Slamdance 2017 Unveils Final Films

Editor, U.S.; Los Angeles, California (@filmbenjamin)
Slamdance 2017 Unveils Final Films

The Slamdance Film Festival is gaining ground for its 23rd edition in Park City, Utah, running from January 20 through 26. Last week, we gave word on the Narrative and Documentary Competition slate. Today, we have news on their final batch of films, which includes the Beyond Program for 2nd and 3rd time directors, a plethora of Short Films and their Special Screenings.

Titles of note in the Special Screenings section include the opening night film the investigative doc What Lies Upstream, from Slamdance alum Cullen Hoback (Terms and Conditions May Apply), and a new doc on poet Charles Bukowski, You Never Had it: An Evening with Bukowski.

The Beyond Program is a selection of low-budget features from second or third time filmmakers. A few titles I myself have already seen include Matthew Lessner's Automatic At Sea, a wonderfully weird and sensual melding of Dušan Makavejev antics and Ingmar Bergman anxieties, while Kuba Czekaj's The Erlprince (pictured above) is a boldly imaginative universe unraveling/exploding/expanding take on the life of a teenager. And Jerzy Rose's Neighborhood Food Drive is about as dry and oddball as they come.

On the short film front, Slamdance isn't lacking in variety with Narrative, Documentary, Animated, Experimental and Anarchy programs. I've caught a handful of these shorts already and can say it's worth you keeping an eye on François Jaros's Lynchian Oh, What A Wonderful Feeling and Kati Skelton's bizarre, bizarre, bizarre (and super funny) Business.

For a full rundown of the films announced today, keep reading...


After Adderall
Director and Screenwriter: Stephen Elliott

In 2010 James Franco optioned the rights to my memoir, The Adderall Diaries. In 2015 The Adderall Diaries starring James Franco and Ed Harris premiered at the TriBeca Film Festival. This is a movie about James Franco making a movie about me.
Cast: Stephen Elliott, Mickaela Tombrock, Bill Heck, Michael C. Hall, Ned Van Zandt, James Urbaniak, Lili Taylor, Jerry Stahl

A Narrative Film*
Director: Michael Edwards

The most narrative narrative never narrated. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end…. It is at once both a three-act assault on the conceit of the traditional narrative, and also perhaps, a futile attempt to escape the narrative impulse of cinema.

What Lies Upstream
(USA) World Premiere
Director: Cullen Hoback

In this detective story, filmmaker Cullen Hoback investigates the largest chemical drinking water contamination in a generation. But something is rotten in state and federal regulatory agencies, and through years of persistent journalism, we learn the shocking truth about what’s really happening with drinking water in America.
Cast: Dr. Marc Edwards, Dr. Rahul Gupta, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Cullen Hoback, Randy Huffman, Dr. David Lewis,  Maya Nye, Dr. Andrew Whelton

You Never Had It: An Evening with Bukowski
(Italy/Mexico/USA) US Premiere
Director and Screenwriter: Matteo Borgardt

A night of drinking and talking about sex, literature, childhood and humanity with the irreverent writer poet Charles Bukowski in his California house in 1981. A story of tapes lost, found and brought back to life.
Cast: Charles Bukowski, Linda Lee Beighle, Silvia Bizio

*Animated Short Preceding You Never Had It: An Evening with Bukowski


Automatic at Sea
(USA/ Denmark) North American Premiere
Director and Screenwriter: Matthew Lessner

Eve, a young Swedish traveler, finds herself stranded on a private island with Peter, a wealthy heir whom she hardly knows. While waiting for other guests to arrive, Eve becomes trapped in an unstable reality punctuated by feverish visions, dimensional shifting and secret ​soft drinks. How can she escape if she's not even sure she's there?
Cast: David Henry Gerson, Livia Hiselius, Breeda Wool

The Erlprince
(Poland) North American Premiere
Director and Screenwriter: Kuba Czekaj

It's the end of the world for a teenage genius, the feverish approach of the apocalypse - adulthood.
Cast: Staszek Cywka, Agnieszka Podsiadlik, Sebastian Łach,

Future ‘38
(USA) World Premiere
Director and Screenwriter: Jamie Greenberg

1938 screwball comedy set in the far-off future year of 2018
Cast: Betty Gilpin, Nick Westrate, Robert John Burke, Ethan Phillips, Sean Young, Tom Riis Farrell, Sophie von Haselberg, Tabitha Holbert

Neighborhood Food Drive
(USA) World Premiere
Director: Jerzy Rose; Screenwriter(s): Halle Butler, Mike Lopez, Jerzy Rose

A group of awful idiots fail at throwing a party over and over.
Cast: Lyra Hill, Bruce Bundy, Ruby McCollister, Ted Tremper, Marcos Barnes, Jared Larson

Suck It Up
(Canada) World Premiere
Director: Jordan Canning; Screenwriter: Julia Hoff

Faye lost the love of her life, Ronnie lost her brother. These two best friends take off on a debaucherous journey into the mountains to cope with the loss of the man they both loved. 
Cast: Erin Carter, Grace Glowicki, Daniel Beirne, Toby Marks, Nancy Kerr, Michael Rowe



(USA) World Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Caitlyn Greene

Deep in Louisiana’s swampland, a woman wakes from a fever dream where it has been August for 16 years.

Cast: Kaelyn Charbonnet, Reginald Robinson, Sanita C. Irvin (Voice)

Birds with Human Heads

(USA) World Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Max Wilde

Basking in the wildlife of a handmade universe, a girl receives her first stick and poke tattoo from her best friend.

Cast: Emma Factor, Emma Kikue Munson

Brad Cuts Loose

(USA) World Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Christopher Good

An uptight office drone seemingly discovers the perfect vehicle for letting off steam when an advertisement for a business catering to his innermost desires pops up one morning on his computer.

Cast: Kentucker Audley, Tipper Newton, John Ennis, Wilson Vance


(USA) World Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Kati Skelton

A terrified young man gets tangled up in a surreal and demoralizing "business opportunity."

Cast: Branson Reese, Peter Reznikoff, Dagmar Stansova, Matt Dennie

The Cure

(USA) World Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Mike Olenick

A mom cries, photos fly, cats spy, and bodies collide in this sci-fi soap opera that unravels the secret dreams of people who are desperately searching for ways to cure their fears of loneliness.

Cast: David Rysdahl, Jennifer Estlin, Justin Rose, Kait Staley, Mrva Russell

A Doll’s Hug

(Taiwan/USA) World Premiere

Director: Rob Chihwen Lo; Screenwriter(s): Rob Chihwen LO (Story),  Cheng-Han WU (Screenplay)

A Taiwanese boy learns to fight back from the threatening violence in his Barbie doll world.

Cast: Pin-Chieh Su, Jackson Lou, Mengxi Hus, Fabio Grangeon, Ivon Huang

Dr. Meertz

(USA) World Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Steve Collins

A renegade psychotherapist has a brief window of time to cure a patient with ungodly dreams.

Cast: John Merriman, Byron Brown, Paul Gordon


(Canada) US Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Raphaël Ouellet

5 women : 5 tales of ordinary oppression.

Cast: Victoria Barkoff, Sandrine Bisson, Debbie Lynch-White, Sarah Pellerin, Alexa-Jeanne Dubé

Ford Clitaurus

(USA) World Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: MP Cunningham

An aspiring artist struggles to find his voice, his sexual identity, and the meaning of creativity.

Cast: Bryce Van Leuven, Taylor Young, MP Cunningham

Get Out Fast

(USA) World Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Haley Elizabeth Anderson

Alex's best friend, Coyote Boy, is missing and he doesn't know why.

Cast: Hale Lytle, Tre Marquis Frazier, Warren Dedrick, Tori Wolsefer

I’m in Here

(USA) World Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Willy Berliner

When a man finds a family of strangers in his house who claim to have bought the place, he agrees to let them stay until they can get to the bottom of the mix-up. They never leave. 
Cast: Dave Hanson, Jim Santangeli, Jillian Lebling, Kathy Searle

The Investment

(USA) World Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Steve Collins

A mysterious salesman offers an inadvisable investment opportunity to a lonely woman in need of a friend.

Cast: Courtney Davis, Paul Gordon

Last Night


Director and Screenwriter:  Kent Juliff

On the final night of their DIY stand up tour around Texas, five comics grow closer as friends.

Cast: Kent Juliff, Elizabeth Spears, Joe Tullar, Martin Urbano

Losing It
(USA) World Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Henry Jinings

High schooler Marshall hopes to seal the deal on prom night, but his date, Sarah, might not be as into it as he had hoped.  

Cast: Bryce Earhart, Rachelle Henry, Eric Newsome, Anne Ruttencutter, Nic Chase, Mason Knight, Alice Tokaryev

Neon Lights

(USA) World Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Bradley Bixler

After a seemingly ordinary transaction goes wrong, a young stripper encounters a violent customer on her way home to her father’s birthday.

Cast: Adriana Llabrés, Parker Torres, Michael Barbour, Giovanny Cruz-Marín

No Other Way To Say It


Director and Screenwriter: Tim Mason

A voice over actor tries to deliver the right performance while receiving confusing text messages and confusing direction.

Cast: Beth Melewski, Sue Salvi, Megan Kellie


(Canada) US Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Pascal Plante

Just another visit at granny's…

Cast: Micheline Chamberland, Catherine Beauchemin

Oh What a Wonderful Feeling


Director and Screenwriter: François Jaros

Stars, hide your fires, let not light see my black and deep desires. Nor any truck.

Cast: Karelle Tremblay, Frédérike Bédard, Catherine Hughes, Patrice Beauchesne


(France/USA/South Korea)  

Director(s) and Screenwriter(s): Forest Ian Etsler, Sébastien Simon

"One-minded" tells the story of one fan's transformation from dog to God.

Cast: Moon Choi, Yaerin Erin Joo, Ryu Jun-yeol, Kwak Jin-moo

The Package

(USA) World Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Benjamin Whatley

An experimental narrative which follows the journey of a product from the factory line to a consumer and beyond.

Cast: Michael Rudolf



Director and Screenwriter: Catalina Jordan Alvarez

He wants you to bounce on his lap.

Cast: Brian Jordan Alvarez, Rosalyn Williams, Daniel Fishkin, Parker Dilworth



Director and Screenwriter: Alejandro Peña

After a garish and violent ceremony, two lovers are thrown into a mysterious cave inhabited by flying creatures.

Cast: Henry MacLean, Will Stryker

Redmond Hand, Private Dick

(USA) World Premiere

Director: Todd Selby; Screenwriter: Jason Kreher

On her quest to find a beautiful woman's missing cactus, LA’s most notorious detective gets caught up in some crazy shit and then dies.

Cast: Felicia Pearson, Miranda Parham, Katya Zamolodchikova, Jay London

Sadhu in Bombay

(India) North American Premiere

Director: Kabir Mehra

Sadhu In Bombay is a documentary portrait of a man, with ascetic origins, who has been radically transformed by city life . The film explores the grey zones between truth, fiction and the construction of reality; while vividly addressing contemporary life in India.

Student Union

(Hungary) North American Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: György Mór Kárpáti

The return journey on a train from a freshman summer camp, where 18-year-old Dóra has just been sexually abused.

Cast: Katica Nagy, Krisztián Rózsa

Voyage of Galactic Space Dangler


Director and Screenwriter: Evan Mann

A space man meets a cave man.

Cast: Andrew Finzel, Nolan Brown, Rick Romero, Valerie Simon

We Together


Director and Screenwriter: Henry Kaplan

A zombie is awakened.

Cast: Martel Rudd, Kristopher McAfee


Clean Hands

(USA) World Premiere

Director: Lauren DeFilippo

On a Sunday morning the congregation of the Daytona Beach Drive-In Christian Church tunes in.

Cast: Robert Kemp-Baird


(USA) World Premiere

Director: Sasha Gransjean

Animals are used to express the dislocation, helplessness, and anger, while nature illustrates the lack of control that we have on events that come to pass.

Cast: Sasha Gransjean

Commodity City

(USA) World Premiere

Director: Jessica Kingdon

An observation of the daily lives of  vendors who work in China’s Yiwu Markets, the largest consumer market in the world. The film explores moments of tension between the fake and the real, between what is for sale and the humans who sell them.

The Dundee Project

(USA) World Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Mark Borchardt

In his long-awaited follow-up to 1997's 'Coven,' filmmaker Mark Borchardt steps behind the camera again with 'The Dundee Project,' a documentary chronicling a small town UFO festival in Wisconsin.

Cast: Mark Borchardt, UFO Bob, Mike, Sheldon

Dust & Dirt

(USA) World Premiere

Director: Chris Stanford

Mason Massey dreams of one day making it to the top level of racing but with a lack of big money sponsorship he knows that it is going to be a long, hard road.

Cast: Mason Massey


(Uganda/USA) World Premiere

Director: Paul Szynol

Uganda's most surprising boxer steps into the ring one more time.



Director: Fabio Palmieri

Against a tellingly hypnotic factory backdrop, a refugee encapsulates the global immigration crisis in his own wrenching words.

Cast: Cyrille Kabore

It Is What It Is

(USA) US Premiere

Director: Cyrus Yoshi Tabar

As filmmaker Cyrus Yoshi Tabar digs deep into his family history for answers to questions that have shaped his life, he finds that there are some things that might be better off left in the past.

Cast: Cyrus Yoshi Tabar, Afsaneh Sade, Roxane Maiko Pate



Director(s): Francesca Scalisi, Mark Olexa

Moriom, a beautiful but strange young woman, says her parents must be punished for holding her prisoner and torturing her. They have a different story.

The Real Wi-Fi of Baltimore

(USA) World Premiere

Director: Julia Kim Smith

Featuring the genre-busting talent of James Nasty and TT the Artist, The Real Wi-Fi Of Baltimore offers a punny and nuanced view of Baltimore neighborhoods in a short film edited from iPhone screenshots of Wi-Fi network names.

Cast: James Nasty, TT the Artist

Richard Twice

(USA) World Premiere

Director: Matthew Salton

Richard Atkins, the singer and songwriter of the early 70’s California psychedelic folk duo ‘Richard Twice’, was on his way to stardom and a huge success with his first debut album when he mysteriously walked away from it all.

Cast: Richard Atkins

Searching for Wives

(Singapore) North American Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Zuki Juno Tobgye

A foreign worker from South India, whose customs says he is not allowed to marry at an even age, comes to Singapore in search of a job and a chance to find a wife before he turns 32.

Cast: Shanmugavel Pathakarnan, Sheeja Sajeev Lal, K. Sajeev Lal, Ramalingam Muthu

Sweet Pie

(USA) World Premiere

Director: Pierce Cravens

Sweet Pie, also known as Paul Winer, revives his career as the baron of bare-assed boogie-woogie and blues at the Public Theater in NYC.

Cast: Sweet Pie aka Paul Winer, Joanne Winer, Will Perone

This is Yates


Director: Josh Yates

A reflexive analog-elegy that hates itself.

Troll: A Southern Tale


Director: Marinah Janello

An eccentric artist navigates self-expression through his experiences living and growing up in the South.

Cast: Tony Arnold



(USA) US Premiere

Director: Conner Griffith

Cars dance on highways, crowds of people wash across sidewalk shores.

Batfish Soup


Director: Amanda Bonaiuto

Wacky relatives give way to mounting tensions with broken dolls, boiling stew and a bang.

Chella Drive

(USA) Us Premiere

Director: Adele Han Li

A disembodied memory of adolescence in a Southern Californian suburb. The stuck-stillness of endless summer is disrupted only by a passing El Niño.

Hold Me (Ca Caw Ca Caw)


Renee Zhan

Flap flapflapflapflap flap. A large bird and a small boy cohabit in an unhappy relationship, trapped by four walls and a mutual codependency. The fragile balance of their existence is cracked by an un-eggs-pected arrival.

Insect Bite


Director: Grace Nayoon Rhee

A tiny bug tries to figure out what it wants to become.

It Is My Fault

(China) North American Premiere

Director: Liu Sha

This work utilizes the own approach of the digital medium itself to deconstruct, to form the subliminal synesthesia visually and to create a fictional experience for the mind.


(China) US Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Shen Jie

One of the three monkeys died.

My Father’s Room

(South Korea) North American Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Nari Jang

Sometimes, family members can be worse than strangers.

The Noise of Licking


Director and Screenwriter: Nadja Andrasev; Short story by: Ádám Bodor

A woman is being watched every day by the neighbor's cat, as she takes care of her exotic plants. Their perverted ritual comes to an end when the cat disappears. Next spring a peculiar man pays her a visit.

Plena Stellarum


Director and Screenwriter: Matthew Wade

Neon ghosts dreaming in dead landscapes.


(USA) US Premiere

Director: James Bascara

A bashful encounter.



Director and Screenwriter: Shunsaku Hayashi

“Leaving home, ‘I’ got a phone call. As ‘I’ answered it, the house exploded. ‘I’ went to work and continued as normal”…


(USA) North American Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Bronwyn Maloney

A young woman's reflective fantasy arouses a surreal exploration of sensuality, self-esteem, and deeply rooted fears.



(Colombia) World Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Carolina Charry Quintero

What do we see when we really look at an animal? Certainly, not just what meets the eye.
Cast: Margarita Quintero, Chuja Seo, Rafa Rojas, José Adam Arriola

Experiments in Non-Cinema

(USA) World Premiere

Director(s) and Screenwriter(s): Spencer Holden, Noah Engel

Making cinematic experiences without a camera apparatus. Non-Cinema

Cast: Spencer Holden, Noah Engel

Girl Becomes Snow

(USA) World Premiere

Director(s) and Screenwriter(s): Ryan Betschart, Tyler Betschart

An investigation into death induced dream ephemera or; a body (mind) dissolves into video signal memories.

Cast: Karissa Hahn

Press Play

(USA) World Premiere

Director: Kym McDaniel

Discernment becomes crucial as a little girl negotiates an adult world where different forms of entrapment threaten reality.

The Trembling Giant

(United Kingdom)

Director: Patrick Tarrant

The bark of the quaking aspen is thought to provide the cure for any fear who cause can't be named.

Unknown Hours

(USA) North American Premiere

Director: Calum Walter

An observer journeys down a main street in Chicago towards a neighborhood known for its nightlife.



Director: Ariana Gerstein

Cycling from original footage shot on super 8mm, up to 16mm, 35mm, down again to 16, optically printed, hand processed, and then optically printed again using a digital still camera to end on digital video.


Ape Sodom


Director and Screenwriter: Maxwell McCabe-Lokos

Three degenerates navigate the descending hierarchy of post-consumerist enlightenment.

Cast: Maxwell McCabe-Lokos, Mihaly Szabados, Perrie Olthuis, David Cronenberg

Hell Follows

(USA/Japan) World Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Brian Harrison

Betrayed by his clan and murdered for his past evil deeds, a sadistic killer's soul possesses his identical twin's body and sets out onto the road of vengeance for one final crusade of extermination... Everywhere he goes... HELL FOLLOWS.

Cast: Takuya Iba, Shu Sakimoto, Masahiro Takahashi, Sohanny Rose

Horseshoe Theory

(USA) World Premiere

Director: Jonathan Daniel Brown; Screenwriter(s): Jonathan Daniel Brown, Travis Harrington

A weapons deal between a white supremacist and a member of the Islamic State blossoms into more.
Cast: Jackson Rathbone, Amir Malaklou, Lily Harrington, Travis Harrington

In a World of Bad Breath

(USA) World Premiere

Director and Screenwriter: Christopher Graybill

Watch general confusion amongst an ancient presence. 
Cast: Oates Wu, Asher Knowles

Lighter Click

(USA) World Premiere

Director: Robbie Ward

An odyssey through a mysterious psychedelic landscape full of monsters and secrets both beautiful and dark.


(USA) US Premiere

Director and Screenwriter:  Lewis Vaughn

A deranged, 300 lb. masked ax murderer terrorizes the streets of Chicago as a calculated hunter tracks him.

Cast: Christopher Porter; Corbin Manning; Clayvon Reeves; Jason Grey; Jarren Davis; Rodney Andrews; Ashley Pough


(USA) US Premiere

Director(s): Jack Turpin, Davy Walker

An expressionistic journey through the gilt-pop-entrapment in which we find ourselves.

Vitamins for Life


Director: Grier Dill; Screenwriter: T. R. Darling

An educational film about some lesser known vitamins.

Cast: Tessa Greenberg

What a Beautiful World This Will Be


Director and Screenwriter: Tyler Walker

While a mysterious disease called “the Blank” ravages New York City, a young drunk must find his missing friend.

Cast: Jordan Michael Blake, Luke Marinkovich, Kara Dudley, Amanda Evans

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