Continental presence growing at Sundance
by Liza Foreman
The Sundance Film Festival (January 20-30) might be synonymous with independent American cinema but in recent years there has been more of a focus placed on world cinema and within that bracket – the cinemas of Europe.
While the Liv Tyler’s and Elizabeth Olson’s of the world have garnered a lot of the attention here, with titles like the American competition films The Ledge which was directed by Britain’s Matthew Chapman and Martha, Marcy May Marlene which stars Olson as a young woman who escapes from a New York cult, European films have quietly begun to make a splash here with films like the Dutch title Position Among the Stars [+see also:
film profile] from Leonard Retel Helmrich (which won best feature-length documentary and best Dutch documentary at IDFA this year); Norway’s Happy, Happy [+see also:
film profile]; Sicily’s Lost Kisses [+see also:
film profile] in which director Roberta Torre paints a dreamscape of life in a Sicilian city; and the painting within a film, The Mill and the Cross [+see also:
interview: Lech Majewski
film profile], from Poland’s Lech Majewski, all among the hidden gems to be found at this year’s festival.
In The Mill and the Cross Majewski picks up the stories of a dozen characters to be found in the painting by Peter Bruegel from which the film takes its name. The Mill and the Cross stars Rutger Hauer.
Although the odd European director and actor can be found in the main categories –including, this year, Emily Mortimer for My Idiot Brother, Eva Green for Perfect Sense and Rutger Hauer for Hobo with a Shotgun, his second film here – most European films can be found in the World sections of the festival, including the World Documentary and World Dramatic Competition sections.
A breakdown of the 2011 figures shows just how much things have changed in terms of bringing in foreign films to Park City. For the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, 118 feature-length films were selected, representing 29 countries by 40 first-time filmmakers, including 25 in competition. These films were selected from 3,812 feature-length film submissions composed of 1,943 U.S. and 1,869 international feature-length films. 92 films at the festival are world premieres.
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