Sundance lifts curtain on 2010 competition films

Wed Dec 2, 2009 6:30pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Sundance Film Festival on Wednesday listed the 64 films that will compete for awards at the upcoming premiere event for independent films, which for 2010 has a new director and three opening night offerings.

The festival, backed by Robert Redford's Sundance Institute in Utah, has long been a launch pad for first-time filmmakers and some of the best low-budget movies shown in art houses, including current Oscar hopeful "Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire."

The film selection for the upcoming Sundance, which runs January 21-31, did not change greatly under new director John Cooper and features a typical mix of offbeat dramas such as "Holy Rollers," about an Hasidic Jewish man who becomes a drug dealer, and serious-minded documentaries like "Casino Jack & The United States of Money" by Oscar-winner Alex Gibney.

"My job is to stay on point, stay on focus and show the best and most original content we can find," said Cooper, who while new in the festival's top job for 2010, has long been one of its key programmers and executives.

"We looked at pretty much everything, and asked 'Why do we do this?' and a lot of things got put back in place because they work," he said.

One change is to ditch the usual opening night premiere and replace it with one drama, one documentary and one program of short films in competition to represent each of the festival's three main groupings.

Cooper said that among his favorite things to do at Sundance is listen to people discuss the films, their art and craft, and he hopes the change will jump-start the buzz that annually spreads across snowy sidewalks of Park City, Utah, the mountain town east of Salt Lake City where the event is held.