Sundance 2013: 10 Films to Watch Before The Fest - Dramatic Competition Edition

Festivals Editor; Los Angeles, California (@RylandAldrich)
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Sundance 2013: 10 Films to Watch Before The Fest - Dramatic Competition Edition

With the announcements this week of the Dramatic Premieres and Documentary Premiere to go with last week's Competition and Next films and the Midnight, Spotlight, and New Frontiers lineups, Sundance's January 17 start date is feeling closer and closer. To help you prepare for the indie extravaganza, we're launching a new "10 to Watch" series that will cover some of the prior films from this year's crop of Sundance filmmakers. We'll kick things off today with a look at 10 films by directors who have films in competition in the U.S. Dramatic and World Cinema Dramatic programs.

We've included links to each of the films CanIStream.It profiles. While we've never used this service, it seems to be a good way to quickly find out exactly how you can watch a film. This shouldn't be taken as an endorsement for any of these services. Let us know what you think of the inclusion.

Kyle Patrick Alvarez is in competition at Sundance with his David Sedaris adaptation C.O.G., but his feature debut earned him plenty of praise when it premiered at CineVegas in June 2009. The movie, about an author on a phone sex road trip, stars Brian Geraghty and Kel O'Neill, and also an early performance from Mark Duplass's better half, Katie Aselton. The film won the Grand Jury Award at CineVegas before going on to nab the Best New International Feature award at Edinburgh, and winning Alvarez the Someone to Watch Award at the 2010 Independent Spirits.

One of the most loved Sundance movies of the last decade is Shane Carruth's 2004 Grand Jury Prize winning tale of realistic time travel that cost Carruth a reported $7000 to shoot. The film went on to gross almost a half a million dollars but Carruth hasn't been able to get anything off the ground until this year's long-awaited Upstream Color. The new one sounds just as enigmatic as his first film.

Before Francesca Gregorini worked with Jessica Biel on this year's US Comp title Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes, she worked with a pre-The Social Network Rooney Mara in this New England boarding school drama that premiered at TIFF in 2009 and made a limited theatrical run via Anchor Bay in 2011. Brie Larson, Georgia King, Amy Seadris, and Chris Kattan co-star.

Sebastian Silva is heading to Sundance for the third time with his Michael Cera psychedelic tripper Crystal Fairy. His first time was in 2009 with this film which won the Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema and took a Special Jury Prize for the film's star Catalina Saavedra. The film went on to win a slew of fest prizes, a Gotham Award for Saavedra, and was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Golden Globe.

Cherien Dabis made a splash at Sundance 2009 with this feature debut that went on to win the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes and nab three Indie Spirit nominations. Premiering in the U.S. competition, May in the Summer is Dabis's second directorial feature and her first time starring in front of the camera as well.

With at least 5 features under her belt and handful of TV as well, Lynn Shelton is the most veteran director in this year's U.S. Competition. It was this 2009 Sundance Special Jury Prize winning film starring Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard that really put her on the map. Her latest, Touchy Feely reunites Shelton with Your Sister's Sister co-star Rosemarie DeWitt. The cast is rounded our quite impressively by Allison Janney, Ron Livingston, Scoot McNairy, Ellen Page, and Josh Pais.

Based on his Oscar nominated short of the same name, Sean Ellis's feature directorial debut premiered at Toronto in 2006 and nabbed a release from Magnolia that didn't do much. He went on to make the Lena Headey starring The Broken in 2008 before bringing his next film, Metro Manila to Sundance for the World Dramatic Competition.

While many might have seen James Ponsoldt's 2012 Mary Elizabeth Winstead starring Smashed, fewer likely caught his 2006 debut that stars Nick Nolte, Trevor Morgan, and Rosemarie DeWit. THINKFilm gave the film a small theatrical run after its premiere at the Orland Film Festival but it only made a reported $24k (Smashed beat that its first weekend). He'll hope for more success from his new film The Spectacular Now, an existential story of high school love that reunites Ponsoldt with Winstead and adds Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Kyle Chandler.

Premiering at Sundance in 2011, Andrew Dosunmu's dramatic debut is an immigrant story of an African musician in NYC. Many of the stars of that film return in his latest Sundance entry, Mother of George.

Making its US debut at Sundance in 2010, Jacek Borcuch's story of a Polish punk band went on to earn nine nominations and three wins at the 2011 Polish Film Awards. His latest, Lasting, follows two Polish lovers who face tragedy in Spain.

What else are you excited to see?

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