Sundance Film Festival 2013 is right around the corner and it looks to be a great year! Though there will be many surprises and breakthroughs by newcomers, some of my favorite films every year are from the returning Sundance Directing Champs. Those who, despite their giant careers, still believe in indie darlings, taking risks, pushing themselves and making films that they believe in.

Though there are a number of returning directors, actors, producers, and all kinds of filmmakers, below at the top 5 films I’m most excited to see from returning directors…

5. Prince Avalanche – Director David Gordon Green

At this point, David Gordon Green is probably better known for his popular, mainstream releases Pineapple Express, Your Highness, The Sitter, and multiple episodes of the HBO series Eastbound and Down, but he started out in the snow at Sundance.  Green broke onto the scene back in 2003 with All the Real Girls, for which he won two jury awards. He also wrote and directed Undertow and Snow Angels, which played at the Festival in 2007.

It’s great to see that despite his major releases, he’s still an indie filmmaker with films at Sundance. And though he’ll soon have the film Joe (starring Nicolas Cage) out in theaters everywhere, I’m interested to see what he’s been doing on a smaller front — often those tend to be the more interesting projects because they don’t have the same pressures to please.

Showtimes:

  • 1/20/2013 2:30 pm Library Center Theatre, Park City
  • 1/21/2013 3:00 pm Egyptian Theatre, Park City
  • 1/24/2013 8:30 am Library Center Theatre
  • 1/25/2013 9:00 pm Salt Lake City Library Theatre

More Film and Ticket Info – Sundance Website

4. Don Jon’s Addiction – Director Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is actually a returning director to the festival, as he directed a short film entitled Sparks back in 2009, but that’s not what makes him a Sundance Darling or Champ. The fact that he’s been in seven Sundance films including Hesher, (500) Days of Summer, Brick, Mysterious Skin, and Manic, had an installation for his own company hitRECord in 2010 which had a live premiere last year at the festival 2012, and maybe the fact that he’s hosting the awards this year (I wonder what will happen if he has to give himself an award?), is what makes him a mighty returning champ.

He’s a filmmaker that has put in his time and worked his way up the indie (and mainstream) ladder. Though sometimes we cringe at actors turned directors, it seems like Gordon-Levitt has a solid chance at being able to cross the divide. Hopefully this year he shows us that he’s got the ability to pull off a feature film from in front and behind the camera.

Showtimes:

  • 1/18/2013 6:30 pm Eccles Theatre, Park City
  • 1/19/2013 9:00 am Eccles Theatre, Park City
  • 1/19/2013 6:30 pm Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Salt Lake City
  • 1/21/2013 6:00 pm Sundance Resort Screening Room,
  • 1/22/2013 2:30 pm Library Center Theatre,
  • 1/26/2013 12:15 pm Eccles Theatre, Park City

More Film and Ticket Info – Sundance Website

3. Mud – Director Jeff Nichols

Two words – Take Shelter. Back in 2011 I was utterly blown away by this film. Jeff Nichols took a high concept, mixed in a detailed character drama, added some of the most talented up and coming actors, and then sprinkled in some well-used VFX that showed he wasn’t afraid to take risks and break boundaries. Though the film didn’t go on to win any awards at Sundance that year (sadly), it did proceed to premiere at Cannes and win the Grand Prix award.  Nichols’ newest, Mud, premiered at Cannes back in May 2012, and I can’t wait to see it finally.

That coupled by the fact that Matthew McConaughey has become wonderfully unpredictable as of late, makes for a potentially fascinating film.

Definite must-see despite it’s long runtime of 130 minutes.

Showtimes:

  • 1/19/2013 8:30 pm The MARC
  • 1/20/2013 6:30 pm Peery’s Egyptian Theater
  • 1/22/2013 9:00 pm Tower Theatre
  • 1/23/2013 6:30 pm Redstone Cinema 1
  • 1/26/2013 8:45 pm Egyptian Theatre

More Film and Ticket Info – Sundance Website

2. The Look of Love – Director Michael Winterbottom

Michael Winterbottom has won more festival awards than most of the people on this list, he’s original, dynamic, and unafraid, but what I love about him is that his screenings aren’t boring. He churns out good films, but also good reactions. Back in 2010, after The Killer Inside Me, I’ll never forget the hush that fell over the 500 some viewers in Eccles (listen now), only to be followed by one woman screaming obscenities at Winterbottom himself while others screaming at her for being rude and EVERYONE wanting to voice their opinion — one thing Winterbottom can do is ignite passion and emotion in his viewers.

Seeing as he also had The Shock Doctrine there that year, it seemed he had some aggression he needed to get out of his system. This year he’s back with a seemingly very different kind of film, and with one of his own returning acting champs, Steve Coogan. Coogan and Winterbottom make for a great team, with The Trip and the classic 24 Hour Party People under their belts.  As such, I can say they have my attention and I can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with for this years fest.

Showtimes:

  • 1/19/2013 6:00 pm Eccles Theatre
  • 1/20/2013 9:00 am Eccles Theatre
  • 1/23/2013 6:30 pm Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center
  • 1/24/2013 9:00 pm Sundance Resort Screening Room
  • 1/26/2013 8:30 pm The MARC

More Film and Ticket Info – Sundance Website

1. Stoker – Director Park Chan-Wook

Out of all the vampire films over the last decade, Park Chan-Wook’s Thirst is the only must see. Probably his most well known work, Oldboy made its premiere at Sundance back in 2003, followed by Lady Vengeance in 2005. This is a director who needs very few words because his images and the performances say it all. Stoker will be his first English language film, which is a little off-putting, but I guess that’s the only way for for his film to have a shot at receiving a wide release. His films may be violent but his quality of filmmaking and the beauty in which he shows such grotesque images cannot be paralleled.

Luckily he cast his film with Sundance acting champs, Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Dermot Mulroney, Jacki Weaver and Nicole Kidman.

No doubt there’s going to be something interesting to see her and that this will likely be one of the most visually stunning films of the festival. Don’t miss it!

Showtimes:

  • 1/20/2013 6:30 pm Eccles Theatre
  • 1/21/2013 9:00am Eccles Theatre, Park City
  • 1/23/2013 9:00 pm Sundance Resort Screening Room
  • 1/25/2013 6:30 pm Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center
  • 1/26/2013 6:30 pm Peery’s Egyptian Theater, Ogden

More Film and Ticket Info – Sundance Website

What films are you most excited to see or hear about from Sundance 2013?