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November 30, 2004

U.S. auteurs join 'Dance' — 'Happy' beginning at fest

By Todd McCarthy

New films by Thomas Vinterberg, Don Roos, John Maybury, Rebecca Miller, Hal Hartley, Michael Hoffman, Kevin Bacon and Mike Binder are among the 24 titles set to unspool in the Premieres section of the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, which runs Jan. 20-30 in Park City, Utah.

Also set to debut are "Inside Deep Throat," a docu about the adult film phenomenon produced by Brian Grazer for Universal, and theater wizard George C. Wolfe's musical epic "Lackawanna Blues," an HBO production earmarked as the festival's centerpiece premiere.

Opening-night attraction will be Roos' "Happy Ending," a sharply comic look at American families and issues from Lions Gate Films. Ensemble cast includes Tom Arnold, Jesse Bradford, Steve Coogan, Laura Dern, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Lisa Kudrow.

Other stars who will grace Sundance screens are Kevin Costner and Joan Allen in Binder's melodrama "Upside of Anger"; Daniel Day-Lewis in his wife Miller's father-daughter drama "The Ballad of Jack and Rose"; Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr. and Griffin Dunne in Hoffman's theater-and-baseball drama "Game 6"; Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Kris Kristofferson and Jennifer Jason Leigh in Maybury's time-traveling sci-fier "The Jacket"; Kyra Sedgwick, Blair Brown, Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, Marisa Tomei, Campbell Scott and the director himself in Bacon's mother-son piece "Loverboy"; Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear and Hope Davis in Richard Shepard's hit-man drama "The Matador"; and Alan Cumming and Neve Campbell in Andy Fickman's musical takeoff on the anti-marijuana camp classic "Reefer Madness."

Fest has also confirmed 15 films for the American Spectrum, seven titles for Midnight slots and six entries apiece for the docu-oriented Special Screenings section and the edgy Frontier sidebar.


  • "3-Iron," the latest from South Korean maverick Kim Ki-duk, a Sony Classics release about a young man who breaks into empty homes to briefly assume their owners' lifestyles.
  • "The Ballad of Jack and Rose," in which writer-director Rebecca Miller examines the residue of an old idealist's utopian dreams at a Pacific Northwest island commune. Daniel Day-Lewis and young Irish thesp Camilla Belle play father and daughter, with Catherine Keener and Beau Bridges also starring in the IFC release.
  • "The Chumscrubber," director Arie Posin's deeply satiric tale of deteriorating lives in suburbia written by Posin and Zach Stanford, and featuring a large ensemble including Jamie Bell, Camilla Belle, Glenn Close, Rory Culkin, Ralph Fiennes and Caroline Goodall. Produced by Lawrence Bender for DreamWorks, with Newmarket set to distribute.
  • "Dear Wendy," Danish helmer Thomas Vinterberg's take on a Lars von Trier script about the American gun culture as seen through a youth gang in a nameless town. Zentropa production features Jamie Bell and Bill Pullman.
  • "Drum," director Zola Maseko and scripter Jason Filardi's tale of a hotshot journalist (Taye Diggs) who begins challenging apartheid in 1950s South Africa.
  • "Game 6," directed by Michael Hoffman from Don DeLillo's script about a playwright (Griffin Dunne) who skips an opening night to watch the momentous game six of the 1986 World Series. Michael Keaton plays a powerful stage director and Robert Downey Jr. portrays a much-hated critic. Ari Graynor, Catherine O'Hara, Bebe Neuwirth and Shalom Harlow also star in the pic produced by Amy Robinson.
  • "The Girl From Monday," Hal Hartley's comic sci-fier about a time when citizens are willingly traded on the stock exchange. With Bill Sage and Sabrina Lloyd.
  • "Happy Endings," fest's opening nighter from Don Roos.
  • "Heights," directed by Chris Terrio and written by Amy Fox and Terrio, an ensembler following 24 hours in the lives of aspiring actors and writers in the New York theater world. Sony Classics release features Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Glenn Close, Jesse Bradford and Isabella Rossellini.
  • "Inside Deep Throat," Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato's examination of the legacy of changed values and mores left by the breakthrough hardcore feature. Among those interviewed are director Gerard Damiano, star Harry Reems, John Waters, Erica Jong, Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal.
  • "The Jacket," director John Maybury and writer Massy Tadjedin's psychological thriller about a military veteran's trip into the future, which enables him to foresee his own death and possibly save himself and those around him. Warner Independent Pictures film stars Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Kris Kristofferson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kelly Lynch, Daniel Craig and Brad Renfro.
  • "Kung Fu Hustle," the latest from Hong Kong director-actor Stephen Chow. Crime actioner set in 1940s Canton will be released Stateside by Sony Classics.
  • "Lackawanna Blues," director George C. Wolfe's centerpiece extravaganza centered on a young boy's life in a boarding house and shot through with rhythm and blues numbers. Enormous cast includes S. Epatha Merkerson, Mos Def, Terrence Howard, Macy Gray, Jimmy Smits, Louis Gossett Jr., Jeffrey Wright, Delroy Lindo, Liev Schrieber, Rosie Perez and Ernie Hudson.
  • "Layer Cake," directed by Matthew Vaughn, producer of Guy Ritchie's "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels," and written by J.J. Connolly, a crimer about a cocaine dealer (Daniel Craig) whose plans to retire are disrupted. A Sony Classics release in the U.S.
  • "Loverboy," directed by Kevin Bacon and adapted from Victoria Redel's novel by Hannah Shakespeare, about a neglected daughter who becomes an overly possessive mother. With Kyra Sedgwick, Bacon, Blair Brown, Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, Oliver Platt, Campbell Scott, Marisa Tomei and Dominic Scott Kay.
  • "Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing & Charm School," written by Randall Miller and Jody Savin and directed by Miller, who 15 years ago made an American Film Institute short that has been incorporated into this feature, a melodrama about a man coming to grips with the loss of his wife. Robert Carlyle, Marisa Tomei, John Goodman, Mary Steenburgen, Sean Astin, Danny DeVito, Donnie Wahlberg, David Paymer, Camryn Manheim, Adam Arkin, Sonia Braga, Elden Henson and Ernie Hudson star.
  • "The Matador," written and directed by Richard Shepard, a satire on the loneliness of an international hit man (Pierce Brosnan) who befriends a businessman (Greg Kinnear) in a Mexico City hotel bar. Hope Davis, Philip Baker Hall, Adam Scott and Dylan Baker also star.
  • "Mirrormask," directed by Dave McKean and written by McKean and comics creator Neil Gaiman, a Henson Co. fantasy in which a 15-year-old girl can save a kingdom and return home by finding the fabled Mirrormask. Columbia/Screen Gems release stars Stephanie Leonidas, Jason Barry, Rob Brydon, Gina McKee and Stephen Fry.
  • "Mysterious Skin," writer-director Gregg Araki's dark drama about the bond between a teenage hustler and a young man obsessed with alien abductions. Tartan USA release played the Venice and Toronto fests and features Brady Corbet, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michelle Trachtenberg.
  • "Nine Lives," written and directed by Rodrigo Garcia ("Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her"), a nine-segment pic about women's relationships and lives, starring Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman, Elpidia Carrillo, Glenn Close, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Holly Hunter, Amanda Seyfried, Sissy Spacek and Robin Wright Penn.
  • "Reefer Madness," a musical-comedy take on the 1936 cautionary tale about the wages of weed from director Andy Fickman and writers Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney. Showtime feature toplines Alan Cumming, Steven Weber and Neve Campbell.
  • "Rory O'Shea Was Here," a British prize winner at the Edinburgh Film Festival directed by Damien O'Donnell and written by Jeffrey Caine, about one man's invigorating effect on a young man with cerebral palsy at a home for the disabled. Focus will distribute domestically.
  • "Snowland," vet German director Hans W. Geissendorfer's first film in 12 years, an intense drama about a newly widowed writer residing in Lapland who recaptures her own life by discovering traces of a past local love story. With Thomas Kretzschmann and Maria Schrader.
  • "Upside of Anger," a modern melodrama written and directed by Mike Binder, with Joan Allen as an alcoholic upper-class Michigan woman whose daughters help her cope with a new suitor and other dilemmas after her husband disappears. New Line release also stars Kevin Costner, Erika Christensen, Evan Rachel Wood, Keri Russell and Alicia Witt.


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