Preview by Bears Fonte

Last year two of my favorite films in Park City were from Sundance, FUTURE ’38 and actually, my favorite film of the year DAVE MADE A MAZE. With that in mind, I always scour the Slamdance schedule for outsider gems, especially genre material. At least at first glance, this year’s festival is thin in that regard – there is no SciFi at all and very little Horror. It may be that as Sundance embraces more and more genre material, Slamdance is making a conscious move away from it. It may be that this year’s programmers didn’t find much that excited them. Still, its always worth checking out a few films at the fest, there is a different energy at these screenings than the cavernous Sundance venues.

Here’s four films worth the hike up to the Treasure Mountain Inn:

Circus Ecuador
Documentary Feature
Directors: Ashley Bishop and Jim Brassard

A documentary about a school being built for an indigenous community turns into something unexpected as the directors discover a community that may or may not be involved in aliens, gold smuggling, human trafficking, and murder. Like last year’s ICARUS, I love doc films where the filmmakers end up making a very different film than the one they intended.

Funny Story
Beyond Feature
Director: Michael Gallagher
Cast: Matthew Glave, Emily Bett Rickards, Jana Winternitz, Nikki Limo, Lily Holleman, Jessica Diggins, Pete Gardner, Reginald VelJohnson

Matthew Glave (Argo), plays a womanizing TV star who tries to dump his millennial girlfriend only to find out she is pregnant. After years of being a neglectful father, his mid-life crisis causes him to a decide to crash his estranged daughter’s vacation in Big Sur. The road trip/journey is one of the tried and true tropes of indie film. It has obvious conflict and a ticking clock built right in. This one however, also features one of the most interesting up and coming comedy directors, Michael Gallagher who brought us SMILELY and INTERNET FAMOUS.

The Rainbow Experiment
Beyond Feature
Director: Christina Kallas
Cast: Chris Beetem, Francis Benhamou, Christian Coulson, Kevin Kane, Nina Mehta, Laura Pruden, Connor Siemer, Lauren Sowa, Swann Gruen, Christine McLaughlin

When a science experiment permanently injures a Manhattan high school student, an investigation uncovers more than just blame. With adults refusing to take responsibility and kids dealing with a ‘life happens’ mentality, the film promises to be a twist on the usual high school story. In the wake of last year’s 13 REASONS WHY (my favorite new series of the 2017), I am excited to see the next wave of films examing how we deal with school tragedy.

Rock Steady Row
Section: Narrative Feature
Director: Trevor Stevens
Cast: Heston Horwin, Diamond White, Logan Huffman, Isaac Alisma, Allie Marie Evans, Larry Miller, Peter Gilroy

At some sort of bizarre dystopic university, the last two fraternities battle for control over the ‘row,’ using the only currency of value on campus, bicycles. Part comic book, part western, the film seems all for fun until a turn proves the base of the story ties directly into the most important issue affecting colleges today. This feels like the perfect Slamdance film, a film that gets over its low budget with unabashed creativity and a fresh take on issues being turned over and over traditionally at the other fest in town.

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