Sundance 2014: Alex Ross Perry, Michael Tully, Tim Sutton, Sydney Freeland & Mark Jackson Among Stellar Class of 11 NEXT Features

War Story Mark Jackson Sundance

Rolling out it’s fifth edition and growing beyond just Park City (Los Angeles hosted a summer event this year) the NEXT section has grown in size, has found plenty of distrib buyer interest and has a strong voice of its own. Becoming a home for low budget indie we like: smaller budgets sometimes bring out impressive creative outputs, in 2011 we had Sound of My Voice, Restless City and Bellflower. 2012 saw Compliance, I’m Not a Hipster and Sleepwalk With Me, while last year we were impressed by the likes of It Felt Like Love and Blue Caprice. This year we have eleven, instead of ten selections – the plus one bump might have to do with Madeleine Olnek’s The Foxy Merkins – she got to show off her film this summer in the NEXT WEEKEND L.A event (we mentioned above). In the coming-of-agers working with a different vibe and vibrancy we have Michael Tully Ping Pong Summer and Sydney Freeland’s directorial debut, Drunktown’s Finest while The Color Wheel‘s Alex Ross Perry’s latest (Listen Up Philip) promises to extend conflicted, tumultuous journey of pre-adulthood into complicated terrain with what might be a healthy dose of writer’s block. We find Cold Weather‘s Aaron Katz bring Land Ho! while IONCINEPHILE featured director Tim Sutton make his U.S. premiere with the Venice Film Festival shown Memphis. And speaking of Italy, Mark Jackson – one of our revelations of 2011, will premiere his sophomore, shot-in-land-of-imoncello (featured in the pic above with Catherine Keener) War Story. Here are the 11 films in the section.

Appropriate Behavior” (U.S.-U.K.) — Directed and written by Desiree Akhavan. The story of the identity struggles facing a young Persian-American bisexual woman in Brooklyn. Cast: Desiree Akhavan, Rebecca Henderson, Halley Feiffer, Scott Adsit, Anh Duong, Arian Moayed.

Drunktown’s Finest” — Directed and written by Sydney Freeland. A coming-of-age story about three very different young Native Americans living on a reservation. Cast: Jeremiah Bitsui, Carmen Moore, Morningstar Angeline, Kiowa Gordon, Shauna Baker, Elizabeth Francis.

The Foxy Merkins” — Directed by Madeleine Olnek, written by Lisa Haas, Jackie Monahan and Olnek. A prostitute buddy comedy about two lesbian hookers working the streets of New York. Cast: Lisa Haas, Jackie Monahan, Alex Karpovsky, Susan Ziegler, Sally Sockwell, Deb Margolin.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” — Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour. Residents of the Iranian ghost town Bad City are stalked by a lonesome vampire. Cast: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Dominic Rains, Marshall Manesh, Mozhan Marnó, Milad Eghbali.

Imperial Dreams” — Directed by Malik Vitthal, written by Vitthal and Ismet Prcic. A 21-year-old reformed gangster is released from prison and returns to his old stomping grounds in Watts, Los Angeles. Cast: John Boyega, Rotimi Akinosho, Glenn Plummer, Keke Palmer, De’aundre Bonds.

Land Ho!” (U.S.-Iceland) — Directed and written by Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz. A bawdy throwback to 1980s road movies, about two former brothers-in-law who head to Iceland in an attempt to reclaim their youth. Cast: Paul Eenhoorn, Earl Nelson, Alice Olivia Clarke, Karrie Krouse, Elizabeth McKee, Emmsje Gauti.

Listen Up Philip” — Directed and written by Alex Ross Perry. A writer faces various mistakes and miseries affecting those around him, including his girlfriend, many ex-girlfriends and enemies. Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, Jonathan Pryce, Krysten Ritter, Josephine de La Baume.

Memphis” — Directed and written by Tim Sutton. The story of a strange singer’s doomed journey through the mythic city of Memphis. Cast: Willis Earl Beal, Lopaka Thomas, Constance Brantley, Devonte Hull, John Gary Williams, Larry Dodson.

Obvious Child” — Directed and written by Gillian Robespierre. A Brooklyn comedian is dumped and fired, then learns she’s pregnant — all in time for Valentine’s Day. Cast: Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy, Gaby Hoffmann, David Cross, Gabe Liedman, Richard Kind.

Ping Pong Summer” — Directed and written by Michael Tully. A youthful snapshot of the summer of 1985, set in Ocean City, Md. Cast: Susan Sarandon, John Hannah, Lea Thompson, Amy Sedaris, Robert Longstreet, Marcello Conte.

War Story” — Directed by Mark Jackson, written by Kristin Gore and Jackson. A war photographer retreats to a small town in Sicily after being held captive in Libya. Cast: Catherine Keener, Hafsia Herzi, Vincenzo Amato, Donatella Finocchiaro, Ben Kingsley.

Eric Lavallée is the founder, editor-in-chief and film critic at IONCINEMA.com (founded in 2000). Eric splits his time between his home base in Montreal, NYC, and is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member at the SXSW Film Festival. Top Films From Contemporary Film Auteurs: Almodóvar (Talk to Her), Coen Bros. (Fargo), Dardennes (La Promesse), Haneke (Caché), Hsiao-Hsien (Three Times), Kar-wai (In the Mood for Love), Kiarostami (Taste of Cherry), Lynch (Mulholland Dr.), Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho), von Trier (Breaking the Waves)