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Sundance Film Festival 2008: Premieres Lineup

As predicted by yours truly, Michel Gondry will show up once again in Park City this time with the geek comedy preem Be Kind Rewind, while a number of high profile pics such as The Great Buck Howard, What Just Happened? and Diminished Capacity will have buyers lining up the block – the upcoming actors’ strike is a reality and this has many mid level indie distributors looking to add to their slate. Up for grabs we also find: The Escapist, The Deal (A director Steven

I expect my last day at the 08' edition of the Sundance film festival to end in the wee hours of the morning as the fest organizers have announced the make up of the Premieres section and have chosen documentary (CSNY DÉJÀ VU) on gray-haired legends of folk music (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young) as the fest's closing feature.

As predicted by yours truly, Michel Gondry will show up once again in Park City this time with the geek comedy preem Be Kind Rewind, while a number of high profile pics such as The Great Buck Howard, What Just Happened? and Diminished Capacity will have buyers lining up the block – the upcoming actors' strike is a reality and this has many mid level indie distributors looking to add  to their slate. Up for grabs we also find films littered with talent: Irish import The Escapist, The Deal (a director Steven Schachter and co-screenwriter/star William H. Macy project, Brad Anderson's (The Machinist) Transsiberian, a former Batman Michael Keaton's directed The Merry Gentleman, the U.K imported Michelle Williams and Ewan McGregor dramatic piece Incendiary.

The studios are well repped in this category: Overture will show their logo off with Sleepwalking and their Toronto film fest pic up The Visitor, Miramax will make a case for Smart People, Warner Independent Pictures will show up with a renamed and probably re-edited version Towelhead (Nothing Is Private), Yari group come packing Assassination of a High School President and MGM walks in with Mark Pellington's Henry Poole Is Here who is also showing up with the Cannes-premiered U2 3D. One of my favorites from the Cannes film festival Savage Grace (IFC Films) will ensure a Killer Films presence. As named earlier, Focus Features open the fest with In Bruges.

For the complete list of premieres and first pics of a trio of titles please scroll below and for more info on each individual title just click on the film title of your choice for more info.

ASSASSINATION OF A HIGH SCHOOL PRESIDENT

Assassination of a High School President/ U.S.A. (Director: Brett Simon; Screenwriter: Kevin Jakubowski)—A rookie journalist for the school paper unravels a mysterious plot involving the class president, drugs, and a ring of stolen test scores in this noir caper set at a quirky Catholic High School. Cast: Reece Thompson, Bruce Willis, Mischa Barton, Michael Rapaport, Kathryn Morris, Josh Pais. World Premiere

Be Kind Rewind/ U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Michel Gondry)—When a man whose body accidentally becomes magnetized unintentionally erases every tape in his friend's video store, the pair set out to remake the lost films, including BACK TO THE FUTURE, THE LION KING and ROBOCOP. Cast: Jack Black, Mos Def, Mia Farrow, Danny Glover. World Premiere 

CSNY Déjà Vu/ U.S.A. (Director: Bernard Shakey; Screenwriters: Neil Young, Mike Cerre)—The war in Iraq is the backdrop as the Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young “Freedom of Speech Tour” crisscrosses North America. Echoes of Vietnam-era anti-war sentiment abound as the band connects with today's audiences. Cast: David Crosby, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Mike Cerre, Stephen Colbert. World Premiere, Closing Night Film

The Deal Steven Schachter

The Deal/ Canada (Director: Steven Schachter; Screenwriters: William H. Macy, Steven Schachter)—A long-time Hollywood producer on the verge of suicide cons a major studio into financing a $100-million film based on a non-existent script, starring a black action star who has converted to Judaism. Cast: William H. Macy, Meg Ryan, LL Cool J. World Premiere

Death in Love/ U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Boaz Yakin)—A self-assured but neurotic 40-year-old bachelor attempts to make sense of his complicated life as he negotiates his sexual relationships in the shadow of his mother’s concentration camp experience. Cast: Josh Lucas, Jacqueline Bisset, Adam Brody, Lukas Haas. World Premiere

Diminished Capacity/ U.S.A. (Director: Terry Kinney; Screenwriter: Sherwood Kiraly)— Learning that his senile uncle harbors a priceless baseball card, Cooper embarks on a road trip intent on selling it to save money for his uncle's later years. He and his friends become entangled in
the oddball world of baseball memorabilia and love. Cast: Matthew Broderick, Alan Alda, Virginia Madsen, Dylan Baker. World Premiere

The Escapist / Ireland (Director: Rupert Wyatt; Screenwriters: Rupert Wyatt and Daniel Hardy)— A convict twelve years into a life sentence is determined to make peace with his sick daughter. He develops an ingenious escape plan, recruiting a band of misfits to put it into action. Cast: Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes, Seu Jorge, Damian Lewis. World Premiere

The Great Buck Howard

The Great Buck Howard/ U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Sean McGinly)—When a law school dropout answers an advertisement to be a personal assistant he unknowingly signs on to work for a belligerent has-been magician struggling to resurrect his career. This leads to a journey across the country staging the comeback of a lifetime. Cast: Colin Hanks, John Malkovich, Emily Blunt, Tom Hanks, Steve Zahn. World Premiere, Salt Lake City Gala

The Guitar/ U.S.A. (Director: Amy Redford; Screenwriter: Amos Poe)—The life of a woman is transformed after she is diagnosed with a terminal disease, fired from her job and abandoned by her boyfriend. Given two months to live, she throws caution to the wind to pursue her dreams. Cast:
Saffron Burrows, Isaach De Bankole, Paz De La Huerta. World Premiere

Henry Poole Is Here/ U.S.A. (Director: Mark Pellington; Screenwriter: Albert Torres)— Henry Poole abandons his fiancée and family business to spend what he believes are his remaining days alone. The discovery of a “miracle” by a nosy neighbor ruptures his solitude and restores his faith in
life. Cast: Luke Wilson, Radha Mitchell, Cheryl Hines, Adriana Barraza. World Premiere

In Bruges/ United Kingdom (Director and Screenwriter: Martin McDonagh)—Two London hit men are ordered to take a forced vacation in Bruges, Belgium. This is the suspenseful, twisted tale of how their time in exile goes awry. Cast: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, Clémence Poésy. World Premiere, Opening Night Film

Incendiary Sharon Maguire

Incendiary/ United Kingdom (Director and Screenwriter: Sharon Maguire)—A spirited young mother juggles grief and love in the aftermath of a dramatic terrorist attack in London. Cast: Michelle Williams, Ewan McGregor, Matthew MacFadyen. World Premiere

The Merry Gentleman/ U.S.A. (Director: Michael Keaton; Screenwriter: Ron Lazzeretti)— After fleeing an abusive marriage, a young woman sets off to start a new life. When she finds herself an unwitting witness to a murder she stumbles into a curious friendship with a depressed hit man. Cast: Kelly Macdonald, Michael Keaton. World Premiere

A RAISIN IN THE SUN/ U.S.A. (Director: Kenny Leon; Screenwriter: Paris Qualles)—After moving to Chicago’s South Side in the 1950s, a black family struggles to deal with poverty, racism, and inner conflict as they strive for a better life. Adapted for the screen from Lorraine Hansberry's play, this is
a moving portrait of dreams deferred. Cast: Sean Combs, Phylicia Rashad, Audra McDonald, Sean Patrick Thomas. World Premiere

Savage Grace/ U.S.A. (Director: Tom Kalin, Screenwriter: Howard A. Rodman)—The true story of the beautiful and charismatic Barbara Daly, who married above her class to Brooks Baekeland, heir to the Bakelite plastics fortune. Their only child is a failure in his father's eyes, and as he matures and becomes increasingly close to his lonely mother, the seeds for tragedy are sown. Cast: Julianne Moore, Stephen Dillane, Eddie Redmayne. U.S. Premiere

Sleepwalking/ Canada/ U.S.A. (Director: Bill Maher; Screenwriter: Zac Stanford )—A young man ill equipped to raise his abandoned niece is forced to take responsibility when faced with the prospect of losing her to a foster home. Cast: Nick Stahl, AnnaSophia Robb, Charlize Theron, Dennis Hopper, Woody Harrelson, Deborrah-Lee Furness. World Premiere

Smart People/U.S.A. (Director: Noam Murro; Screenwriter: Mark Jude Poirier)—An acerbic and self-absorbed literature professor has alienated his son and turned his daughter into an overachieving, friendless teen. When his brother unexpectedly shows up at his door, the man is forced is to confront his own life. Cast: Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church, Ellen Page, Ashton Holmes. World Premiere

TOWELHEAD (F.K.A. Nothing Is Private)/ U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Alan Ball)—The life of a 13-year-old Arab-American girl is illuminated as she navigates her way through the confusing and frightening path of adolescence and sexual awakening. Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, Toni Collette, Summer Bishil. U.S. Premiere

Transsiberian/ Spain (Director: Brad Anderson; Screenwriters: Brad Anderson and Will Conroy)—A Trans-Siberian train journey from China to Moscow becomes a thrilling chase of deception and murder when an American couple encounters a mysterious pair of fellow travelers. Cast: Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer, Kate Mara, Thomas Kretschmann, Eduardo Noriega and Ben Kingsley. World Premiere

U2 3D/ U.S.A. (Directors: Catherine Owens, Mark Pellington)—A 3-D presentation of U2’s global “Vertigo” tour. Shot at seven different shows, this production employs the greatest number of 3-D cameras ever used for a single project. World Premiere

The Visitor/ U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Tom McCarthy)—A college professor becomes embroiled in the lives of a young immigrant couple he discovers squatting in his Manhattan apartment. Confronted with adversity, these strangers become inextricably bound together. Cast: Richard Jenkins, Hiam Abbass, Haaz Sleiman, Danai Gurira. U.S. Premiere

What Just Happened?/ U.S.A. (Director: Barry Levinson; Screenwriter: Art Linson)—A comedy about a desperate movie producer who is trying to survive a crazed director, a shameless actor, a clueless executive, a battered agent, and above all a broken second marriage while struggling to maintain a shred of dignity. Cast: Robert DeNiro, Bruce Willis, Sean Penn, Catherine Keener, Stanley Tucci, John Turturro. World Premiere

The Year of Getting to Know Us/ U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Patrick Sisam)—A commitment-phobic man reunites with his estranged, ailing father and comes to terms with his own childhood. Cast: Jimmy Fallon, Chase Ellison, Lucy Liu, Sharon Stone, Tom Arnold. World Premiere

The Yellow Handkerchief/ U.S.A. (Director: Udayan Prasad; Screenwriter: Erin Dignam)— A recently released convict and a pair of disillusioned young people, three strangers of two generations, bound by loneliness, reach out to one another, embarking on a road trip through Louisiana. Cast: Maria Bello, William Hurt, Eddie Redmayne, Veronica Russell. World Premiere

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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