Consider that for this year’s Sundance Film Festival, 118 feature-length films were selected including 87 world premieres, 19 North American premieres, and four U.S. premieres representing 21 different countries

These films were selected from 3,661 feature-length film submissions, composed of 1,905 U.S. and 1,756 international films. For us here at Local 600, that translates into a bumper crop for the New Year: nearly 40 percent of all the features selected for the 2009 Sundance Film Festival were shot by Local 600 cinematographers. That’s the largest number of Guild cinematographers with projects since the festival’s inception, offering even more proof that Local 600 members have penetrated every level of filmmaking in the industry, from the mega-budget Hollywood tent pole flicks we’ve always been known for, on down to the micro-budget indies that created the Sundance brand.

And unlike the other big numbers we’ve been hearing about this year, like the Dow Jones index off by nearly 36 percent, and the national unemployment rate soaring to 6.7 percent, 40 percent of Sundance features being shot by union DPs is beautiful news, because it means the entertainment industry’s most skilled craftspeople are busy making movies. Are we boasting? You bet we are! And a quick look below reveals the list of Local 600 cinematographers (grouped by Festival Category) that are screening in Park City this year, followed by a short blurb about their movies.

DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

Ben Bloodwell / Antonio Rossi – Dirt! The Movie

U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION

John Bailey,ASC – Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

Tobias Datum – Amreeka

Frank DeMarco – Peter and Vandy

Andrew Dunn, BSC – Push

Michael Fimognari – Dare

Alar Kivilo, ASC, CSC – Taking Chance

Andrij Parekh – Cold Souls

Michael Simmonds – Big Fan

PREMIERES

Bobby Bukowski – The Messenger

Frank DeMarco – The Winning Season

Lukas Ettlin – Shrink

Xavier Perez Grobet, AMC – I Love You Phillip Morris

Terry Stacey – Adventureland

Eric Steelberg – 500 Days of Summer

Adam Kimmel – Rudo y Cursi

Petra Korner – The Informers

M. David Mullen, ASC – Manure

Patrick Murguia – Brooklyn’s Finest

Steven Poster, ASC – Spread

Nancy Schreiber, ASC – Motherhood

SPECTRUM

Frank Godwin –  Lymelife

Horacio Marquinez – World’s Greatest Dad

Guillermo Navarro, ASC – It Might Get Loud

Ruben O’Malley – Once More With Feeling

Erich Roland –  It Might Get Loud

Matthew Libatique, ASC – Passing Strange

Ryan Samul – The Missing Person

PARK CITY AT MIDNIGHT

Lukas Ettlin – The Killing Room

Frank DeMarco – Spring Breakdown

Zoran Popovic – Grace

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION

John de Borman, BSC – An Education

David Franco – Victoria Day

Frank DeMarco

Peter and Vandy, directed by Jay DiPietro from his award-winning play by the same name, is a carefully crafted “actors” film. I learned so much about truthful acting from the director and just watching two excellent, well-directed actors (Jason Ritter and Jess Weixler) do their thing. It’s a great personal film.

Spring Breakdown, directed by Ryan Shiraki, is an over-the-top Hollywood comedy with Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Parker Posey, Amber Tamblyn and many actors from Saturday Night Live. The fun and challenge of this film was to work with such a large, female ensemble cast. There were several big musical numbers that we had to cover with as many as five cameras, and cranes and Steadicams. I love working with multiple cameras, so this film was a dream to shoot.

The Winning Season, directed by James Strouse. Working with an amazing actor like Sam Rockwell made the difficulty of shooting a low-budget, widescreen film in 24 days possible. This film was one of the best collaborations between director, actors and cinematographer I’ve ever experienced. (PLEASE NOTE: because it was accepted late in the process The Winning Season is not listed in the Sundance 2009 catalogue. However, it will screen on Monday, January 19, at 8:30 p.m. at the Library in Park City.)

Zoran Popovic

Eight months pregnant, and preoccupied with both a natural childbirth and a pure-body lifestyle, Madeline Matheson, played with merciless compassion by Jordan Ladd, deflects her demanding mother-in-law’s insistent pressure for standard hospital treatment, instead opting for the peaceful companionship of a trusted midwife. Though reluctantly compliant, her husband remains supportive of her choices until a sudden tragic accident leaves her unborn baby lifeless inside of her. Madeline remains determined to carry the stillborn baby to term, where she miraculously wills the delivered corpse into life. But it is not too long before the increasingly isolated mother realizes that something is not right with baby Grace, and she must make horrible sacrifices to keep her living. In his feature debut, writer/director Paul Solet relies upon a precise and slow-building technical elegance, supplemented by fearless performances and the ever-elusive gift of a genuinely frightening story, to violate the sanctity of a mother’s love and create true horror. Seething with a kind of sophisticated terror uncommon for its genre, Grace effortlessly uncoils an atmosphere of immense discomfort and subtle intensity, while quietly slicing into our most primal fears.