There are, as always, no shortage of dazzling names in Park City, Utah, this week: Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts, Scarlett Johansson, and Rooney Mara, among others, all have films in competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. But the festival’s more experimental New Frontier program also features a number of artists and filmmakers who have brought intriguing installations, multimedia performances, films, and more to supplement the star wattage and swag rooms. Here are four certain to catch your eye:
Before Al Pacino’s 1980 gay thriller Cruising was released, the story goes, the filmmakers left 40 minutes of sexually graphic scenes on the cutting room floor in order to dodge an X rating. In the hourlong Interior. Leather Bar., James Franco reimagines that lost footage. The leather daddy-flavored sex is unsimulated, and Franco—no neophyte when it comes to gay love scenes (see Milk, Howl, and The Broken Tower)—even brought in a co-director, Travis Mathews, who’s a little more, um, experienced.
Artist and filmmaker Meredith Danluck’s four-channel film installation, North of South, West of East is a 360 degree experience complete with swivel chairs. A quartet of related stories about small-town Americans in Detroit and Marfa unfold simultaneously, in an inspired riff on the interlocked storytelling popularized by mainstream films like Crash and Babel. (Maybe the makers of Cloud Atlas should take notes.) And Danluck doesn’t skimp on interesting faces, either: Ben Foster, Stella Schnabel, and James Penfold appear in various guises.
There are some artists who use social media effectively (Alex Israel’s bizarre Youtube talk show, Brian Piana’s Ellsworth Kelly Hacked My Twitter project), a few who make art explicitly about social media, and very few who do it as cleverly, hilariously, and technically as Yung Jake, a rapper and CalArts grad whose music video E.m-bed.de/d seems to do funky things to your web browser, Twitter feed, Tumblr page, and Instagram account. It’s all packaged around a catchy track featuring lyrics that make viral-era jokes of classic rap-video memes: “I’m trying to get em-bedded/I’m trying to get lay-ed out.”
Wrong Cops Trailer
From writer-director Quentin Dupieux, who made a bonkers horror movie about a killer tire (Rubber), comes Wrong Cops, which feels like Super Troopers meets Secretary—a depraved, blackly comedic take on the cop-gone-bad genre. This film has a little bit of everything: cross-dressing, eye patches, and even Marilyn Manson as a sullen teenager bullied by an officer of the law. 45 minutes of the still unfinished project will screen for the public, and, one can only hope, attract populist financing, a social strategy that also includes a chapter-by-chapter tease of the film online. A wide-open, publicly engaged, “post-theatrical” approach to filmmaking? This sounds familiar.