Slamdance Film Festival

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Just up the hill from the buzz and hubbub of the Sundance Film Festival, a smaller film festival nestles at the top of Park City, Utah’s charming Main Street – the Slamdance Film Festival, a fest dedicated to the principle that it’s “by filmmakers, for filmmakers.” Over the years, the festival has grown exponentially, and plenty of vey recognizable filmmakers and features have emerged from it (remember a little thing called Paranormal Activity? That one worked out, to the tune of millions). Now in its twentieth season, the Slamdance slate of emerging filmmakers and talents is impressive as ever, and it’s packed with films that might be worth walking up a mountain (read: steep and sweet small town street) to check out. This year’s Slamdance Film Festival received over 5,000 submissions, and they seem appropriately happy to show off a slate that includes 10 narrative and 8 documentary films, including 11 World Premieres, 4 North American, and 1 US Premiere. Slamdance selections come with a couple of notable caveats – the films have to have been made for less than a million bucks and without U.S. distribution – that help ensure that these things are truly independent. Want to mix up your Park City movie-going this year? We’ve got some ideas for that.

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To The Bone

Inspired by true events, Erin Li‘s Slamdance-premiering short, To The Bone, looks to cut precisely there. The film centers on a young family struggling to make it in America, and the unexpected consequences that arise when the family’s headstrong daughter challenges her back-breaking and bloody life as a child laborer. The film’s first trailer, which we’re pleased to debut exclusively here, is a haunting and lyrical minute that captures the ache and simmering fear of the final product. Check out the trailer for To The Bone after the break.

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In its nineteenth year, the Slamdance Film Festival appears to be pulling out all the stops, thanks to their recent announcement of a very impressive slate of Special Screenings and their all-new Slam Collective, launching at January’s fest. The list of Special Screenings includes a film that may very well be one of Slamdance’s most impressive bits of programming ever, the World Premiere of Philippe Caland‘s Vipaka,a mysterious project about karma with a cast that includes Forest Whitaker, Anthony Mackie, Mike Epps, and Sanaa Lathan. Listen up, Slamdancers, this is going to the hot ticket of the festival. We’re anxious for our tickets already! The festival has also announced the films that make up their new Slam Collective, a collaboration “between global filmmakers using innovative methods and shared experience.” This new section is “inspired by the idea that with digital technology, cameras, online distribution, like-minded filmmakers from different cultures across continents can embrace a basic concept and create several films with one unifying theme; the discovery of community.” This year’s inaugural Slam Collective features seven filmmakers from five different continents, all working to create one new documentary, comprised of their own linked documentary shorts. These titles join the festival’s already-announced Features lineup, which also appears to be packed with some gems-in-the-making. Check out the full list of Special Screenings and the Slam Collective films after the break!

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Slamdance Logo

In the spirit of truly independent film, the Slamdance Film Festival has just announced their feature lineup for their upcoming 2013 outing. The festival will screen 22 feature-length competition films (12 narratives and 10 documentaries), and all films come from first-time filmmakers (in their respective programs). Despite the flux of new talent, there are plenty of recognizable names that pop up within the lineup’s ranks, including Brea Grant, Michael Urie, Jesse Eisenberg, Mamie Gummer, Ralph Macchio, Natasha Lyonne, Ben Stiller, Gavin McInnes, Zach Galifianakis, Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt, Sean Conroy, Paul Provenza, and Marc Maron.  The festival will present awards to competition films in the following categories: Jury Award for Feature Doc, Jury Award for Narrative Feature, Audience Award for Feature Doc, Audience Award for Feature Narrative, and Filmmaker Award for Spirit of Slamdance. Kodak will present the Kodak Vision Award for Best Cinematography. Check out the full list of Slamdance features, complete with synopses and cast lists, after the break.

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The Sound of Small Things makes it clear early on that sound is as much a character in this film as the leads themselves opening on the sound of sheets rustling as a couple wakes up in bed together. Sam (Sam Hoolihan) and Cara (Cara Krippner) are newly weds who have just purchased their first home together and are settling in to life as a married couple. Sam and Cara play the role with the excited and cautious emotions you would expect from two people just starting out on their lives together. Cara looks at Sam with loving eyes when he talks to his friends and Sam is always aware of making sure Cara is comfortable and happy. While they are the picture of normal newlyweds in many ways there is one aspect of Sam and Cara’s relationship that is unique – Cara is deaf. She does not use sign language to communicate instead opting to read the lips of the person talking to her. This allows things like Sam (an amateur drummer) to practice at all hours without disturbing Cara since she can only feel the vibrations of his playing making her condition seem like one of the ways their relationship works.

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It’s almost too spot-on that Daniel Martinico‘s Slamdance film, OK, Good, focuses on a struggling actor living in Hollywood. But while a film festival entry about the trials and tribulations of making it in La-la Land might seem like cliche material, OK, Good is far from cliche. Starring co-writer Hug0 Armstrong, the film follows Paul Kaplan, “a typical actor in Los Angeles. He goes to auditions, takes movement class, sends out headshots, and listens to motivational tapes in his car. However, as Paul struggles through a series of demoralizing setbacks, he is pushed ever closer to the edge.” Sound heavy? It’s not, as OK, Good is apparently a hilarious look at one man, his (in)abilities, and how they confine and constrain him from even the most basic tasks his occupation demands. Today brings us the first poster for OK, Good, which was designed by Adrian Kolarczyk, who recently won the SXSW Audience Award for Excellence in Poster Design in 2011 for his poster for Sophia Takal’s lovely Green. You can check out more about Kolarczyk and his work (including a look at the Green poster) over at Filmmaker Magazine. After the break, check out the gaze-laden first poster for OK, Good. As ever, I’ve included screening information for utmost festival-going ease.

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For his narrative feature film, Welcome to Pine Hill, director Keith Miller went for a unique level of veracity, casting in his lead role the same man who actually inspired the film in the first place. The film will have its World Premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival later this month, and the film’s official Slamdance page only hints at how Pine Hill came to be, saying that the film “was born out of a chance encounter between filmmaker Keith Miller and star Shannon Harper, who found themselves arguing over a lost dog one night in Brooklyn.” But is the dog in the film? The film follows Harper playing, well, Shannon Harper, as he attempts to change his life and its circumstances for the better. A former drug dealer, Shannon has gone straight – working two jobs (as a claims adjuster during the day and a bouncer at night). But while Shannon has changed, it doesn’t seem like everything (or everyone) else in his life is interested in the same kind of transformation. You know how it is – just when he thought he was out, they pull him back in. After the break, check out a full look at the film’s first poster by Nathaniel Parker Raymond, along with the film’s trailer and screening information for extra spice.

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Every year, a pack of wily filmmakers descend on sleepy Park City, Utah to show their films, carouse, and hopefully get noticed by the bigwigs. But did you also know about the Sundance Film Festival? That’s a joke, festival-lovers! Of course, everyone knows about the Sundance Film Festival, but while the bright lights and weary film writer eyes of the ‘dance shine all over Park City, just up the hill, on the top of Main St. at the Treasure Mountain Inn, the Slamdance Film Festival rages on and continues to impress. The festival lives by their own self-professed mantra: “By Filmmakers, For Filmmakers.” As they note, no other festival is fully programmed by filmmakers. Slamdance alums include Christopher Nolan, Marc Forster, Jared Hess, and Oren Peli. Today, the festival announced their in-competition titles for the feature category. The 2012 Slamdance Film Festival feature 18 feature-length competition films, including ten narratives and eight documentaries, with no less than thirteen of those films getting their World Premiere at the Slam. Though Sundance is my favorite of the year’s festivals, last year I made time to head up to the Treasure Mountain Inn for an afternoon at Slamdance, and it proved to be a welcome respite from the oversized screening rooms, long lines, and often-heavy fare of Sundance. Also, they have really great snacks. Check out the full list of Slamdance Feature Film Competition offerings after the break, one that has something for everyone (including a documentary about Master Gee and Wonder Mike). […]

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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