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Sundance begins 2017 roll-out with competition line-ups

Despite its international reputation, Sundance is one of the more inward-looking festivals when it comes to its competitive line-ups. Not only does it run separate competitions for US and international titles (with US titles also named in its international line-ups), the festival’s US competition line-ups are regularly larger than its international ones.

For its 2017 edition, Sundance claimed 2,005 US feature submissions and 2,063 international.

113 features are selected (not all announced at present). The short film programme will be drawn from 8,985 submissions. While the submission fees are no doubt welcome, it’s hard to imagine a process that could fairly select the best from such a large field.

In the first announcement, there’s no direct NZ interest beyond recent returnee Melanie Lynskey (here for The Changeover), who finds herself opposite Elijah Wood in I Macon Blair’s I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. Recent Big Screen Symposium presenter Cate Shortland is selected with Berlin Syndrome.

The Sundance annnouncement comes while the Singapore International Film Festival is running, and Sundance names a Singaporean title – the first ever in its competition line-up. Kirsten Tan’s Pop Aye (fka Popeye, pictured, top) is a road movie with a difference, and an elephant. Popeye was selected for Cannes Cinefondation Atelier last year.

Shortland and Tan’s films are among the selections from female filmmakers, which number well below 50% – at least of the titles announced so far. Unusually for US screen organisations these days, the word ‘diversity’ doesn’t appear once in the release announcing the titles.

Sundance’s commitment to independent voices remains, according to Executive Director of Sundance Institute, Keri Putnam. “It’s more crucial now than ever to have storytellers illuminating the world around us. We are proud to champion and amplify original independent work through the Festival and our year-round programs.”

Sundance runs 19 – 29 January. Competition selections announced are

U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Band Aid, Director and screenwriter: Zoe Lister-Jones
Beach Rats, Director and screenwriter: Eliza Hittman
Brigsby Bear, Director: Dave McCary, Screenwriters: Kevin Costello, Kyle Mooney
Burning Sands, Director: Gerard McMurray, Screenwriters: Christine Berg, Gerard McMurray
Crown Heights, Director and screenwriter: Matt Ruskin
Golden Exits, Director and screenwriter: Alex Ross Perry
The Hero, Director: Brett Haley, Screenwriters: Brett Haley, Marc Basch
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, Director and screenwriter: Macon Blair
Ingrid Goes West, Director: Matt Spicer, Screenwriters: Matt Spicer, David Branson Smith
Landline, Director: Gillian Robespierre, Screenwriters: Elisabeth Holm, Gillian Robespierre
Novitiate, Director and screenwriter: Maggie Betts
Patti Cake$, Director and screenwriter: Geremy Jasper
Roxanne Roxanne, Director and screenwriter: Michael Larnell
To the Bone, Director and screenwriter: Marti Noxon
Walking Out, Directors and screenwriters: Alex Smith, Andrew Smith,
The Yellow Birds, Director: Alexandre Moors, Screenwriter: David Lowery

U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Casting JonBenet, U.S.A., Australia, Director: Kitty Green
Chasing Coral, Director: Jeff Orlowski
City of Ghosts, Director: Matthew Heineman
Dina, Directors: Dan Sickles, Antonio Santini
Dolores, Director: Peter Bratt
The Force, Director: Pete Nicks
ICARUS, Director: Bryan Fogel
The New Radical, Director: Adam Bhala Lough
NOBODY SPEAK: Hulk Hogan, Gawker and Trials of a Free Press, Director: Brian Knappenberger
Quest, Director: Jonathan Olshefski
STEP, Director: Amanda Lipitz
Strong Island, Denmark, Director: Yance Ford
Trophy, Director: Shaul Schwarz, Co-Director: Christina Clusiau
Unrest, Director: Jennifer Brea
Water & Power: A California Heist, Director: Marina Zenovich
Whose Streets?, Director: Sabaah Folayan, Co-Director: Damon Davis

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Axolotl Overkill, Germany, Director and screenwriter: Helene Hegemann
Berlin Syndrome, Australia, Director: Cate Shortland, Screenwriter: Shaun Grant
Carpinteros, Woodpeckers, , Dominican Republic, Director and screenwriter: José María Cabral
Don’t Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl!, Brazil, Netherlands, France, Paraguay, Director and screenwriter: Felipe Bragança
Family Life, Chile, Directors: Alicia Scherson, Cristián Jiménez, Screenwriter: Alejandro Zambra
Free and Easy, Hong Kong, Director: Jun Geng, Screenwriters: Jun Geng, Yuhua Feng, Bing Liu
God’s Own Country, United Kingdom, Director and screenwriter: Francis Lee
My Happy Family, Georgia, Directors: Nana & Simon, Screenwriter: Nana Ekvtimishvili
The Nile Hilton Incident, Sweden, Director and screenwriter: Tarik Saleh
Pop Aye, Singapore, Thailand, Director and screenwriter: Kirsten Tan
Sueño en otro idioma, I Dream in Another Language, , Mexico, Director: Ernesto Contreras, Screenwriter: Carlos Contreras
The Wound, South Africa, Director: John Trengove, Screenwriters: John Trengove, Thando Mgqolozana, Malusi Bengu

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
The Good Postman, Finland, Bulgaria, Director: Tonislav Hristov
In Loco Parentis, Ireland, Spain, Directors: Neasa Ní Chianáin, David Rane
It’s Not Yet Dark, Ireland, Director: Frankie Fenton
Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower, U.S.A., Director: Joe Piscatella
Last Men in Aleppo, Denmark, Directors: Feras Fayyad, Steen Johannessen
Machines, India, Germany, Finland, Director: Rahul Jain
Motherland, U.S.A., Philippines, Director: Ramona Diaz
Plastic China, China, Director: Jiu-liang Wang
RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked The World, Canada, Director: Catherine Bainbridge
Tokyo Idols, United Kingdom, Canada, Director: Kyoko Miyake
WINNIE, France, Director: Pascale Lamche
The Workers Cup, United Kingdom, Director: Adam Sobel

Out of competition selections announced are:
NEXT
Columbus, U.S.A., Director and screenwriter: Kogonada
Dayveon, U.S.A., Director: Amman Abbasi, Screenwriters: Amman Abbasi, Steven Reneau
Deidra & Laney Rob a Train, U.S.A., Director: Sydney Freeland, Screenwriter: Shelby Farrell
A Ghost Story, U.S.A., Director and screenwriter: David Lowery
Gook, U.S.A., Director and screenwriter: Justin Chon
L.A. Times, U.S.A., Director and screenwriter: Michelle Morgan
Lemon, U.S.A., Director: Janicza Bravo, Screenwriters: Janicza Bravo, Brett Gelman
Menashe, U.S.A., Director: Joshua Z Weinstein, Sreenwriters: Joshua Z Weinstein, Alex Lipschultz, Musa Syeed
Person to Person, U.S.A., Director and screenwriter: Dustin Guy Defa
Thoroughbred, U.S.A., Director and screenwriter: Cory Finley

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