LOS ANGELES – Sundance Film Festival (search) veterans Naomi Watts (search), Laura Linney (search) and Patricia Clarkson are returning with new movies to the nation's top showcase for independent cinema.
Organizers on Monday announced 16 titles each in the festival's competitions for independent American dramas, U.S. documentaries and world-cinema dramatic features, plus 12 entries for world-cinema documentaries. The festival runs Jan. 20-30 in Park City, Utah.
"The quality of the competitions is as strong as we've ever seen," said festival Director Geoffrey Gilmore. "The range of different kinds of work coming through this year is going to be surprising to a lot of people."
Keanu Reeves headlines the cast list among the dramatic competition, playing a dentist in writer-director Mike Mills' "Thumbsucker," about a boy struggling to break an oral fixation for his thumb.
Watts, who co-starred in last year's dramatic entry "We Don't Live Here Anymore," stars in writer-director Scott Coffey's "Ellie Parker," a comic tale of a budding Hollywood actress.
Linney, star of past Sundance grand prize winner "You Can Count on Me," appears in writer-director Noah Baumbach's "The Squid and the Whale," a divorce drama set in 1980s Brooklyn. Jeff Daniels co-stars.
Clarkson, whose Sundance films have included "The Station Agent" and "Pieces of April," appears in writer-director Craig Lucas' "Dying Gaul," co-starring Peter Sarsgaard in the tale of a screenwriter in a three-way relationship with a movie executive and his wife.
Also among dramatic contenders is "Lonesome Jim," directed by Steve Buscemi, about a 27-year-old man who moves back to his dysfunctional parents' home after failing to make it on his own. The film stars Casey Affleck and Liv Tyler.
The documentary competition includes "Why We Fight," a study of the forces behind the Iraqi war and American militarism from director Eugene Jarecki; "Enron: Rise and Fall," Alex Gibney's exploration of the corporate giant brought down by scandals; "Frozen Angels," an examination of scientific and social ramifications of human-reproduction research, from filmmakers Eric Black and Frauke Sandig; and Ellen Perry's "The Fall of Fujimori," a chronicle of the fallen Peruvian president.
New this time is Sundance's world-cinema dramatic competition, added to help foster U.S. interest in films from overseas.
Among those films are John Leguizamo in "Cronicas," about a Miami reporter tracking a serial killer in Ecuador; Peter Mullan and Brenda Blethyn in "On a Clear Day," following a man's attempt to swim the English Channel; and "Brothers," featuring Connie Nielsen in a story of a family coping with a husband's dispatch to war in Afghanistan.
World-cinema documentaries include Pirjo Honkasalo's "The 3 Rooms of Melancholia," which probes the conflict in Chechnya; Werner Herzog's "Grizzly Man," about bear activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard, mauled to death by a grizzly in Alaska in 2003; and Sean McAllister's "The Liberace of Baghdad," about a famed Iraqi pianist holed up in a hotel while awaiting an American visa.
Other Sundance feature films, including celebrity-driven premieres and midnight flicks, will be announced Tuesday.