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At one time, 16 years ago, the festival season began in New York with the Independent Feature Film Market and three hopefuls, Jon Fitzgerald, Shane Kuhn and Dan Mirvish, who had befriended each other, decided to get their films seen there, But they flopped at getting in. So they sent their films to the United States Film Festival -- unofficially called “Sundance" at the time. Their films flopped there too so in January 1995, they set up shop in a spare room at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. After a day of being cramped, they moved to Park City 32 miles away, flipped Sundance the bird, made their own festival called Slamdance. The rest is history. Slamdance has since gone on to become a major festival in its own right (though Robert Redford once called it parasitical). Ensconced in the Treasure Mountain Inn (255 Main Street) since 1998, it’s an entirely different experience than its bigger analog. in some ways it's better, and in others, it's not.The festival is primarily confined to the first floor, where two large meeting rooms are converted into makeshift theaters. The hallways are always packed with people waiting on line for the next screening. It’s a great way to meet people. Around the corner from the main venue is the game room; Slamdance has been championing the art and science of videogames since the turn of the current century. And at least since last time I was there, they didn’t charge to play them. There’s one official party, at the Star Bar (268 Main St.) about a 30 feet from the hotel on the first night. They have free beer, which is always nice, but it’s crowded, which is what Slamdance is all about -- the lack of personal space.Once the party is over and done with, there’s the movies. ah, the movies! Oren Peli’s Paranormal Activity, which made over 100 million bucks, premiered here, as did Seth Gordon’s King of Kong, one of the great documentaries of all time. Lots of major movie stars have shown up to promote their films, and some of the best films to come out of here have gone nowhere such as Michael Davis’ Eight Days A Week and Lance Mungia’s Six String Samurai. (But both are worth sticking on your Netflix queue). Going to Slamdance is well worth taking time off from the big show. This year, award-winning director Steven Soderbergh will premiere his latest documentary, And Everything Is Going Fine, at the fest.
So what is there to see here? Well, besides the Soderbergh film, America’s undead humor magazine, the National Lampoon, is sponsoring a screening of their latest film Snatched, which may or may not suck (NatLamp’s films haven’t been good since the magazine was real) and 16 other features.
What little buzz has been generated so far has been mostly for Candyman (directed by Costa Botes) -- a look at the rise and fall of David Klein, inventor of Jelly Bellies; General Orders No. 9 (Robert Persons) An experimental doc that contemplates loss and change in the American South; and William Burroughs: A Man Within (Yony Leyser) A portrait of the Beat author and American icon.And on the horror front. for some reason, programmers are into Cthulhu as well -- The Last Lovecraft: The Relic of Cthulhu (Henry Saine) is like the third film in the genre to be produced in the last 10 years.Then there's Yellow Brick Road (Jesse Holland & Andy Mitton) a horror film set in the wilderness and finally, Gerard Johnson's UK horror-drama Tony, which is playing out of competition.
The full list of features in Competition:
Cummings Farmdirected by Andrew DrazekCast: Laura Silverman
This is a disturbing comedy about an orgy at a lakeside strawberry farm. Three couples at the end their twenties give group sex a go, naively hoping it will grant them enlightenment.
Dronesdirected by Amber Benson & Adam Busch
Cast - Angela Bettis, Jonathan M. Woodward
When Brian walks in on his best friend’s closet time, he discovers a universal threat to his life, job and the Earth itself!
The Four-Faced Liardirected by Jacob ChaseCast - Emily Peck, Marja-Lewis Ryan, Todd Kubrak
When small town couple, Molly and Greg, meets best friends Trip and Bridget, unexpected sparks fly. As friendship slides into passion, Molly must choose between a guy she took for granted, and the girl she can't resist.
The Last Lovecraft: The Relic of Cthulhudirected by Henry Saine
Cast - Devin McGinn
Jeff is an ordinary guy that is stuck at a dead end job with a boring life, but when a strange old man gives him an Ancient relic and tells him that he is the last bloodline of H.P. Lovecraft. He and his friend Charlie embark on an adventure to protect the relic piece from falling into the hands of the Starspawn and his minions that wish to reunite the relic and release Cthulhu back into the world.
One Hundred Mornings
directed by Conor Horgan
Cast - Ciaran McMenamin, Alex Reid, Rory Keenan
Set in a world upended by a complete breakdown of society, two couples hide out in a lakeside cabin hoping to survive the crisis.
directed by Todd Berger
Cast - Sherilyn Fenn, Suzanne May, Blaise Miller
In this dark comedy, when a serial killer starts picking off beautiful young hipsters on the east side of Los Angeles, a group of crime scene videographers hatch a plan to catch him.
Snow and Ashes
directed by Charles Olivier-Michaud
Cast - Rhys Coiro, Lina Roessler, Frederic Gilles World Premiere
A War Correspondent covers an armed conflict in Eastern Europe. When he wakes from a coma, Blaise discovers that his collaborator is missing and sets out to recapture the events that led to his friend’s disappearance.
URFrenzdirected by Jeff PhillipsCast - Lily Holleman, Gayla Goehl, Carole Anne Johnson
eHigh school girls and their parents collide over the use of a popular social networking site when the identity and motives of an on-line boy come into question.
The Wild Hunt directed by Alexandre Franchi
Cast: Kaniehtiio Horn, Mark Anthony Krupa, Ricky MabeWorld PremiereA medieval re-enactment game turns into a Shakespearean tragedy when a non-player crashes the event to win back his girlfriend.
YellowBrickRoaddirected by Andy Mitton & Jesse Holland
Cast: Cassidy Freeman, Lee Wilkof, Anessa Ramsey
World PremiereAn expedition looks for answers to something horrible in the forest, but the forest finds something horrible in them.
Documentary Competition (all films are from the US unless otherwise noted):
directed by Mark Claywell.
What makes a man willing to kill and die for his religion?
Biker Foxdirected by Jeremy Lamberton
By taking the road less traveled, Biker Fox leads you to another dimension by "cogitating positive vibes to the cortex of your cerebellum" in this part documentary, part self-help testimonial.
directed by Costa BotesWorld Premiere
Candyman is the story of the rise and fall of David Klein, the man who invented Jelly Belly jelly beans. With Weired Al Yankovich
General Orders No. 9directed by Robert Persons
Take one last trip down the rabbit hole before it gets paved over. A history of the State of Georgia or Anywhere. Deer trail becomes Indian trail becomes county road becomes...
Mamachas Del Ring
directed by Betty M. Park
Bolivian women wrestlers throw down in the ring in this documentary about what it really means to fight like a girl. Carmen Rosa the Champion is their passionate leader, and is faced with a brutal decision when she is forced to choose between her love of sport and love of her family.
Mind of a Demon: The Larry Linkogle Story
directed by Adam BarkerNarrated by Lemmy
The birth of freestyle motocross became the demise of the sport's most infamous legend.
Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae
directed by Stascha BaderWith Rita Marley
US PremiereThe singers and musicians of Jamaica’s Golden Age of music, who made the rocksteady sound, come together after 40 years to record an album of their greatest hits, to perform together again at a reunion concert in Kingston, and to tell their story.
William Burroughs: A Man Within
directed by Yony LeyserWith David Cronenberg, Gus Van Sant, Peter Weller, Iggy Pop, Laurie AndersonWorld Premiere
Leyser paints a tender portrait of the Beat author and American icon, whose works at once savaged conservative ideals, spawned vibrant countercultural movements and reconfigured 20th century culture.
With Soderbergh premiering his latest documentary here, those friends who met all those years ago at the IFFM finally have the perfect revenge.
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