As part of our Sundance kickoff, Deadline posted a list of the famous and about-to-be-famous whose films are premiering at the festival. Now with the first full day of the event underway, I’m spotlighting a dozen Sundance veterans who have new work screening this year:
Christine Vachon, executive producer Shut Up And Play The Hits — It’s hard to imagine Sundance or even independent film without this producing tour de force. Her credits include I Shot Andy Warhol, Happiness, Velvet Goldmine, Boys Don’t Cry, Far From Heaven and many others. For this year’s edition she’s executive producing along with Keith Wood and The Creators Project on a doc spotlighting LCD Soundsystem’s final show at Madison Square Garden featuring an intimate portrait of James Murphy and his lead-up to the final concert.
Mary Jane Skalski, producer Hello I Must Be Going — Skalski has also made an indelible mark on the Sundance landscape with films stretching back into the ’90s. This century her Sundance portfolio includes The Station Agent, Mysterious Skin, The Hawk Is Dying and last year’s Pariah and Win Win. She returns as producer on Todd Louiso’s competition feature Hello I Must Be Going about a down-and-out 35-year-old woman who finds solace from a 19-year-old boy after returning home to live with her parents.
Eugene Jarecki, director of The House I Live In — Jarecki previously has taken on America’s conflicts abroad, but now turns the lens on the war on drugs which has cost 45 million arrests over four decades — making America the world’s top jailer. Jarecki’s first short, Seasons Of The Lifterbees debuted at Sundance in 1993. He won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and a Peabody Award for 2005’s Why We Fight and premiered his HBO doc Reagan at the festival last year.
Paul Dano, executive producer/actor in For Ellen — Dano may be a name in a good number of households following his stints in Fast Food Nation, There Will Be Blood and Meek’s Cutoff. In 2006, Little Miss Sunshine took Sundance by storm, in which he starred along with then-newcomer Abigail Breslin. He’s back again, starring in and executive producing For Ellen directed by So Yong Kim (also a Sundance vet who took a Special Jury Prize for In Between Days at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival). Dano plays Joby, a struggling musician who takes an overnight long-distance drive to fight his estranged wife for custody of their young daughter.
Joe Berlinger, director/producer Under African Skies – Emmy and Peabody award-winner Joe Berlinger’s Sundance lineage traces back to Brother’s Keeper which won the doc Audience Award at the 1992 Sundance Film Festival. His doc Crude went on to win 22 human rights, environmental and festival awards after debuting at the 2009 Sundance, recently sparking a First Amendment tussle with oil giant Chevron. Berlinger’s latest follows singer Paul Simon’s return to South Africa to explore the incredible journey of his historic Graceland album.
Josh Radnor, Liberal Arts — The How I Met Your Mother TV actor turned director Josh Radnor returns to Sundance with his second feature. He also stars in the film opposite Elizabeth Olsen playing 30-something Jesse who is invited back to his alma mater and falls for a 19-year-old college student. Zac Effron also stars. Radnor won an Audience Award for his directorial debut Happythankyoumoreplease at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.
Stacy Peralta, director Bones Brigade: An Autobiography: Peralta’s big screen documentary career has unfolded at Sundance. Crips And Bloods: Made In America (2008), Riding Giants (2004) and Dogtown And Z-Boys, which won him an Audience Award and the Directing Award in 2001, all premiered in Park City. He returns with his latest, Bones Brigade the story of six teenage outsiders in the 1980s who reinvented skateboarding and became the most influential athletes in the sport. Peralta is a producer on No Room For Rockstars also at this year’s festival.
Rory Kennedy, director Ethel — The youngest child of Robert F. Kennedy, Rory had an inside track with her latest documentary subject, her mother Ethel. The film is a close-up look at a political dynasty and a woman who raised 11 children on her own following her husband’s assassination in 1968. Rory Kennedy has made more than 30 docs including American Hollow which premiered at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival and Ghosts of Abu Ghraib which screened here in 2007.
Kirby Dick, director/screenwriter, The Invisible War – Dick is an Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker living and working in Los Angeles. Five of his films have premiered at Sundance. He won a Special Recognition nod back in 1997 for Sick: The Life & Death Of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist and followed up with three more films in competition in the 2000s. His latest takes a look at the high rates of rape in the U.S. military.
Ira Sachs, co-writer/producer/director Keep The Lights On – Sachs made a splash at Sundance in 2005 with Forty Shades Of Blue. His new feature follows the emotionally and sexually charged journey through love, addiction, and friendship of two men inspired by his own relationship years back. Sachs worked with a team of Sundance vets including executive producers Lars Knudsen and Jay Van Hoy (Beginners) and Marie Therese Guirgis (Tarnation).
Chris Messina, executive producer/actor Twenty-Eight Hotel Rooms — Screening in Sundance’s NEXT section, Messina stars in Matt Ross’ film about a novelist who meets an accountant during a trip and the pair have a one-night stand that may turn into something more. In 2007 Messina starred in Alan Ball’s Towelhead which had its U.S. debut at Sundance and returned last year with Drake Doremus’ Grand Jury Prize winner Like Crazy.
Sean Durkin, producer Simon Killer — Not many people outside his close filmmaking collaborative knew Sean Durkin before last year’s Martha Marcy May Marlene put him on the map as a director. This year, Durkin returns as a producer of Simon Killer directed by Antonio Campos about an American 20-something who goes to Paris where he becomes entangled with a prostitute.