his world crumbles around him,” says Groth. “The dimensions of story that they weave into it, both through his performance and the dialog, is truly remarkable. It was one of the more unique watches we had this entire process.”
The New Frontier section welcomes back Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his hitRECord franchise. He launched the collaborative art project at Sundance in 2010, has returned for live shows since, and now has hitRECord on TV, a new kind of variety show that invites anyone with an Internet hook-up to join the fun.
Another interesting entry in that section is The Better Angels, the Abraham Lincoln movie about the women who steered him as a child toward his destiny, starring Jason Clarke, Diane Kruger, Brit Marling, and Wes Bentley. If it seems like an odd fit with New Frontier on paper, Groth explains that isn’t the case. “It’s a very artful approach to telling the story,” he says, pointing out that writer/director A.J. Edwards edited Terrence Malick’s last film, To the Wonder. “New Frontier is a section for ‘art’ and innovative storytelling, and A.J. tells this story in a very lyrical, poetic way. The audience’s expectation for having it in New Frontier will be, I think, the best way of having that film seen. When you read it on paper, it feels very straightforward: It’s Lincoln as a boy. But it ends up being much more meditative and experiential than that.”
Click below for a complete lineup of recently announced films. More categories, including Sundance Premieres, will be unveiled on Monday. The Sundance Film Festival runs Jan. 16-26.
Blue Ruin / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jeremy Saulnier) — A mysterious outsider’s quiet life turns upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. Proving to be an amateur assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family. Cast: Macon Blair, Amy Hargreaves, Sidné Anderson, Devin Ratray, Kevin Kolack.
The Double / United Kingdom (Director: Richard Ayoade, Screenwriter: Avi Korine) — Jesse Eisenberg plays Simon, a timid and isolated man who is overlooked at work. When James, a new coworker arrives, he upsets the balance because he is both Simon’s physical double and his opposite: confident and good with women. Then James slowly starts taking over Simon’s life. Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn, Noah Taylor, Cathy Moriarty, James Fox.
Ida / Poland (Director: Pawel Pawlikowski, Screenwriters: Pawel Pawlikowski, Rebecca Lenkiewicz) — Anna, a young novitiate nun in 1960s Poland, is on the verge of taking her vows when she discovers a dark family secret dating back to the years of the Nazi occupation. Cast: Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska, Dawid Ogrodnik.
Locke / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Steven Knight) — Locke is a feat of dynamic storytelling from Academy Award–nominated writer/director Steven Knight, anchored by Tom Hardy’s fantastic performance. Unfolding in real time, the film is a gripping story of choices, consequences, and a man who risks everything he holds dear to do the right thing. Cast: Tom Hardy, Ruth Wilson, Olivia Colman, Andrew Scott, Tom Holland, Bill Milner.
The Lunchbox / India, France, Germany (Director and screenwriter: Ritesh Batra) — A mistake made by the dabbawallahs, Mumbai’s famously efficient lunchbox delivery system, connects a young housewife to a stranger in the dusk of his life. Through notes in the lunchbox, the two build a fantasy world that gradually threatens to overwhelm their reality. Cast: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Denzil Smith, Bharati Achrekar, Nakul Vaid Nakul Vaid.
Only Lovers Left Alive / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jim Jarmusch) — Set against the desolation of Detroit and Tangier, an underground musician, depressed by the direction the world is taking, reunites with his lover. Their love story has endured for centuries, but the woman’s uncontrollable sister disrupts their idyll. Can these wise outsiders continue to survive as the world collapses around them? Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, Anton Yelchin, Jeffrey Wright.
R100 / Japan (Director and screenwriter: Hitoshi Matsumoto) — A mild-mannered family man with a secret taste for S&M finds himself pursued by a gang of ruthless dominatrices — each with a unique talent — in this hilarious and bizarre take on the sex comedy from Japanese comic mastermind Hitoshi Matsumoto. Cast: Nao Ohmori, Lindsay Kay Hayward, Hairi Katagiri.
Stranger by the Lake / France (Director and screenwriter: Alain Guiraudie) — Frank spends his summer searching for companionship at a lake in France. He meets Michel, an attractive, mysterious man and falls blindly in love. When a death occurs, Frank and Michel become the primary suspects. Stranger by the Lake is an erotic thriller testing the limits of sexual desire. Cast: Pierre Deladonchamps, Christophe Paou, Patrick d’Assumçao.
PARK CITY AT MIDNIGHT
Each is a world premiere.
The Babadook / Australia (Director and screenwriter: Jennifer Kent) — A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her. Cast: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Hayley McElhinney, Barbara West, Ben Winspear.
Cooties / U.S.A. (Directors: Jonathan Millott, Cary Murnion, Screenwriters: Leigh Whannell, Ian Brennan) — A mysterious virus hits an isolated elementary school and transforms the students into a feral swarm of mass savages; then an unlikely hero must lead a motley band of teachers in the fight of their lives. Cast: Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Jack McBrayer, Leigh Whannell, Nasim Pedrad.
Dead Snow; Red vs. Dead / Norway (Director: Tommy Wirkola, Screenwriters: Tommy Wirkola, Stig Frode Henriksen, Vegar Hoel) — The gruesome Nazi Zombies are back to finish their mission, but our hero is not willing to die. He is gathering his own army to give them a final fight. Cast: Vegar Hoel, Stig Frode Henriksen, Martin Starr, Ørjan Gamst, Monica Haas, Jocelyn DeBoer.
The Guest / U.S.A. (Director: Adam Wingard, Screenwriter: Simon Barrett) — A soldier on leave befriends the family of a fallen comrade. He soon becomes a threat to everyone around him when it’s revealed he’s not who he says he is. Cast: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Leland Orser, Lance Reddick, Chase Williamson, Brendan Meyer.
Killers / Japan, Indonesia (Directors: The Mo Brothers, Screenwriters: Timo Tjahjanto, Takuji Ushiyama) — Two serial killers post their violent crimes online in a psychotic battle for notoriety. It soon becomes clear that they will square off with one another face to face. Cast: Kazuki Kitamura, Oka Antara, Rin Takanashi, Luna Maya, Ray Sahetapy.
The Signal / U.S.A. (Director: William Eubank, Screenwriters: William Eubank, Carlyle Eubank, David Frigerio) — Three college students disappear under mysterious circumstances while tracking a computer hacker through the Southwest. Cast: Laurence Fishburne, Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke, Beau Knapp.
Under the Electric Sky (EDC 2013) / U.S.A. (Directors: Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz) — This 3-D film chronicles the love, community, and life of festivalgoers during Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas, the largest music festival in the U.S. Behind-the-scenes footage and exclusive interviews with Insomniac’s Pasquale Rotella reveal the magic that makes this three-night, 345,000-person event a global phenomenon.
What We Do in the Shadows / New Zealand, U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement) — This mockumentary follows the struggles of a group of New Zealand–based vampires to understand modern society and adapt to the ever-changing world around them. Cast: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonny Brugh, Cori Gonzales-Macuer, Stu Rutherford.
Programmed in cooperation with Tumbleweeds, Utah’s premiere film festival for children and youth.
Ernest and Celestine / France, Belgium, Luxembourg (Directors: Benjamin Renner, Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Screenwriter: Daniel Pennac) — Unlike her fellow mice, Celestine is an artist and a dreamer. When she nearly ends up as breakfast for a bear named Ernest, the two form an unlikely bond that is quickly challenged by their respective communities. Cast: Forest Whitaker, Mackenzie Foy, Lauren Bacall, Paul Giamatti, William H. Macy, Megan Mullally. World Premiere (English version)
Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang / Spain (Director: Oskar Santos, Screenwriters: Francisco Roncal, Jorge Lara, Oskar Santos) — Zip and Zap are punished by being sent to a re-education center. Guided by intelligence, they uncover a mysterious secret hidden deep within the school and end up having the most exciting adventure of their lives. Cast: Javier Gutiérrez, Daniel Cerezo, Raúl Rivas, Claudia Vega, Marcos Ruiz, Fran García. U.S. Premiere
NEW FRONTIER FILMS
The Better Angels / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: A.J. Edwards) — Set in the harsh wilderness of Indiana, this is the story of Abraham Lincoln’s youth. It tells of the hardships that shaped him, the tragedy that marked him forever, and the two women who guided him to immortality. Cast: Jason Clarke, Diane Kruger, Brit Marling, Wes Bentley. World Premiere
The Girl from Nagasaki / Germany, U.S.A., Japan, Italy (Director: Michel Comte, Screenwriters: Anne-Marie Mackay, Ayako Yoshida, Michel Comte) — This 3-D feature film production of the classic Puccini opera Madame Butterfly is directed by world-renowned photographer Michel Comte. It’s a modern-day tale that starts with the young madame emerging from the ashes of the atomic bomb in Nagasaki. Cast: Christopher Lee, Sasha Alexander, Michael Wincott, Michael Nyqvist, Robert Evans, Polina Semionova. International Premiere
HITRECORD ON TV / U.S.A. (Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt) — HITRECORD ON TV is a new kind of variety show with host Joseph Gordon-Levitt directing a global online community of artists as they create short films, music, animation, and more. Anybody with an Internet connection is invited to contribute, and each episode focuses on a different theme. World Premiere
Living Stars / Argentina (Directors: Mariano Cohn, Gastón Duprat) – Argentinians open their homes to the public and perform dance numbers they normally only do alone, in front of a mirror. The directors portray them in their houses, with improvised sets, revealing a collection of urban curiosities. World Premiere
Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People / U.S.A. (Director: Thomas Allen Harris, Screenwriters: Thomas Allen Harris, Don Perry, Paul Carter Harrison) — Through a Lens Darkly is an epic film that moves poetically between the present and the past through the work of contemporary photographers and artists. Their pictures and stories seek to reconcile legacies of pride and shame while giving a voice to images long suppressed, forgotten, or hidden from sight. World Premiere
U.S. PREMIERE OF DOUG AITKEN’S SITE-SPECIFIC FILM INSTALLATION THE SOURCE (EVOLVING)
The 2014 edition of New Frontier at the Sundance Film Festival will host the U.S. premiere of The Source (evolving) by renowned artist Doug Aitken. The Source (evolving) is a series of filmed conversations about creativity in the 21st Century in which Aitken conducts short candid conversations with groundbreaking pioneers in different artistic disciplines. The piece creates a fast and rhythmic kaleidoscope of dialogues with the creative individuals who are shaping modern culture. The conversations are grounded by two questions: where does the creative idea start, and what is the journey to the finished creation? The Source (evolving) is filmed on location in unique and diverse destinations throughout the world and premiered at the Tate Liverpool last year.
The Source (evolving) will be housed in the Pavilion, a new 2,000-square-feet, stand-alone, circular structure to be custom-built by the Festival in a location adjacent to Park City’s Main Street. The architecture was created in collaboration with David Adjaye. Six-channel video projections of The Source (evolving) span the entire width of the structure’s interior and are also visible from the outside, wrapping the structure’s exterior.
For the Festival, Aitken will develop an accompanying interactive website for The Source (evolving). The website will connect audiences not attending the Festival with the work and serve as a living archive that Aitken will continue to populate with interviews in the years to come. Currently, the interviewees include William Eggleston, Ryan Trecartin, Thomas Demand, Richard Phillips, Lucky Dragons, Paolo Soleri, Jack Pierson, James Murphy, Stephen Shore, Jacques Herzog, Philippe Parreno, Liz Diller, Jack White, Mike Kelley, Devendra Banhart, Beck, David Adjaye, Tilda Swinton, Alice Waters, Aaron Koblin, Liz Glynn, Theaster Gates, and James Turrell.
KLIP COLLECTIVE EXTERIOR PROJECTIONS ON EGYPTIAN THEATRE
The 2014 Festival will include a showcase of the Festival’s 30-year legacy as told through a pre-roll trailer showing 3-D-mapped projections of clips from iconic Festival films on the façade of Park City’s legendary Egyptian Theatre. Featured film clips include Reservoir Dogs, Clerks, Little Miss Sunshine and Beasts of the Southern Wild. The innovative projections were designed by Klip Collective, a creative and production shop specializing in immersive visual experiences.
For their third year as a participant at the Festival, Klip Collective will premiere its newest 3-D video-mapped narrative, “What’s He Projecting In There,” an indie style salute to the history of cinema on the exterior of the Egyptian Theatre as part of the Festival’s New Frontier exhibition.
ADDITIONAL NEW FRONTIER INSTALLATIONS
Artists: James George, Jonathan Minard
Assembled from code and stunning 3-D-scanned conversations, Clouds is a cutting-edge interactive documentary that features the emerging generation of artists and hackers who are creating tools for poetic and socially engaged experiments in technology.
Digital Diaspora Family Reunion
Artist: Thomas Allen Harris
The transmedia companion to the feature documentary, Through A Lens Darkly, Digital Diaspora Family Reunion (DDFR) re-imagines the social network the the building of ONE WORLD-ONE FAMILY ALBUM, a database of family photographs. Audiences are invited to upload images to Instagram at #DDFRtv, or bring them to New Frontier to participate in a special LIVE event.
Artists: CCP Games
In one of the most anticipated video-game releases of 2014, award-winning Icelandic independent-game developer CCP Games presents EVE: Valkyrie — a virtual-reality experience like no other. In this special preview, audiences can put on an Oculus Rift headset, take a seat inside the cockpit of a spaceship, and enter a 360-degree-surround dogfight against enemy invaders.
I Love Your Work
Artist: Jonathan Harris
I Love Your Work is a beautifully designed interactive documentary by Jonathan Harris about the private lives of nine women who make lesbian porn. It consists of more than two thousand 10-second video clips, taken at five-minute intervals over 10 consecutive days — around six hours of footage. Cast: Dylan Ryan, Jincey Lumpkin, Ela Darling, Ryan Keely.
I Want You To Want Me
Artists: Jonathan Harris, Sep Kamvar
An alluring work of data visualization, this interactive installation explores the world of online dating. A giant touch screen displays a sky filled with balloons containing silhouettes, each one representing a real person’s dating profile. Viewers can touch the balloons to learn personal information about the person inside and rearrange them to view things like top turn-ons, most popular first dates, and people’s biggest desires.
The Measure of All Things
Artists: Sam Green, yMusic
The Measure of All Things is a live documentary featuring a series of portraits of record-holding people, places, and things. Inspired loosely by the Guinness Book of Records, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Sam Green and yMusic create a poem about fate, time, and the contours of the human experience.
Artist: Marina Zurkow
Mesocosm (Wink, Texas) and Mesocosm (Northumberland, UK) are two parts of a series of animated landscapes that change over time in response to software-driven data inputs. Individual hand-drawn animated elements are dynamically choreographed according to algorithms that dictate constraints in real time: one day takes 24 minutes to elapse; a year takes 144 hours.
My 52 Tuesdays
Artists: Sophie Hyde, Sam Haren, Dan Koerner
Picture an interactive photo booth where you get more than just your printed picture. It’s a year-long, participatory project accessed via smartphones with a series of questions designed to ‘’tune in” to your life. Like its companion film, 52 Tuesdays, this work explores themes of desire, responsibility, and transformation. How much are you willing to share? Cast: Tilda Cobham-Hervey.
Artist: Lauren Moffatt
Not Eye is an immersive, 3-D stereoscopic experience that invites you to meet a woman who can no longer take the constant violation of being looked at and spied on every day of her life by the devices that populate the modern landscape. She is so tormented that she decides to take action, creating a helmet designed not only to defend herself but also to strike back. Cast: Danièle Hennebelle, Julien Bucci.
Reifying Desire Anthology
Artist: Jacolby Satterwhite
Comprised of live performance, custom-made wallpaper, and six CGI-animated and rotoscoped videos, Reifying Desire Anthology is a fantasy hyperlink that transcends brick and mortar, as well as electronic and biological realms, to source a universe where sexuality runs hungry and wild through the psycho-bioelectric matrix seeking transformation and liberation. Cast: Jacolby Satterwhite, Antonio Biaggi.
Sound + Vision
Artists: Chris Milk, Beck
When Beck reimagined David Bowie’s 1977 single “Sound and Vision,” Chris Milk set out to recreate its experience — literally its sound and vision — for both the live concert and its recording. He captured the performance using newly patented technologies like full spherical video and 360-degree binaural audio. This is the first live-action VR film designed for the Oculus Rift. Cast: Beck.
Artist: James Nares
Street employs a high-speed Phantom Flex HD camera to slow down the densely busy streets of New York City and create this mesmerizing video installation. Hot dog vendors, children on scooters, lovers, fighters, pigeons, bike riders, traffic cops, even a flicked cigarette butt sailing onto the curb — all acquire an ethereal dimension enhanced by cofounder of Sonic Youth Thurston Moore’s evocative, acoustic 12-string guitar soundtrack.
This World Made Itself; Myth and Infrastructure; Dreams of Lucid Living
Artist: Miwa Matreyek
In a body of work that spans six years, Miwa Matreyek will present three of her multimedia solo live performance pieces featuring projected animation and her body, traversing ocean scapes, cityscapes, and dreamscapes. Cast: Miwa Matreyek