“The Guest,” the latest effort from horror helmer Adam Wingard; “Killers,” a Web-based serial-killer thriller from Indonesia’s Mo Brothers; and “What We Do in the Shadows,” a mock-doc collaboration between New Zealand-based directors Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement (of Flight of the Conchords) are among the eight oddball titles set to make their world premieres in Park City at Midnight at the 30th annual Sundance Film Festival.
Having noted that the dramatic competition lineups (unveiled Wednesday) contained a number of films with comedic and horror-thriller elements, festival director John Cooper pointed out that the distinctions between competitive and non-competitive titles were blurring more than ever.
“We considered all the Midnight titles for competition at one point,” he said. “It’s very fluid.”
Other pics in the Midnight mix include “The Babadook,” an Australian horror film directed by Jennifer Kent; “Cooties,” Jonathan Millott and Cary Murnion’s thriller about a viral outbreak at an elementary school, starring Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill; “Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead,” Tommy Wirkola’s sequel to 2009’s Nazi-zombie pic “Dead Snow”; “The Signal,” a Laurence Fishburne starrer from helmer William Eubank; and “Under the Electric Sky (EDC 2013),” a 3D documentary about Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas.
The festival, which runs Jan. 16-26 in Park City, Utah, also announced films selected for New Frontier, Spotlight and, for the first time, Sundance Kids, a section devoted to children’s programming. The two tot-friendly titles slated there are “Ernest and Celestine,” a French-language toon from directors Benjamin Renner, Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar, and “Zip and Zap and the Marble Gang,” a Spanish live-action kidpic from director Oskar Santos.
Artist Doug Aitken’s “The Source (Evolving),” a series of filmed conversations about creativity in the 21st century, will have its U.S. premiere as the centerpiece of the festival’s New Frontier section devoted to independent/experimental art. The expanded sidebar will feature 13 installations housed in a new 5,000-square-foot location at the Gateway in Park City, adjacent to Main Street, as well as five films.
The festival’s Spotlight slate, a best-of-fests compilation of “cinema we love,” is dominated by selections from Cannes (“Blue Ruin,” “The Lunchbox,” “Only Lovers Left Alive,” “Stranger by the Lake”) and Toronto (“The Double,” “Ida,” “R100”). Steven Knight’s “Locke,” starring Tom Hardy, will make its North American debut in Park City after having premiered at Venice earlier this year.
Sundance will announce its Premieres and Documentary Premieres titles on Monday.
PARK CITY AT MIDNIGHT
The eight world premieres in this section are from the U.S. unless otherwise specified.
“The Babadook” (Australia) — Directed and written by Jennifer Kent. A single mother, reeling from her husband’s violent death, tries to cope with her son’s fear of a monster in the house. Cast: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Hayley McElhinney, Barbara West, Ben Winspear.
“Cooties” — Directed by Jonathan Millott and Cary Murnion. Written by Leigh Whannell and Ian Brennan. A mysterious virus attacks an elementary school, turning the students into savages. Cast: Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Jack McBrayer, Whannell, Nasim Pedrad.
“Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead” (Norway) — Directed by Tommy Wirkola. Written by Wirkola, Stig Frode Henriksen and Vegar Hoel. The gruesome Nazi Zombies are back to finish their mission in this “Dead Snow” sequel, but their enemies won’t go down without a fight. Cast: Vegar Hoel, Stig Frode Henriksen, Martin Starr, Orjan Gamst, Monica Haas, Jocelyn DeBoer.
“The Guest” — Directed by Adam Wingard. Written by Simon Barrett. A soldier on leave befriends the family of a fallen comrade, but it’s revealed that he’s not who he says he is. Cast: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Leland Orser, Lance Reddick, Chase Williamson, Brendan Meyer.
“Killers” (Japan-Indonesia) — Directed by the Mo Brothers. Written by Timo Tjahjanto and Takuji Ushiyama. Two serial killers post their violent crimes online in a battle for notoriety, leading to an inevitable faceoff. Cast: Kazuki Kitamura, Oka Antara, Rin Takanashi, Luna Maya, Ray Sahetapy.
“The Signal” — Directed by William Eubank. Written by William Eubank, Carlyle Eubank and David Frigerio. Three college students track a computer hacker, then disappear under mysterious circumstances. Cast: Laurence Fishburne, Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke, Beau Knapp.
“Under the Electric Sky (EDC 2013)” — Directed by Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz. A 3D account of Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas, the largest music festival in the U.S.
“What We Do in the Shadows” (New Zealand-U.S.) — Directed and written by Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement. A mockumentary about a group of Kiwi vampiers struggling to understand and adapt to modern society. Cast: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonny Brugh, Cori Gonzales-Macuer, Stu Rutherford.
The five films in this section are world premieres unless otherwise specified.
“The Better Angels” — Directed and written by A.J. Edwards. An account of Abraham Lincoln’s youth. Cast: Jason Clarke, Diane Kruger, Brit Marling, Wes Bentley.
“The Girl From Nagasaki” (Germany-U.S.-Japan-Italy) — Directed by Michel Comte. Written by Anne-Marie Mackay, Ayako Yoshida and Comte. Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly” gets staged in a modern-day production in this 3D performance film. Cast: Christopher Lee, Sasha Alexander, Michael Wincott, Michael Nyqvist, Robert Evans, Polina Semionova. International premiere.
“Hitrecord on TV” — Directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. A new kind of participatory variety show hosted by Gordon-Levitt, directing a global online community of artists as they create short films, music, animation, etc.
“Living Stars” (Argentina) — Directed by Mariano Cohn and Gaston Duprat. A portrait of Argentinians publicly performing dance numbers they normally only do alone, in front of a mirror.
“Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People” — Directed by Thomas Allen Harris. Written by Harris, Don Perry and Paul Carter Harrison. An epic that moves through past and present using the work of contemporary photographers and artists.
The eight films in this section are from the U.S. unless otherwise specified.
“Blue Ruin” — Directed and written by Jeremy Saulnier. A violent revenge thriller about a man who goes on the run after exacting payback for his parents’ murders. Cast: Macon Blair, Amy Hargreaves, Sidne Anderson, Devin Ratray, Kevin Kolack.
“The Double” (U.K.) — Directed by Richard Ayoade. Written by Avi Korine. A shy, nondescript young man finds himself eclipsed by a much more confident doppelganger in this adaptation of Dostoevsky’s novella. Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn, Noah Taylor, Cathy Moriarty, James Fox.
“Ida” (Poland) — Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, written by Pawlikowski and Rebecca Lenkiewicz. A young notiviate nun in 1960s Poland uncovers the truth of her own identity and its roots in the Holocaust. Cast: Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska, Dawid Ogrodnik.
“Locke” (U.K.) — Directed and written by Steven Knight. A real-time one-hander about a man going for a fateful drive. Cast: Tom Hander, Ruth Wilson, Olivia Colman, Andrew Scott, Tom Holland, Bill Milner.
“The Lunchbox” (India-France-Germany) — Directed and written by Ritesh Batra. A mistaken lunchbox delivery leads a young housewife to bond with a stranger. Cast: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Denzil Smith, Bharati Achrekar, Nakul Vaid.
“Only Lovers Left Alive” — Directed and written by Jim Jarmusch. Two world-weary hipster vampires rekindle their centuries-old romance as the end of the world looms. Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, Anton Yelchin, Jeffrey Wright.
“R100” (Japan) — Directed and written by Hitoshi Matsumoto. A family man with a taste for S&M finds himself pursued by a gang of dominatrices in this bizarre take on the sex comedy. Cast: Nao Ohmori, Lindsay Kay Hayward, Hairi Katagiri.
“Stranger by the Lake” (France) — Directed and written by Alain Guiraudie. An examination of queer desire set on a secluded French beach. Cast: Pierre Deladonchamps, Christophe Paou, Patrick d’Assumcao.
“Ernest and Celestine” (France-Belgium-Luxembourg) — Directed by Benjamin Renner, Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar. Written by Daniel Pennac. An animated adaptation of Gabrielle Vincent’s children’s books about the parallel worlds of bears and mice.
“Zip and Zap and the Marble Gang” (Spain) — Directed by Oskar Santos. Written by Francisco Roncal, Jorge Lara and Oskar Santos. An adaptation of a 1950s comicstrip in which the two titular characters are sent to a correctional school, where they stumble on the most exciting adventure of their lives. Cast: Javier Gutierrez, Daniel Cerezo, Raul Rivas, Claudia Vega, Marcos Ruiz, Fran Garcia.