Sundance Film Festival 2012 kicks off Thursday in Park City, Utah, where independent film makers will be given the opportunity to shine in front of vast, open-minded and artistic audiences.
Established film directors such as Spike Lee, Stephen Frears and Joe Berlinger will also be exhibiting their work in the 11-day festival, which in total will showcase 117 feature length films and 64 shorts.
Featured films that will hold their premieres at the festival include:
California Solo: A film produced by and starring Robert Carlyle tells the story of lazy Scotsman Lachlan Macaldonich, a former guitar player for a once-popular 1990s rock band. No longer famous, he now lives a comfortably numb existence working on an organic farm outside Los Angeles. Macaldonich drinks himself stupid every night until one night he is arrested for drunken driving and faces the prospect of deportation. To stay in the United States, he has to prove that his absence will cause harm to a spouse of relative.
Keep the Lights On: An Ira Sachs film that chronicles the friendship of two men through sex, love and addiction, 'Keep the Lights On' is shot with a grainy beauty that transports us to its late '90s setting. It resonates with textures of New York City, accentuated by disco beats and a mournful cello, both from musician Arthur Russell's eclectic catalog, a statement reads on the festival Web site.
28 Hotel Rooms: While traveling for work in a city far from their homes, a novelist and a corporate accountant find themselves in bed together. Although she's married, and he's seeing someone, their intense attraction turns a one-night stand into an unexpected relationship and a respite from the obligations of daily life. Through a series of moments -- some profound, some silly, some intensely intimate -- we see a portrait of an evolving relationship that could become the most significant one of their lives. Director Matt Ross Screenwriter Matt Ross
About Face: The Supermodels, Then and Now. Portrait photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders's lush new film is an intimate view of the women whose images have defined our sense of beauty over the past five decades. An uncensored look at many of the biggest names in modeling, About Face: The Supermodels, Then and Now. reveals the stories behind the magazine covers displaying these multicultural pioneers. Each woman is candidly interviewed in the studio and shares her experiences, ideas on longevity, and philosophy of life in the fashion industry. Elegant archival footage and interviews with designer Calvin Klein and agency head Eileen Ford round out this absorbing chronicle. Director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
About the Pink Sky: Izumi, a headstrong high-school girl with a cheerfully cynical outlook-she routinely rates the newspaper by assigning articles positive or negative values-finds a wallet containing 300,000 yen (almost $4,000) and the owner's ID: Sato, a wealthy high school boy. Instead of returning it, Izumi lends a hefty sum to an older fishing buddy with financial problems. Her classmates Hasumi and Kaoru later force her to return the wallet to Sato, but, unable to account for all of the money, Izumi agrees to help him console a friend in the hospital by creating a newspaper containing only good news. Director Keiichi Kobayashi Screenwriter Keiichi Kobayashi
The D Word: Understanding Dyslexia: The D Word: Understanding Dyslexia skillfully explores the complex and often challenging world faced by those who have this disability. The film focuses on high-school senior Dylan as he shares his early struggles in school and prepares to begin studies at the college of his choice. Interviews with other young dyslexics, as well as highly accomplished businesspeople diagnosed with the learning disability, including Richard Branson, Charles Schwab, and California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, are seamlessly incorporated into the story. Two prominent doctors, Bennett and Sally Shaywitz at the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, help demystify and mitigate the stigma surrounding this syndrome. Director James Redford Screenwriter James Redford, Jen Bradwell
How to Survive a Plague: Faced with their own mortality, an improbable group of mostly HIV-positive young men and women broke the mold as radical warriors taking on Washington and the medical establishment. How to Survive a Plague is the story of ACT UP its spinoff TAG (Treatment Action Group), whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition. Despite having no scientific training, these self-made activists infiltrated the pharmaceutical industry and helped identify promising new drugs, moving them from experimental trials to patients in record time. With unfettered access to a treasure trove of never-before-seen archival footage from the 1980s and '90s, filmmaker David France puts the viewer smack in the middle of the controversial actions, the heated meetings, the heartbreaking failures, and the exultant breakthroughs of heroes in the making. Director: David France Screenwriter: David France, T. Woody Richman, Tyler Walk
I Am Not a Hipster: Things are not looking good for Brook, a young, talented singer/songwriter who has become the clichéd tortured artist. Slow to come to terms with the death of his mother, Brook is self-absorbed, aggressive, and the major obstruction to his own career success. His isolation is lifted when his three sisters and estranged father come to spread his mother's ashes. Brook's loving sisters have a magical effect on his anger and apathy, suggesting there may be hope for the misanthropic musician after all. Director: Destin Daniel Cretton Screenwriter: Destin Daniel Cretton
Meet Mr. Toilet: For those without access to a simple toilet, poop can be poison. Businessman-turned-sanitation-superhero Jack Sim fights this oft-neglected crisis that affects 2.6 billion people. DIRECTOR Jessica Yu U.S.A., 2011, 3 min, color,
New Frontier Shorts: The New Frontier short film program stretches the possibilities of moving pictures, providing a visceral experience for our minds and souls. Through controlled minimalism, evocative landscapes, and sonic panoramas, we find the ability to see through the blurry lines of our physical and political worlds. Starting with the global and moving to the microscopic, we get closer to the issues of our times to understand and deal with them. We are all made of the same stardust, and keeping that fact close to our hearts may help us act respectfully with one other.
Night Hunter: In this handmade film, composed of more than four thousand collages and shot in 35mm color, actress Lillian Gish is seamlessly appropriated from silent-era cinema and plunged into a new and haunting role. Director Stacey Steers Screenwriter Stacey Steers
Robots of Brixton: When the police invade the one space that the robots can call their own, the fierce and strained relationship between the two sides explodes into violence. Director: Kibwe Tavares Screenwriter: Kibwe Tavares
Safety Not Guaranteed: Three magazine employees are sent to investigate a personal advertisement placed in the newspaper: guy seeking partner for time travel. They venture to the coast and set up a haphazard surveillance. Darius is recruited as the shill; her dry wit and cynical nature are perfectly suited to trap this enigmatic oddball, Kenneth, and get a good story. But it is she who first sees past the paranoid loner façade to the compelling person inside. The drawback? This still doesn't rule out the possibility that he just might be crazy. Director Colin Trevorrow Screenwriter Derek Connolly
Searching for Sugar Man: Rodriguez was the greatest '70s U.S. rock icon who never was. His albums were critically well-received, but sales bombed, and he faded away into obscurity among rumors of a gruesome death. However, as fate would have it, a bootleg copy of his record made its way to South Africa, where his music became a phenomenal success. In a country suppressed by apartheid, his anti-establishment message connected with the people. Director: Malik Bendjelloul Screenwriter: Malik Bendjelloul
V/H/S: When a group of petty criminals is hired by a mysterious party to retrieve a rare piece of found footage from a rundown house in the middle of nowhere, they soon realize that the job isn't going to be as easy as they thought. In the living room, a lifeless body holds court before a hub of old television sets, surrounded by stacks upon stacks of VHS tapes. As they search for the right one, they are treated to a seemingly endless number of horrifying videos, each stranger than the last. Director Adam Wingard, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence, David Bruckner, Joe Swanberg, Ti West Screenwriter Simon Barrett, Glenn McQuaid, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, Chad Villella, David Bruckner, Nicholas Tecosky, Ti West
West of Memphis: For many people, the case of the West Memphis Three has become synonymous with wrongful conviction. Despite a lack of physical evidence, three Arkansas teenagers were found guilty in 1994 of the ritual murder of three 8-year-old boys. Media attention led to an outpouring of support that has helped to keep them in the public consciousness for nearly two decades until they were freed last year. Director: Amy Berg Screenwriter Amy Berg
Wish You Were Here: Expectant parents Alice and Dave join Alice's younger sister, Steph, and her new boyfriend, Jeremy, on an impromptu tropical getaway in Cambodia. But following Jeremy's abrupt disappearance, the others must attempt to return to their normal lives in Sydney. The shell-shocked survivors' recovery begins to fall apart when a stinging truth about their time in Cambodia is revealed. The three must contend with the fallout, along with the looming threat of further revelations about that fateful night. Director Kieran Darcy-Smith Screenwriter Kieran Darcy-Smith, Felicity Price