Culled from a record number of submissions, the 18 films playing in competition at the 2011 Slamdance Film Festival include 14 world premieres in a nod to the fest’s goal of fostering up-and-coming indie filmmakers who are working in brutal economic times.
Lineup includes 10 narrative features, seven from the U.S., and eight feature documentaries. Seven of the docs are from the U.S.; while the eighth, Van Maximilian Carlson’s “Bhopali,” is an Indian-U.S. co-production.
None of the pics headed for Park City have distribution according to Slamdance organizers.
U.S. titles that will play in narrative competition are Benjamin Brewer’s “Beneath Contempt,” Steve Skrovan’s “Fred and Vinnie,” David Bonawits’ “Pleasant People,” Simon Arthur’s “Silver Tongues,” Damon Russell’s “Snow on Tha Bluff,” Albert Birney and Jon Moses’ “The Beast Pageant” and Mark Jackson’s “Without.”
Foreign titles are Fernando Barreda Luna’s “Atrocious” (Mexico, Spain), Matias Lira’s “Drama” (Chile) and Eleanor Burke and Ron Eyal’s “Stranger Things” (U.K.).
The documentary lineup will tackle myriad subjects, from Rashid Ghazi’s “Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football,” about an Arab-American high school football team in Dearborn, Mich., to Stephan Wassmann’s “Scrapper,” about a group of desert outlaws who scavenge lucrative debris from a U.S. military bombing range near the Mexican border, to Lilly Scourtis Ayers’ “Last Fast Ride — The Life, Love and Death of a Punk Goddess,” profiling Bay Area punk rocker Marian Anderson.
Other docus are Shane Aquino’s “Road Dogs,” CJ Gardella’s “Shunka,” Michael Barnett’s “Superheros,” about real-lifed caped crusaders, and Chase Thompson and Ryan Walker’s “Zielinski.”
Slamdance has become a distinct presence since its launch in 1995 as an alternative to the Sundance Film Festival (it runs concurrent to that fest). Titles that have played at Slamdance on their way to fame include “Paranormal Activity,” while talent agents have taken to prowling Sundance for emerging voices.
In addition to announcing the competition section, organizers also revealed the theme of the 2011 fest — “All is Not Lost” — and said they will donate for the first time 10% of all ticket proceeds to indie filmmakers.
“The quality and breadth of independent film has increased exponentionally over the past year. However, even as audience dissatisfication with the standard studio fare grows, indpeendent film continues to be squeezed out at the box office,” Slamndance prexy/co-founder Peter Baxter said.
“Slamdance to the rescue! We are screening this year’s most exciting, intriguing and independent films,” Baxter continued.
Slamdance received a record 5,000 submissions.
Fest runs Jan. 21-27, 2011.
(All films are from the U.S. unless otherwise noted)
“Atrocious” — directed by Fernando Barreda Luna (Mexico, Spain) World Premiere, 75 min
Recorded evidence of the “Quintanilla Murder Investigation.”
Cast: July Quintanilla, Cristian Quintanilla
“Beneath Contempt” – directed by Benjamin Brewer. World Premiere, 101 min
A young man returns to his hometown after serving a prison sentence for killing his friends in a drunk driving accident.
Cast: Colin Janson, Melanie May, Eric Eastman, Mike Bash, Abby Austin, Sarah Newhouse
“Drama” — directed by Matias Lira. (Chile) World Premiere, 80 min
Three kids thinking that life is theatre.
Cast: Benjamin Vicuña, Diego Ruiz, Eusebio Arenas, Fernanda Urrejola, Isidora Urrejola
“Fred and Vinnie” — directed by Steve Skrovan. 89 min
Lonely guy Fred Stoller is thrilled when his good buddy, Vinnie D’Angelo, the world’s happiest agoraphobic and fattest vegetarian, comes to live with him, until Vinnie also proves to be the world’s most maddening roommate.
Cast: Fred Stoller, Angelo Tsarouches, Scott Chernoff, Bill Rutkoski, John Asher, Harriet Rose, Sarah Rush, Lee Reherman
“Pleasant People” — directed by David Bonawits. World Premiere, 69 min
When a frustrated singer songwriter finds herself at odds with friends and coworkers, she pushes through it the only way she knows how – faking a smile.
Cast: Jiyoung Lee, Josh Hall, Dave Marder, Sarah Atchison, Paula Trude
“Silver Tongues” — directed by Simon Arthur. World Premiere, 87 min
Two lovers travel from town to town playing a dark game of deceit that soon spirals out of control, threatening their very relationship.
Cast: Lee Tergesen, Enid Graham, Tate Ellington, Emily Meade, Harvey Evans, Portia, Rosa Arrendondo, Adam Lefevre
“Snow on tha Bluff” — directed by Damon Russell. World Premiere, 79 min
The story of Atlanta robber and crack dealer Curtis Snow, who stole a camera from some college kids in a dope deal and made a documentary about his life.
Cast: Curtis Snow, Frank Ringer, Curtis Lockett, Adrienne Lockett, D’Angelo Snow, Brandon Snow, Kita Snow
“Stranger Things” — directed by Eleanor Burke and Ron Eyal. (United Kingdom, U.S.) 77 min
An unusual and touching bond develops when grieving Oona reaches out to a mysterious homeless man, offering him a place to stay in her garden shed.
Cast: Bridget Collins, Adeel Akhtar
“The Beast Pageant” — directed by Albert Birney and Jon Moses. 74 min
A man goes on an adventure.
Cast: Jon Moses, Ted Greenway, Emily Osinski, S. Michael Smith, Sam Hughes, Jon Eaton, Ron Bauerle, and Tigran Vardanyan
“Without” — directed by Mark Jackson. World Premiere, 88 min
On a remote wooded island, a young woman becomes caretaker to an old man in a vegetative state. Her isolated routine devolves into a struggle with sexuality, guilt and loss.
Cast: Joslyn Jensen, Ron Carrier
(All films are from the U.S. unless otherwise noted)
“Bhopali” — directed by Van Maximilian Carlson. (India, U.S.) World Premiere, 84 min
In 1984, the world’s worst industrial disaster devastated and contaminated Bhopal, India. Today the suffering continues, prompting victims to fight for justice and corporate responsibility, which has long been ignored.
“Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football” — directed by Rashid Ghazi. World Premiere, 93 min
Fordson follows a predominately Arab-American high school football team from Dearborn, Michigan during the last ten days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and unearths the story of a community desperately holding onto its Islamic faith while struggling to gain acceptance in post 9-11 America
“Last Fast Ride — The Life, Love and Death of a Punk Goddess” — directed by Lilly Scourtis Ayers. World Premiere, 86 min
Last Fast Ride is a documentary film about the infamous bay-area punk rock performer Marian Anderson. Marian died all too young, and this is her story.
“Road Dogs” — directed by Shane Aquino. World Premiere, 83 min
Follows three of Hollywood’s most visually vibrant and heavily psychotic bands across the U.S. on a D.I.Y. tour occasionally having disastrous results.
“Scrapper” — directed by Stephan Wassmann. World Premiere, 81 min
As the global war on terror takes a heavy toll on some local economies, a defiant group of desert outlaws turn an active U.S. military bombing range near the Mexican border into their own free-enterprise zone of extreme survival. Driven by adrenaline and hunger, Crystal Meth and even scripture, they risk their lives to scavenge lucrative debris from exploded and unexploded ordnance in the kill zones.
“Shunka” — directed by CJ Gardella. U.S. Premiere, 75 min
Shunka is a vision of the material and spiritual worlds, and their coalescence; and of finding stark poetry in the haze of the every day in a small community in the Badlands.
“Superheroes” — directed by Michael Barnett. World Premiere, 90 min
Superheroes is a journey inside the world of real life caped crusaders. From all over America, these self-proclaimed crime fighters, don masks, homemade costumes and elaborate utility belts in an attempt to bring justice to evildoers everywhere.
“Zielinski” — directed by Chase Thompson and Ryan Walker. World Premiere, 65 min
The rise and fall of John Zielinskim, the most blacklisted author in the history of Iowa.