Alex's Highlights From the 2009 Slamdance Film Festival
The Slamdance Film Festival, for those who don't know, is unofficially Sundance's little sister. It takes place the same week as Sundance in Park City, Utah and always features films that either didn't make it into Sundance or are a better fit for this fest. Last year, two films you might recognize, Jack Brooks and Dear Zachary, both premiered at Slamdance. This year, 29 films will be featured at the fest, 20 of which are part of their competition categories that are "strictly devoted to films without domestic theatrical distribution and budgets under $1 million, from first-time feature directors." You can find the full line-up of films playing this year on their site or we've featured a few highlights to keep an eye on below.
A Quiet Little Marriage - Written/Directed by Mo Perkins
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Cy Carter, Jimmi Simpson.
A loving young couple square off against each other in a covert, domestic battleground of their own making.
Early Buzz: This drama won the Audience Award at the Austin Film Festival earlier this year and has been gaining buzz ever since. "A contemplative and fairly authentic look at the minutiae of marriage. It's at times quiet and soft, and at others, it's messy and full of conflict," says Darcie Duttweiler in her review.
I Sell the Dead - Written/Directed by Glenn McQuaid
Cast: Dominic Monaghan, Ron Perlman, Angus Scrimm, Larry Fessenden.
Set in the late 1800's, a duo of bumbling graverobbers begin to unearth peculiar corpses.
Early Buzz: A dark comedy about graverobbers starring Dominic Monaghan and Ron Perlman - how could anyone not be excited for this?! The film also played at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival this year and earned glowing reviews like this one: "High-caliber comedy-horror, done vignette style... the cinematography is seamless, the art direction incredible."
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead - Written/Directed by Jordan Galland
Cast: Jake Hoffman, Devon Aoki, John Ventimiglia, Jeremy Sisto, Ralph Macchio.
A theatre director takes a job directing a play that uncovers a two thousand year conspiracy involving vampires, Shakespeare, and the holy grail.
Early Buzz: We first ran the trailer for this rather twisted comedy way back in March this year and have been waiting to see it ever since then. It seems like a very quirky but entertaining combination of Shakespeare, vampires, sex, and comedy, and I'm honestly excited to see if it's actually any good.
The Slammin' Salmon - Directed by Kevin Heffernan / Written by Broken Lizard
Cast: Michael Clarke Duncan, Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske.
The owner of a Miami restaurant indebted to the mob institutes a contest to see what waiter can earn the most money in one night.
Early Buzz: The latest comedy from one of my own favorite comedy groups - Broken Lizard (of Super Troopers, Club Dread, and Beerfest previously). Some early photos, courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes, already had me quite excited, but now I'm definitely going attend this world premiere at Slamdance.
Weather Girl - Written/Directed by Blayne Weaver
Cast: Tricia O'Kelley, Mark Harmon, Jane Lynch, Kaitlin Olson, Jon Cryer
A Seattle weather girl freaks out on-air over her cheating boyfriend, the morning show anchor, and moves in with her little brother.
Early Buzz: I'm not sure why exactly I'm interested in this, but I think it has to do with the mildly amusing concept and this photo. Even the tagline is quirky: "Partly cloudy with a 90% chance of total meltdown." It could either be an indie gem or a waste of time and I'm curious to find out which one.
In my two years of attending Sundance, I've never found the time to make it up to Slamdance. However, with these films featured in this year's line-up, I'm definitely going to make a strong effort to see a few of them, at least to experience the festival. It's easy to get lost in Sundance, but it might be a big relief to relax with a great, low-budget indie courtesy of Slamdance. I'm already excited to know that there are at least five films that I'm interested in seeing - and maybe more if I hear any buzz during the festival. I will be covering both the Sundance Film Festival and Slamdance Film Festival this upcoming January. Head over to the official Slamdance website for the full line-up or stay tuned for our coverage in January.