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DID YOU READ

No sir, no Sundancin’ today: Part I.

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The indie competition.
As we approach the third year of Sundance-watching from this blog, we’d like to pause a moment in salute of all the song lyrics and book titles we’ve ruthlessly mangled in the name of festival post headlines.

And onwards —€” the doc and narrative competitions (world competitions in the next post):

Independent Film Competition: Documentary (these are all world premieres)

BANISHED (Director: Marco Williams) — €”This story of three U.S. towns which, in the early 20th century, forced their entire African American populations to leave, explores what — €”if anything — ”can be done to repair past racial injustice.

CHASING GHOSTS (Director: Lincoln Ruchti) — €”Twin Galaxies Arcade, Iowa, 1982: the birthplace of mankind’s obsession with video games. The fate of this world lies in the hands (literally) of a few unlikely heroes: They are the Original Video Game World Champions and the arcade is their battleground.

CRAZY LOVE (Director: Dan Klores) — An unsettling true story about an obsessive relationship between a married man and a beautiful, single 20-year-old woman, which began in 1957 and continues today.  

EVERYTHING’€™S COOL (Directors: Judith Helfand, Daniel B. Gold)â — A group of self-appointed global warming messengers are on a high stakes quest to find the iconic image, proper language, and points of leverage to help the public go from embracing the urgency of the problem to creating the political will necessary to move to an alternative energy economy.  

FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO (Director: Daniel Karslake) — Grounded by the stories of five conservative Christian families, the film explores how the religious right has used its interpretation of the Bible to support its agenda of stigmatizing the gay community and eroding the separation between church and state.  

GHOSTS OF ABU GHRAIB (Director: Rory Kennedy) — €”This inside look at the abuses that occurred at the infamous Iraqi prison in the fall of 2003 uses direct, personal narratives of perpetrators, witnesses, and victims to probe the effects of the abuses on all involved.

GIRL 27 (Director: David Stenn) — When underage dancer Patricia Douglas is raped at a wild MGM stag party in 1937, she makes headlines and legal history, and then disappears. GIRL 27 follows author-screenwriter David Stenn as he investigates one of Hollywood’s most notorious scandals.

HEAR AND NOW (Director: Irene Taylor Brodsky) — €”Filmmaker Irene Taylor Brodsky tells a deeply personal story about her deaf parents, and their radical decision — €”after 65 years of silence — €”to undergo cochlear implant surgery, a complex procedure that could give them the ability to hear.

MANDA BALA (SEND A BULLET) (Director: Jason Kohn) — In Brazil, known as one of the world’s most corrupt and violent countries, MANDA BALA follows a politician who uses a frog farm to steal billions of dollars, a wealthy businessman who spends a small fortune bulletproofing his cars, and a plastic surgeon who reconstructs the ears of mutilated kidnapping victims.

MY KID COULD PAINT THAT (Director: Amir Bar-Lev) — €”A 4-year-old girl whose paintings are compared to Kandinsky, Pollock and even Picasso, has sold $300,000 dollars worth of paintings. Is she a genius of abstract expressionism, a tiny charlatan, or an exploited child whose parents have sold her out for the glare of the media and the lure of the almighty dollar?

NANKING (Director: Bill Guttentag, Dan Sturman) — A powerful and haunting depiction of the atrocities suffered by the Chinese at the hands of the invading Japanese army during "€œThe Rape of Nanking", one of the most tragic events of WWII. While more than 200,000 Chinese were murdered and ten of thousands raped, a handful of Westerners performed extraordinary acts of heroism, saving over 250,000 lives in the midst of the horror.

NO END IN SIGHT (Director: Charles Ferguson) — A comprehensive examination of the Bush Administration’€™s conduct of the Iraq war and occupation. Featuring first-time interviews with key participants, the film creates a startlingly clear reconstruction of key decisions that led to the current state of affairs in this war-torn country.

PROTAGONIST (Director: Jessica Yu) — PROTAGONIST explores the organic relationship between human life and Euripidean dramatic structure by weaving together the stories of four men — a German terrorist, a bank robber, an "ex-gay" evangelist, and a martial arts student.

WAR DANCE (Director: Sean Fine, Andrea Nix Fine) — €”Devastated by the long civil war in Uganda, three young girls and their school in the Patongo refugee camp find hope as they make a historic journey to compete in their country’s national music and dance festival. 

WHITE LIGHT/BLACK RAIN: THE DESTRUCTION OF HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI
(Director: Steven Okazaki) — WHITE LIGHT/BLACK RAIN offers a visceral, topical and moving portrait of the human cost of atomic warfare.

ZOO (Director: Robinson Devor) — A humanizing look at the life and bizarre death of a seemingly normal Seattle family man who met his untimely end after an unusual encounter with a horse.

INDEPENDENT FEATURE FILM COMPETITION: DRAMATIC (all world premieres)

ADRIFT IN MANHATTAN (Director: Alfredo de Villa; Screenwriters: Nat Moss, Alfredo de Villa) — Set in New York City, a grieving eye doctor is forced to take a closer look at her life; an aging artist confronts the loss of his eyesight, and a young photographer battles his innermost demons.

BROKEN ENGLISH (Director and Screenwriter: Zoe Cassavetes) — €”A young woman in her thirties finds herself surrounded by friends who are married, in relationships or with children. She unexpectedly meets a quirky Frenchman who opens her eyes to a lot more than love.

FOUR SHEETS TO THE WIND (Director and Screenwriter: Sterlin Harjo) — Cufe Smallhill finds his father dead. Fulfilling a dying wish, he disposes of the body in the family pond and sets off to begin a new life in the big city of Tulsa.

THE GOOD LIFE (Director and Screenwriter: Steve Berra) — €”A story about a "mostly normal" young man whose small town existence running a faded movie palace is shaken when he comes in contact with a mysterious young woman.

GRACE IS GONE (Director and Screenwriter: James C. Strouse) — €”A young father learns that his wife has been killed in Iraq and must find the courage to tell his two young daughters the news.

JOSHUA (Director: George Ratliff; Screenwriters: David Gilbert, George Ratliff) — A successful, young Manhattan family is torn apart by the machinations of Joshua, their eight-year-old prodigy, when his newborn baby sister comes home from the hospital.

NEVER FOREVER (Director and Screenwriter: Gina Kim) — When an American woman and her Asian-American husband discover they are unable to conceive, she begins a clandestine relationship with an attractive stranger in a desperate attempt to save her marriage.

ON THE ROAD WITH JUDAS (Director and Screenwriter: JJ Lask) — Reality, fiction and the notions of storytelling intertwine in this narrative about a young thief and the woman he loves.

PADRE NUESTRO (Director and Screenwriter: Christopher Zalla) — Fleeing a criminal past, Juan hops a truck transporting illegal immigrants from Mexico to New York City, where he meets Pedro, who is seeking his rich father.

THE POOL (Director: Chris Smith; Screenwriters: Chris Smith, Randy Russell) — A boy working in a hotel becomes obsessed with a swimming pool at a home in the opulent hills of Panjim, Goa in India. His life gets turned upside-down when he attempts to meet the mysterious family that arrives at the house.

ROCKET SCIENCE (Director and Screenwriter: Jeffrey Blitz) — €”A 15-year-old boy from New Jersey with a stuttering problem falls in love with the star of the debate team and finds himself suddenly immersed in the ultra-competitive world of debating.

SNOW ANGELS (Director: David Gordon Green; Screenwriter: Stewart O’Nan) — A drama that interweaves the life of a teenager with his former baby-sitter, her estranged husband, and their daughter.

STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING (Director: Andrew Wagner; Screenwriters: Andrew Wagner, Fred Parnes) — The solitary life of a writer is shaken when a smart, ambitious graduate student convinces him that her thesis will bring him back into the literary spotlight.

TEETH (Director and Screenwriter: Mitchell Lichtenstein) — Still a stranger to her own body, a high school student discovers she has a "€œphysical advantage"€ when she becomes the object of male violence.

THE UNTITLED DAKOTA FANNING PROJECT (Director and Screenwriter: Deborah Kampmeier) — Set in late 1950s Alabama, a precocious, troubled girl finds her angel in the Blues.

WEAPONS (Director and Screenwriter: Adam Bhala Lough) — WEAPONS presents a series of brutal, seemingly random youth-related killings over the course of a weekend in a typical working class American suburb, and tragically reveals how they are all interrelated.

+ 2007 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES INDEPENDENT FILM AND WORLD CINEMA COMPETITIONS [PDF] (Sundance.org)

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.