Spike Lee’s “Red Hook Summer” Headlines Sundance Premieres

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LOS ANGELES  — It’ll be a busy shopping season at next month’s Sundance Film Festival, whose star-studded premieres are up for grabs by potential theatrical distributors.

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Some premieres usually enter the independent-film showcase with U.S. distribution already lined up. But festival director John Cooper said all the premieres that Sundance announced Monday will be looking for distributors.

“I don’t think that’s ever happened before,” said festival director John Cooper. “It makes for a much more exciting buyer’s market, I think. At least, lively.”

Among Sundance’s big-name premieres: Kirsten Dunst’s wedding romp “Bachelorette,” directed by Leslye Headland; Bruce Willis and Catherine Zeta-Jones’ Las Vegas bookie caper “Lay the Favorite,” from filmmaker Stephen Frears; Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon’s Wall Street saga “Arbitrage,” directed by Nicholas Jarecki; Sigourney Weaver and Robert De Niro in Rodrigo Cortes’ paranormal thriller “Red Lights”; and actor-director Julie Delpy’s “2 Days in New York,” co-starring Chris Rock in a follow-up to her 2007 romance “2 Days in Paris.”

Sarandon also stars alongside Frank Langella in a second Sundance premiere, director Jake Schreier’s geriatric comedy “Robot and Frank,” which also features Liv Tyler and James Marsden.

Former “X-Files” partners David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson both have premieres playing Sundance. Duchovny and Vera Farmiga star in Christopher Neil’s father-son story “Goats,” while Anderson is featured along with Clive Owen and Andrea Riseborough in James Marsh’s Irish terrorism tale “Shadow Dancer.”

Director Spike Lee, who came to Sundance with his 2009 rock musical “Passing Strange,” returns with “Red Hook Summer,” the story of an Atlanta boy spending the summer with his grandfather in Brooklyn.

Cooper said the film is a return to the same urban landscape Lee explored two decades ago in “Do the Right Thing,” with the director reprising the role he played in that film.

“It’s very back to his roots, very much in his old style. He’s even playing his old character, Mookie,” Cooper said. “This is the same neighborhood.”

Overseen by Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute, the festival runs Jan. 19-29 in Park City, Utah.

Sundance opens with four films that were announced last week among the festival’s dramatic and documentary competitions. It closes with one of the premieres unveiled Monday, directors Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal’s literary plagiarism story “The Words,” starring Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid and Olivia Wilde.

The premieres, which screen out of competition, also include actor-director Josh Radnor’s campus romance “Liberal Arts,” co-starring Elizabeth Olsen and Allison Janney; Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ aging supermodel documentary “About Face,” featuring Christie Brinkley, Paulina Poriskova and Christy Turlington; Rory Kennedy’s Ethel Kennedy portrait “Ethel”; and two musical documentaries — an as-yet-untitled Paul Simon documentary from director Joe Berlinger, and rapper Ice-T’s “Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap,” featuring Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Kanye West and other performers.

The premieres present strong roles for women, said Trevor Groth, the festival’s programming director. Among them: Michael Walker’s workplace tale “Price Check,” starring Sundance regular Parker Posey; Lee Toland Krieger’s divorce romance “Celeste and Jesse Forever,” with Rashida Jones, who also co-wrote the film; and Frears’ “Lay the Favorite,” with Rebecca Hall in the lead alongside Willis and Zeta-Jones.

Dunst’s “Bachelorette,” co-starring Isla Fisher and Lizzie Caplan, and director Jamie Travis’ phone-sex farce “For a Good Time, Call …,” starring Ari Graynor and Lauren Anne Miller, are raunchy comedies that could benefit from the success of last summer’s R-rated female romps “Bridesmaids” and “Bad Teacher.”

“Both written by women, both very funny and pretty outrageous for that type of comedy,” Groth said. “Happening to sort of follow in the wake of the success of ‘Bridesmaids,’ that seems to have opened some doors for creating female comedies outside the traditional romantic comedy. I think these two are really going to pop.”


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