Sundance Film Festival unveils competition films

Wed Dec 3, 2008 4:32pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Sundance Film Festival, the premiere event for U.S. independent movies, on Wednesday unveiled a wide-ranging list of more than 60 movies that will compete for awards at its 25th anniversary event in January.

The festival, backed by Robert Redford's Sundance Institute for filmmaking, puts the media spotlight on low-budget and art films made outside Hollywood's mainstream studios.

Past Sundance hits include Oscar-nominated "Little Miss Sunshine," and the festival annually boosts the careers of previously little-known actors, directors and writers.

Festival director Geoffrey Gilmore said the 188 feature films chosen for the 2009 event blend different styles and genres and cross national and cultural borders.

The opening night premiere of "Mary and Max" uses clay animation to tell how an older man in the United States and a young girl from Australia become pen pals and strike up an enduring friendship.

"It's a film that's emblematic of the crossing of genres, and of being interconnected globally," he said.

The same holds true for many competition films, which are closely watched for new talent. The 2004 Sundance hit "Napoleon Dynamite" launched the careers of actor John Heder and filmmakers Jared and Jerusha Hess, who went on to major movie success with "Nacho Libre" starring Jack Black.


<p>Actor Robert Redford poses for a portrait in New York after being named winner of the 2008 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize on November 12, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>