Sundance 2013: Butch Cassidy and the Redford Kid
Robert Redford really is dancing on sunshine these days, as 2013′s incarnation of Sundance, one of the world’s largest independent film festivals, promises to be one of the biggest and most diverse yet. Contributions come from 32 countries, as well as 51 first-time filmmakers, and for the first time ever, half the films in the drama competition are made by women. The festival opened on the 17th, and will run until the 27th of January, as Park City, Utah, welcomes a steady stream of filmmakers big and small — all there to celebrate storytelling and the best of independent film. Check out a list of favourites and notables below.
It’s too early to tell if there’s another Little Miss Sunshine or Beasts of the Southern Wild in the mix just yet, but it definitely looks like a promising bunch in this year’s drama selection:
Kill Your Darlings - Picking up where On The Road dropped the ball this summer, Kill Your Darlings hopes to return the Beat Generation back to the public’s attention. Featuring the star of the Wizard Generation, Daniel Radcliffe, as Allen Ginsberg, Kill Your Darlings brings together the famous Beat authors of Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Burroughs after a murder shocks their circle. Presenting a stellar cast (including last year’s Sundance darling Elizabeth Olsen), director John Krokida’s first feature is sure to catch some attention after its opening night debut.
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints – Developed in Sundance’s creative writing labs last year, David Lowery’s second feature is already generating some major, major buzz. The film features Casey Affleck as a Southern outlaw who breaks out of prison to reconnect with his former fellow outlaw/wife (Rooney Mara) and their child. Comparisons for Saints have already been drawn to Bonnie & Clyde and Badlands, which is some impressive company. Definitely a film to keep your eye on.
jOBS - Purely for curiousity’s sake mind you, the Ashton Kutcher-starring biopic (groan) is the first version of Jobs’ story to be released (a different Aaron Sorkin-penned biopic is in the works), charting the rise of possibly the greatest mind/entrepreneur of modern times. Kutcher’s involvement is enough to make anybody nervous, but the film should still serve as an interesting counterpart to the major studio production that Aaron Sorkin’s version will be.
Halley - This film has been categorized as an “art-zombie” film, which is probably the most intriguing tag of the festival yet. Following a man who is slowly decomposing, and whose only temporaring cure is embalming fluid straight from the local morgue, Halley follows the soon-to-be-dead Alberto in his final-final days. From director Sebastian Hoffman, this film is sure to attract some attention and low-key buzz. Reportedly, the film is also the first Mexican narrative feature to shoot at the North Pole, which is dope on its own.
Don Jon’s Addiction - This film has an instant attraction in that it is the writer/director debut of the sensational Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who had to drop out of Tarantino’s Django Unchained for this film). A story about a playboy who prefers porn to the real thing, Don Jon is a rom-com with teeth, as JGL’s script chews away at our destructive culture of objectification. The film features an established and bankable cast in JGL and the rest (Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza), so its a bit of a cheat going into the festival — but Don Jon is his debut nonetheless, so by all means JGL, premiere away.
Before Midnight - Finally, we come to the third (and final?) chapter of Richard Linklater’s Sunrise trilogy, which began all the way back in 1995 with Before Sunrise, followed 9 years later with Before Sunset, and finally now concluding with Before Midnight. Intriguing if for the 18 year span between these films, Before Midnight is definitely one to watch out for.
Everybody loves to focus on the features, but often the real talent lies in the documentary section. While it’s no Hot Docs, Sundance has some real potential lined up this year, including We Steal Secrets, the button-pushing doc that explores Julian Assange and the Wikileaks scandal as they fit into the greater backdrop of privacy and legality. From Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney, this is a film that is sure to provoke real interest. Just as well, keep an eye out for “renaissance man” James Franco and his documentary Kink, which looks at Kink.com, the largest producer of BDSM. Directed by Christina Varos (and only produced by Franco), Kink is supposedly an inside look at the “misunderstood” fetish subculture. You wouldn’t have to tie me into a seat to see that one.
Of course, try as they might to stay classy and stick to the “by the people for the people” independent film format, sooner or later the major stars and studios are going to come crash the party. Some big celebrity involvements with Sundance this year include: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, et al. in the extremely buzzed-about Lovelace; Steve Coogan in the tragic and titillating The Look of Love; Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch working with David Gordon Green in Prince Avalance (exciting); Amy Poehler and her Parks And Recreation co-star Adam Scott teaming up for WCOD; Michael Cera getting weird in Magic Magic; Shia LaBeouf still trying to be taken seriously in The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman; Nicole Kidman and South Korean sensation Park Chan-wook work together for Stoker; and finally James Franco acts and co-directs with Travis Matthews for Interior. Leather Bar (did I mention he also plays Hugh Hefner in Lovelace? That makes it a Franco trifecta for Sundance!).