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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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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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