Tomorrow marks the opening day of the Sundance Film Festival, the annual winter movie orgy/buyer’s market/excuse to party for those who make, buy, watch, and act in independent films (or what passes for independent, in this IMAX 3-D superhero climate). Your humble film editor is traveling to Park City (for the first time) to take it all in: the swag, the hobnobbing, the VIP parties. Or he may just end up going to movies all day and staying up all night writing stuff about them. That’s probably a bit more likely.
Taking on the screening schedule is a bit daunting; the festival is screening 110 feature-length films from 31 countries, and, well, there’s only so many hours in the day. (If you think that’s heavy, it’s worth noting that the number of submissions was up to 4,042 films. Yikes.) But I think I’ve plucked out the cream of the crop; I’ll probably find out that I’m wrong, that the movie I missed to see the Sean-Penn-as-an-emo-Nazi-hunter movie (yes, that’s real) ends up winning the competition and getting picked up for $5 million by the Weinstein Company. But until that happens, here’s the ten Sundance films I’m most looking forward to.
Sleepwalk with Me
Comedian Mike Birbiglia’s first appearance on This American Life (above) was a turning point for his career — no one who heard his story of a sleepwalking episode gone horribly awry was likely to forget it. He turned that story into a one-man off-Broadway show and book; now, with the help of TAL’s Ira Glass (who is one of the film’s producers and screenwriters), he’s brought the story to the big screen. In addition to the always-welcome Lauren Ambrose, the cast list is a who’s-who of modern stand-ups; Marc Maron, Wyatt Cenac, Hannibal Buress, Jesse Klein, Kristen Schaal, Amy Schumer, and David Wain are among the cast. It sounds like a wet dream for alt-comedy and public radio fans — and thus, it’s at the top of this viewer’s list.