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Sundance unveils Midnight, New Frontier sections

James Franco involved in two titles; Spotlight lineup also announced

A documentary about a fetish website and a speculative re-creation of gay S&M footage cut from the 1980 film “Cruising,” both featuring the involvement of James Franco, are among the edgier offerings set to screen at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, which announced its Park City at Midnight, New Frontier and Spotlight selections on Thursday.

Eight pics will make their world premieres in Park City at Midnight, including the aforementioned porn docu “Kink,” helmed by Christina Voros and produced by Franco; “We Are What We Are,” helmer Jim Mickle’s U.S. remake of the same-titled 2010 cannibal pic directed by Jorge Michel Grau; and “S-VHS,” a sequel of sorts to last year’s midnight omnibus “VHS.” Rounding out the section are Chris Nelson’s “Ass Backwards”; Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon’s “Hell Baby”; Jeremy Lovering’s “In Fear”; and Calvin Lee Reeder’s “The Rambler.”

New Frontier, the festival’s section devoted to independent/experimental/multimedia art, will feature seven installations as well as five films. These include Robert Berger and Karlyn Michelson’s airline-emergency docu “Charlie Victor Romeo”; M. Shirvani’s father-son drama “Fat Shaker”; and “Interior. Leather Bar,” Travis Mathews and Franco’s musing on “Cruising.”

Two Israeli films from the fall fest circuit, Rama Burshtein’s drama “Fill the Void” and Dror Moreh’s docu “The Gatekeepers,” will screen in Spotlight, Sundance’s sidebar devoted to “the cinema we love” from around the world. Slate also includes Sarah Polley’s documentary “Stories We Tell” and four selections from the recent Cannes Film Festival: Jeff Nichols’ “Mud,” Anurag Kashyap’s “Gangs of Wasseypur,” Pablo Larrain’s “No” and Ben Wheatley’s “Sightseers.”

Sundance will announce the titles in its Premieres and Documentary Premieres sections on Monday. The fest runs Jan. 17-27.

The seven films in this section have all played at previous festivals.
“Fill the Void” (Israel) — Directed and written by Rama Burshtein. A love story set in Tel Aviv’s ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community. With Hadas Yaron, Yiftach Klein, Irit Sheleg, Chaim Sharir, Razia Israely, Hila Feldman.
“Gangs of Wasseypur” (India) — Directed by Anurag Kashyap, written by Kashyap and Zeishan Quadri. A nearly six-hour chronicle of warring mob families in a North Indian mining town. Stars Manoj Bajpai, Nawazuddin Siddique, Richa Chadda, Huma Qureshi, Tigmanshu Dhulia.
“The Gatekeepers” (Israel-France-Germany-Belgium) — Directed by Dror Moreh. A documentary history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as recounted by six former heads of Israel’s Shin Bet counterterrorism unit.
“Mud” (U.S.) — Directed and written by Jeff Nichols. A coming-of-age drama about two teenage boys who encounter a fugitive in rural Arkansas. Stars Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Loflan and Reese Witherspoon.
“No” (Chile-U.S.) — Directed by Pablo Larrain, written by Pedro Peirano. Chronicles how a young ad exec played an unexpected role in the downfall of Chile’s Pinochet regime. Features Gael Garcia Bernal, Alfredo Castro, Antonia Zegers, Luis Gnecco, Marcial Tagle, Nestor Cantillana.
“Sightseers” (U.K.) — Directed by Ben Wheatley, written by Alice Lowe and Steve Oram. A dark comedy about a couple that goes on a road-trip killing spree. With Alice Lowe and Steve Oram.
Stories We Tell (Canada) — Directed by Sarah Polley. A personal documentary in which Polley investigates her family’s secrets.

The eight world-premiere films in this section are all from the U.S. unless otherwise specified.
“Ass Backwards” — Directed by Chris Nelson. Written by June Diane Raphael and Casey Wilson. Two lovable losers head back to their hometown to claim the beauty-pageant crown that eluded them as children. Stars Raphael, Wilson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Alicia Silverstone, Jon Cryer and Brian Geraghty.
Hell Baby — Directed and written by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon. An expectant couple moves into a haunted house in New Orleans. Stars Rob Corddry, Leslie Bibb, Keegan Michael Key, Riki Lindholme, Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel.
“In Fear” (U.K.) — Directed and written by Jeremy Lovering. A road-tripping couple is terrorized by an unseen tormentor capable of exploiting their worst fears. With Alice Englert, Iain De Caestecker, Allen Leech.
“Kink” — Directed by Christina Voros. A look inside the San Francisco-based porn production facilities of Kink.com.
“The Rambler” — Directed and written by Calvin Lee Reeder. An ex-con known as “the Rambler” embarks on a treacherous journey to reconnect with his long-lost brother. Stars Dermot Mulroney, Lindsay Pulsipher, Natasha Lyonne, James Cady and Scott Sharot.
“S-VHS” (U.S.-Canada) — Directed by Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Eduardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Huw Evans and Jason Eisener, written by Barrett, Jamie Nash, Tjahjanto, Evans and Josh Davies. Two private investigators find a collection of mysterious tapes in an abandoned house in this companion piece to horror pic “VHS.” Features Wingard, Lawrence Levine, L.C. Holt, Kelsy Abbott and Hannah Hughes.
“Virtually Heroes” — Directed by G.J. Echternkamp, written by Matt Yamashita. Two vidgame characters struggle with their frustrating existence. Stars Robert Baker, Brent Chase, Katie Savoy, Mark Hamill and Ben Messmer.
“We Are What We Are” — Directed by Jim Mickle, written by Nick Damici and Mickle. A thriller about a family of cannibals. Stars Bill Sage, Ambyr Childers, Julia Garner, Michael Parks, Wyatt Russell and Kelly McGillis.

“Charlie Victor Romeo” (U.S.) — Directed by Robert Berger and Karlyn Michelson. A 3D documentary derived entirely from black-box transcripts from six major airline emergencies. With Patrick Daniels, Irving Gregory, Noel Dinneen, Sam Zuckerman, Debbie Troche, Nora Woolley.
“Fat Shaker” (Iran) — Directed and written by M. Shirvani. A beautiful young woman comes between an obese father and his handsome, deaf son in Tehran. With Levon Haftvan, Maryam Palizban, Hassan Rostami and Navid Mohammadzadeh.
“Interior. Leather Bar” (U.S.) — Directed by Travis Mathews and James Franco, written by Mathews. Suggests the content of 40 minutes rumored to have been cut from 1980’s “Cruising” in order to avoid an X rating. With Val Lauren, Franco, Mathews, Christian Patrick and Brenden Gregory.
“Halley” (Mexico) — Directed by Sebastian Hofmann, written by Hofmann and Julio Chavezmontes. A night watchman forms an unusual friendship with a gym manager. Stars Alberto Trujillo, Lourdes Trueba and Hugo Albores.
“The Meteor” (Canada) — Directed and written by Francois Delisle. A tale of crime, guilt and loneliness involving a fortysomething man, his mother and his wife. Features Noemie Godin Vigneau, Delisle, Laurent Lucas, Brigitte Pogonat, Francois Papineau and Andree Lachapelle.

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