The Sundance Film Festival will give the world its first look at Amanda Seyfried as a porn star in the bio-pic Lovelace and Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs in a chronicle of the Apple entrepreneur’s life in jOBS – just two high-profile projects in a packed Premieres section for the indie showcase.
The festival, which runs from Jan. 17-27 in Park City, Utah, already announced its competition lineup and Midnight Movies last week, but this non-competitive group is typically the place where films with celebrity-filled casts and best-known directors debut.
Other titles in today’s announcement include Before Midnight, the third film in the Richard Linklater-directed Ethan Hawke-July Delpy Before Sunrise and Before Sunset series – as well as new films from Steve Carell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Naomi Watts, Brit Marling, Paul Rudd, and Dakota Fanning. Directors Jane Campion, Park Chan-Wook, and Michael Winterbottom are also bringing their latest projects.
Many films in the Premieres group are from actors or filmmakers who had previous success at Sundance, such as Lovelace’s Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, who brought Howl to the festival three years ago, and Gordon-Levitt, who has become a Park City fixture with his crowdsourced filmmaking endeavor hitRECord.org.
Among the other Sundance favorites: Filmmaker Drake Doremus, whose long-distance love story Like Crazy was the breakout film of Sundance two years ago. He returns this time with Breathe In, co-written with longtime collaborate Ben York-Jones, which also stars their Like Crazy actress Felicity Jones as a visitor from abroad. Only this time, she’s an exchange student, upending the homelife of her host family.
“It’s a different style,” says Sundance festival director John Cooper. “There’s more play between all the different characters. That family dynamic is harder to pull off. It has more weight to it, because he’s moving away from youth.”
Watts and Robin Wright co-star in Two Mothers, a drama about two women who fall in love with each other’s sons. It’s directed by French filmmaker Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel) and fits a theme of sex and power that presented itself throughout Sundance’s selections this year. “It’s the kind of performances that you don’t see come around very often. The chemistry between all four of them, it’s scintillating,” says festival programmer Trevor Groth. “It just really swept me away.”
Festivalgoers are forever seeking the next Little Miss Sunshine at Sundance, and this year brings a movie that – on the surface, at least – sounds like it might fit the bill. It might just be because The Way, Way Back also co-stars Steve Carell and Toni Collette, who shared seats on that earlier hit’s yellow, VW bus, but it also comes from the promising writer-directors Jim Rash (Dean Pelton on NBC’s Community) and Nat Faxon, who shared an Oscar with Alexander Payne for the adapted screenplay of The Descendants.
The plot also focuses on a young kid, this time a 14-year-old boy who spends the summer with his mother and her new boyfriend and comes of age while working at a seaside waterpark for the season. But Cooper and Trevor say it has more in common with another Sundance favorite, 2009’s Adventureland. “That’s a fairer comparison than Little Miss Sunshine,” Groth says. “There’s a nostalgic quality to it, like the films we watched in the ’80s. More like a Meatballs.”
And see here for the Premiere Documentary lineup.
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