Today, the Sundance Film Festival announced the lineup of its premieres for 2014, a roster of 17 feature films as well as documentary picks. The slate includes new projects from stars like Michael Fassbender and Amy Poehler, and a fair number of oddball comedies among the thrillers and dramas.
As Variety reports, Fassbender stars with Maggie Gyllenhaal in one of those comedies, Frank, a flick about an avant-garde rock band. Among the other highlights, David Cross writes and directs Hits, which takes on fame and delusion among dreamers in upstate New York. Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd team up again in David Wain's romantic comedy spoof They Came Together, and Nick Offerman: American Ham captures the Parks and Recreation star's one-man show at New York City's Town Hall.
On the heavier side of the bill, William H. Macy makes his directorial debut with Rudderless, about a grieving father who forms a rock band after finding a box of his deceased son's music. Marjane Satrapi directs Ryan Reynolds as a disturbed factory worker with an evil talking cat in The Voices. Alfred Molina and John Lithgow star in Love Is Strange, director Ira Sach's tale of two men who finally marry after 40 years together but are forced to live apart when one of them loses his job.
Among the documentaries are Alex Gibney's Finding Fela, about Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, and Freedom Summer, about student activists in Mississippi in 1964. Other films take on Mitt Romney's presidential run, the Penn State pedophilia scandal and the lives of Roger Ebert and George Takai.
The 2014 program marks the 30th anniversary of the Park City, Utah festival. In an interview on Sundance's website, festival director John Cooper discussed the evolution that independent film has undergone since Robert Redford started Sundance. "We've seen independent film become a very vital part of the cultural landscape," Cooper said. "It's become an accepted art form, an accepted form of creative expression. These factors and others are improving the quality and originality of work being made in independent film, and that made our selection process this year particularly rigorous."