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So you couldn’t be at Sundance this year? Well, we are truly sorry about that. But there’s always next year, or just as exciting, Sundance’s top films have distribution deals, and are heading for a movie theatre in YOUR town, any moment now. Whether a feature, documentary or short, each of these films features something special enough to stand out in the crowded Sundance filmscape. Watch for the movies listed below, grab a favorite friend, and go see them……..You will NOT be disappointed!

In All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise, 500 families from across the nation board a ship chartered by Rosie and Kelli O’Donnell, for the first-ever cruise for gay and lesbian families. This historic event offered a private world without prejudice, where love, compassion, and true family values prevailed. But when the families disembark in Nassau after a week of fun, protestors accost them, hurling hatred. For many of the younger children, these protests are confusing and frightening, while the parents and teenagers are left with a piercing reminder of their struggle for acceptance. Directed by Shari Cookson.

Alpha Dog stars Emile Hirsch as a teenage suburban drug dealer, Johnny Truelove, whose “Gangsta” fueled lifestyle of sex, guns, and drugs is far over the top of customary adolescent restraints. When a competitor/client cheats him, he and his posse “kidnap” the client’s younger brother, who is more than willing to spend days partying with little sense, or anticipation of his fate. But as events spiral out of Johnny’s control, the real consequences of his deadly games become inexorable. Also starring Justin Timberlake, Ben Foster, Bruce Willis, and Sharon Stone, this film offers a glimpse of the rawness and reality of teenage life on the edge. Directed by Nick Cassavetes.

American Hardcore traces the lost subculture of the hardcore punk rock scene in the early ‘80s—a social movement created by misfit kids. The participants constituted a tribe unto themselves—some found a voice, others escaped in the hard-edged music; some sought a better world, and others were just angry and wanted to raise hell. Either way, there would be no Nirvana, Beastie Boys, or Red Hot Chili Peppers if it were not for the hardcore pioneers such as Black Flag, Bad Brains, and Minor Threat, and this documentary finally gives them the justice they deserve. Directed by Paul Rachman. Screenplay by Steven Blush, author of the book by the same name.

The witty Art School Confidential is based on the real-life experiences of the cartoonist/screenwriter, Daniel Clowes, during his own art school days. The film is directed by famed “Ghost World” helmer Terry Zwigoff.. Jerome (Max Minghella) is an untalented yet ambitious artist who steals the work of a serial killer to further his artistic ambitions, and get the girl (Sophia Miles), and ends up in jail. Instant fame and success ensues, and Jerome is suddenly the darling of the art world.

Awesome: I Fuckin’ Shot That is a fascinating experiment in documentary filmmaking. Before a Beastie Boys concert in 2004, 50 movie cameras were handed out to audience members sitting in different sections of New York’s Madison Square Garden. They were directed to film whatever interested them, and to turn in the cameras at the end of the show. “Director” Horatio Hornblower (better know to Beastie Boys fans as Mike Yauch, then spent a year editing the different takes into one cohesive film, pushing the boundaries of traditional music “performance” films. With the added zest of colorful special-effects, and an unexpected sequence of white-tuxedo clad Beastie Boys performing an R&B segment of the show, the whole thing was most entertaining, giving a viewer the impression of what it was like to actually be there.

Come Early Morning is the story of a small town southern woman, Lucy, who keeps waking up with a stiff hangover and a guy she doesn’t even want to look at. If coming to grips with why she keeps repeating this pattern isn’t enough, Lucy also begins to realize that she needs to get in touch with her familial past and, more importantly, with the person she has become. Fueled by a perfectly nuanced performance by the gifted Ashley Judd, “Come Early Morning” is about life’s transitions, the search for love, and the burdens we carry with us. Also stars Jeffrey Donovan, Tim Blake Nelson, Diane Ladd, and Stacey Keach. Written and Directed by Joey Lauren Adams.

Crossing Arizona focuses on the tension along the Mexican/American border. This comprehensive documentary offers a balanced, up-to-the-minute look at the current crisis as it is developing at its hottest point—the Arizona/Sonora border. Focusing on personal stories of local people on both sides of the border, whose lives are directly affected by U.S. policies, filmmaker Joseph Matthew follows an array of individuals: the U.S. Border Patrol, the Minutemen, Latino activists, and the emigrants themselves. This movie creates an opportunity to contemplate and question the larger issues about the American society in which we live.

Forgiving the Franklins offers revelations of both the biblical and sexual kind. The Franklins are so ordinary they are almost transparent. They go about their southern-variety, God-fearing lives until a miracle happens—they have a fatal automobile accident. They don’t die, exactly, but in one respect, their lives are taken away. It is instantly questionable if the “new and improved” Franklins are better or worse, yet one thing is certain- it is impossible for them ever again to conform to the conservative values of their community. Starring Robertson Dean, Teresa Willis, Aviva, Vince Pavia, and Mari Blackwell. Written and Directed by Jay Floyd.

Friends With Money examines the shifting relationships between four women (Joan Cusak, Frances McDormand, Catherine Keener, and Jennifer Aniston) who have been friends since childhood. Now, as they settle into early middle age, their friendship becomes challenged by the ever-increasing disparity in their individual degrees of financial comfort. The result is a funny but deeply disturbing look at today’s obsession with material things, and its effect on that most ephemeral of god’s gifts-friendship.

In 1970, a young farmer named Michael Eavis opened his 150-acre farm to 1,500 people who paid one pound each to watch a handful of pop and folk stars perform all weekend long, and the Glastonbury Festival was born. Since then, the Worthy Farm in Glastonbury has provided a delirious outdoor concert for thousands of people over the summer solstice weekend. Interweaving images of impromptu art happenings, skeptical locals, and stirring performances by music legends, not to mention the unbridled energy of each successive generation of youthful music fans, Glastonbury skillfully chronicles the evolution of the longest-running music festival in the world. Directed by Julien Temple.

God Grew Tired of Us is a documentary film about the incredible journey of three young Sudanese men. As boys, their villages were ravaged and many family members were killed during bloody civil war between the ruling Arabic Muslim majority to the north and the Christian and animist rebels in the south. Nearly 25,000 orphaned boys set out across Sudan on foot in search of safety. Struggling to stay alive, they eventually find themselves in a Kenyan refugee camp. Hopes soared in 1999 when the United States government relocated 3,600 Lost Boys to America. Nicole Kidman narrates as three boys, Daniel, Panther, and John try to make a new start in America. Directed by Christopher Quinn.

Kinky Boots is a comedy based on the surprising true story of Steve Bateman (Joel Edgerton, “Star Wars, Episode 3), a young Englishman who inherited the family business, a 100 year-old men’s shoe factory, sliding determinedly into hard financial times. In a last ditch effort to save the company, Bateman hires a cross-dressing female impersonator (Chiwetel Ejiofor, “Dirty Pretty Things”), to design flashy, funky, thigh-high PVC boots for fetishists, transvestites and other lovers of outrageous male footwear. And suddenly, out-of-the-blue, the little Northern England factory is transformed into a high-fashion success.

Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man features a riveting tribute concert and biopic combined. Directed by Lian Lunson, the film is an exquisitely drawn, revelatory portrait of the songwriter, poet, and philosopher who has long been out of the public eye, but for anyone who admires his music, not out of mind.

Little Miss Sunshine. Meet the Hoover family: Olive, a seven-year-old aspiring beauty queen; her father, Richard, a struggling motivational speaker; and her mom, Sheryl, who recently brought her Proust scholar/brother Frank, home from the hospital after a failed suicide attempt. Frank has to stay with Sheryl’s Nietzsche-worshiping son, Dwayne, who has taken a vow of silence until he is old enough to be a fighter pilot. Then there’s Grandpa, recently kicked out of his nursing home for snorting heroin. When they are all forced to hop into an old VW bus to take Olive to the “Little Miss Sunshine” beauty pageant, this film becomes either a portrait of the most dysfunctional family you’ve ever seen, or the absolutely hilarious tragi-comic journey of a family whose lives are in for a change. Stars Greg Kinnear, Steve Carrell, Toni Collette, Alan Arkin, Abigail Breslin, and Paul Dano. Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.

Everyone is love-crazed in Puccini for Beginners, but Allegra Castiglione is by far the most committed phobic. Her lesbian lover dumped her because she couldn’t settle down and say “I love you.” And just as she’s drowning in her sorrows, in walks Philip, a dapper Columbia professor who lights her fire. Kicking and screaming, she launches an affair with—heaven forbid—a man! Meanwhile, she jumps into bed with Grace, a recently single, straight woman. While juggling two romances that are advancing way too quickly for comfort, Allegra lands in hot water that boils over into an explosive, cathartic climax for all. Stars Justin Kirk, Gretchen Mol, and Elizabeth Reaser. Written and directed by Maria Maggenti.

Right at Your Door begins on a beautiful Los Angeles morning, as Brad (Rory Cochrane) has just kissed his wife Lexi (Mary McCormack) off to work and started his day, when the radio reports the detonation of a bomb. Announcements of additional explosions and an ominous, possibly toxic, cloud blowing ash across the L.A. basin quickly follow. With roads immediately closed off and phone contact elusive, Brad makes the decision to seal himself into his home while awaiting his wife’s return. Directed by Chris Gorak.

With gay marriage as one of the most divisive topics in today’s political arena, small town gay bar presents an intimate portrait of the only place solace is offered to homosexuals in some areas of the country for hundreds of miles—gay bars. Focusing primarily on two bars in Mississippi, “Rumors” and “Crossroads”, the film introduces us to their proprietors as they struggle to stand their ground in hostile terrain. Directed by Malcolm Ingram.

The story of Jesus reclaimed as an African fable is a simple concept that becomes a remarkable cinematic experience in Son of Man. Shot against the backdrop of a violence-riddled township, with text updated to modern time, “Son of Man” delivers one indelible impression after another. Equally intriguing is the melding of the crucifixion and resurrection—alluding to the fact that in today’s Africa, political dissidents, as Jesus was, are conveniently made to disappear. Stars Andile Kosi, Pualine Malefane, Andries Mball, and Jim Ngxabaze. Directed by Mark Dornford-May.

Thank You for Smoking follows Nick Naylor, chief spokesman for Big Tobacco, as he makes his living defending the rights of smokers and cigarette makers in today’s neo-puritanical culture. Confronted by health zealots and an opportunistic senator, Nick goes on a PR offensive, spinning away the dangers of cigarettes, but he begins to think about how his work makes him look in the eyes of his young son Joey. Starring Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, Cameron Bright, Adam Brody, and Sam Elliott. Directed by Jason Reitman.

The Darwin Awards are a real-life phenomenon, presented to individuals who accidentally kill themselves in incredibly stupid ways. The stories, in this movie by the same name, are integrated into a narrative about two characters grappling with their own destinies. Borrows is a brilliant detective with a special talent for profiling criminals. Siri is a hardnosed insurance investigator whose steeliness and “throw-caution-to-the-wind” attitude is exactly the opposite of Burrow’s thoughtful hesitation. When Siri’s employer hires Borrows to create a profile for potential Darwin Award winners—who are costing the insurance company a fortune—the two begin a search for the answer to what makes these people tick. Starring Joseph Fiennes, Winona Ryder, David Arquette, Juliette Lewis, Metallica, and Wilmer Valderrama. Directed by Finn Taylor.

In The Peter Pan Formula, a coming-of-age story turns into a refreshing take on adolescent dreams and desire. Director Cho Chang-ho constructs a world where a lonely teen must deal with his mother’s attempted suicide, his absent father, financial pressures, and his obsessed swimming coach. On top of all that, his hormonal fantasies about his next-door neighbor and his subsequent involvement with her daughter only partially prepare us for a film that spins off into imaginary realms and subplots at will. Stars On Ju-wan, Kim Ho-jeong, and Ok Ji-yeong.

Spanning two decades, The Trials of Darryl Hunt chronicles a brutal 1984 rape/murder case in North Carolina and a wrongly convicted man, Darryl Hunt, who, despite multiple trials and DNA testing that proved his innocence, spent nearly 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. At once a moving human drama and a scathing social commentary, this powerful documentary reveals the insidious way racism still pervades American culture and our criminal justice system. Hunt’s conviction reverberates with African-American men throughout the community of Winston-Salem, as his trials play out against a backdrop of class and racial bias in the South. This chilling look at a life stolen and eventually redeemed defies our presumption that all Americans have the right to unbiased justice. Directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg.

Eating disorders have reached epidemic levels in America—yet only recently have they been recognized as serious mental illnesses. In the documentary, Thin, Lauren Greenfield, a photographer acclaimed for illuminating women’s and society’s attitudes toward the female body, gains access to a Florida residential treatment center to observe four anorexic women, aged 15 to 30, struggling to recover their health over a six-month period. While each woman’s fight is unique, abusing the body as a means of asserting control and measuring self-worth seems common to all. “Thin”offers insight into the tangle of personal, familial, and cultural factors that cause the immeasurable suffering of so many.

Filmmaker Kirby Dick leaps into the issues of piracy, ratings, and the unequal treatment of independent filmmakers in This Film is Not Yet Rated, a provocative inquiry into these issues and more. Analyzing, examining, questioning, and most critically, investigating the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Dick asks whether studios get different treatment than other producers, why violence, and sex are treated as disparately, and, most interestingly, why the MPAA ratings operate behind a veil of secrecy.

One of our greatest living playwrights, Pulitzer and Tony Award-winner Tony Kushner (“Angles in America”) is a consummate artist and indomitable political activist committed to equality and social justice. A Jewish homosexual raised in the heart of the Deep South, Kushner has become a compassionate voice for outsiders in a climate of repression and censorship. Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner covers three years of Kushner’s life, from 9/11 to the 2004 presidential election, capturing the fierce moral responsibility that pervades this passionate artist’s work. Directed by Freida Lee Mock.

Wristcutters: A Love Story, offers up an original, yet peculiar little film set in a bleak and barren landscape, where one goes after committing suicide. Written and directed by Goran Dukic, and based on a novella by Etgar Keret, the film features Zia (Patrick Fugit), a depressed but amiable young man who’s trying to find his ex (Shannon Sossamon)-who also committed hari-kari. Travelling in a red station-wagon with two strange fellow travelers, the two finally find each other, and a way back to where they came from.

For more information on the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, visit

If you live in the Nashville, TN area, be sure to check out the Nashville Film Festival (, which runs from April 20-26, 2006. Your very own Dish Magazine sponsors the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film, so if you attend, be sure and vote for your favorite! Many of the films mentioned above will be featured there. So don’t miss it! / Issue 54 - September 2018
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