Sundance looks to Europe
by Miriam Tola
Several weeks ago, Sundance director Geoff Gilmore said: “The globalisation of independent cinema that people have been speaking about for years has begun influencing our competition as well”.
Leafing through the catalogue of the festival, which will kick off in Park City, in the mountains of Utah, on January 17, one gets the sensation that in 2008 the event looks beyond domestic borders, towards Europe above all, and towards personal stories less directly political with respect to previous editions.
Among the 121 selected titles, almost a third are European, with Germany and Great Britain making up the lion’s share. UK productions include In Bruges [+see also:
film profile], the opening film by Irish director Martin McDonagh, winner of the Best Short Oscar for Six Shooter, here making his feature debut. Gilmore describes the films as a dark comedy that is “brutal, philosophical, entertaining and absolutely original”.
In the film, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson play two killers forced into a vacation in Bruges, Belgium, after a failed hit. As they await their boss (Ralph Fiennes), they meet a series of bizarre characters, including an American dwarf and a Dutch prostitute. The film was co-produced and distributed by Focus Features, a special division of Universal, and will be released in the US on February 8.
Other European/US titles at Sundance include Morgan Spurlock’s highly anticipated world premiere of Where in the World is Osama bin Laden? [+see also:
film profile], screening in the Spectrum section. In the film, the director of Super Size Me travels to the Middle East in search of America’s public enemy number one.
The docu-comedy, about which very little is known, was made with French financing. The Weinstein Company acquired US rights from Wild Bunch at the European Film Market, after a 15-minute sneak preview reserved for a few dozen international distributors who had to sign a strict confidentiality agreement.
The same formula of an American director and European capital is behind Transsiberian [+see also:
film profile] by Brad Anderson, who once again worked with Spanish production house Filmax after The Machinist [+see also:
film profile]. The story of two couples (Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer, Eduardo Noriega and Kate Mara) that meet aboard the Trans-Siberian train has been sold to Germany, Russia and Norway.
Another tendency to emerge from Sundance this year is the prevalence of debut directors. Of the overall 121 titles, 51 are first films and 29 first-time filmmakers are in competition.
Lastly, Quentin Tarantino, Diego Luna and Lucrecia Martel will be flanked in their jury duties at Park City by German filmmaker Jan Schuette and Leena Pasanen, director of the European Documentary Network.
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