Five crossover directors at Sundance

Talents from other disciplines try hand at helming


The task of bringing novelist Chuck Palahniuk’s fractured saga of sex addiction, kidnapping and colonial reenactment to the screen would likely give any veteran helmer pause. To tackle it as a first-timer would seem suicidal. “I really didn’t get how tricky it was going to be at first,” admits Gregg, who read the novel in galleys and quickly became obsessed with it. “But as crazy as the book is, I related the scathing honesty of Palahniuk’s voice, as well as the way it’s blended with really out-there, absurdist comedy. ”

— Andrew Barker

“The Merry Gentleman”

Keaton’s involvement with “Gentleman” started out as an acting gig, but something clicked when the thesp read through Ron Lazzeretti’s script about a depressed hitman. “I knew how to tell my version of the story,” Keaton says. “The first word that came into my head as I read the script was ‘quiet.’ I saw the rhythm in it. I trusted that the rhythm of this script was similar to European and Asian films. There was no need to rush anything. I put the faith in the audience to feel about it how they’re going to feel about it.”

— Andrew Barker

“Nerakhoon (The Betrayal)”

Begun 23 years ago, Kuras’ helming debut –a docu about a Laotian family grappling with the lingering effects of the Vietnam War — inadvertently launched her cinematography career. “When I hired a cinematographer many years ago, he wasn’t able to grasp the idea of images speaking for themselves in terms of visual metaphor,” she says. “That’s when I decided to do it myself.” Some 38 projects later, Kuras says she never planned to take so long to reveal her directorial ambitions. “I’ve been a little busy,” she says.

— Anthony Kaufman

“The Guitar”

Although she has acted in three films over the past year — including “a 15-second” role in Sundance Dramatic Competition entry “Sunshine Cleaning” — Redford says that directing is her main focus. “I started out when I was in high school directing theater, and then I kind of got hijacked into acting,” she explains. Redford says her inclination is to see things more from a director’s p.o.v. “I’m always taking into account the whole universe of a project instead of just my part.” Her debut, “The Guitar,” unspools in Spectrum.

— Addie Morfoot

“Pretty Bird”

“I’m not sure if I know how to direct at all, but I do know I love this story,” says the thesp-turned-helmer of “Pretty Bird,” the true tale of three men who aspire to build a human rocket belt. Schneider, who got his start starring in the early work of David Gordon Green and recently had a role in “Lars and the Real Girl,” says his biggest concern was “making it an energetic, pleasurable experience for the actors. I didn’t want to repeat the mistakes that have been made by some of the directors I’ve worked with.” 

— Matthew Ross