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– by Joseph Jammer Medina

slamdanceMany filmmakers got their start on the independent film circuit.

So who will follow the greats such as Christopher Nolan (“The Dark Knight Rises”), Oren Peli (“Paranormal Activity”), Marc Forster (“World War Z”) and Jared Hess (“Napoleon Dynamite”)?

The Slamdance Film Festival announced their lineup for the Narrative and Documentary Feature Film Competition after receiving over 5,000 submissions this year.

All of the competing films are directorial debuts with less than $1 million and without US distribution. The films include 11 world premieres, 4 North American premieres and one US premiere.

The 2014 Slamdance Film Festival will take place January 17-23in Park City, Utah at the Treasure Mountain Inn, 255 Main Street.

Here’s the lineup:

NARRATIVE FEATURES PROGRAM

Copenhagen – Director & Screenwriter: Mark Raso(USA, Canada, Denmark) World PremiereA charming scoundrel visiting the city of his father’s birth, William is drawn to his impromptu guide Effy – wise, spontaneous, and half his age.Cast: Gethin Anthony, Frederikke Dahl Hansen, Sebastian Armesto, Tamzin Merchant

Goldberg & Eisenberg – Director & Screenwriter: Oren Carmi(Israel)A lonely computer programmer finds his life disrupted by a boorish thug who becomes dangerously obsessed in this darkly absurd drama.Cast: Yitzhak Laor, Yahav Gal, Roni Dotan

I Play With The Phrase Each Other – Director & Screenwriter: Jay Alvarez(USA) North American PremiereYoung city dwellers with lyrical musings and a sliding sense of entitlement hold court in this film comprised entirely of cell phone conversations.Cast: Jay Alvarez, Will Hand, Megan Kopp, Alexander Fraser

I Put A Hit On You – Directors & Screenwriters: Dane Clark, Linsey Stewart(Canada) World PremiereA broken-hearted woman teams up with her ex-boyfriend to try and stop the hitman she accidentally hired to kill him.Cast: Aaron Ashmore, Sara Canning

My Blind Heart – Director & Screenwriter: Peter Brunner(Austria) North American PremiereSuffering from an incurable disease, a young man rebels against his body and the expectations forced upon him in this black and white expressionist film.Cast: Christos Haas, Jana McKinnon, Susanne Lothar, Robert Schmiedt, Georg Friedrich

The Republic of Rick – Director: Mario Kyprianou; Screenwriters: Mario Kyprianou, Becky Leigh(USA) World PremiereIn this politic satire, a self-proclaimed President of the Republic of Texas rallies to lead a paranoid militia for Texas’s independence in the late 1990s.

Cast: Dave Abed, Angie Gregory, Lori Jean Wilson

Rezeta – Director & Screenwriter: Fernando Frias de la Parra(Mexico) US PremiereA jet-setting model leads a freewheeling and spontaneous life in Mexico City that starts to change when she falls in love with an unexpected young artist.Cast: Rezeta Veliu, Roger Mendoza, Paulina Davila, Sebastian Cordova

Rover – Director & Screenwriter: Tony Blahd(USA) World PremiereA dispirited cult awaits the sign to off themselves when their leader fakes a prophecy instructing them to make a movie and share their story with the world.Cast: Liam Torres, Jonathan Randell Silver, Steve Siddell, Natalie Thomas

The Sublime and Beautiful – Director & Screenwriter: Blake Robbins(USA) World PremiereDavid and Kelly descend into a complicated hell of grief but they take very different paths to make things right after losing their children to a drunk driver.Cast: Blake Robbins, Laura Kirk, Matthew Del Negro, Armin Shimerman

Wizard’s Way – Director & Screenwriter: Metal Man(UK)North American PremiereA champion online fantasy video game player, his encouraging best friend, and two ambitious would-be filmmakers who decide to capture it all for posterity.Cast: Chris Killen, Joe Stretch, Kristian Scott, Socrates Adams-Florou, Sadie Frost

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES PROGRAM

Elliot – Directors & Screenwriters: Matthew Bauckman, Jaret Belliveau(Canada) World PremiereThe bizarre story of Elliot Scott, his supportive partner Linda Lum, and their cast and crew of outrageous dreamers all striving to achieve success.Cast: Elliot Scott, Blake Zwicker, Linda Lum

Glena – Director & Screenwriter: Allan Luebke(USA) World PremiereGlena Avila is a single mother in her 30’s who is fighting to become a professional Mixed Martial Artist.Cast: Glena Avila, Stormy Back, Ron Andersen

Huntington’s Dance – Director: Chris Furbee(USA) World PremiereTold through 20 years of home movie footage, Huntington’s Dance is a personal and devastatingly raw look at how hereditary disease can shatter a family and a future. Cast: Chris Furbee, Rosemary Shockey, Gene Furbee

Kidnapped For Christ – Director: Kate S. Logan; Screenwriters: Yada Zamora, Kate S. Logan (USA, Dominican Republic) World PremiereThe personal stories of American teenagers who are taken from their homes and sent to an Evangelical Christian reform school located in The Dominican Republic.

Cast: David Wernsman, Tai Matheiu, Elizabeth Engle

Little Hope Was Arson – Director: Theo Love(USA)January 2010: In the buckle of the Bible Belt, 10 churches burn to the ground igniting the largest criminal investigation in East Texas history.

Skanks – Director: David McMahon(USA) World PremiereA community theatre in Birmingham, Alabama mounts a gender-bending new musical titled “Skanks In A One Horse Town.”

Sometimes I Dream I’m Flying – Director & Screenwriter: Aneta Popiel-Machnicka (Poland) North American PremiereThe poignant story of a young dancer preparing to perform at the Berlin Opera and the serious injury that threatens her lifelong dream.Cast: Weronika Frodyma, Anna Linnik, Sergey Basalayev

Vanishing Pearls: The Oystermen of Pointe à la Hache – Director & Screenwriter: Nailah Jefferson(USA) World PremiereIn Pointe à la Hache, Louisiana, the residents of this ruined fishing community continue dealing with the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in US history.

Cast: Byron Encalade, Stanley Encalde, Kenneth Feinberg

For more information and tickets, visit the site at www.slamdance.com.

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Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.