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Stars Turn Out For Opening of ’08 Sundance Festival

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January 24 – January 31, 2008 Edition

Stars Turn Out
For Opening of ’08
Sundance Festival

PARK CITY, UT/1/17/08–­The 2008 Sundance Film Festival opened today with a press conference at the Egyptian Theatre featuring Robert Redford, President and Founder of Sundance Institute, Geoffrey Gilmore, Director of the Sundance Film Festival, and Martin McDonagh, director of the Festival’s Opening Night film, IN BRUGES. The Sundance Film Festival is a core program of Sundance Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to the discovery and development of independent artists and audiences. The Festival runs from January 17-27, 2008, in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. In addition to film screenings, the Festival showcases emerging talent in the fields of visual arts, music, animation and dialogue. The complete Festival program is available at www.sundance.org/festival.

“As from the beginning, the Sundance Film Festival is about discovery of new talent and of issues that are resonating with filmmakers and artists alike,” said Robert Redford, President and Founder of Sundance Institute. “This year filmmakers are putting a personal focus on issues relating to the world we live in rather than addressing them on a macro-political level. And it’s exciting to me to see a new community of storytellers cross over from different points of origin: the playwright who brings his words to the screen, the poet who shares her story through music, the advocate who invokes social change through documentary and many other artists whose works extend beyond the screen.”

For the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, 125 feature films were selected from 3,624 submissions. This year’s Festival includes films from 34 countries ranging from Columbia, Denmark, Jordan and New Zealand, to Japan, Panama, Pakistan and Russia. The Festival also presents 83 short films from a total of 17 countries representing dramatic, documentary, and animated forms selected from 5,107 submissions. Panels, workshops, music, multimedia installations and other experimental film works at the Festival’s New Frontier on Main art space round out the Program.

“We can never predict what will capture the collective consciousness of filmgoers; however the range of diverse voices this year suggests a Festival at its very best: thought provoking, enticing and expansive,” said Geoffrey Gilmore, Director of the Sundance Film Festival. “There are 55 first-time filmmakers; selections from countries never before represented; ambitious, raw performances, and well-known actors in unexpected roles. What is provocative, exciting, is the process of films finding their audience.”

The 2008 Sundance Film Festival gets underway tonight at the Eccles Theatre with the Opening Night film, the world premiere of IN BRUGES, written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker and award-winning playwright, Martin McDonagh. With an international cast starring Ralph Fiennes, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, IN BRUGES tells the suspenseful, twisted tale of two London hit men ordered to take a forced vacation in Bruges, Belgium, and how their subsequent time in exile goes awry.

“In many ways IN BRUGES is a quintessential Sundance film—it’s brutal, philosophical, funny, and totally original,” said Gilmore. “Martin McDonagh is a masterful storyteller, a tremendously gifted playwright and provocative risk-taker and we are thrilled to showcase his feature-length directorial debut.”

McDonagh’s first foray into filmmaking was with the short film, SIX SHOOTER, also starring Brendan Gleeson, which won the Academy Award for best live-action short film in 2006. A winner of two Olivier Awards for the plays The Lieutenant if Inishmore and The Pillowman, he is also a four-time Tony Award-nominated playwright of The Beauty Queen of Leenane, The Lonesome West and The Pillowman. McDonagh is recognized for his sharp dialogue and vivid storytelling that is both provocative and powerful.

“Geoffrey Gilmore and the good people of Park City have truly rolled out the red carpet for my lead actors, our producers, and myself. It’s a thrill to be world-premiering our movie IN BRUGES in the Sundance Film Festival. Since I expect that at least some of us will have worn out our welcome by Sunday brunch, I’m going snowboarding while there’s still time.” said McDonagh.

Audiences will have an opportunity to hear McDonagh’s views on filmmaking at Film Church with Martin McDonagh, to be held on Sunday, January 20 at Filmmaker Lodge.

Other Festival highlights include the Salt Lake City Gala on Friday, January 18 at the Rose Wagner Theatre featuring the World Premiere of THE GREAT BUCK HOWARD, directed by Sean McGinly and starring Colin Hanks, John Malkovich and Emily Blunt about a law school dropout who answers an advertisement to be a celebrity’s personal assistant. On Wednesday, January 23, Sundance en Espanol, a celebration of Latin films and filmmakers participating in the Festival, will screen a collection of six Spanish language films and four films in English by Hispanic and Latino directors. Those screenings will be held at three Salt Lake City venues.

On Friday, January 26, the Closing Film screening in Park City signals the Festival’s final weekend. This year’s Closing Film is the world premiere of Neil Young’s CSNY DÉJÀ VU which examines Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s connection to its audience in both political and musical terms, and the relationship between Vietnam-era sentiment and today’s political environment.

The premier showcase for the best new work by American and international independent filmmakers, Sundance Film Festival provides audiences with abundant opportunities to discover today’s most innovative films. In addition to the four Competition categories, films screen in five out-of-competition sections.

Films in the Documentary Competition represent a broad section of new documentaries by American independent filmmakers. From examinations of the American political system and the country’s use of natural resources to explorations of cultural development and intimate portraits of legendary artists, these films represent a thematic and artistic variety. All world premieres, this year’s 16 films were selected from a record 953 submissions.

Each film is a world premiere.

One of the most recognizable sections of the Festival, Dramatic Competition includes films that employ a range of aesthetic invention and reinvention of genre. From the light-hearted exploration of the darker side of human nature and relationships to stories that address serious issues of class and race, the 2008 Dramatic Competition represents a range of distinctive voices and unique storytelling. This year’s 16 films were selected from 1,068 submissions. Each film is a world premiere.

Sixteen films screen in the World Documentary Competition. This year’s films were selected from 620 submissions represent 8 countries including Pakistan, Jordan, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and Canada. The range of human experience is played out in these engaging stories about the artistic process, the cost of conflict, faith and nationalism, and the triumph of personal spirit.

The World Cinema Dramatic Competition reflects Sundance’s commitment to championing the independent spirit in filmmakers everywhere and to fostering creative dialogue between divergent cultures. This year’s 16 selections from 983 submissions represent 17 countries including Spain, Peru, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Panama, Russia, and Sweden. From sexual exploits to criminal minds, coming-of-age stories to life-altering events, these films introduce us to characters with tenacity, imagination, and spirit that transcend borders.

A tribute to the abundance of compelling new voices and the creative spirit in independent filmmaking, the Spectrum program presents out-of-competition dramatic and documentary films from some of the most promising filmmakers in the world today. For 2008, Sundance Film Festival features a new sidebar, Spectrum: Documentary Spotlight. Unfulfilled dreams, storybook heroes, joyful octogenarians, and gangsters with a heart are revealed in these new films.

The Festival continues to expand its online offerings to include a selection of short films premiering over the10 days, as well as behind-the-scenes interviews with filmmakers and exclusive Festival coverage. All content is available to online audiences free of charge at www.sundance.org/festival; new content will premiere daily. Each day of the Festival, one new short film will premiere online for 24 hours. The Short Film Program, both at the Festival and online, has been graciously supported by Festival Presenting Level Sponsor, Adobe Systems Incorporated.

In addition, a selection of 45 Festival shorts — dramas, comedies, documentaries and animation– is available for purchase and download on three platforms: Apple’s iTunes Movie Store, Xbox LIVE, the online entertainment network for Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and the Netflix member Web Site. Presented in collaboration with Sundance Channel, the shorts available online will launch simultaneously on all three platforms beginning January 18, 2008 and run through 2011.

Cinematic installations, live multimedia performance events, and panel discussions will be featured in New Frontier on Main, the Festival’s art space for showcasing films and work from the cutting edge of cinematic culture. Serving as a platform for artists, New Frontier highlights the intersection of art, film, and emerging media technologies. The artists involved use the moving image to explore new concepts of narrative structure. A vital part of New Frontier is the screening of seven feature films and 12 shorts at Festival theatre venues. New Frontier on Main will also present 15 installations by artists working in the moving-image medium.

In addition, the 2008 Sundance Film Festival celebrates film culture with a variety of panels and forums with filmmakers, industry leaders, journalists and scholars. The Festival provides a unique platform for discussing and debating an array of issues and topics addressed in the films or present in the independent film industry. Panel attendees at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival will be treated to lively conversations about filmmaking technology, the culture of new cinema, perspectives from Middle Eastern filmmakers, film criticism, digital distribution and more.

2008 Sundance Film Festival Jurors

This year the Festival welcomes to its jury a stellar collection of US and international filmmakers, curators and actors including:

Dramatic Competition: Marcia Gay Harden, Mary Harron, Diego Luna, Sandra Oh and Quentin Tarantino; Documentary Competition: Michelle Byrd, Heidi Ewing, Eugene Jarecki, Steven Okazaki and Annie Sundberg; World Dramatic Competition: Shunji Iwai (Japan), Lucrecia Martel (Argentina) and Jan Schuette (Germany); World Documentary Competition: Amir Bar-Lev (US), Leena Pasanen (Finland/Denmark) and Ilda Santiago (Brazil); American and International Shorts: Jon Bloom, Melonie Diaz and Jason Reitman; and The Alfred P. Sloan Prize: Alan Alda, Michael Polish, Evan Schwartz, Benedict Schwegler and John Underkoffler. Awards will be announced on the evening of January 26 at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival Awards Ceremony at the Park City Racquet Club.

2008 Sundance Film Festival Sponsors

The 2008 Sundance Film Festival Sponsors help sustain Sundance Institute’s year-round programs to support independent artists, inspire risk-taking, and encourage diversity in the arts. This year’s Festival Sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors – Entertainment Weekly, Volkswagen of America, Inc., HP, and Adobe Systems Incorporated; Leadership Sponsors – American Express, Delta Air Lines, DIRECTV, and Microsoft Corporation; Sustaining Sponsors – 360 Vodka, Blockbuster Inc., ChaCha, L’Oréal Paris, The New York Times, Ray-Ban, Sony Electronics, Inc., Stella Artois®, Turning Leaf Vineyards, Utah Film Commission, and ZonePerfect® Nutrition Bars. Sundance Channel is the Official Television Network of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Film Festival is the premier showcase for U.S. and international independent film. Held each January in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Sundance, Utah, the Festival is a core program of Sundance Institute, a nonprofit cultural organization founded by Robert Redford in 1981. Presenting dramatic and documentary feature-length films in nine distinct categories and approximately 80 short films each year, the Sundance Film Festival has introduced American audiences to some of the most innovative films of the past two decades. Since 1984, the Festival program has evolved to include music, art, and dialogue. Beyond the streets of Park City, the official website of the Sundance Film Festival, http://www.sundance.org/festival shares the Festival experience with a global audience with short films, filmmaker interviews, videos, podcasts, photos, news stories, and more.

Sundance Institute

Dedicated year-round to the development of artists of independent vision and to the exhibition of their new work, Sundance Institute celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2006. Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, the Institute has grown into an internationally recognized resource for thousands of independent artists through its Film Festival and artistic development programs for filmmakers, screenwriters, composers, playwrights, and theatre artists. The original values of independence, creative risk-taking, and discovery continue to define and guide the work of Sundance Institute, both with U.S. artists and, increasingly, with artists from other regions of the world.