Class of 2012: Sundance Edition

No sooner does one festival season end that another one begins. Yesterday the films “In Competition” for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival were announced. Before I get into specifics, let’s take a look at – Sundance By the Numbers:

110 feature-length films were selected representing 31 countries and 44 first-time filmmakers (26 that are in competition). These films were selected from 4,042 feature- length film submissions composed of 2,059 U.S. and 1,983 international feature-length films. 88 films at the Festival will be world premieres.

These are impressive figures, indeed.

Films I Will be Looking Out For

Even though I will not be attending this year’s festival, I decided it would be a good idea for me to go ahead and take a look what the folks in Park City, UT will have the pleasure seeing.

After combing through the list, the following films have captured my interest. In my selections, I have tried to pick 2-4 films from each competition category.

(all synopses sourced from Official Sundance Press Release)


The First Time (Director and screenwriter: Jonathan Kasdan)

Two high schoolers meet at a party. Over the course of a weekend, things turn magical, romantic, complicated and funny, as they discover what it’s like to fall in love for the first time. Cast: Brittany Robertson, Dylan O’Brien, Craig Roberts, James Frecheville, Victoria Justice.


Hello I Must Be Going (Director: Todd Louiso, Screenwriter: Sarah Koskoff)

Divorced, childless, demoralized and condemned to move back in with her parents at the age of 35, Amy Minsky’s prospects look bleak – until the unexpected attention of a teenage boy changes everything. Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Blythe Danner, Christopher Abbott, John Rubinstein, Julie White.


Middle Of Nowhere  (Director and screenwriter: Ava DuVernay)

When her husband is incarcerated, an African-American woman struggles to maintain her marriage and her identity. Cast: Emayatzy Corinealdi, David Oyelowo, Omari Hardwick, Lorraine Touissant, Edwina Findley.


The Queen of Versailles (Director: Lauren Greenfield)

Jackie and David were triumphantly constructing the biggest house in America – a sprawling, 90,000-square-foot palace inspired by Versailles – when their timeshare empire falters due to the economic crisis.  Their rags-to-riches-to-rags story reveals the innate virtues and flaws of the American Dream.


Slavery By Another Name (Director: Sam Pollard)

As slavery came to an end with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, a new system of involuntary servitude took its place with shocking force, brutalizing, terrorizing and ultimately circumscribing the lives of hundreds of thousands of African Americans well into the 20th century.


About the Pink Sky / Japan (Director and screenwriter: Keiichi Kobayashi)

A high school girl finds a wallet full of money and tracks down its owner, leading to unexpected consequences for the girl and her friends. Cast: Ai Ikeda, Ena Koshino, Reiko Fujiwara, Tsubasa Takayama, Hakusyu Togetsuan. International Premiere


Wish You Were Here

Australia (Director: Kieran Darcy-Smith, Screenwriters: Felicity Price, Kieran Darcy-Smith)

Four friends embark on a carefree holiday, but only three return home. Who knows what happened on that fateful night? Cast: Joel Edgerton, Teresa Palmer, Felicity Price, Antony Starr. World Premiere.


The Imposter / United Kingdom (Director: Bart Layton)

In 1994 a 13-year-old boy disappears from his home in San Antonio, Texas. Three and a half years later he is found alive thousands of miles away in Spain with a shocking story of kidnap and torture. But all is not what it seems in this tale that is truly stranger than fiction. World Premiere


Payback / Canada (Director: Jennifer Baichwal)

Based on Margaret Atwood’s best-selling book, Payback explores how debt is a central organizing principle in our lives – influencing relationships, societies, governing structures and the very fate of this planet. World Premiere


Putin’s Kiss / Denmark (Director: Lise Birk Pedersen)

19-year-old Marsha is a model spokesperson in a strongly nationalistic Russian youth movement that aims to protect the country from its enemies. When she starts recognizing the organization’s flaws, she must take a stand for or against it. North American Premiere


For more information, go to


  1. Hella-impressive list. I am particularly intrigued by Middle of Nowhere and Payback.

  2. These don’t seem all that interesting to me, I’m afraid. I can’t help but think that there often seems to be a sameness about independent movie festival films.

    But I know that’s probably just grumpy old me. 🙂

    LOVE the Snowman pix on your header. LOVED that movie and the music. Still enjoy watching it.

    • The Snowman is an all-time classic; my dad introduced it to me when I was younger and I liked it but have really taken it to heart as a lasting tribute to my father.

  3. …although, having said that, THE IMPOSTER, looks mighty interesting.

    • Your point is well received, Yvette. I think that you have a point – the market for some of the more genuine passion projects has been definitely crowded out by many independent wings of major studios. And in Hollywood if you have a winning formula you stick with it 🙂

      That said, the one thing that I have come to appreciate about some of these types of festivals, at least at Tribeca (the one I have frequented most in recent years), is that you get an opportunity to see some really good documentaries (something I am becoming more appreciative of) and films from overseas that often would find it hard to get distribution in the US market. It is a great way to test the waters to see if US moviegoers will take to the product.

      This year, the two examples of this for me are “Attack the Block” and “The Artist” (which I may see this weekend, if I don’t see “Shame.”)

  4. I just saw the trailer for Wish You Were Here, wow that’s intense! I thought from the picture it was set in my home country Indonesia but it’s Cambodia. Joel Edgerton is growing on me and that Antony Starr is a cutie, too 🙂


  1. […] a lot of buzz was generated around the inclusion of filmmaker Ava DuVernay (director of indie gem Middle of Nowhere and 2014’s critically-acclaimed but awards overlooked Selma).  Along with Trisha Yearwood, […]

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