More than 50 new films shot by Local 600 members set to debut at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
“Me against the world” is a proper theme for this year’s Sundance Film Festival, unspooling January 22 – February 1 in locations that now reach from Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute (48 miles from Park City) down to Salt Lake City proper and beyond. As usual, Local 600 members will arrive in force, with more than 50 projects shot and/or crewed by Guild indies, many of whom are visiting the festival for the first time. Coming-of-age stories, often with alienated heroes thrust into an unfamiliar and dizzying world, dominate the narrative categories, with offerings like The Diary of a Teenage Girl (shot by Brandon Trost), Stockholm, Pennsylvania (shot by Arnaud Potier and Pedro Guimaraes), the provocatively named Me & Earl & the Dying Girl (lensed by Chung-hoon Chung), and Ten Thousand Saints, the first of two features prolific Guild indie cinematographer Ben Kutchins (ICG November 2014) has premiering this season.
Adult protagonists fare no better. Sarah Silverman goes way beyond her comedic comfort zone, playing a troubled mom who recklessly topples her charmed suburban life in I Smile Back (shot by Eric Lin); perennial Sundance alum Tim Orr brings his Z is for Zachariah to Park City, about a young woman who literally believes she’s the last person on earth after a disaster wipes civilization clean; and Oscar winner Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, ASC, AMC, crash-lands with director Rodrigo Garcia and an all-Guild camera team to portray Jesus’ march out of desolation in Last Days in the Desert, featuring Ewan McGregor in the title role, and as the devil who tempts him!
The alone time isn’t just physical: D Train (shot by Giles Nuttgens) and I Am Michael (shot by Christopher Blauvelt) are two examples of heroes who find themselves on social islands by their own volition. And no fewer than two features this year are based on infamous group psychological tests – Experimenter (shot by Ryan Samul) recounts social psychologist Stanley Milgram’s (Peter Sarsgaard) horrifying “obedience experiments” at Yale University in 1961, while frequent Sundance shooter Jas Shelton arrives with The Stanford Prison Experiment, also based on real events in 1971 in which jail conditions were simulated with real people in a Lord of the Flies–type situation. Of course these loners will hardly be alone on their on-screen journeys; attendance at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival is expected to exceed a record 50,000.
(Note: this listing was compiled with information supplied by Local 600 members prior to the start of the festival. We are not responsible for omission of films and crewmember names not provided to www.icgagazine.com by posting date.)
U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Advantageous – Richard Wong shot this off-beat science-fiction offering from writer/director Jennifer Phang (Half-Life) set in a metropolis in the near future. Gwen Koh (Jaqueline Kim) is a beautiful woman, full of poise and grace, who works as the spokesperson for the Center for Advanced Health and Living, a company that offers a radical new technology allowing people to overcome their natural disadvantages and begin life anew. When a shift in company priorities threatens her job and her family, Gwen must decide whether to undergo the procedure herself.
The Diary of a Teenage Girl – Guild cinematographer Brandon Trost (who shot the most controversial film of the last decade with The Interview) brings this adaption of the acclaimed graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner to Park City. Written and directed by first-timer Marielle Heller, this live-action/animation hybrid recounts the coming-of-age adventures of Minnie Goetze, a San Francisco teenager growing up in the counterculture haze of the 1970s. Local 600 members on the crew included 1st AC Markus Mentzer and 2nd AC Amy Ecklund.
Dope – From director/screenwriter Rick Famuyiwa comes a tale of a young man carefully surviving life in a tough L.A. neighborhood. A chance invitation to an underground party leads him on an adventure that could allow him to go from being a “geek” to “being dope.” Sundance veteran Rachel Morrison (Fruitvale Station) utilized a full Guild camera team for this indie feature, including A-camera operator Abby Linne, A-camera 1st AC Wayne Goring, B-camera operator Dale Vance Jr., B-cam 1st ACs Joe Segura and Lawrence Montemayor, 2nd AC Patrick Romero, DIT Rand Paulin, utility Seaton Trotter and additional A-camera operating from Sarah Levy.
I Smile Back – Eric Lin used ALEXA and Cooke S2/S3 primes to capture this unusual role for comedian Sarah Silverman – a devoted suburban mother and wife suffering from depression and disillusionment that sends her careening into a reckless series of compulsive endeavors. To give a sense of a strong subjective point of view for director Adam Salky (whose film, Dare, was a hit at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival), Lin shot primarily handheld, with Local 600 1st AC Erik Kandefer doing “a heroic job keeping focus with our restless camera.” Following the actors in long takes from room to room forced Lin to rely on shaping existing practicals and natural daylight, while also trying to find clever ways to sneak in movie lights. “For our daylight units, we kept things small and used Hive plasmas,” Lin adds, “which give a lot of punch but draw about half the wattage of a comparable HMI. It allowed us to avoid using a generator in many cases and move more quickly, which was essential to making our tight schedule.”
Me & Earl & the Dying Girl – Chung-hoon Chung shot this coming-of-age tale about an awkward, self-deprecating high school student who is determined to coast through his senior year as anonymously as possible. Avoiding social interaction like the plague, Greg spends most of his time remaking wacky versions of classic movies with his only friend, Earl. Greg’s well-meaning mother intervenes, forcing him to befriend Rachel, a classmate who’s been diagnosed with leukemia. Against his better judgment, Greg concedes. Both Greg and Rachel are surprised—even shocked—to find out that they actually like each other. Tentative at first, this unlikely duo becomes inseparable. But when Rachel gets sicker, Greg’s well-fortified world is changed forever.
Stockholm, Pennsylvania – Writer/director Nikole Beckwith created this story about a young woman (Saoirse Ronan) who is reunited with her parents after being abducted 17 years earlier. Raised in a suburban basement and renamed Leia by her kidnapper, she was told the outside world had come to an end and now must completely reconceive her perceptions. Local 600 members featured on the camera team included DPs Arnaud Potier and Pedro Guimaraes, DIT Nick Strauser, and AC’s Chris Strauser, Eric Jensch, Manash Das, and John Parson, operator/Steadicam Cedric Martin, SOC, and unit stills Aaron Epstein.
The Bronze – Scott Henriksen lensed this story about Hope Ann Greggory (played by co-writer Melissa Rauch) about a former Olympic gymnast, a bronze medal winner, who is forced to reassess her life when a promising young gymnast threatens her celebrity status in the small hometown to which Greggory returned (and in which she now lives in embittered obscurity). Guild members on the Tier-1 indie feature included ACs Travis Cleary, W. K. Cronin, Ryan Eustis, Nikki Gray, Phoebe Krueger, Rick Lamb, Tiffany Laufer, Xander Paul, Ryan Bushman, and Thomas Vandermillen. Operators on the show included Adam White, Craig Nix, David Luckenbach, Kevin Hewitt, Nicholas Deeg. Alicia Gbur was unit stills.
D Train – Dan Landsman (Jack Black) is the overly enthusiastic head of his high school reunion committee and also the group’s laughingstock. To impress his so-called friends, he vows to convince their most famous former classmate (James Marsden), the star of a national Banana Boat TV commercial, to go to the reunion to increase attendance. Dan travels to Los Angeles and spins a web of lies, igniting intoxicating excitement for the first time in his humdrum life. Shot by Sundance veteran Giles Nuttgens.
The Overnight – John Guleserian returns to Sundance, along with B-camera operator Scott Johnson and Guild ACs Kyle Knudson and John Ruiz, with this story about Alex, Emily, and their son, RJ, who have recently moved to Los Angeles’ Eastside from Seattle. Feeling lost in a new city, they are desperate to find their first new friends. After a chance meeting with Kurt at the neighborhood park, they gladly agree to join family pizza night at his home. But as it gets later and the kids go to bed, the family “playdate” becomes increasingly more revealing as the couples begin to open up. Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, and Judith Godrèche balance the roller coaster of emotions in this dramedy from writer/director Patrick Brice.
The Stanford Prison Experiment – Indie filmmaker Kyle Patrick Alvarez, whose feature C.O.G. was a hit at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, returns with this true-life story of Dr. Philip Zimbardo (Billy Crudup), who in the summer of 1971 launched a study on the psychology of imprisonment. Twenty-four male undergraduates were randomly assigned to be guards or prisoners. Set in a simulated jail, the participants rapidly embody their roles—the guards become power-hungry and sadistic, while the prisoners, subject to degradation, strategize as underdogs. Guild cinematographer Jas Shelton was behind the lens, along with A-camera 1st AC Keith Jones, operators Dana Morris, Victor Macias, and Brent Barbano, and unit stills Steve Dietl.
The Witch – This feature debut from writer/director Robert Eggers, shot by Guild DP Jarin Blaschke, revolves around a colonial family that attempts to reap their harvest on a fledgling farm at the edge of an imposing ancient New England forest. Superstition and dread set in as food grows scarce, a family member goes missing, and the children’s play takes on a frenzied and menacing undercurrent. As the family members begin to turn on one another, the malevolent machinations of an ethereal presence from within the woods exacerbate the growing corruption of their own natures.
Z is for Zachariah – Guild indie Tim Orr is back yet again at Sundance, this time with three-time Sundance-directing-veteran Craig Zobel. In the wake of a disaster that wipes out most of civilization, a young woman who believes she is the last human on Earth meets a dying scientist searching for survivors. Their relationship becomes tenuous when another male survivor appears. As the two men compete for the woman’s affection, their primal urges begin to reveal their true nature.
U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Best of Enemies – Guild shooters Graham Willoughby and Mark Schwartzbard co-lensed this non-fiction feature from Sundance favorite (and Oscar winner) Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet From Stardom) about the 1968 political convention debates between new conservative William F. Buckley, Jr. and leftist novelist Gore Vidal. Armed with deep-seated distrust and enmity, Vidal and Buckley believed each other’s political ideologies were dangerous for America. Like rounds in a heavyweight battle, they pummeled out policy and personal insult – cementing their opposing political positions. Their explosive exchanges devolved into vitriolic name-calling. It was unlike anything TV had ever broadcast, and all the more shocking because it was live and unscripted.
Call Me Lucky – Guild DP Bradley Stonesifer (who also co-produced), along with a Local 600 camera crew that included camera operators Nick Savander and Drew Lauer and 1st AC John Reyes, helped director Bobcat Goldthwait bring this unique project to the screen about comedian Barry Crimmins. The comic’s rapid-fire assault on ignorance and complacency in ’80s America dovetailed with what Crimmins considered the height of an ill-considered foreign policy. Interviews with comics like Margaret Cho and Marc Maron illustrate Crimmins’ love affair with comedy and his role in discovering and supporting the development of many of today’s stars.
How To Dance In Ohio – HBO Documentary Films snagged the U.S. television rights to this poignant feature about a group of autistic teenagers and young adults in Columbus, Ohio, who role-play the deceptively complex social interactions of preparing for a spring formal dance. Focusing on several young women as they go through an iconic American rite of passage, the film gives intimate access to people who are often unable to share their experiences with others. Lensed by longtime Guild doc DP and Sundance alumnus Laela Kilbourn (Portraits of Faith, American Teen).
Racing Extinction – Academy Award-winning documentarian Louie Psihoyos (The Cove) examines humankind’s role in precipitating mass extinction, potentially resulting in the loss of half of the world’s species. Psihoyos joins forces with activists, scientists, nature photographers, and cutting-edge inventors to draw attention to the dangers we face. While covert operations reveal the horrific black-market trade in endangered aquatic species, the film’s broader lens uncovers the even more disastrous consequences of human activity, chiefly the release of ocean-killing methane and carbon from energy consumption. Guild doc veteran (and Sundance regular) Sean Kirby was one of a handful of cinematographers on board, who also included Local 600 DIT member Petr Stepanek.
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution – The story of the Black Panthers is often told in a scatter of repackaged parts, often depicting tragic, mythic accounts of violence and criminal activity. Master documentarian Stanley Nelson goes straight to the source, weaving a treasure of rare archival footage with the voices of the people who were there: police, FBI informants, journalists, white supporters and detractors, and Black Panthers who remained loyal to the party and those who left it. Co-lensed by veteran Guild indie Antonio Rossi.
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief – Academy Award–winner Alex Gibney turns his gaze to Scientology in film, based on the book of nearly the same name by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright. Gibney profiles eight former members of the Church of Scientology, whose most prominent adherents include A-list Hollywood celebrities, shining a light on how the church cultivates true believers, including their experiences and what they are willing to do in the name of religion. The film covers a broad range of material from the church’s origins – punctuated by an intimate portrait of founder L. Ron Hubbard – to present-day practices and alleged abuses as reported in the media. Lensed by Guild operator Sam Painter.
Most Likely to Succeed – Where a college diploma once meant a guaranteed job, now more than half of America’s new college graduates are unable to find employment. Director Greg Whiteley (Mitt, 2014 Sundance Film Festival) locates the source of the problem not in the economy but in our educational system, which was developed at the dawn of the Industrial Age to train obedient workers and has changed little since, despite radical changes in the marketplace wrought by technology and the outsourcing of labor. With a world of information just a click away and the modern workplace’s valuing skills like collaboration and critical thinking, our rote-based system of learning has become outdated and ineffective. Lensed by Guild member Gabriel Patay, who also shot Mitt.
Prophet’s Prey – When noted author Jon Krakauer stumbled upon a closed polygamous community in southern Utah in 1999, it caught him by surprise. Private investigator Sam Brower (whose 2011 book shares the film’s name) was already investigating the rogue sect known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints (FLDS). Here the two men share their alarming allegations of sexual abuse, underage marriages, and pregnancies. Collaborating with a local Texas journalist who first reported the story, they retrace their involvement that led to the capture and conviction of the group’s maniacal leader, Warren Jeffs. Shot by Guild member Peter Donahue.
What Happened to Miss Simone? – Experienced Sundance hands Igor Martinovic and Rachel Morrison (who also has Dope screening in the U.S. Dramatic Competition section) help to document the life of an American icon, Nina Simone. A classically trained musical genius, chart-topping chanteuse, and symbol of Black Power, Nina was one of the most influential, beloved, and provocative artists of our time, known for rapturous performances that earned her the moniker the “High Priestess of Soul.” Director Liz Garbus explores the constant state of opposition that trapped and tortured Simone – as a classical pianist pigeonholed in jazz, as a professional boxed in by family life, as a black woman in racist America – and in so doing, reveals a towering figure transcending categorization and her times.
A Walk in the Woods – Robert Redford and Nick Nolte star as a pair of long-estranged high school buddies who reunite to hike the 2,100-mile-long Appalachian Trail and learn that some roads are better left untraveled. John Bailey, ASC, returns to Sundance with this effort from director Ken Kwapis that also features Guild members Ben Spek and Jeff Crumbley as A- and B-camera operators, respectively, with Spek also on Steadicam; Joseph Thomas and Fred Thomas as 1st ACs; Sherri Leger and Rodrigue Gomes as 2nd ACs; DIT Stuart Huggins; digital utility Cait Rockwell; and still photographer Frank Masi.
Brooklyn – Yves Bélanger (Wild, ICG December 2014) shot this story set on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Ellis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) departs Ireland and the comfort of her mother’s home for the shores of New York City. The initial shackles of homesickness quickly diminish as a fresh romance sweeps Ellis into the intoxicating charm of love. But soon her new vivacity is disrupted by her past, and Ellis must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within. Based on Colm Toibin’s acclaimed novel with a script by Nick Hornby.
Digging for Fire – Sundance award winner Ben Richardson returns with writer/director Joe Swanberg (Happy Christmas, Drinking Buddies) with this comedy about a young married couple still adjusting to life with a toddler. On a whim, they decide to house-sit for a friend and discover something suspicious in the yard that leads to a “boys only” treasure hunt (the toddler is with the mother-in-law) full of drinking, awkward joint-passing, and the child’s father’s getting perhaps a bit too close to a girl who isn’t the mother of his child. Starring Jake Johnson, Rosemarie DeWitt, Orlando Bloom, Brie Larson, Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick.
Don Verdean – Don Verdean (Sam Rockwell) is a man of faith who has devoted his life to biblical archaeology, scouring the globe in search of artifacts that back up the teachings of Jesus Christ. Now, traveling from town to town, he and his devoted assistant, Carol, spread the gospel by peddling books and DVDs out of his shabby RV, while his Holy Land contacts, Boaz and Shem, do the digging from afar. When evangelical preacher Tony Lazarus (Danny McBride) offers to bankroll Don’s modest roadside operation, the escalating pressure to find increasingly significant relics leads Don and his team down a less-than-righteous path. Guild DP Mattias Troelstrup lensed the comedy, from Sundance-favorite writer/director Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite), in Utah.
Experimenter – Ryan Samul lensed this unique story about social psychologist Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard), who, in 1961, conducted “obedience experiments” at Yale University. The experiments observed the responses of ordinary people asked to send harmful electrical shocks to a stranger. Despite pleadings from the person they were shocking, 65 percent of subjects obeyed commands from a lab-coated authority figure to deliver potentially fatal currents. With Adolf Eichmann’s trial airing in living rooms across America, Milgram’s Kafkaesque results hit a nerve, and he was accused of being a deceptive, manipulative monster.
Grandma – Sundance veteran Tobias Datum shot this story about Elle (Lily Tomlin), a one-time successful poet who abruptly breaks up with her girlfriend of four months. Before Elle gets a chance to feel overly sentimental, her granddaughter, Sage (newcomer Julia Garner), unexpectedly shows up with an emergency that requires money. With the clock ticking, the two set out in a vintage Dodge and drop in on Elle’s old friends and flames, asking for help but instead ending up rattling skeletons and digging up secrets. Guild camera team members include 1st AC Yoshi Kinoshita, 2nd AC John Roney, and unit stills photographer Aaron Epstein.
I Am Michael – In 2007, Michael Glatze (James Franco), the gay-rights advocate who embodied queer identity, shocked his friends and followers when he publicly renounced his homosexuality. Christopher Blauvelt was behind the lens for writer/director Justin Kelley’s dramatic exploration of what could have led Glatze to such an extreme about-face.
I’ll See You In My Dreams – Carol (Blythe Danner) is a retired schoolteacher and a longtime widow in her 70s. She enjoys playing cards with close friends, keeping up her garden, and relaxing with a glass of wine. When her beloved dog dies, there’s a mournful vacuum that draws new experiences and attachments into her world. She forges a friendship with her pool guy and allows a pal to drag her to a speed-dating shindig. And then there’s the gravelly-voiced, exuberant gentleman, Bill, who comes out of nowhere.
Shot by Rob C. Givens and written and directed by Brett Haley.
Last Days in the Desert – Director Rodrigo Garcia reimagines Christ’s last days of fasting in the desert as he walks back to civilization. In the midst of the harsh landscape, fatigued and hallucinating, Christ is met by the Devil (both played by Ewan McGregor), who is eager to test and tempt the weary traveler. Their profound ruminations on faith and truth demonstrate Garcia’s power as a screenwriter and McGregor’s determination to portray Jesus in a different light. Acclaimed Mexican shooter Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki went into the stark desert locations with an all-Guild camera team that included A-camera/Steadicam operator Colin Anderson; A-camera 1st AC Mateo Bourdieu; DIT Arthur To; ACs Daniel Brown, Robert Campbell, Lucas Deans, Simon England, Steven Miller, James Razo, and Helen Tadesse; loader Justin Zaffiro; and still photographers Gilles Mingasson and Francois Duhamel.
Lila & Eve – When teenaged Stephon is killed in a drive-by shooting, his mother, Lila (Viola Davis), slips into a paralyzing grief. She joins a support group for women who have lost children to crime and meets Eve (Jennifer Lopez), a woman whose little girl was killed the same night as Stephon. It’s Eve who has the idea first – join together, find the drug dealers who shot Stephon dead, and bring them to justice themselves. This Tier-1 indie feature, shot in Atlanta, featured Guild cinematographer Wyatt Garfield, A-camera/Steadicam operator J. Christopher Campbell, A-camera 1st AC Larry Gianneschi IV, A-camera 2nd AC Robert Veliky, B-camera 1st AC Bret Lanius, B-camera 2nd AC Mathew Kelly Jackson, and digital loader Nick Gianneschi.
Mississippi Grind – Guild indie Andrij Parkeh shot this new feature from Sundance darlings Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson, Sugar) about a talented poker player, Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn), whose gambling habit is getting the best of him. One day, he meets a charismatic young traveler named Curtis (Ryan Reynolds). Deeming Curtis his lucky charm, Gerry convinces him that they should hit the road together. As they gamble their way down South toward a legendary high-stakes poker game in New Orleans, the trip’s highs and lows unveil the duo’s true character and motivation, and an undeniable bond forms between them. Shot on film in 2.35:1 wide-screen ratio in New Orleans and Alabama locations.
Mistress America – New York–based Guild shooter Sam Levy brings his new collaboration with Sundance double-award winner (The Squid and the Whale) Noah Baumbach back to Park City. The comedy stars Greta Gerwig as Tracy, a lonely college freshman in New York, who is taken in by her soon-to-be stepsister (Lola Kirke), an adventurous Time Square resident who enchants Tracy with her zany and madcap schemes.
Sleeping with Other People – Guild indie Ben Kutchins (First Look, ICG Magazine November 2014) alternates between leading-edge dramatic and documentary projects. His first of two entries this year is a follow-up comedy from writer/director Leslye Headland to her smash Sundance hit, Bachelorette. Years after impulsively losing their virginity to each other in college, Lainey (Alison Brie) and Jake (Jason Sudeikis) meet at a support group in New York, where a spark resurfaces. Abject failures in romance who lead lives of serial infidelity and self-sabotage, they agree to a platonic friendship to mutually support their recovery. Guild members on the shoot included A-camera operator/2nd Unit DP Ari Issler, Steadicam operator Yousheng Tang and 1st AC Toshiro Yamaguchi.
Ten Thousand Saints – The second entry for prolific indie shooter Ben Kutchins is from Sundance alumni Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini. The coming-of-age story centers on a boy his hippie parents named Jude (Asa Butterfield) after the Beatles song, who spends his high school days in small-town Vermont getting high with his best friend. Beneath Jude’s mind-numbing activities lurks a desire to reconnect with his estranged father, Les (Ethan Hawke), who abandoned the family when Jude was nine. Desperate to keep her son out of trouble, Jude’s mother sends him to live with Les in New York City’s raw and pulsating East Village. Kutchins’ Guild team included A-camera operator/2nd Unit DP Ari Issler, 2nd Unit DP Tom Richmond, ASC, Steadicam operator Francis Spieldenner, and 1st AC George Tur.
The End of the Tour – In 1996, shortly after the publication of his groundbreaking novel Infinite Jest, acclaimed author David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) sets off on a five-day interview with Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg). As the days pass, a tenuous yet significant relationship develops between journalist and subject. Shot by Jakob Ihre.
True Story – On-the-rise New York Times Magazine writer Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) receives troubling news from his editors that he is accused of falsifying part of an investigative piece on child laborers in Africa. Jobless and disgraced, Michael falls into a depression. One day he hears startling news that a fugitive accused of murdering his family was captured in Mexico claiming the identity of “Michael Finkel of The New York Times.” Intrigued by the story, he travels to interview the accused, identified as Christian Longo (James Franco), to help save his name. Masanobu Takayanagi was the cinematographer on the film, which was executive-produced by Brad Pitt.
Zipper – Antonio Calvache shot writer/director Mora Stephens’ tale about a charismatic federal prosecutor and devoted family man (Patrick Wilson) whose political star is on the rise. But what he thinks will be a “onetime thing” with a high-class escort service swiftly escalates into a reckless sexual compulsion.
WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Umrika – ECA winner Petra Korner lensed this story about a young boy in India, Ramakant (Life of Pi star Suraj Sharma in his Bollywood debut), who sees his beloved older brother, Udai, leave their small village in search of something bigger and better. Over the years, Udai’s letters breathe life into the village of Jitvapur, inspiring new traditions, sparking community debate, and even providing the impetus for Ramakant to learn how to read. After a family tragedy, Ramakant uncovers a long-held deception about Udai’s whereabouts. He sets out for Bombay, determined to trace his brother’s path.
Tangerine – This film, by executive producers Mark and Jay Duplass, is set on Christmas Eve in Los Angeles, where working girl Sin-Dee is back on the block. Upon hearing that her pimp boyfriend hasn’t been faithful during the 28 days she was locked up, Sin-Dee and her best friend, Alexandra, embark on a mission to get to the bottom of the scandalous rumor. Their rip-roaring odyssey leads them through various subcultures of Los Angeles, including an Armenian family dealing with its own repercussions of infidelity. Shot with style and electric verve by East Coast Region member Radium Cheung.
99 Homes – Bobby Bukowski (ICG November 2014) shot this drama set against the 2008 housing market catastrophe. Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield), a hard-working and honest man, can’t save his family home despite his best efforts. Thrown to the streets with alarming precision by real estate shark Mike Carver (Michael Shannon), Dennis, out of work and luck, is given a unique opportunity – to join Carver’s crew and put others through the harrowing ordeal done to him in order to earn back what’s his. Guild members on the all-union shoot included DIT Marc Clancy, A-camera operator Michael Fuchs, 1st ACs Corey Gegner and Lisa Lengyel, operator James Marks, ACs Melanie Gates and Trevor Tufano, and still photographer Patti Perret.
Eden – French-born Guild shooter Denis Lenoir (ICG Magazine January 2015) lensed this sprawling yet nuanced drama about the fiction-based-in-fact life of Paul Vallée, who steps into the early-’90s beginnings of the French house scene as an aspiring rave DJ. He and his friend, Stan, start a garage duo called Cheers, while acquaintances Thomas and Guy-Man form Daft Punk. As their club performances become more popular in Paris, they travel to New York and Chicago, extending the “French touch” style of house music.
Station to Station – Corey Walter co-shot this experimental project involving a train that crossed North America, housing a constantly changing creative community including artists, musicians, and curators, who collaborated in the creation of recordings, artworks, films, and 10 unique happenings. This high-speed road trip through modern ideas is composed of 61 individual one-minute films that feature profiles shot before, during, and after the trip and capture indelible moments of the journey, such as Beck performing with a gospel choir in the Mojave desert. Written, directed and co-shot by Doug Aitken.
The Forbidden Room – Longtime Sundance shooter Benjamin Kasulke teamed up with DP Stephanie Weber Biron to help visualize the latest project of the “mad genius” that is Canadian auteur Guy Maddin (co-directed by Evan Johnson). Maddin’s latest is another epic homage to the lost movies of the silent era, honoring classic cinema while electrocuting it with energy. Bursting with playful cacophony, the visual feast takes us high into the air, under the sea, around the world, and into dreamscapes, spinning tales of amnesia, captivity, deception, and murder. The ready-for-anything cast includes Geraldine Chaplin, Udo Kier and Charlotte Rampling.
A Million Miles Away – Chicago-based Guild DP Chris Rejano lensed this short from director Jennifer Reeder and producer Steven Hudosh about an afternoon rehearsal for a high school girl’s choir that turns tense when the substitute conductor has a breakdown. Slowly, the girls coax a secret out of the adult, which bonds them all together. Fellow Local 600 Central Region member Herman Asph served as B-camera operator on the film.
Hugh the Hunter – Guild shooter Joe Anderson lensed this fable, inspired by the artwork of Hugh Hayden, which follows a fictitious hunter of the Scottish Highlands on a daylong quest to capture the elusive red grouse. “We shot on Super 16 millimeter with the help of Kodak and ArriMedia London,” Anderson describes. “This is my fourth year in a row having DP’d projects at Sundance. Previously, I had the feature Simon Killer (Dramatic Competition 2012) and two other shorts.” The film was directed by Zach Heinzerling, who was nominated for an Oscar for his documentary Cutie and the Boxer.
Pink Grapefruit – This is the fourth project DP Elisha Christian and director Michael Mohan have brought to Sundance together. “Mike is a highly visual director and a true collaborator, so we had a lot of fun designing shots,” Christian describes. “We used the location to dictate angles and coverage, and played a lot with zooms. Lighting was minimal, as I only had a gaffer and a key grip, and we had to shoot more than 50 scenes in three days – mostly we’d block the actors in an advantageous way and shape the natural light. Of course, shooting Alexa made things easier on everyone, and Michael Mansouri at Radiant Images was a great resource.”
Superior – Mia Cioffi Henry shot this film about a stranger passing through town who sparks a teenage girl’s desire to distinguish herself from her identical twin sister. As one sister struggles to break free, the other insists on preserving their distinctive bond. “We shot on location in Hornell, New York and Niagara Falls,” Henry shares, “on Super 16 millimeter with the Arri 416 from CSC, with a set of vintage 35-millimeter Zeiss Super Speeds for our classic deep-focus look. Director Erin Vassilopoulos and I shoot a lot of film together. We love the pace and discipline, and the texture and color of 16 millimeter still mesmerize us!”
PARK CITY AT MIDNIGHT
Cop Car – Double ECA award winner Matthew J. Lloyd and Guild member Larkin Seiple co-shot this wild adventure about a pair of 10-year-old boys who stumble upon a seemingly abandoned police car in a country field and take it for a joyride. The harrowing crash course ahead is full of mayhem as the duo attempt to navigate the back roads behind the wheel of a machine that they have no clue how to operate. Blissfully unaware of the impending doom they face at every turn, they see things go from bad to worse when the corrupt small-town sheriff aims to get his car back at all costs.
Reversal – Byron Werner lensed this chilling revenge story from director J.M. Cravioto about a woman, chained and locked away in a basement, who breaks free from the sexual predator who has her captured, only to find there are more women in the same house suffering the same fate. She vows to save them all, turning her torturer into her prisoner who will lead her to his prey one by one. Werner, whose all-Guild camera team on the Tier-1 union feature included 1st AC Nick Bianchi, 2nd AC Andy Chen, A-camera operator/Steadicam Dennis Noyes, DIT Raffaele Vesco, and 2nd Unit DP Eric Anderson, says he shot mainly on ARRI ALEX with Ultra primes and the Blackmagic pocket camera that doubles as a point-and-shoot flashback camera. “We blocked some intricate scenes, including a one-shot Steadicam scene lasting more than five minutes!” Werner relates. “One of my favorite aspects of this movie, visually, is there are no inserts or simple shots. Everything was well thought out and serves the story.”
The Nightmare – Director Rodney Ascher investigates the phenomenon of sleep paralysis in a documentary-horror film shot by Local 600 DP Bridger Nielson. What should be explained by science gets complicated as sufferers from random backgrounds have very similar visions. The Nightmare enhances the stories with eerie dramatizations of what (and who) the subjects see.
The Games Maker – Guild DP Roman Osin lensed this Italian feature from writer/director Juan Pablo Buscarini about a 10-year-old boy’s visit to an amusement park that results in his receiving a comic book with an advertisement for a “games maker” competition. Against his father’s wishes, Ivan (David Mazouz) enters the competition and wins. Shortly afterward, his parents disappear in a ballooning accident. Believing them still to be alive, Ivan embarks on a dark, adventure-filled quest to find them, a journey that leads him to learn about his family’s past and to meet the head of the mysterious corporation that sponsored the competition: the evil “games maker,” Morodian (Joseph Fiennes).
Misery Loves Comedy – Guild DP Adam McDaid shot this hilarious documentary from Kevin Pollak that reveals a stand-up comic’s deep, and perhaps paradoxical, desire to connect with audiences. It’s often only on stage that comics are truly able to be themselves. Featuring more than 50 stand-up comedy legends, including Tom Hanks, Janeane Garofalo, Larry David, Lisa Kudrow, and Whoopi Goldberg.
By David Geffner / Executive Editor of ICG Magazine