Sundance Film Festival lineup includes four features shot in the Northwest
On the lineup of the Jan. 20-30, 2011, Sundance Film Festival are "The Off Hours," "The Catechism Cataclysm" and "The Oregonian," all filmed at least partially in Seattle with mostly local casts and crews. Festival selection "The Details" was also shot here.
Special to The Seattle Times
Sundance selectionsFOUR FEATURES with Seattle ties that will screen at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival:
'The Off Hours': A passing truck driver brings an unfamiliar sense of optimism to a woman working the night shift at a quiet diner, reminding her it's never too late to become the person you always wanted to be. Written and directed by Seattle resident Megan Griffiths.
'The Catechism Cataclysm': After becoming disinterested with the church, a priest tracks down his old classmate, a former metalhead whom he idolized in high school. When the two embark on a canoeing trip together, all hell breaks loose. Written and directed by Todd Rohal.
'The Oregonian': After surviving a brutal car accident, a simple farm woman limps down the road into the nightmarish unknown. Written and directed by Calvin Lee Reeder.
'The Details': When hungry raccoons discover worms living under the sod in a young couple's backyard, the pest problem sets off a wild and absurd chain reaction of domestic tension, infidelity, organ donation and murder by way of bow and arrow. Written and directed by Jacob Aaron Estes.
Source: Sundance Film Festival
Four feature films selected for the 2011 Sundance Film Festival have strong Seattle ties — and three have ties to one another.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the Sundance Institute announced its feature selections for the festival, running Jan. 20-30 in Park City, Utah.
Considered the premier showcase of American independent film, the festival will show 155 features divided into a dozen categories.
In the lineup are "The Off Hours," "The Catechism Cataclysm" and "The Oregonian," all filmed at least partially in Seattle with mostly local casts and crews.
Also showing will be "The Details"; it was also shot in Seattle, but the primary names behind it are from outside the area — including stars Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney and Tobey Maguire.
Megan Griffiths wrote and directed "The Off Hours," in which a handful of average people at a truck stop reconsider the directions of their lives.
The Seattle resident is also a producer of "The Catechism Cataclysm," a buddy comedy about a priest who takes a disastrous canoeing trip with an old friend. (Lacey Leavitt, another Seattleite, also worked as a producer on both films.)
Griffiths and "Cataclysm" writer/director Todd Rohal both conceived their projects years ago but, as the economy worsened and funding for independent film contracted, realized big investors weren't forthcoming.
This year, they decided to chop their budgets and find casts and crews they could persuade to work for less, or even for nothing.
Rohal, who is based in New York, considered locations in Virginia, Texas and upstate New York before his friend Griffiths joined the project as a producer and convinced him to film in Washington.
"Easily the best decision I made for this film," he wrote in an e-mail. "The crew and location in Washington made this film what it is. It's beautiful and well-crafted and that's all because of what we were lucky enough to find in the area."
Griffiths and Rohal say Seattle's close-knit film community helped reduce the negative effects of a vastly reduced budget. Many of the same crew and cast members worked several of this year's selected films, and local businesses volunteered to provide food, transportation and other services.
"I think people would be really impressed, based on the production quality of the film ["The Off Hours"], at how little it cost," Griffiths said. "They both look like movies. They're both fantastic, and I don't think that would be possible without so many people volunteering to help."
Much of "The Oregonian," which writer/director Calvin Lee Reeder calls "a sort of nightmare probing of the unknown," was filmed in Washington, including in the Seattle area. Reeder grew up in Renton and lived in Seattle before moving to Los Angeles three years ago. He has previously been to Sundance with two shorts, both of which were also filmed here.
"It's a big honor to be selected and I'm always surprised when they all actually agree to play my stuff," Reeder said of his psychedelic-feeling films. "I'm sure I've never been a unanimously selected dude."
The Seattle filmmakers' stories reflect a larger do-it-yourself trend in independent film. Despite a hostile economic landscape, the Sundance festival got more submissions than ever, surpassing 10,000 total entries for the first time. "Indie film is healthy and alive right now," festival director John Cooper wrote in a live chat on Wednesday, after the festival announced the first half of its slate.
"The Catechism Cataclysm" and "The Oregonian" will screen in the festival's Park City at Midnight section. Typically the home of horror and other less family-friendly fare, it has shown breakout hits such as "The Blair Witch Project."
"The Off Hours" will have its premiere in the Next category, which debuted last year and features low-budget work. Although filmgoers and critics were initially unsure what to make of Next, several of last year's most highly praised films came out of the category.
"The Details" will screen in the high-profile Premieres category.
Other selected films with Northwest themes include two Oregon-based documentaries: "How to Die in Oregon" is about that state's physician-assisted suicide law, and "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" looks at radical environmentalists' attacks on Northwest timber companies.
Christy Karras: firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was corrected on Monday, Dec. 6. The movie "The Details" was shot in Seattle. An earlier version of the story said it was shot in Kirkland.
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