Jes­sica Wil­liams, Cate Blanchett star in Sun­dance pre­mieres

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

For­mer "Daily Show" cor­re­spon­dent Jes­sica Wil­liams flexes her dra­matic chops, Cate Blanchett pays homage to great 20th cen­tury artists and "Sil­i­con Val­ley" star Ku­mail Nan­jiani tells a very per­sonal story in some of the films premier­ing at the 2017 Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val. Fes­ti­val pro­gram­mers an­nounced their se­lec­tions for the doc­u­men­tary and nar­ra­tive pre­miere sec­tions Mon­day, which has launched films like "Boy­hood," "Manch­ester by the Sea" and "O.J.: Made in Amer­ica."

As with many years, the Sun­dance pre­miere slate can be a place for well-known co­me­di­ans to take a stab at more dra­matic and se­ri­ous roles. In what's ex­pected to be one of the break­out films and per­for­mances of the fes­ti­val, co­me­dian Jes­sica Wil­liams stars in Jim Strouse's "The In­cred­i­ble Jes­sica James," about a New York play­wright re­cov­er­ing from a breakup and find­ing so­lace in a re­cent divorcee. Nan­jiani is an­other who might sur­prise au­di­ences in "The Big Sick," which he co-wrote with his wife Emily V Gor­don and is based on their own courtship. He stars along­side Zoe Kazan in the Michael Showal­ter-di­rected pic.

The Fes­ti­val also has films fea­tur­ing vet­eran stars in dif­fer­ent kinds of roles. Shirley MacLaine stars in "The Last Word," about a re­tired busi­ness­woman who strikes up an un­likely friend­ship with a jour­nal­ist (Amanda Seyfried) af­ter writ­ing her own obit­u­ary. Fes­ti­val founder Robert Red­ford, too, is in Char­lie McDow­ell's "The Dis­cov­ery," about a world where the af­ter­life has been proven. Ja­son Segel and Rooney Mara also star. Cate Blanchett re-en­acts artis­tic statements of Dadaists, Lars von Trier and ev­ery­one in between in "Man­i­festo"; Michelle Pfeif­fer and Kiefer Sutherland co-star in the drama "Where is Kyra"; and "Avengers" Jeremy Ren­ner and El­iz­a­beth Olsen re-team in the FBI crime thriller "Wind River," the di­rec­to­rial de­but of "Hell or High Wa­ter" writer Taylor Sheri­dan.

"Bessie" di­rec­tor Dee Rees is also poised to be a stand­out with "Mud­bound," a racial drama set in the post-WWII South and star­ring Carey Mul­li­gan, Ja­son Clarke, Ja­son Mitchell and Mary J. Blige. "It's quite top­i­cal to this time even though it's a pe­riod piece," said Fes­ti­val Di­rec­tor John Cooper. Among the doc­u­men­taries premier­ing are a look at the Ok­la­homa City bomb­ing from Barak Good­man; Stan­ley Nel­son's ex­am­i­na­tion of black col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties, "Tell Them We Are Ris­ing"; and Bar­bara Kop­ple's ac­count of a cham­pion diver who an­nounces he is trans­gen­der, "This Is Ev­ery­thing: Gigi Gor­geous." "The beauty of in­de­pen­dent film is it's not a copy­cat world, un­like some of the Hol­ly­wood stuff where they fol­low trends," said Pro­gram­ming Di­rec­tor Trevor Groth. "In­de­pen­dent film has al­ways been about orig­i­nal­ity and choice and some­thing dif­fer­ent." The 2017 Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val runs from Jan 19 through Jan 29. — AP

In this May 21, 2016, file photo, Jes­sica Wil­liams at­tends the 75th An­nual Pe­abody Awards Cer­e­mony in New York. — AP pho­tos

In this June 15, 2016, file photo, Cate Blanchett ar­rives at the Women In Film 2016 Crys­tal And Lucy Awards at The Bev­erly Hil­ton in Bev­erly Hills, Calif.

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