Slamdance curtain rises on ’97 slate

The Slamdance Intl. Film Festival announced Thursday the selections for its feature competition as well as a partial list of special screenings to be held at the third annual event, which takes place Jan. 17-23 in Park City, Utah.

Seven of the announced films are world premieres, while two others are U.S. premieres. The films were chosen from over 1,000 entries, more than twice the 450 submitted last year.

All films in the dramatic competition feature first-time directors and “budgets considered low by even independent standards,” according to festival executive director Jon Fitzgerald. The winner of last year’s Grand Jury Prize was Greg Mottola’s “The Daytrippers.”

Indie tribute

The non-competitive Special Screenings section will “pay tribute to independent directors who, without creative compromise, have paved the way for the independent movement,” Fitzgerald said.

Slamdance 1997 will also have foreign, short and documentary sections; those selections are expected to be announced in the next few weeks.

The competition selections and their directors are:

“A Gun, a Car, a Blonde,” Stefani Ames; “Pieces,” Anthony and Joe Russo; “The Maze,” Joelle Bentolila; “The Gauguin Museum,” Alexander Kane; “Take a Number,” Fritzi Horstman; “Nowhere Fast,” Cinque Lee; “The Size of Watermelons,” Kari Skogland; “Eight Days a Week,” Michael Davis; “The Bible and Gun Club,” Daniel J. Harris; “Driven,” Michael Paridies Shoob.

Vets take a bow, too

Also screening at the festival is Steven Soderbergh’s “Schizopolis” and the world premiere of Eric Schaeffer’s “Fall.” The fest will conclude with the world premiere of Aleks Horvat’s “Sweethearts,” starring Margaret Cho, Janeane Garofalo and Bobcat Goldthwait.

Begun on a shoestring by Fitzgerald and two other filmmakers whose pictures had been rejected by the 1995 Sundance Film Festival, Slamdance has grown considerably in the intervening years. The festival this year boasts a new screening spot in the heart of Park City as well as a number of advertisers, including lead sponsor First TV, an Internet TV and video network.

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