The Sundance Film Festival kicks off today, and as usual, we’re stuck in New York daydreaming of movies we won’t see until… well, Tribeca, at the earliest. The yearly indie extravaganza/industry shopping spree is full of promising titles this year, from quirky documentaries by virtual unknowns to the latest fare from Kevin Smith, Morgan Spurlock, and Miranda July. Whether you’re traveling to Park City or simply updating your existential list of films to see eventually, you’ll surely find something that catches your eye on this list of Flavorpill’s ten most anticipated Sundance films.
Red State , dir. Kevin Smith
Beloved Clerks director Kevin Smith’s latest begins with what sounds like the perfect teen sex comedy set-up: a trio of high-school guys answer an online ad they believe is from a woman looking for group sex. But Red State turns out instead to be Smith’s first thriller, in which the boys in question”come face-to-face with a terrifying ‘holy’ force with a fatal agenda.” And it stars John Goodman!
Magic Trip , dir. Alison Ellwood and Alex Gibney
Ready to get on the magic bus back to 1964? This documentary pieces together film footage, audio, and photos unearthed from Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters’ acid-fueled roadtrip to the New York World’s Fair. Expect a long, strange trip into our countercultural past.
The Future , dir. Miranda July
In artistic polymath Miranda July’s follow up to her 2007 feature film debut, Me and You and Everyone We Know, a 30-something couple (played by July and Hamish Linklater) adopts a cat. Sound boring? Well, then “they quit their jobs, disconnect their Internet, and pursue new interests, all of which literally alter the course of time and space and test their faith in each other and themselves.” Whoa.
Circumstance , dir. Maryam Keshavarz
Think being a teenager is tough? Well, try doing it in Iran, where best friends Atafeh and Shireen are coming of age in Tehran’s underground art world. Fresh from rehab, Atafeh’s brother experiences a moral reawakening and sets about trying to pull the friends apart — and throws their liberal family into upheaval in the process.
Becoming Chaz , dir. Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato
World of Wonder honchos Bailey and Barbato — the folks behind such wonderful queer big- and small-screen programming as Party Monster and RuPaul’s Drag U — chronicle Chastity Bono’s high-profile gender transition. While the media often sensationalizes transsexualism, we’re confident that these filmmakers will depict Chaz’s physical, mental, and emotional transformation with sensitivity and humor.
Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times , dir. Andrew Rossi
There would seem to be no better way to examine the controversy over print media’s obsolescence than to spend some time at America’s most hallowed daily newspaper. Director Andrew Rossi spent an entire year in the Times‘s newsroom, with precisely this conflict in mind. We expect both some trenchant media criticism and a behind the scenes look at some of the paper’s biggest personalities — both of which will be gratifying to journalism nerds like us.
Vampire , dir. Iwai Shunji
Yes, yes, it’s another vampire movie. But this one promises to be more Let the Right One In than Twilight. Japanese filmmaker Iwai Shunji tells the story of a normal-seeming man isn’t a supernatural creature of the night — but he is obsessed with finding a gorgeous, suicidal girl who will let him drink her blood.
Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure , dir. Matthew Bate
We’ve all had strange neighbors, but when a pair of punks moved to San Francisco in the mid-’80s, they shared a very thin wall with an incredibly unlikely pair. Raymond was an unapologetic homophobe; Peter was a flashy gay man. The one thing they shared? Alcoholism. And the arguments their neighbors caught on tape provide the source material for this “darkly comedic” documentary.
Terri , dir. Azazel Jacobs
The director of the acclaimed Momma’s Man presents the tale of Terri, a teenage boy who lives with his sick uncle and is tortured at school. Things look bleak for him until he’s befriended by his vice principal (John C. Reilly) and begins to open himself up to the world. Based on the plot alone, this one could be a bit cheesy, but we trust Jacobs to keep things unflinchingly realistic.
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, dir. Morgan Spurlock
Super Size Me provocateur Morgan Spurlock is back with his latest documentary-as-political-performance-art project. In The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, he sets out to make a film bankrolled entirely through product placement “by using his personal integrity as currency to sell out to the highest bidder.” Intriguing!