Femme films star in Sundance slate

Fest draws record submissions

The lineup for the millennial edition of the Sundance Film Festival, unspooling Jan. 20-30 in Park City, Utah, looks to be one of the most diverse — in subject matter and artistic approach, as well as filmmakers’ gender, race and origin — that it has ever offered.

A record 1,650 feature films were submitted for Sundance 2000 overall, including 849 for consideration in the 16-slot dramatic competition (up fractionally from 840 a year ago), 347 in the documentary category (a 57% increase from last year’s 220) and 454 for World Cinema (up from 420).

The upcoming edition of the most heavily scrutinized film festival in the U.S. will serve up more pics by women than it ever has before — six apiece in the dramatic, docu and premieres sections, two in American Spectrum and seven in the World, Frontier and Midnight sidebars combined. Of the 112 programs in the fest, there will be 71 world premieres, eight North American preems and 18 U.S. debuts.

Dearth of digital

Sundance yielded the biggest hit in its history this year when “The Blair Witch Project” emerged from its Midnight slot to gross $140 million domestically, and many observers assumed there would be a spate of imitative ultra-low-budgeters or digital features in its wake.

This has not (yet) turned out to be the case, however, as fest artistic director Geoffrey Gilmore observed that the most noticeable trend aesthetically has been toward professional-looking genre work and performance-oriented storytelling.

Although all the theaters in Park City are being equipped with digital projectors, a very small percentage of pics submitted to Sundance this year were shot digitally or suggest the influence of Dogma 95. “The digital revolution is occurring,” Gilmore allowed, “but it really hasn’t hit yet.

“But the single biggest development is women filmmakers, who have really arrived this year; both in films that were submitted and that got in, there were more than ever,” Gilmore said. “Second, there is more of what I’d broadly define as genre work, but that are innovative — not films that are just turning genres on their heads, but that are mixing and playing with them in smart, edgy ways. Then,” he added, “there are a number of films in which performance is highlighted in such a way that it becomes what the films are all about.”

Festival will be structured much as it was last year, with each category having a home theater: Dramatic competition entries will be based at the Library, documentaries will unspool at the Holiday and Yarrow, premieres will be launched at the Eccles and show subsequently at the Egyptian, American Spectrum will be presented at the Prospector, and World Cinema features will be housed at the Egyptian.

Entries in the Premiere, World Cinema, Special Screening, Midnight, Native Forum and Frontier sections of the festival will be announced Thursday.

Follow these links to the lineups for the Dramatic Competition, Documentary Competition and American Spectrum.


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