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Sundance: More or less queerness

sundance continued
Written by Tony Hobday

The Sundance Film Festival 2019 adds two films under the “From the Selection” series, which are previous festival hits and award winners. Reconnect – or see for the first time – The Hours and Times (1991) and The Blair Witch Project (1999).

Then there’s Paddleton, recently added to the “Premieres” series, which stars Mark Duplass — of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival’s Hump Day — in which Ben and Andrew, old college buddies reunite and fall back into their old dynamic of heterosexual one-upmanship. After a night of perfunctory carousing, the two find themselves locked in a mutual dare: to enter an amateur porn contest. But what kind of boundary-breaking porn can two dudes make? After the booze and “big talk” run out, only one idea remains — they will have sex together…on camera.

By far, one of the most hilarious films I had seen that year. As well as meeting Duplass at the festival, who is a genuinely sweet guy.

FROM THE COLLECTION

The Hours and Times /U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Christopher Munch) — In spring 1963, The Beatles were on their meteoric rise to worldwide superstardom. Following a grueling winter of touring, 22-year-old John Lennon vacations in Spain with his brilliant manager, Brian Epstein (who was gay), often called the “Fifth Beatle.” Their four-day holiday, intimate and charged, became the subject of speculation and mythology. Cast: David Angus, Ian Hart, Stephanie Pack, Robin McDonald, Sergio Moreno, Unity Grimwood.

The Blair Witch Project / U.S.A. (Directors and Screenwriters: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez) — On October 21, 1994, Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard and Michael Williams hiked into Maryland’s Black Hills Forest to shoot a documentary on local legend “The Blair Witch.” They were never heard from again. One year later, their footage was found, capturing the terrifying events that led up to their disappearance. Cast: Heather Donahue, Michael Williams, Joshua Leonard.

PREMIERES

Paddleton / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Alex Lehmann, Producers: Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, Mel Eslyn, Alana Carithers, Sean Bradley) — An unlikely friendship between two misfit neighbors becomes an unexpectedly emotional journey when the younger man is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Cast: Mark Duplass, Ray Romano, Christine Woods. World Premiere

EVENTS

In its 10th season, An Artist at the Table kicks off the 2019 Sundance Film Festival on January 24 with premium seating at Eccles Theatre for the world premiere of Bart Freundlich’s After the Wedding, a mesmerizing family drama starring Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, and Billy Crudup.

Following the film screening, enjoy an unforgettable evening that includes dinner at Park City’s Utah Film Studios in the company of a Sundance-supported artist. Among the many are Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winner ( for 1995’s TV movie Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story) Glenn Close, Emmy-winner Jon Hamm (Mad Men). Also in attendance will be Lisa Kron, an openly lesbian actor and playwright, and Nisha Ganatra, an openly lesbian actor-director.

Kron is best known for writing the lyrics and book to the musical Fun Home for which she won both the Tony Award for Best Original Score and for Best Book of a Musical. Fun Home was Kron’s first musical, based on Alison Bechdel’s acclaimed graphic novel/memoir, which looks at the experience of cartoonist Bechdel growing up in small-town Pennsylvania as the not-yet-out lesbian daughter of a closeted gay man.

As a director, Ganatra directed three episodes of TV’s Transparent among many other series, and she is best known for the lesbian comedy-drama flick Chutney Popcorn (1999), which she starred in, co-wrote, and directed.

Additional artists will be announced soon. Reserve your table or seat today to celebrate independent storytellers and support the year-round work of the nonprofit Sundance Institute.

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Tony Hobday

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