The Sundance Film Festival, a gathering of hopeful directors, actors and production companies, started off with a bang on Jan. 20th with many promising films vying for attention. Last year brought successes such as “Garden State,” “Napoleon Dynamite,” and the much talked about documentary “Super Size Me.” This year, the ten day affair has already created a buzz about a lot of upcoming movies.Opening night began with a movie from filmmaker Don Roos who produced a film called “Happy Endings,” a trilogy with a touch of comedy that stars Lisa Kudrow, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Tom Hard. There has been much talk of strong acting performances as well as a good story that entwinesthe characters. “Wolf Creek,” a movie that comes out of Australia and has the same tone as “The Blair Witch Project,” is about three travelers who come upon a local person who seems to have ulterior motives. Like “Blair Witch,” it is a fact-based story. Sundance has been known to discover such horror films, which start off as low budget productions and go on to become popular in the theaters.
Kevin Bacon’s directorial debut, “Loverboy,” stars his wife Kyra Sedgwick. It plays on the idea of a woman obsessed with having a child who, after many partners, finally gets pregnant and then smothers the child with love. Their last project together, “The Woodsman,” received much critical acclaim and after such outstanding acting performances in that, “Loverboy” does not disappoint.
Another movie that was shown to the Sundance audience was “The Jacket,” a science fiction thriller about a war veteran who tries an experimental drug that takes him through different periods of time in which he can envision death and has to save the lives of the people he loves, as well as his own. In the starring roles, Oscar winner Adrien Brody (“The Pianist”) and Keira Knightley (“Pirates of the Caribbean”), give incredible performances.
Alex Gibney’s documentary “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” is generating quite a stir with a look at the breakdown of a huge corporation and the scandal that follows. Other documentaries that have possessed such buzz at Sundance have gone on to receive critical acclaim as well as obtain significant awards. The Comedy Central sitcom “Strangers With Candy” comes to the big screen with comedian Amy Sedaris as well as guest stars Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, Allison Janney and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. This movie has been highly anticipated by the cult of fans that were faithful to the show.
Possibly the biggest movie to come out of the Sundance Film Festival, however, is titled “Hustle and Flow.” This is a film that MTV Films and Paramount picked up for a huge deal of $16 million dollars, which includes a three-picture deal with film producer John Singleton. It is the most expensive pick up in the history of Sundance. Other movies included Harvey Weinstein’s “Matador” starring Pierce Brosnan, “Junebug” starring Embeth Davidtz (“13 Ghosts”), “The Squid and the Whale” starring Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels, and a film directed by Steve Buscemi with Casey Affleck and Liv Tyler entitled “Lonesome Jim.”
Sundance has promoted a lot of up and coming movies, initiating the pick-up of low budget films by big name companies. Most of these movies will be hitting theaters near you soon.