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Slamdance Film Festival Unveils Competition Lineup (EXCLUSIVE)

The Slamdance Film Festival has unveiled its 24th annual narrative and documentary feature film competition lineup, Variety has learned.

The festival, launched in 1995 as an alternative to Sundance, has included showings of such notable titles as Oren Peli’s “Paranormal Activity.” The fest, which takes place at the Treasure Mountain Inn in Park City, Utah, from Jan. 19 to Jan. 25, will screen 18 movies including 10 world premieres, two North American premieres, and four U.S. premieres.

Notable titles include “Human Affairs” with Kerry Condon, who  was recently in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri ” and the TV series “Better Call Saul,” and “Rock Steady Row,” starring Diamond White from  “Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween.”

Slamdance alumni include Joe and Anthony Russo, Christopher Nolan, Marc Forster, Jared Hess, Lena Dunham, Benh Zeitlin, Seth Gordon, and Lynn Shelton. Significant titles that debuted at Slamdance include “Mad Hot Ballroom” and Gordon’s “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.” This year’s winners were “Dim the Fluorescents” in the narrative category and “Strad Style” in documentary.

The Slamdance feature competition is limited to films made by first-time directors with budgets under $1 million and without U.S. distribution.

“Born out of rejection, Slamdance’s artist-led group continues to discover cutting edge talent creating work outside of convention,” said co-founder and president Peter Baxter. “Our 2018 competition lineup is daring, varied, and vivid — it represents the spirit of our time and leads us into the future.”

The festival is also teaming with the Russo brothers, who directed “Captain America: Civil War” to further develop the mission of the organization with their inaugural Russo Fellowship award. The winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize and mentorship from the Russos in the development of the winner’s next project at the brother’s new Los Angeles studio. Every participating filmmaker at the 2018 festival is eligible.

“The Russo brothers exemplify our ‘by filmmakers for filmmakers’ paradigm,” Baxter said. “They are joined by a great number of dedicated alumni who’ve shown when it comes to recognizing talent and launching careers, Slamdance’s independent and grassroots film community really can do it themselves.”

Films in both categories are eligible for the Audience Award and Spirit of Slamdance Award, the latter of which is voted upon by this year’s presented filmmakers.

The list of competition features is below:

NARRATIVE FEATURES

Birds Without Feathers

(USA) World Premiere

Director: Wendy McColm

Screenwriter: Wendy McColm

Desperate for human interaction, six emotionally damaged individuals risk self respect, shedding their disillusionment in a last grasp for happiness. A cruel-world comedy populated by struggling Instagram stars, Russian cowboys, Self-help gurus and more, their lives collide and crash in astounding ways.

Cast: Wendy McColm, Lenae Day Cooper Oznowicz, William Gabriel Greer, Sara Estefanos, and Alexander Stasko

Charlie And Hannah’s Grand Night Out

(Belgium) World Premiere

Director: Bert Scholiers

Screenwriter: Bert Scholiers

Two Girls. One Night. Magical Candy Consumed. Twenty-somethings, Charlie and Hannah, find themselves strolling through the city as events take a wildly surreal turn. Transported to a trippy galaxy, filled with cosmic wisdom and contradictions, the pair learn to realize the search for love can take many forms.

Cast: Evelien Bosmans, Daphne Wellens, Patrick Vervueren

Fake Tattoos

(Canada) US Premiere

Director: Pascal Plante

Screenwriter: Pascal Plante

Shy Theo finds himself unexpectedly kicked in the heart by a punk-rock romance on his 18th birthday as Mag bursts into his life for a rollicking encounter. Set against a backdrop of music and mayhem, this coming-of-age tale, explores the thrashing fragility of summer love as life choices and separation loom with no true answers in sight.

Cast: Anthony Therrien, Rose-Marie Perreault

Fish Bones

(USA) World Premiere

Director: Joanne Mony Park

Screenwriter: Joanne Mony Park

Hana, a Korean immigrant on winter break, is caught between worlds. While struggling to find peace with her conservative mother and the expectations surrounding her future, Hana finds herself falling for Nico, a tender and affectionate Latina music producer.

Cast: Joony Kim, Cris Gris

Human Affairs

(USA) World Premiere

Director: Charlie Birns

Screenwriter: Charlie Birns

This richly earnest drama follows Geneviève, a surrogate who must reckon with her ambivalence about the pregnancy and her precarious feelings for the parents-to-be.

Cast: Dominic Fumusa, Kerry Condon, David Harbour, Julie Sokolowski

Lovers

(Denmark) US Premiere

Director: Niels Holstein Kaa

Screenwriter: Magnus B. B. Lysbakken

In the streets, parks and cafes of Copenhagen, a triptych of love stories come to vivid life. Framed with a superb naturalism, these tales through the seasons tackle the ever rising tide of loneliness and self-doubt that can come in the face of new love.

Cast: Marie Mailand, Niklas Herskind, Nina Terese Rask

M/M

(Canada, Germany) World Premiere

Director: Drew Lint

Screenwriter: Drew Lint

Wayward Canadian, Matthew, crushed by the isolation of being new to Berlin, turns his sexual desires toward Matthias that spiral into a dark fixation of assumed identity. Soon, this obsessive power struggle between the two, careens toward brutal passion and violence in a bid for dominance.

Cast: Antoine Lahaie, Nicolas Maxim Endlicher

Rock Steady Row

(USA) World Premiere

Director: Trevor Stevens

Screenwriter: Bomani Story

Demented chaos rules this bizarro-world college campus where the reigning gang-frats target a freshman, who dare crosses their path. Trapped between a blaze of twisted ‘Mad Max’ style power games, he shrewdly plays both sides, fueling apocalyptic-sized battles that escalate to ensnare the school Dean who’s coming unglued.

Cast: Heston Horwin, Diamond White, Logan Huffman, Isaac Alisma, Allie Marie Evans, Larry Miller, Peter Gilroy

Songs in the Sun

(Denmark) US Premiere

Director: Kristian Sejrbo Lidegaard

Screenwriter: Allan Hyde, Kristian Sejrbo Lidegaard

Off the coast of Denmark, young Anna discovers she is the only lifeline to ailing childhood friend Julie and Sonja, Julie’s apathetic mother. Over the course of one momentous afternoon, Anna will learn the healing power of belief and myth-making in everyday living

Cast: Emma Sehested Høeg, Charlotte Munck, Victoria Carmen Sonne

The Starry Sky Above Me

(France) US Premiere

Director: Ilan Klipper

Screenwriter: Ilan Klipper, Raphaël Neal

Bruno is happy to live out his days luxuriating in the existential highs and lows only a brilliant literary mind can appreciate. But when his loved ones seek to intervene with the help of a psychiatrist, Bruno’s bohemian lifestyle may in fact be the perfect anecdote to the colorless, PC lives they didn’t know they hated.

Cast: Laurent Poitrenaux, Camille Chamoux, Marilyne Canto, Alma Jodorowsky, François Chattot, Michèle Moretti, Frank Williams

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES

Circus Ecuador

(Ecuador, USA) World Premiere

Directors: Ashley Bishop and Jim Brassard

James and Ashley travel to the jungles of Ecuador to make a documentary about a school being built for an indigenous community only to discover that the community may or may not be involved in aliens, gold smuggling, human trafficking, and murder.

Freedom for the Wolf

(Germany, USA)

Director: Rupert Russell

From Hong Kong to Tunisia to Bollywood, people are fighting against elected leaders dismantling freedom and democracy. These seemingly disparate international stories are cohesively tied into what is happening in the US to reach some very compelling conclusions.

Ingrid

(USA) World Premiere

Director: Morrisa Maltz

An intimate look at a woman who left her life as a successful fashion designer and mother in Texas to become a reclusive hermit, immersed in nature, focused solely on creating art.

Instant Dreams

(Netherlands) North American Premiere

Director: Willem Baptist

An essayistic quest for the secret of instant film, the magic appeal of Polaroid and what that tells us about the fascinating relationship we have with the photographic image.

Man on Fire

(USA) World Premiere

Director: Joel Fendelman

Grand Saline, Texas was a sleepy, unremarkable town–until a white preacher lit himself on fire to protest the town’s racism in 2014.

MexMan

(USA) World Premiere

Director: Josh Polon

Germán is a young artist and filmmaker striving to complete his first feature film, while plagued by the ghost of a long-lost love and a battle for creative control with his producers.

Mr. Fish: Cartooning From The Deep End

(USA)

Director: Pablo Bryant

This personal documentary follows a controversial political cartoonist as he struggles to provide for his family and stay true to his creativity in a world where biting satiric humor has an ever-diminishing commercial value.

Sunnyside

(Belgium, Netherlands) North American Premiere

Director: Frederik Carbon

On a seaside mountain in Northern California two old friends (one a visionary architect and the other an influential sound artist) dream, talk, live, and create.

 

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