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22nd Sundance Film Festival Opens with Friends with Money

Alpha Dog by Nick Cassavetes as Closing Film By Keiko Beatie

Amongst the delicate snow flakes of the ski town Park City, Sundance Film Festival opened on January 19, 2006 with the World Premiere of FRIENDS WITH MONEY, written and directed by Nicole Holofcener and starring an dynamic cast that includes Jennifer Aniston, Scott Caan, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener and Frances McDormand. 
With the fresh snow blanketing the filmgoers, Sundance had the excitement on opening night of the promise of new cinema for the next 11 days.  Always forging the way for independent films, Sundance Film Festival premiere FRIENDS WITH MONEY, is a witty tale of three married women and their one single friend.  Living on the West Side of Los Angeles, the film intertwines the life styles and day to day transitions with social relevance.

2006 Sundance Film Festival is taking place January 19-29, in Park City, Utah.  Known as one of the most glamorous Film Festivals in the US, Sundance draws crowds of stars, filmmakers and filmgoers in the winter wonderland of Park City.   The Festival will screen a total of 120 feature films including 84 World Premieres, 18 North American Premieres, and 15 U.S. Premieres with 48 first time feature filmmakers.  Sundance focus and goal s is to highlight the best work of American independent and international filmmakers.  Innovation, creativity and social commentary are key elements to the films of this well respected film festival.

Now in its 22nd year for the Festival and 25 Year anniversary for the Institute the event has not reached its peak as of yet.  For the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, 3,148 features were submitted for consideration including 1,764 U.S. feature films and 1,384 international feature films.  These numbers represent an increase from 2005 when 1,385 U.S. feature films and 1,228 international films were considered.  This years Festival includes films from 29 countries including Mexico, France, Denmark, South Korea, New Zealand, China, Bosnia, South Africa, Iran and Brazil. 

The Closing Film screening January 27, 2006 will be the World Premiere of ALPHA DOG, written and directed by Nick Cassavetes and starring Emile Hirsch, Justin Timberlake, Ben Foster, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Willis and Sharon Stone. ALPHA DOG is inspired by true events and the life of Jesse James Hollywood, a suburban drug dealer who became one of the youngest men ever to be on the FBI's most wanted list.
With the pick of some of the best new films out at this time Sundance has amassed a flurry of films, some destine to garner interest form major studios and acquisitions.   Other film set to screen this year is:

  A LITTLE TRIP TO HEAVEN / Iceland/U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Baltasar Kormakur)?A husband and wife tangle with an investigator over her dead brother's million-dollar insurance policy. U.S. Premiere.
ALPHA DOG / U.S.A.  (Director and Screenwriter: Nick Cassavetes)?A drama inspired by true events and the life of Jesse James Hollywood, a suburban drug dealer who became one of the youngest men ever to be placed on the FBI's Most Wanted List. World Premiere.
ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL / U.S.A.  (Director: Terry Zwigof; Screenwriter: Daniel Clowes)?Believing that art school will bring him success and the girl of his dreams, an untalented young man becomes embroiled in a murder that makes him a celebrity. World Premiere.
CARGO / Spain/UK (Director: Clive Gordon; Screenwriter: Paul Laverty)?After becoming mixed up in some trouble while traveling through Africa, a young backpacker stows away on a Europe-bound cargo ship filled with mysteries. World Premiere.
THE DARWIN AWARDS / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Finn Taylor)?A forensic detective and an insurance claims officer investigate a potential winner of a Darwin Award which honors ?those who accidentally kill themselves in really stupid ways." World Premiere.
DONT COME KNOCKING / Germany/U.S.A (Director: Wim Wenders; Screenwriter: Sam Shephard)?A washed-up and disillusioned Western movie star returns home, where he reluctantly encounters elements of his past and an entire life that he had missed. North American Premiere.
FRIENDS WITH MONEY / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Nicole Holofcener)?A drama about three married women, their husbands, and their lone single friend. World Premiere.
KINKY BOOTS / U.K. (Director: Julian Jarrold; Screenwriter: Geoff Dean/Tim Firth)?In an effort to save his fathers small town shoe factory, a man finds an unlikely ally in Lola, a brassy cabaret singer. North American Premiere.
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE / U.S.A. (Directors: Johnathan Dayton, Valerie Faris; Screenwriter: Michael Arndt)? A family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus. World Premiere.
LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN / U.S.A. (Director: Paul McGuigan; Screenwriter: Jason Smilovic)?A case of mistaken identity lands a man in the middle of a murder being plotted by one of New York City's biggest crime bosses. World Premiere.
NEIL YOUNG HEART OF GOLD / U.S.A. (Director: Johnathan Demme)?An emotionally rich musical portrait of icon Neil Young, shot over a two-night performance at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.  World Premiere.
THE ILLUSIONIST / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Neil Burger)?In turn-of-the-century Vienna, a magician uses his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing. World Premiere.
THE NIGHT LISTENER / U.S.A. (Director: Patrick Stettner; Screenwriter: Armistead Maupin/ Terry Anderson/Patrick Stettner)?In the midst of his crumbling relationship, a radio show host begins speaking to his biggest fan, a young boy, via the telephone. But when questions about the boy's identity arise, the host's life is thrown into chaos. World Premiere.
THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP / France/U.S.A.  (Director and Screenwriter: Michel Gondry)?A man held captive by the people in his dreams tries to wake himself up and take control of his own imaginings. World Premiere.
THE SECRET LIFE OF WORDS / Spain (Director and Screenwriter: Isabel Coixet)?A nurse forgoes her first holiday in years, opting to travel to a remote oil rig, where she cares for a man suffering from severe burns. North American Premiere.
THANK YOU FOR SMOKING / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Jason Reitman)?Satirical comedy follows the machinations of Big Tobacco's chief spokesman, who manages ?spin on behalf of cigarettes while trying to remain a role model for his twelve-year-old son. U.S. Premiere.
THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED / U.S.A. (Director: Kirby Dick )?A breakthrough investigation into Hollywoods best-kept secret: the MPAA film ratings system and its profound impact on American culture.  World Premiere.

The Sundance Film Festival is the premier showcase for American and international independent film.  Held each January in and around Park City, Utah, the Festival is a core program of Sundance Institute, a non-profit cultural organization founded by Robert Redford in 1981.  For more information on the Festival and Institute please go to the Website at:
Keiko Beatie

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