The 2013 Sundance Film Festival is around the corner. From Jan. 17-27, a variety of films – many of which feature some pretty big names – will compete in the 29th annual event that celebrates independent films.
For anyone dreaming of being on the silver screen or currently pursuing an acting degree, the festival provides plenty of inspiration. A total of 113 feature-length films from 32 countries were selected for the famous event, including 27 that are in the competition, according to the festival website.
Several accomplished actors appear in films being screened as part of the U.S. dramatic competition, including Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, who both star in “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.” Other well-known names include Daniel Radcliffe, who’s taking a break from his Harry Potter character by starring in “Kill Your Darlings,” Kristen Bell in “The Lifeguard” and Jessica Biel in “Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes.”
John Cooper, director of the Sundance Film Festival, told The Hollywood Reporter that the fact so many well-known actors are taking roles in independent films is “a reflection of the landscape.” Small movies with big names are not new to Sundance. Last year’s event featured Richard Gere in “Arbitrage” and Helen Hunt in “The Surrogate” (since renamed “The Sessions”), both of whom are up for 2013 Golden Globe awards for their roles (they’re expected to get Oscar nods, too; Academy Award nominations are slated to be announced Thursday, Jan. 10). Witnessing the success that already-successful actors can have in independent movies may very well encourages other seasoned performers to do the same.
Sundance also has a record lineup of female directors who are competing for the top honor, noted the Seattle Times. Half of the 16 films that were recently announced in the dramatic competition were directed by women. This beats the previous record from 2000, when six of the 16 movies in the same category had female directors.
Two to watch: Lynn Shelton’s “Touchy Feely,” a story about a massage therapist who no longer likes bodily contact, starring Rosemarie DeWitt, Allison Janney and Ellen Page; and Liz W. Garcia’s “The Lifeguard,” in which Kristen Bell plays a reporter who moves home to Connecticut to take a job as a lifeguard.
While male directors still tend to dominate the big screen, the lower-budget indie world has definitely seen more women in prominent roles. Cooper said some Sundance film categories have had a nearly even split between male and female directors in past years, which he called a sign that more women are getting into filmmaking.
Film festivals like Sundance are a great way for filmmakers to get exposure as well as acceptance, as the event is a magnet for top film executives, actors and actresses. Many independent filmmakers got their start in Utah, too – the careers of Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith and Edward Burns all took off after being participating in Sundance.