A slew of fresh and dynamic filmmaking voices await you at the 2018 Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, January 19 - 25. Once the upstart step-sibling of the once Indie minded Sundance, Slamdance (entering its 24th year) is now the anarchist reverend mother of DIY filmmaking Chutzpah. While all the buzzy deals go down on the bunny slopes, Slamdance is nestled in its home at Treasure Mountain Inn ushering in the next gen of bold and idiosyncratic storytellers. To kick off our coverage, here's a preview of flicks that PC bound peeps and cinephiles near and far will want to keep an eye out for at the fest and along into the new year!
Disclaimer: I am the co-captain of Narrative Features at Slamdance. Because of this none of our coverage beyond this preview will be coming from me. All future reviews will be generated by writers without any direct influence from me. Any Narrative Competition titles highlighted in this preview are films I have already seen.
Birds Without Feathers (Narrative Features Competition)
At Slamdance, both Narrative and Doc competitions are solely reserved for directors making their feature debut. A smart move to showcase a bevy of new talents in exactly the right spotlight.
Operating somewhere between the lonely-hearts mysticism of David Lynch and the suburban misanthropy of Todd Solondz, filmmaker Wendy McColm is sure to garner her place in that spotlight with her debut. Presented as a multi-narrative filled with introspection and a dark wit, and starring a social media starlet, Russian cowboy, motivational speaker, plus a slew of other odd and oddly ordinary people, Birds Without Feathers is the exact kind of under-the-radar upstart that Slamdance is all about!
Fish Bones (Narrative Features Competition)
Filmmaker Joanne Mony Park brings a "wise beyond her years" sensibility to the story of Hana (Joony Kim), a young Korean immigrant, caught between tradition and the budding love she has for Nico (Cris Gris), an affectionate Latina music producer. Park's vision of this young love is neither naive or whimsical. What we have in Fish Bones is a careful and immaculate deconstruction on what it means to find yourself amidst a sea of doubt. It is a tender, tragic and true work. With such a considerate and assured directorial debut, Joanne Mony Park is bound to be a name you will be hearing a lot about in the near future.
Man on Fire (Documentary Features Competition)
In 2014, a white minister in the small Texas town of Grand Saline self-immolated in protest of his community's deeply racist roots. Documentarian Joel Fendelman dives head first into the aftermath of the startling act, and in turn unfurls the complexities of racism in America today.
Songs in the Sun (Narrative Features Competition)
For fans of Ingmar Bergman and Peter Weir (Through A Glass Darkly and Picnic at Hanging Rock, respectively) Kristian Sejrbo Lidegaard has got you covered with his bold and beguiling debut feature. With awesome turns from Emma Sehested Høeg, Victoria Carmen Sonne and Charlotte Munck, Songs in the Sun takes you to the edge of sanity and imagination, proving to be a powerful rumination on myth-making and love across the great divide.
My Name is Myeisha (Beyond)
Director Gus Krieger works with a youth theatre group to explore the crosscurrents of race and art, eulogy and story, in this beatbox musical that chronicles the life of black teenager Myeisha Jackson (Rhaechyl Walker) and her all-too-true and tragic encounter with police in the closing days of 1998.
M/M (Narrative Features Competition)
Slamdance shorts alum Drew Lint (2014's Rough Trade) triumphantly returns to the festival with his wholly audacious, astoundingly sensual feature debut. Charting the darkly twisted tale of a lonely Quebecois man seeking companionship in wintry Berlin, Lint's austere storytelling form is sure to make him a breakout voice in Park City.
Charlie and Hannah's Grand Night Out (Narrative Features Competition)
Director Bert Scholiers invites you to experience the cosmopolitan magic of Antwerp, Belgium in his delightful homage to silent comedies, giallo screamers and fantasy quirk that should have fans of Jacques Rivette and Michel Gondry equally tickled pink.
Freedom for the Wolf (Documentary Features Competition)
Rupert Russell's doc takes a hard look at the state of human rights across the globe today by examining the personal journeys of activists that could be the very spark for revolution tomorrow.
Lovers (Narrative Features Competition)
In the streets, parks and cafes of Copenhagen, a triptych of love stories come to vivid life. Filmmaker Niels Holstein Kaa frames his tales through the seasons with a superb naturalism, holding with the utmost gentlest of command the ever rising tide of loneliness and self-doubt that can come in the face of new love.
Mexman (Documentary Features Competition)
Josh Polon charts the madcap odyssey of East Los Angeles filmmaker Germán as he seeks to create a Sci-fi immigrant epic like nothing ever seen. Sure to be an audience favorite!
Human Affairs (Narrative Features Competition)
Charlie Birns' richly earnest drama follows Geneviève (Julie Sokolowski), a surrogate who must reckon with her ambivalence about the pregnancy and her precarious feelings for the parents-to-be. Shot by Sean Price Williams (Good Time) Human Affairs presents a striking and intimate look into how we cope with expression and self-care; from love to the arts, to where we live and who we live with.
The Starry Sky Above Me (Narrative Features Competition)
Bruno (Laurent Poitrenaux), a peculiar author, is happy to live out his days luxuriating in the existential highs and lows only a brilliant mind can appreciate. But when his loved ones seek to intervene with the help of a psychiatrist, Bruno’s bohemian lifestyle, and above all his craft, is threatened. Premiering last year at Cannes ACID, Ilan Klipper's whirlwind comedy of manners proves that in an already mad world the only sane thing to do is to go crazy. Indeed, this one is so deliciously off-kilter that I'm just gonna declare right now that Poitrenaux's slinky/silly turn as Bruno is the performance of the festival.
The Rainbow Experiment (Beyond)
Christina Kallas's high school who-dun-it was selected as one of five films to be workshopped at the prestigious U.S. in Progress Paris 2017. Kallas' penchant for cultivating experimental forms for maximum emotional impact sure makes her latest feature a no-brainer premiere for Slamdance.
Rock Steady Row (Narrative Features Competition)
When preparing yourself for Trevor Steven's chaotic college rivalry flick think less about Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds, and consider that Rock Steady Row is more Archie and the Riverdale gang in Mad Max territory. Indeed, for those keen eyed genre fans, you may be reminded of the good fun offered up by ScreenAnarchy fave Turbo Kid.
Mr. Fish: Cartooning from the Deep End (Documentary Features Competition)
Pablo Bryant's in-depth portrait of our titular artist tackles what it means when political cartooning, once a staple of progressive thought and discourse, begins to lose its focus in the culture at large.