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The Reeler Blog

Sundance Competition Slates Reveal NYC Connections

The Sundance Film Festival sends word today of its competition selections, and at least for the dramatic and documentary competitions, the New York contingent is about as strong as it's ever been. At least 19 of the programs' 32 have some sort of New York connection, either having been made here or directed by New Yorkers.

Among the selections are Starting Out in the Evening, director Andrew Wagner's follow-up to his Sundance '05 alum The Talent Given Us (Wagner, pictured above, wrote about Evening on The Reeler last August); Banished, a documentary about racial injustice by festival veteran and NYU film faculty member Marco Williams; My Kid Could Paint That, director Amir Bar-Lev's doc about a 4-year-old art prodigy; the New Jersey-based debate-club teen romance Rocket Science, by Spellbound director Jeffrey Blitz; and Gina Kim's affair drama Never Forever. Follow the jump for what is as accurate and complete a list as I have today; look for plenty more detail on each of these films and more as additional selections are announced this week. (Visit indieWIRE for the complete programs for both domestic and world competitions.)

Oh, and I suppose I would be remiss if I failed to mention what is doubtless the most important selection of all:

The Untitled Dakota Fanning Project, Director and Screenwriter: Deborah Kampmeier Set in late 1950s Alabama, a precocious, troubled girl finds her angel in the Blues. World Premiere.

Yep -- they mean that one.

The films screening in Documentary Competition are:

Banished, Director: Marco Williams
This story of three U.S. towns which, in the early 20th century, forced their entire African American populations to leave, explores what--if anything--can be done to repair past racial injustice. World Premiere.

Crazy Love, Director: Dan Klores
An unsettling true story about an obsessive relationship between a married man and a beautiful, single 20-year-old woman, which began in 1957 and continues today. World Premiere.

Everything's Cool, Directors: Judith Helfand and Daniel B. Gold
A group of self-appointed global warming messengers are on a high stakes quest to find the iconic image, proper language, and points of leverage to help the public go from embracing the urgency of the problem to creating the political will necessary to move to an alternative energy economy. World Premiere.

For the Bible Tells Me So, Director: Daniel Karslake
Grounded by the stories of five conservative Christian families, the film explores how the religious right has used its interpretation of the Bible to support its agenda of stigmatizing the gay community and eroding the separation between church and state. World Premiere.

Ghosts Of Abu Ghraib, Director: Rory Kennedy
This inside look at the abuses that occurred at the infamous Iraqi prison in the fall of 2003 uses direct, personal narratives of perpetrators, witnesses, and victims to probe the effects of the abuses on all involved. World Premiere.

Girl 27, Director: David Stenn
When underage dancer Patricia Douglas is raped at a wild MGM stag party in 1937, she makes headlines and legal history, and then disappears. GIRL 27 follows author-screenwriter David Stenn as he investigates one of Hollywood's most notorious scandals. World Premiere.

Manda Bala (Send A Bullet), Director: Jason Kohn
In Brazil, known as one of the world's most corrupt and violent countries, "Manda Bala" follows a politician who uses a frog farm to steal billions of dollars, a wealthy businessman who spends a small fortune bulletproofing his cars, and a plastic surgeon who reconstructs the ears of mutilated kidnapping victims. World Premiere.

My Kid Could Paint That, Director: Amir Bar-Lev
A 4-year-old girl whose paintings are compared to Kandinsky, Pollock and even Picasso, has sold $300,000 dollars worth of paintings. Is she a genius of abstract expressionism, a tiny charlatan or an exploited child whose parents have sold her out for the glare of the media and the lure of the almighty dollar? World Premiere.

Nanking, Director: Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman
A powerful and haunting depiction of the atrocities suffered by the Chinese at the hands of the invading Japanese army during "The Rape of Nanking", one of the most tragic events of WWII. While more than 200,000 Chinese were murdered and ten of thousands raped, a handful of Westerners performed extraordinary acts of heroism, saving over 250,000 lives in the midst of the horror. World Premiere.

No End in Sight, Director: Charles Ferguson
A comprehensive examination of the Bush Administration's conduct of the Iraq war and occupation. Featuring first-time interviews with key participants, the film creates a startlingly clear reconstruction of key decisions that led to the current state of affairs in this war-torn country. World Premiere.

The films screening in Dramatic Competition are:

Adrift in Manhattan, Director: Alfredo de Villa; Screenwriters: Nat Moss, Alfredo de Villa
Set in New York City, a grieving eye doctor is forced to take a closer look at her life; an aging artist confronts the loss of his eyesight; and a young photographer battles his innermost demons. World Premiere.

Broken English, Director and Screenwriter: Zoe Cassavetes
A young woman in her thirties finds herself surrounded by friends who are married, in relationships or with children. She unexpectedly meets a quirky Frenchman who opens her eyes to a lot more than love. World Premiere.

Grace Is Gone, Director and Screenwriter: James C. Strouse
A young father learns that his wife has been killed in Iraq and must find the courage to tell his two young daughters the news.

Joshua, Director: George Ratliff; Screenwriters: David Gilbert, George Ratliff
A successful, young Manhattan family is torn apart by the machinations of Joshua, their 8-year-old prodigy, when his newborn baby sister comes home from the hospital. World Premiere.

Never Forever, Director and Screenwriter: Gina Kim
When an American woman and her Asian-American husband discover they are unable to conceive, she begins a clandestine relationship with an attractive stranger in a desperate attempt to save her marriage. World Premiere.

On the Road with Judas, Director and Screenwriter: JJ Lask
Reality, fiction and the notions of storytelling intertwine in this narrative about a young thief and the woman he loves. World Premiere.

Padre Nuestro, Director and Screenwriter: Christopher Zalla
Fleeing a criminal past, Juan hops a truck transporting illegal immigrants from Mexico to New York City, where he meets Pedro, who is seeking his rich father. World Premiere.

Rocket Science, Director and Screenwriter: Jeffrey Blitz
A 15-year-old boy from New Jersey with a stuttering problem falls in love with the star of the debate team and finds himself suddenly immersed in the ultra-competitive world of debating. World Premiere.

Starting Out in the Evening, Director: Andrew Wagner; Screenwriters: Andrew Wagner, Fred Parnes
The solitary life of a writer is shaken when a smart, ambitious graduate student convinces him that her thesis will bring him back into the literary spotlight. World Premiere.

Posted at November 29, 2006 4:06 PM

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