Sundance films get fun­nier and older

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Los An­ge­les

Based on the movies set to premiere at the Sundance Film Fes­ti­val, the com­ing year of cin­ema is about co­me­di­ans and com­ing of age.

Fes­ti­val or­ga­niz­ers an­nounced on Sun­day their selections of dra­mas and doc­u­men­taries to de­but at the in­de­pen­dent film showcase, which runs Jan 22-31.

“It re­ally does feel like we kick off the year in film,” says the fes­ti­val’s di­rec­tor of pro­gram­ming, Trevor Groth. “We’re launch­ing all th­ese films out there into the cin­e­matic uni­verse and then watch­ing them trickle out through­out the year.”

Movies that premiere at the Sundance fes­ti­val can of­ten se­cure dis­tri­bu­tion deals there that will bring them to the­aters, TV screens or Web streams near you.

Lily Tom­lin and Blythe Dan­ner each play women com­ing of age later in life, thanks to un­ex­pected re­la­tion­ships in the dra­masGrandma and I’ll See You in My Dreams. Ja­son Sudeikis and Ali­son Brie in­spire each other to grow up a decade after col­lege grad­u­a­tion in Sleep­ing With Other Peo­ple. Ethan Hawke heads a whole fam­ily com­ing of age in Ten Thou­sand Saints. Vi­ola Davis and Jen­nifer Lopez play griev­ing moth­ers who help each other re­cover in Lila & Eve. Ryan Reynolds is a poker player who learns from his pro­tege in Mis­sis­sippi Grind.

No­table doc­u­men­taries pre­mier­ing at the fes­ti­val in­clude The Hunt­ing Ground by Kirby Dick, whose 2012 doc­u­men­tary about sex­ual as­sault in the mil­i­tary, The In­vis­i­ble War, won the Sundance au­di­ence award that year and was nom­i­nated for an Os­car. Jen­nifer SiebelNew­som, whose first doc­u­men­tary screened at the fes­ti­val in 2011, re­turns with an ex­plo­ration of mas­culin­ity in The Mask You Live In. Os­car­win­ning doc­u­men­tar­ian Alex Gib­ney shines a light on Scientology in his lat­est, Go­ing Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.

Two mu­sic docs are in the mix: Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck and a look at Nina Si­mone, called What Hap­pened, Miss Si­mone?, which is set to screen on the fes­ti­val’s open­ing day.

Another doc­u­men­tary, Tig, ex­plores how co­me­dian Tig No­taro used standup to cope with the death of her mother, her own can­cer di­ag­no­sis and the chal­lenges of love.

Co­me­di­ans have an even greater pres­ence in the films in com­pe­ti­tion at the fes­ti­val, which were an­nounced last week. Sarah Sil­ver­man takes a dra­matic turn as a drug-us­ing, pro­mis­cu­ous mom on the edge in I Smile Back. Jack Black re­turns to the dra­matic ter­ri­tory of 2011’s Bernie as a man strug­gling to shed his high-school in­se­cu­ri­ties in time for his 20th re­union in The D Train. Bob­cat Goldth­wait’s doc­u­men­tary, Call Me Lucky, looks at the life of comic Barry Crim­mins.

The world pre­mieres that screen at the Sundance Film Fes­ti­val may take months to reach lo­cal the­aters. But other fes­ti­val pro­grams — in­clud­ing a dis­cus­sion of film­mak­ing be­tween Robert Red­ford and George Lu­cas, and a panel fea­tur­ing TV show-run­ners Lena Dun­ham, Jenji Ko­han and Mindy Kal­ing — will be live-streamed on the Sundance web­site.

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