Kevin Bacon, Keanu Reeves and Eli Roth are among the bigger names aiming to generate buzz and raise gooseflesh in the Park City at Midnight sidebar at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, the lineup of which was announced today alongside those of the festival’s Spotlight and New Frontier sections.
Fresh off his turn in “John Wick,” Reeves stars in the Roth-directed “Knock Knock,” a psychological horror film about a married man who is paid a fateful visit one weekend by two beautiful girls. The thriller, which marks Roth’s first trip to Sundance, will screen in Park City at Midnight, along with Jon Watts’ “Cop Car,” starring Bacon as a corrupt police officer chasing the kids who took his vehicle for a joyride; Corin Hardy’s “The Hallow,” a shocker set in a mysterious Irish forest; and “Hellions,” Bruce McDonald’s thriller about a teenager terrorized by trick-or-treaters on Halloween.
Rodney Ascher, who scored a New Frontier hit in 2012 with “Room 237,” his documentary about Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining,” will appear in the Midnight slate with “The Nightmare,” a docu-horror film about sleep paralysis. Rounding out the section are “Reversal,” J.M. Cravioto’s thriller about a young woman trying to escape her captor; “Turbo Kid,” a post-apocalyptic action-comedy from the directing trio of Anouk Whissell, Francois Simard and Yoann-Karl Whissell; and David Robert Mitchell’s festival hit “It Follows,” about a circle of teenagers pursued by a sexually transferable curse.
Last year, Park City at Midnight bowed Australian director Jennifer Kent’s “The Babadook,” a horror picture that has since become a Stateside critics’ darling; audiences will be looking for a similarly sensational breakout in January.
The best-of-fests Spotlight section will feature a handful of acclaimed titles from Cannes (Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s “The Tribe,” Damian Szifron’s “Wild Tales,” Kornel Mundruczo’s “White God” and Celine Sciamma’s “Girlhood”); plus Yann Demange’s “’71,” Ramin Bahrani’s “99 Homes” and Mia Hansen-Love’s “Eden.” The experimental New Frontier slate will present six features, including the latest from Canadian auteur Guy Maddin, “The Forbidden Room,” co-directed with Evan Johnson.
Sundance will announce its Premieres and Documentary Premieres titles on Monday.
The eight films in this section are world premieres and from the U.S. unless otherwise specified.
“Cop Car” (Director: Jon Watts, Screenwriters: Christopher D. Ford, Jon Watts) — Two 10-year-old boys steal an abandoned cop car. Cast: Kevin Bacon, James Freedson-Jackson, Hays Wellford, Shea Whigham, Camryn Manheim.
“The Hallow” (Ireland-U.K.) (Director: Corin Hardy, Screenwriters: Corin Hardy, Felipe Marino) — When a London-based conservationist is sent to Ireland to survey an area of ancient forest believed by the superstitious locals to be hallowed ground, he unwittingly disturbs a horde of terrifying beings and must fight to protect his family. Cast: Joseph Mawle, Bojana Novakovic, Michael McElhatton, Michael Smiley.
“Hellions” (Canada) (Director: Bruce McDonald, Screenwriter: Pascal Trottier) — Teenage Dora Vogel must survive a Halloween night from hell when malevolent trick-or-treaters come knocking at her door. Cast: Chloe Rose, Robert Patrick, Rossif Sutherland, Rachel Wilson, Peter DaCunha, Luke Bilyk.
“It Follows” (Director and screenwriter: David Robert Mitchell) — After a strange sexual encounter, a teenager finds herself haunted by nightmarish visions and the inescapable sense that something is after her. Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe. (Park City premiere)
“Knock Knock” (Director: Eli Roth, Screenwriters: Eli Roth, Nicolas Lopez, Guillermo Amoedo) — Two beautiful young girls walk into a married man’s life and turn a wild fantasy into his worst nightmare. Cast: Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo, Ana De Armas, Aaron Burns, Ignacia Allamand, Colleen Camp.
“The Nightmare” (Director: Rodney Ascher) — A documentary-horror film exploring the phenomenon of sleep paralysis through the eyes of eight people. They (and a surprisingly large number of others) often find themselves trapped between the sleeping and awake realms, unable to move but aware of their surroundings while subject to disturbing sights and sounds.
“Reversal” (Director: J.M Cravioto, Screenwriters: Rock Shaink, Keith Kjornes) — A gritty psychological thriller about a young woman who’s chained in a basement of a sexual predator but manages to escape. However, right when she has a chance for freedom, she unravels a hard truth and decides to turn the tables on her captor. Cast: Tina Ivlev, Richard Tyson, Bianca Malinowski.
“Turbo Kid” (Canada-New Zealand) (Directors: Anouk Whissell, Francois Simard, Yoann-Karl Simard, Screenwriters: Anouk Whissell, Francois Simard, Yoann-Karl Whissell) — In a post-apocalyptic future, the Kid, an orphaned outcast, meets a mysterious girl. They become friends until Zeus, the sadistic leader of the Wasteland, kidnaps her. The Kid must face his fears and journey to rid the Wasteland of evil and save the girl. Cast: Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside, Aaron Jeffery, Edwin Wright.
The eight films in this section are world premieres and from the U.S. unless otherwise specified.
“6 Desires: D.H. Lawrence and Sardinia” (U.K.-Italy) (Director: Mark Cousins) — In winter 1921, D.H. Lawrence and his wife journeyed to Sardinia, and he chronicled their experiences in “Sea and Sardinia.” Now, Mark Cousins retraces Lawrence’s footsteps. The film is conceived partly as a letter to Lawrence — or “Bert” — a detail typical of the film’s inviting sense of conversational intimacy. (International premiere)
“’71” (U.K.) (Director: Yann Demange, Screenwriter: Gregory Burke) — “‘71” takes place over a single night in the life of a young British soldier accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot on the streets of Belfast in 1971. Unable to tell friend from foe, he must survive the night alone and find his way to safety. Cast: Jack O’Connell, Paul Anderson, Richard Dormer, Sean Harris, Barry Keoghan, Martin McCann.
“99 Homes” (U.S.) (Director: Ramin Bahrani, Screenwriters: Ramin Bahrani, Amir Naderi, Bahareh Azimi) — A father struggles to get back the home that his family was evicted from by working for the greedy real-estate broker who’s the source of his frustration. Cast: Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, Laura Dern, Tim Guinee, Cullen Moss, J.D. Evermore.
“Aloft” (Spain-France-Canada) (Director and screenwriter: Claudia Llosa) — “Aloft” tells the story of a struggling mother, Nana, and her evolution into a renowned healer. When a young artist tracks down Nana’s son 20 years after she abandoned him, she sets in motion an encounter between the two that will bring the meaning of their lives into question. Cast: Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy, Melanie Laurent, William Shimell. (North American premiere)
“Eden” (France) (Director: Mia Hansen-Love, Screenwriters: Mia Hansen-Love, Sven Hansen-Love) — Mia Hansen-Love’s electronic-dance-music epic follows the rise and fall of a DJ (based on her brother, Sven, a contemporary of Daft Punk) who gets into the rave scene in 1994 and spends the next 20 years navigating the French club scene. Cast: Felix de Givry, Pauline Etienne, Greta Gerwig, Brady Corbet, Arsinee Khanjian, Vincent Macaigne.
“Girlhood” (France) (Director and screenwriter: Celine Sciamma) — Oppressed by her family, dead-end school prospects, and the boys in the neighborhood, Marieme starts a new life after meeting a group of three free-spirited girls. She changes her name and dress, and quits school to be accepted in the gang, hoping to find a way to freedom. Cast: Karidja Toure, Assa Sylla, Lindsay Karamoh, Marietou Toure, Idrissa Diabate, Simina Soumare.
“The Tribe” (Ukraine) (Director and screenwriter: Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy) — Set at a Ukrainian boarding school for the deaf, the film’s narrative unfolds purely through sign language without the need for subtitles or voiceover, resulting in a unique, never-before-seen cinematic experience that engages the audience on a new level. Cast: Grigoriy Fesenko, Yana Novikova, Rosa Babiy, Alexander Dsiadevich.
“White God” (Hungary) (Director: Kornel Mundruczo, Screenwriters: Kata Weber, Kornel Mundruczo, Viktoria Petranyi) — When young Lili is forced to give up her beloved dog, Hagen, because its mixed-breed heritage is deemed “unfit” by the State, she and the dog begin a dangerous journey back toward each other. Cast: Zsofia Psotta, Sandor Zsoter, Szabolcs Thuroczy, Lili Monori, Laszlo Galffi, Lili Horvath. (U.S. premiere)
“Wild Tales” (Argentina-Spain) (Director and screenwriter: Damian Szifron) — Inequality, injustice, and the demands of the world cause stress and depression for many people. Some of them, however, explode. This is a movie about those people. Vulnerable in the face of an unpredictable reality, the characters of “Wild Tales” cross the thin line dividing civilization and barbarism. Cast: Ricardo Darin, Julieta Zylberberg, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Dario Grandinetti, Erica Rivas, Oscar Martinez.
The six films in this section are world premieres.
“The Forbidden Room” (Canada) (Directors: Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Screenwriters: Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Robert Kotyk) — A submarine crew, a feared pack of forest bandits, a famous surgeon and a battalion of child soldiers all get more than they bargained for as they wend their way toward progressive ideas on life and love. Cast: Geraldine Chaplin, Caroline Dhavernas, Roy Dupuis, Udo Kier, Charlotte Rampling, Karine Vanasse.
“Liveforever” (Colombia-Mexico) (Director: Carlos Moreno, Screenwriters: Alberto Ferreras, Alonso Torres, Carlos Moreno) — Driven by the music and dancing she finds along the way, a teenager leaves home willing to try anything her provocative and tolerant city has to offer, even if she burns out in the process. Inspired by the bestselling novel “Que viva la musica” by Andres Caicedo. Cast: Paulina Davila, Alejandra Avila, Luis Arrieta, Juan Pablo Barragan, Nelson Camayo, Christian Tappan.
“The Royal Road” (Director and screenwriter: Jenni Olson) — This cinematic essay, a defense of remembering, offers up a primer on the Spanish colonization of California and the Mexican American War alongside intimate reflections on nostalgia, butch identity and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” — all against a contemplative backdrop of 16mm urban California landscapes. Cast: Jenni Olson, Tony Kushner.
“Sam Klemke’s Time Machine” (Australia) (Director: Matthew Bate) — Sam Klemke has filmed and narrated 50 years of his life, creating a strange and intimate portrait of what it means to be human.
“Station to Station” (Director: Doug Aitken) — “Station to Station” is composed of 60 individual one-minute films featuring different artists, musicians, places, and perspectives. This revolutionary feature-length film reveals a larger narrative about modern creativity.
“Things of the Aimless Wanderer” (Rwanda-U.K.) (Director and screenwriter: Kivu Ruhorahoza) — A white man meets a black girl, but then she disappears. The white man tries to understand what happened to her while also trying to finish a travelogue. The film concerns the sensitive topic of relations between “locals” and Westerners, as well as paranoia, mistrust and misunderstandings. Cast: Justin Mullikin, Grace Nikuze, Ramadhan Bizimana, Eliane Umuhire, Wesley Ruzibiza, Matt Ray Brown.