Lower-profile films find fans, buyers at Sundance

Fri Jan 25, 2008 3:41pm EST
 
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By Bob Tourtellotte

PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - Lesser-known movies are stealing the spotlight from star-studded ones at the annual Sundance Film Festival this week, making the top U.S. event for independent films among the least predictable in years.

Heading into the 10-day festival that began on January 17, films such as "What Just Happened?" starring Robert De Niro, "The Wackness" with Ben Kingsley, and "Sunshine Cleaning" for rising star Amy Adams captured the buzz.

But by Friday, lower-profile comedies like "Henry Poole is Here," "Choke," "Baghead" and drama "Phoebe in Wonderland" had won over audiences, and distributors had snapped up movies like "Hamlet 2" with comedian Steve Coogan, well-known in Britain but a lesser star in the United States.

The shift in focus at the festival in this ski town east of Salt Lake City underscored what organizers have long said about Sundance. It remains a place of discovery for fresh talent and for veterans looking to try on a new face.

That was on display in Thursday's showcase drama, "The Year of Getting to Know Us," starring former "Saturday Night Live" comedian Jimmy Fallon as an adult whose neglectful father has left him lacking the capacity to love.

"No one would let me do something like that. That's why Sundance exists, to give a guy like me a chance," Fallon said of his uncharacteristically serious role in the film.

ROLLER COASTER FESTIVAL

Sundance, backed by Robert Redford's Sundance Institute for filmmaking, emphasizes the art of cinema over the commerce. Yet many of the independently financed films here are seeking sales to distributors for release into theaters.   Continued...

 
<p>Actors (L-R) Jimmy Fallon, Tom Arnold, Sharon Stone, Director Patrick Sisam, and Illeana Douglas arrive at the premiere of the film "The Year Of Getting To Know Us" during the 2008 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah January 24, 2008. Lesser-known movies are stealing the spotlight from star-studded ones at the annual Sundance Film Festival this week, making the top U.S. event for independent films among the least predictable in years. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>