Sundance 2013: Festival Unveils 2 Star-Studded Noncompetition Categories
by Daniel Miller
by Daniel Miller
The highly anticipated Steve Jobs biopic, jOBS, will close the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, organizers announced Monday afternoon.
The film, starring Ashton Kutcher, is one of several projects in the festival's noncompetition Premieres section that is toplined by a mainstream star. Other projects feature Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (all three appear in Don Jon's Addiction), Shia LaBeouf (The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman) and Amanda Seyfried (Lovelace).
The Premieres section, which includes 18 films this year, historically has included some of the festival's highest-profile projects. Some Premieres films wind up coming to Sundance with distribution in hand, while many others secure it by the end of the festival. In addition to the Premieres movies, 11 films screening in Documentary Premieres section were announced on Monday. All of the movies in both sections will receive their world premieres at Sundance.
The 11-day festival's competition and other out-of-competition categories were announced Nov. 28-29. In addition to Park City, films will be screened in Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. The festival runs Jan. 17-27. This year, 115 feature-length films representing 32 countries were selected for Sundance; the haul includes projects from 51 first-time filmmakers — including 27 films that are in competition. These projects were selected from 12,146 submissions, 429 more than last year.
Since Kutcher's casting in jOBS was revealed in April, interest in the project has steadily grown. The Joshua Michael Stern-directed biopic was written by Matt Whiteley and also features Dermot Mulroney, Josh Gad, Lukas Haas, J.K. Simmons and Matthew Modine. Making it Sundance's closing-night film was a shrewd move by festival programmers because it will likely ensure that plenty of film buyers, executives and agents stick around until Sundance's bitter end in order to take in the movie.
But Trevor Groth, director of programming for the festival, said that the film was chosen to close the festival because “there's something inspirational about it. To see what he achieved by just like staying true to his vision is something that, you know, I think a lot of people can relate to and get hope from.”
Festival director John Cooper believes Kutcher’s portrayal of the enigmatic Apple founder will resonate with viewers. “Ashton Kutcher's performance I thought was quite remarkable," Cooper said. "It's a very formidable performance by him and it seemed like he really tried to grasp all the nuances of who Steve Jobs was.”
Two Premieres projects already have distribution with Fox Searchlight Pictures -- the Park Chan-wook-directed family drama/thriller Stoker and the Zal Batmanglij-directed terrorism thriller The East. Cooper said the Premieres films "are selected on their own merit," and whether they have distribution heading into the festival is not taken into consideration by programmers. "It really doesn't matter to us at all," he said.
Meanwhile, 16 other Premieres projects will be in search of buyers. Gordon-Levitt will make his feature directorial debut with Don Jon’s Addiction, about a selfish modern-day Don Juan; the actor stars in the project alongside Johansson and Moore. The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman centers on a man who falls for a Romanian beauty while traveling abroad and becomes enveloped in her dark past. LaBeouf stars opposite Evan Rachel Wood in the film from director Fredrik Bond and screenwriter Matt Drake. In the drama Lovelace, Seyfried plays Linda Lovelace, the porn performer who rocketed to fame after starring in Deep Throat, the famed 1972 adult film.
Among the notable films in the Documentary Premieres section is Alison Ellwood's History of the Eagles, which documents the famed "Hotel California" band. Sundance often features music documentaries that bring notable acts to Park City in support of the projects -- last year, Ice-T gave a performance at the ASCAP Music Café on Main Street after the premiere of his documentary The Art of Rap. Could a performance in Park City by the Eagles be in the offing?
The full Premieres and Documentary Premieres lineups appear after the jump.