2015 Slamdance Film Festival Narrative & Documentary Competition Lineup

Besides stomachs, this is the time of year bursting with awards, nominations, and -- my favorite -- film festival selection announcements. Today, the 21st Slamdance Film Festival announced its competition lineup. This year's event takes place from January 23-29 at the Treasure Mountain Inn on Main Street in Park City, Utah. Yes, that's the same week and location for the Sundance Film Festival, and that's the idea. Slamdance was conceived as a sort of anti-Sundance, although it's come into its own as a standout independent film festival in its own right, and the only one programmed entirely by filmmakers.

Dan Mirvish, Jon Fitzgerald, Shane Kuhn, and Peter Baxter are the founding forefathers who fought for truly independent filmmakers by giving them a voice in 1995 at the very first Slamdance Film Festival. 20 years later, Slamdance has become a year-round organization fostering the development of unique and innovative filmmakers. The organization now consists of the Film Festival, Screenplay and Teleplay Competition and Slamdance Studios. Previous filmmakers who first gained notice at Slamdance include Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises), Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity), Marc Forster (World War Z), Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite), Lena Dunham (Girls), Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Anthony & Joe Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses), and Lynn Shelton (Humpday).

"Our success in showcasing emerging artists is most obviously linked with American talent, but increasingly at Slamdance, we want to also support new international talent," Peter Baxter, Slamdance Co-founder and President. Peter Baxter. The films are competing for Jury and Audience Awards in Narrative and Documentary categories, along with the Filmmaker Award for Spirit of Slamdance.

Slamdance 2015 selected 19 feature-length movies to screen in its competition lineup. There are 11 narratives and eight documentaries, including 13 World Premieres, two North American Premieres, and three U.S. Premieres. All competition films are directorial debuts with budgets of less than $1 million and without US distribution. All were programmed entirely from blind submissions by the Slamdance filmmaking community.

Here are the films in competition at the 2014 Slamdance Film Festival (descriptions provided by the festival):

 

NARRATIVE FEATURES PROGRAM

Across the Sea – Directors & Screenwriters: Nisan Dağ, Esra Saydam
(Turkey/USA) North American Premiere
Young, beautiful and pregnant, Damla has to confront her first love in a Turkish summer town before she can fully embrace her new life in New York.
Cast: Damla Sönmez, Jacob Fishel, Ahmet Rıfat Şungar, Hakan Karsak, Brittany Angley

Asco – Director: Ale Paschoalini; Screenwriters: Ale Paschoalini, Rafael Baliu
(Brazil) World Premiere
Needs and desires are simplified in this experimental, black and white portrayal of the poisonous destruction of a broken heart.
Cast: Guto Nogueira, Sol Faganello, Acauã Sol, Danielle Rosa, Ligia Franchini, El Alberto

Body – Directors & Screenwriters: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen
(USA) World Premiere
After three twenty-something girls break into a mansion and inadvertently murder the groundskeeper, they slowly self-destruct as they decide what to do with the dead body in the living room.
Cast: Helen Rogers, Alexandra Turshen, Lauren Molina, Larry Fessenden

Clinger – Director: Michael Steves; Screenwriters: Michael Steves, Gabi Chennisi Duncombe, Bubba Fish
(USA) World Premiere
When her possessive high school boyfriend dies in a gruesome accident, Fern Petersen’s life is thrown into turmoil.  Things go from bad to worse when he returns as a love-sick ghost to kill her so they can be together for eternity.
Cast: Vincent Martella, Jennifer Laporte, Julia Aks, Lisa Wilcox, Debbie Rochon

Darkness on the Edge of Town – Director & Screenwriter: Patrick Ryan
(Ireland) US Premiere
A troubled teenage sharpshooter decides to avenge the death of her estranged sister after she is found murdered in a public bathroom.
Cast: Emma Eliza Regan, Brian Gleeson, Maura Foley, Emma Willis, Sam Monaghan

Diamond Tongues – Director: Brian Robertson, Pavan Moondi; Screenwriter: Pavan Moondi
(Canada) World Premiere
Edith Welland is an actress. Things haven’t been going very well. When her ex-boyfriend becomes an actor on a whim and almost immediately books a leading role, Edith decides if she’s going to get ahead, she’ll need to get ruthless.
Cast: Leah Goldstein, Nick Flanagan, Leah Wildman, Adam Gurfinkel, Noah R. Taylor

High Performance – Director & Screenwriter: Johanna Moder
(Austria) US Premiere
Rudi wears a suit, Daniel rides a bike, and they are both interested in Nora for very different reasons; the story of two grown up brothers who still know how to hurt each other.
Cast: Marcel Mohab, Manuel Rubey, Katharina Pizzera

Ratter – Director & Screenwriter: Branden Kramer
(USA) World Premiere
Emma is being watched by a stalker who has hacked into all of her personal technology – laptop, cell phone, and other web connected devices – to record her most intimate moments. Eventually the video feeds aren’t enough and the stalker moves from the virtual to the physical.
Cast: Ashley Benson, Matt McGorry, Rebecca Naomi Jones, John Anderson, Kaili Vernoff

They Look Like People – Director & Screenwriter: Perry Blackshear
(USA) World Premiere
Suspecting that those around him are actually malevolent shape-shifters, a troubled young man questions whether to protect his only friend from an impending war, or from himself.
Cast: MacLeod Andrews, Evan Dumouchel, Margaret Drake, Mick Casale, Elena Greenlee

Tired Moonlight – Director & Screenwriter: Britni West
(USA) World Premiere
Drifting between small-town gossip and dreams of the outside world, two middled aged womens’ lives are slowly upended as they start caring for a young girl and a ramblin’ man from the past rolls through their small town.
Cast: Alex Karpovsky, Liz Randall, Paul Dickinson, Hillary Berg, RainLeigh Vick

Wendell and the Lemon – Director & Screenwriter: Lawrence Krauser
(USA)
A young man finds a lemon on the sidewalk, takes it home, and becomes inordinately fond of it. Complications ensue.
Cast: Todd d’Amour, Rebecca Hart, Jay Smith, Lia Aprile, Danton Stone

 

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES PROGRAM

20 Years of Madness – Director: Jeremy Royce
(USA) World Premiere
Twenty years after the success of a 90s cult TV show, 30 Minutes of Madness, founder Jerry White Jr. brings the rag tag team of misfits back together to film one final episode – only to find the majority of his cast now suffer from a variety of personal struggles.
Cast: Jerry White Jr., Joe Hornacek, John Ryan, Jesus Rivera, Matt Zaleski

Alberi che Camminano – Director: Mattia Colombo; Screenwriters: Erri De Luca, Mattia Colombo
(Italy) US Premiere
A meditative look at the two distinct lives of trees and their deep relationship with human beings.

Dennis Rodman’s Big Bang in Pyongyang – Director: Colin Offland; Screenwriter: Matt Baker
(UK) World Premiere
An intimate behind the scenes look at Dennis Rodman’s unlikely friendship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and the staging of the most controversial game of basketball the world has never seen.

I Am Thor – Director: Ryan Wise
(USA) World Premiere
Before Chris Hemsworth, there was Jon Mikl Thor – the original hammer-wielding, steel bending, brick smashing rock star of the 70s band THOR. But does he still have the magic to thunder a comeback?
Cast: Jon Mikl Thor, Rusty Hamilton, Mike Favata, Steve Price, Keith Zazzi

My Fathers, My Mother and Me – Director: Paul-Julien Robert
(Austria) North American Premiere
Twenty years after leaving the Austrian commune where he was raised, Paul-Julien Robert embarks on a personal journey to confront what went wrong and explore ideas of family.

On Her Own – Director & Screenwriter: Morgan Schmidt-Feng
(USA) World Premiere
A woman and her family try to save their 5th generation family farm during the Great Recession.

The Resurrection of Jake the Snake – Director: Steve Yu
(USA) World Premiere
Legendary wrestler Jake “The Snake” Roberts charts his personal and professional comeback while battling crippling addictions.
Cast: Jake Roberts, Dallas Page, Chris Jericho, Steve Austin, Adam Copeland

Sweet Micky For President – Director: Ben Patterson
(USA) World Premiere
With the help of Pras Michel of the Fugees, presidential candidate Michel Martelly, aka Sweet Micky, campaigns against all odds in Haiti’s third ever democratic election.
Cast: Pras Michel, Michel Martelly, Wyclef Jean



Author

Larry Richman

Larry Richman

For 20 years I was a professional in the entertainment industry, from commercial broadcast radio in America's fourth largest market to band management to record production. But my passion is independent film, and I spend much of the year traveling to film festivals to see indies and meet the actors, directors, and others responsible for creating them. I'm a writer, photographer, and videographer, currently serving as Senior Vice President for Media & Technology and Public Relations at PROnetworks as well as Editor at Larry411.com

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