The Slamdance Film Festival has unveiled its 25th anniversary narrative and documentary feature film competition programs, as well as the lineup for its new breakouts section.
The narrative lineup includes the coming-of-age drama “Spiral Farm,” starring Piper De Palma, daughter of director Brian De Palma, who is making her feature debut as a teenage girl growing up on a commune where life is disrupted by the arrival of two outsiders, a father and son. Amanda Plummer (“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”), Teo Halm (“Earth to Echo”), and Jade Fusco (“Youth in Revolt”) co-star.
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. 25 to Jan. 31, will screen 18 movies including 10 world premieres, four North American premieres, and four U.S. premieres.
Slamdance alumni include Joe and Anthony Russo, Christopher Nolan, Marc Forster, Jared Hess, Lena Dunham, Benh Zeitlin, Seth Gordon, and Lynn Shelton. Significant titles have debuted at Slamdance such as “Mad Hot Ballroom,” and Gordon’s “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.” This year’s winners were Trevor Stevens’ “Rock Steady Row” in the narrative category and Pablo Bryant’s “Mr. Fish: Cartooning From the Deep End” for documentary.
The Slamdance feature competition is limited to films made by first-time directors with budgets under $1 million and without U.S. distribution.
“When it comes to discovering talent, Slamdance has consistently shown that its artist led community can do it themselves,” said Peter Baxter, Slamdance co-founder and president. “In a milestone year, our competition lineup symbolizes this ongoing endeavor. It’s full of incredible talent representing a global diversity that we believe will play a significant role in our cultural future.”
The 2019 festival will see the return of the Russo Fellowship — a $25,000 prize launched in 2018 by celebrated festival alumni Anthony and Joe Russo (“Captain America: Civil War,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Avengers: Infinity War”) to enable a filmmaker the opportunity to continue their journey with mentorship from the filmmaking duo.
The new breakouts section is for films by non-first-time-feature directors who demonstrate a determined vision of filmmaking with work of several Slamdance alumni, including Steven Soderbergh, who executive produced “Beats,” and Canadian filmmaker Alexandre Franchi who received the Audience Award for best narrative feature at the 2010 festival for “The Wild Hunt.”
The 2019 competition features include:
A Great Lamp (USA) – World Premiere
Director: Saad Qureshi
Screenwriters: Saad Qureshi, Donald R. Monroe, Max Wilde
On the river towns of North Carolina, two sad vandals and an unemployed loner wait for a fabled rocket launch.
Cast: Max Wilde, Spencer Bang, Steven Maier, Julian Semilian, Laura Ingram Semilian, Netta Green, Connie Stewart, Smokey, Spaz
Boni Bonita (Brazil, Argentina) – North American Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Daniel Barosa
Reeling from the death of her mother, Beatriz moves to Brazil where she begins an intense and toxic relationship with Rogério, an older musician struggling with his family’s artistic legacy.
Cast: Ailín Salas, Caco Ciocler
Cat Sticks (India) – World Premiere
Director: Ronny Sen
Screenwriters: Ronny Sen, Soumyak Kanti DeBiswas
A pack of Calcutta youth seek greater lust and life in their relentless pursuit of Brown Sugar (dirty heroin)… and it’s unsustainable high.
Cast: Tanmay Dhanania, Sumeet Thakur, Joyraj Bhattacharjee, Rahul Dutta, Saurabh Saraswat, Sreejita Mitra, Raja Chakravorty, Kalpan Mitra
Crystal Swan (Belarus, USA, Germany, Russia) – North American Premiere
Director: Darya Zhuk
Screenwriter: Helga Landauer
In mid-90s Belarus, a young DJ’s big overseas plans get derailed when a typo on her Visa application sends her to a backwater factory town where she is determined to fake her way to the American dream.
Cast: Alina Nassibulina, Ivan Mulin, Yury Borisov
Dollhouse: The Eradication of Female Subjectivity from American Popular Culture (USA, Canada) – North American Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Nicole Brending
A puppet-animation charting the rise and fall of fictional child pop star, Junie Spoons.
Cast: Aneikit Bonnel, Sydney Bonar, Nicole Brending, Erik Hoover, Maggie Morrisson, Peter Ooley, Adam Sly
Hurry Slowly (Norway)
Director/Screenwriter: Anders Emblem
Hurry Slowly follows Fiona over a few life-changing summer months on the north-western coast of Norway, where she juggle the care of her brother, her job at the local ferry and her interest in music.
Cast: Amalie Ibsen Jensen, David Jakobsen, Lars Halvor Andreassen
Impetus (Canada) – US Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Jennifer Alleyn
In the process of her ongoing film shoot in New York City, a filmmaker finds herself questioning the origin of impulsion. As she tries to overcome loss through creation, an unexpected event enlightens her journey.
Cast: Pascale Bussières, Emmanuel Schwartz, Jorn Reissner, Esfyr Dyachkov
Lost Holiday (USA) – World Premiere
Directors/Screenwriters: Michael Matthews, Thomas Matthews
Two old highschool friends solve a Christmas mystery in D.C.
Cast: Kate Lyn Sheil, Thomas Matthews, Keith Poulson, William Jackson Harper, Ismenia Mendes, Tone Tank, Joshua Leonard and Isiah Whitlock Jr.
Spiral Farm (USA) – World Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Alec Tibaldi
When two outsiders arrive on an isolated intentional community, seventeen-year old Anahita begins to question her role at home, and what a future out in the world-at-large could be.
Cast: Piper de Palma, Amanda Plummer, Jade Fusco, Teo Halm, Cosimo Fusco, Landen Beattie, Akuyoe Graham, Kayleigh Gilbert
The Vast of Night (USA) – World Premiere
Director: Andrew Patterson
Screenwriter: James Montague, Craig W. Sanger
At the dawn of the space-race in America, two radio-obsessed teens discover a strange frequency over the airwaves that could change their lives, their small town, and all of Earth… forever.
Cast: Sierra McCormick, Jake Horowitz, Gail Cronauer, Bruce Davis
We Are Thankful (South Africa) – North American Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Joshua Magor
When Siyabonga, a young South African actor hungry to expand his craft, gets wind of a movie production that is shooting in a neighboring town, the eager thespian decides to set out a journey that will take him away from his quiet home life and out into a bustling world of possibility.
Cast: Siyabonga Majola, Sabelo Khoza, Xolani “X” Malinga, Amanda Ncube, Percy Mncedicy Zulu, Ntokozo Mkhize, Sibusiso “Sbu” Nzama, Luthando “Cminzah” Ngcobo
Behind the Bullet (USA) – World Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Heidi Yewman
An in-depth look at four individuals who have pulled the trigger and the profound impact it’s had on their lives.
The Beksinskis. A Sound and Picture Album (Poland) – US Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Marcin Borchardt
A famous Polish painter known for his dark and twisted imagery chronicles his son’s troubled life from the 1950s through the millennium.
Desolation Center (USA) – US Premiere
Director: Stuart Swezey
Screenwriters: Stuart Swezey, Tyler Hubby
The untold story of a series of Reagan-era anarchic punk rock desert happenings that still reverberate throughout our culture.
Dons of Disco (USA)
Director: Jonathan Sutak
A lip-syncing scandal pits an American singer against an Italian male model over the legacy of 1980s ‘Italo Disco’ star Den Harrow.
Markie in Milwaukee (USA) – World Premiere
Director: Matt Kliegman
A mid-western transgender woman struggles with the prospect of de-transitioning under the pressures of her fundamentalist church, family and community.
Memphis ‘69 (USA) – World Premiere
Director: Joe LaMattina, Screenwriters: Joe LaMattina, Lisa LaMattina
A year after Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated, a group of blues legends came together to celebrate the 150 year anniversary of Memphis, TN. This concert documentary, shot over 3 days in June of 1969, celebrates an American art form that unites us all.
The Professional: A Stevie Blatz Story (USA) – US Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Daniel La Barbera
A behind-the-scenes look at the magic of Stevie Blatz, an entertainment entrepreneur in Bethlehem, PA.
Seadrift (USA) – World Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Tim Tsai
In 1979, the fatal shooting of a white crab fisherman in a Texas fishing village ignites a maelstrom of hostilities against Vietnamese refugees along the Gulf Coast.
Sudan: The Last Male Standing (USA, Kenya) – World Premiere
Director: David Hambridge
Through the conservation efforts of a rhino caretaker unit in Kenya, we peer past the headlines into the emptiness of extinction in real time.
Beats (UK) – North American Premiere
Director: Brian Welsh, Screenwriter: Kieran Hurley, Brian Welsh
A universal story of friendship, rebellion and the irresistible power of gathered youth – set to a soundtrack as eclectic and electrifying as the scene it gave birth to, BEATS is a story for our time.
Cast: Cristian Ortega, Lorn Macdonald, Laura Fraser
Demolition Girl (Japan) – World Premiere
Director: Genta Matsugami, Screenwriters: Yoshitaka Kasui, Genta Matsugami
A high-school girl who lives in a rural town in Japan struggles to define her own way in life. To help her impoverished family she works as a video fetish performer which leads to problems for her and her family with a criminal underworld.
Cast: Aya Kitai,Hiroki Ino,Haruka Imo,Yura Komuro,Yota Kawase,Ko Maehara,Ryohei Abe,Nobu Morimoto
Happy Face (Canada) – US Premiere
Director: Alexandre Franchi, Screenwriter: Alexandre Franchi, Joëlle Bourjolly
Desperate to become less shallow, a handsome teenage boy deforms his face with bandages and attends a support group for disfigured people.
Cast: Robin L’Houmeau, Debbie Lynch-White, David Roche, E.R. Ruiz, Alison Midstokke, Cindy Nicholsen, Noémie Kocher.
History of Love (Slovenia, Italy, Norway) – North American Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Sonja Prosenc
A teenage swimmer/high diver Iva, endures a grieving process, as family secrets and mysteries, especially her mother’s, unveil.
Cast: Doroteja Nadrah, Kristoffer Joner, Matej Zemljic, Zoja Florjanc Lukan, Matija Vastl, Zita Fusco