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Slamdance Sets 2023 Feature Lineup

The Slamdance Film Festival has unveiled the lineup for its 29th edition — taking place both in-person in Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah from January 20-26, and online on the Slamdance Channel from the 23rd to the 29th.

This year’s lineup of films from 13 countries was chosen from more than 7,600 submissions, more than 1,500 of which were features. As has been the case at each edition of Slamdance since its 1995 founding, all films selected in Narrative Features and Documentary Features competition are directorial debuts without U.S. distribution, with budgets of less than $1M USD.

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Slamdance revealed today that Dimitri Coats’ Free LSD will make its world premiere at the festival, serving as its Closing Night feature. The film featuring appearances from Keith Morris and Jack Black follows the inter-dimensional journey of a man who has used an experimental drug to cure a personal problem, thereby being provided a glimpse into a parallel universe where he becomes the target of an evil alien species. Moby’s Punk Rock Vegan Movie will open the Utah festival, as previously announced.

“From the streets of Seattle to the psychedelic skies of a unicorn-run dystopia, our filmmakers are transporting audiences to new dimensions with stories that explore the nuance of disability, immigration and gender,” said Festival Manager Lily Yasuda. “This year’s lineup represents a generation of new directors who are breaking boundaries and redefining what filmmaking looks like in 2023.”

While Slamdance also today highlighted additions to its Breakouts, Spotlight, and Unstoppable feature sections, the latest set of films chosen for its Animated, Experimental, Unstoppable, Narrative, and Documentary Shorts programs, as well as the Digital, Interactive and Gaming and Episodes lineup will be announced on December 12.

For a look at Slamdance’s feature lineup, read on. Additional information on the 2023 edition can be found here. 

Spotlight Feature Screenings:

Downwind (United States) World Premiere 

Directors: Mark Shapiro and Douglas Brian Miller; Screenwriters: Warren Etheredge and Mark Shapiro; Producers: Matthew Modine, Adam Rackoff, Mark Shapiro

Hiroshima. Nagasaki. Mercury, Nevada? The latter was the site for the testing of 928 nuclear weapons on American soil from 1951 to 1992. The fallout is still lethally impacting Americans today. Martin Sheen narrates this harrowing exposé of the United States’ disregard for everyone living… DOWNWIND. Downwind is topical and global in context — but it’s also very deeply tied to Utah and the American West. The film includes members of the Shoshone Nation whose sacred land, despite a treaty, continues to be cordoned off as a nuclear test site, where, for 40 years, large-scale atomic weapons obliterated the landscape and exposed people (Downwinders), the environment and livestock to deadly fallout. Despite a moratorium, the Nevada Test Site remains operational and testing could even resume.  

Cast: Michael Douglas, Lewis Black, Ian Zabarte, Darlene Graham, Mary Dickson, Claudia Peterson.

Free LSD (United States) World Premiere – CLOSING NIGHT FILM

Writer/Director: Dimitri Coats
Producers: Kurt Kittleson, Dimitri Coats, Inge De Bruyn

Keith, a defeated adult store owner, falls for a younger woman who visits his shop looking for a gift. When their relationship turns physical, Keith’s failure to perform leads him to a strange doctor who offers hope in the form of a new experimental drug. The experience gives Keith much more than renewed manhood. It also provides a glimpse into a parallel universe where he is not only the singer of the band OFF!, but also the target of an evil alien species that will stop at nothing to prevent the group from making a new album which holds the key to an awakening of human consciousness.

Cast: Keith Morris, Dimitri Coats, Autry Fulbright II, DH Peligro, David Yow, Chelsea Debo, Jack Black, James Duval, Dana Gould, Barry Del Sherman, Chloe Dykstra, Chris D., E.R. Ruiz, Davey Havok, Gill Gayle, S.A. Griffin, Don Nguyen, Angelo Moore, Zander Schloss, Don Bolles, Bree Essrig, Sydnie Mancini, Nathaniel Moore. Cody Renee Cameron, Aleshya Uthappa, Heidi Luo, Jeffrey Damnit, Trent Haaga, Rob Zabrecky, Pete Weiss, Kyle Vogt, Kelly Nugent, Laura James, Chris Hernandez

Narrative Feature Competition:

The Girl Who Was Cursed – (The Netherlands) North American Premiere 

Director: Zara Dwinger; Screenwriter: Zara Dwinger; Producers: Layla Meijman & Maarten van der Ven

Stoner girl Gizem spends most of her day smoking weed on the couch while spying on her neighbors through binoculars. When the quirky boy across the street disappears, she has to get out of her comfortable cloud of smoke to find out where he is. She gets caught up in a strange quest.

Cast: Sinem Kavuz, Victor Ijdens, Frieda Barnhard, Ilker Delikaya              

Love Dump – (United States) U.S. Premiere 

Director: Jason Avezzano; Screenwriters: Leila Gorstein and Jesse Kendall; Producers: Emily Diego, Matt Mahaffey, Leila Gorstein, Jesse Kendall

Trash-filled love ensues when a quirky antique shop owner searches for her missing father,  and falls for a determined dog lawyer along the way. 

Cast: Leila Gorstein, Jesse Kendall, Rob Grabowski, EJ Cameron, Zoe Agapinan, George Elrod, Lauren Summers, Tyler Davis

MiND MY GOOFiNESS: The Self Portrait – (United States) World Premiere 

Director: Alex Michel; Screenwriter: Alex Michel; Producer: Alex Michel

A strange dream; favors for friends; the end of the world. It’s just one of those days for Alex as he runs errands he never needed to, all while making sense of a recurring deja vu throughout the journey of his day.

Cast: Alex Michel, Duante Wingham, Symone Holmes, Rob Rice, Perry Goeders, Ian Peterson, Juice Wood, Emara Vee

Mad Cats – (Japan) World Premiere 

Director: Reiki Tsuno; Screenwriter: Reiki Tsuno; Producers: Daisuke Urano, Reiki Tsuno, Takahiro Fukuya

Taka, a shiftless young man, sets off on a quest to find his brother Mune. Teaming up with a quirky new friend and an edgy, mysterious young girl along the way, Taka finds himself taking on a pack of vicious monster cats determined to execute unscrupulous pet shop owners.

Cast: Sho Mineo, Yuya Matsuura, Ayane, Michael Aaron Stone, So Yamanaka

New Religion – (Japan) North American Premiere 

Director: Keishi Kondo; Screenwriter: Keishi Kondo; Producer: Keishi Kondo

Miyabi lost her only daughter in an accident. One day, she meets a strange man. The man demands that she let him take a picture of her spine.

Cast: Kaho Seto, Ryuseigun Saionji, Satoshi Oka

Nut Jobs – (Canada) U.S. Premiere 

Director: Alexandre Leblanc; Screenwriter: Alexandre Leblanc; Producer: Alexandre Leblanc

Benjamin tells his ex-girlfriend, Angie, that he joined a cell of left-wing terrorists to get revenge on her former boss, who owns a right-wing radio station. His story blends conceptual artists, amateur theater troupes, hallucinogenic vinyl record and other magical powers. All that nonsense leave Angie wondering if he made that up only to win her back.

Cast: Jean-Sébastien Courchesne, Sophie Desmarais, Benoit Bourbonnais, Annie St-Pierre, Richard Fréchette, Mathieu Bourque

A Perfect Day for Caribou – (United States) North American Premiere

Director: Jeff Rutherford; Screenwriter: Jeff Rutherford; Producers: Kyra Bailey, Joseph Longo, Jeff Rutherford

An estranged father and son spend the day ambling around a cemetery, wandering the wilderness, searching for family, and stumbling through disharmony and heartache.

Cast: Charlie Plummer, Jeb Berrier, Oellis Levine, Dana Millican, Wrick Jones, Rachael Perrell Fosket, Connor Brenes

Stars in the Ordinary Universe – (South Korea) World Premiere 

Director: Bowon Kim; Screenwriter: Bowon Kim; Producers: Han Jung, Minji Kim, Dongho Shin

Three stories from three different earths in the multiverse…

Cast: Seoyoon Park, Gyoho Shim, Dongmin Oh

Unicorn Boy – (United States) World Premiere

Director: Matt Kiel; Screenwriter: Matt Kiel; Producer: Neil Garguilo p.g.a.

When a heartbroken young artist is sucked into a unicorn-run alternate dimension, they must help conquer a dark force in order to bring peace to the kingdom and themselves.

Cast: Matt Kiel, Patton Oswalt, Maria Bamford, Harold Perrineau, Sarah Natochenny, Katie Leclerc, Brett Davern, Parvesh Cheena

Waiting for the Light to Change – (United States) 

Director: Linh Tran; Screenwriters: Linh Tran, Jewells Santos, Delia Van Praag; Producers: Sam Straley, Jake Rotger, Jewells Santos

Over the course of a week-long beachside getaway, Amy, having recently undergone dramatic weight loss, finds herself wrestling between loyalty to her best friend Kim and her attraction to Kim’s new boyfriend.

Cast: Jin Park, Joyce Ha, Qun Chi, Sam Straley, Erik Barrientos

Where the Road Leads – (Serbia) World Premiere 

Director: Nina Ognjanović; Screenwriter: Nina Ognjanović; Producer: David Jovanović

Jana runs to save a life of a foreigner who can take her far away from her home town. 

Cast: Jana Bjelica, Zlatan Vidović, Vladimir Maksimović, Ninoslav Ćulum, Igor Filipović, Svetozar Cvetković, Branislava Stefanović, Eva Ras

Documentary Feature Competition:

Cash Cow – (United States) World Premiere

Director: Matt Barats; Screenwriter: Matt Barats; Producers: Whit Conway & Matt Barats

In the Fall of 2020, a financially struggling actor camps and explores early Mormon historical sites as he anxiously awaits national broadcast for his Domino’s Pizza commercial.

Cisco Kid – (United States) U.S. Premiere 

Director: Emily Kaye Allen; Producers: Shannon Fitzpatrick, Elise McCave

In a queer portrait of the contemporary American West, Eileen–a young, solitary maverick–forges a life among the discarded remnants and lingering memories of a desert ghost town called Cisco.

The Mad Writer – (United States) World Premiere 

Director: Zach Kashkett; Screenwriter: Zach Kashkett; Producers: Jon Webb, Zach Kashkett, Trevor Metscher, Katherine LeBlond, James Haygood, Michael Raimondi, Michael Tolle 

With his star on the rise, Hip Hop phenom, L’Orange, confronts a stunning diagnosis that threatens both his hearing and his burgeoning career.

Motel Drive – (United States) World Premiere 

Director: Brendan Geraghty; Screenwriter: Brendan Geraghty; Producers: Brendan Geraghty. Josh Polon.

Within a community of motels infamous for illicit activity, the Shaw Family grapples with housing insecurity and addiction while trying to raise their young son. When California’s High-Speed Rail Project displaces them, a glimpse of stability appears within reach. A vérité, street level vantage of post-industrial America, documented over eight years, on one city block.

Silent Love – (Poland, Germany) U.S. Premiere 

Director: Marek Kozakiewicz; Screenwriter: Marek Kozakiewicz; Producers: Agnieszka Skalska, Alex Tondowski, Ira Tondowski

After their mother’s death, 35-year-old Aga has to take care of her teenage brother, Milosz. There is one thing she isn’t telling him about: her ongoing relationship with Maja. An unconventional family is being born in a small, conservative Polish village.

Space Happy: Phil Thomas Katt and The Uncharted Zone – (United States) World Premiere 

Director: Louis Crisitello; Producers: Louis Crisitello, John Nobbs, Rose Crisitello, Mike Castronova

Space Happy: Phil Thomas Katt and The Uncharted Zone is a feature-length documentary about a group of ragtag artists making “so bad it’s good” music and videos in Pensacola, Florida under the direction of the eccentric Phil Thomas Katt. Spanning over five decades of footage, Space Happy is a portrayal of creative minds pursuing art against all odds — and talent.

Starring Jerry as Himself – (United States) World Premiere

Director: Law Chen; Screenwriters: Jerry Hsu and Law Chen; Producers: Jonathan Hsu, Law Chen

A family documents how their immigrant father Jerry, a recently divorced and retired Florida man, was recruited by the Chinese police to be an undercover agent.

Sweetheart Deal – (United States)

Directors: Elisa Levine & Gabriel Miller; Screenwriter: Karen KH Sim; Producers: Peggy Case, Elisa Levine

Four sex workers caught in the spiral of addiction turn to a self-proclaimed healer offering friendship and a path to salvation from the streets inside his roadside RV. But just as they begin to rebuild their lives, a shocking betrayal comes to light that will change them all.

With Peter Bradley – (United States) World Premiere

Director: Alex Rappoport; Producer: Alex Rappoport

Seventy-nine years old and overlooked since the 1970’s, abstract artist Peter Bradley reflects on life and shares his artistic process on the cusp of his rediscovery.

Breakouts:

The Art of Silence – (Switzerland, Germany)

Director: Maurizius Staerkle Drux; Screenwriter: Maurizius Staerkle Drux; Producers: Aline Schmid, Adrian Blaser, Carl-Ludwig Rettinger, Maurizius Staerkle Drux

The first feature documentary about the legendary pantomime Marcel Marceau. He inspires several generations of artists, among them his grandson and family, who cast a new light on his life’s work. As a child, Marceau experiences the execution of his Jewish father by the Nazis. A trauma that motivates him to join the French resistance and spurs his deep conviction in the art of silence.

Cast: Marcel Marceau, Anne Sicco, Camille Marceau, Aurélia Marceau, Louis Chevalier, Rob Mermin, Georges Loinger, Daniel Loinger, Christoph Staerkle 

Fuzzy Head – (United States) U.S. Premiere

Director: Wendy McColm; Screenwriter: Wendy McColm; Producers: Rhianon Jones, Frank Oz, Santiago Cervantes, Cooper Oznowicz

Insomnia-ridden Marla is on the run after the murder of her mother. Now, Marla must confront her everlasting void to find out the truth of what really happened and at last, undo all that’s been done. 

Cast: Alicia Witt, Wendy McColm, Jonathan Tolliver, Numa Perrier, Fred Melamed, Cassidy Butler, Richard Riehle, and Rain Phoenix

Mascot – (The Netherlands, Belgium) World Premiere 

Director: Remy van Heugten; Screenwriter: Gustaaf Peek; Producers: Joram Willink, Piet-Harm Sterk, Bart van Langendonck, Robert Kievit

With his radical behavior, teenager Jerry endangers not only himself but his entire family.

Cast: Liam Jeans, Maartje Remmers, Leopold Witte, Geert van Rampelberg, Frederike van Oordt, Mouad Nineb, Joes Brauers

Onlookers – (United States, Laos) World Premiere 

Director: Kimi Takesue; Producers: Kimi Takesue, Richard Beenen, Sophie Luo

ONLOOKERS offers a visually striking, immersive meditation on travel and tourism in Laos, reflecting on how we all live as observers. Traversing the country’s dusty roads and tranquil rivers, we watch as elaborate painterly tableaus unfold, revealing the whimsical and at times disruptive interweaving of locals and foreigners in rest and play. 

The Underbug – (India) World Premiere 

Director: Shujaat Saudagar; Screenwriters: Shujaat Saudagar, Abas Dalal, Hussain Dalal; Producers: Vikesh Bhutani, Shujaat Saudagar, Aman Mann

As India is ravaged by sectarian violence on the eve of its Independence Day, two rioters take refuge in an abandoned house. An eerie presence in the house, however, haunts the men to the edge of sanity. 

Cast: Ali Fazal, Hussain Dalal, Areenah fatima

What is the Lie? – (Philippines) World Premiere

Director: Quark Henares; Screenwriters: Quark Henares, John Bedia; Producers: Armi Rae Cacanindin, Pauline Zamora, Bianca Balbuena-Liew, Ian Monsod

Hopeless romantic Janzen Torres finds another chance at love when she matches with the handsome and seemingly perfect Theo Balmaceda on a dating app. Unfortunately, on the day of their meet-up, Theo ghosts her, leading Janzen into an intricate web of deceit, lies, and catfishing led by sociopathic mastermind Beanie Landridos.

Cast: Maris Racal, EJ Jallorina, Royce Cabrera

Unstoppable Features:

American Pot Story: Oaksterdam – (United States) World Premiere

Director: Dan Katzir & Ravit Markus; Screenwriter: Dan Katzir; Producers: Ravit Markus, Dan Katzir, Yael Katzir, Lati Grobman, Rick Rosenthal, Dahlia Guigui, Asher Alkoby, Eviatar Dotan, Ayal Nitzan

American Pot Story: Oaksterdam tells the unknown origin story of how a handful of underdogs risked everything to spark the current worldwide revolution in cannabis policy. Reflecting Oakland, California’s rich history of civil resistance, they opened the first ever cannabis college, Oaksterdam University, and got Prop 19 – a measure to legalize cannabis – on the ballot in California, thus bringing this taboo topic to the mainstream and opening a conversation on its social justice impact. 

Cast: Dale Sky Jones, Richard Lee, Jeff Jones, Salwa Ibrahim, Governor Gavin Newson

OKAY! (The ASD Band Film) – (Canada)

Director: Mark Bone; Screenwriters: Greg Rosati, Andrew Simon; Producers: Andrew Simon, Tamara Sulliman, David Bodanis

Four performers on the autism spectrum form a band and take on the challenge of writing and performing their first album of original songs.

Cast: Ron Adea, Jackson Begley, Rawan Tuffaha, Spenser Murray, Maury LaFoy

Sexual Healing – (Netherlands) U.S. Premiere

Director: Elsbeth Fraanje; Screenwriter: Elsbeth Fraanje; Producers: Nienke Korthof, Willem Baptist

Evelien (53), spastic from birth, yearns for intimate contact and recognition for who she is. Sexual Healing follows her courageous quest for intimacy: touching, funny, sensual and rewarding. Naughty in all the nice ways. Sexual Healing is a tough, yet ligth-hearted universal film about the necessity of intimate contact for all of us human beings.

Sign the Show – (United States)

Director: Cat Brewer; Producers: Cat Brewer, Matt Maxey, Waka Flocka, Sara Hirsh Bordo, Claudia Lin Cunningham

Sign the Show immerses the viewer in conversations with entertainers (including Kelly Clarkson, D.L. Hughley and André 3000), the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, and popular American Sign Language interpreters to discuss the DEI & Accessibility movement at live music, comedy, and theater performances in a humorous, heartfelt, and insightful way. 

Cast: Waka Flocka, Kelly Clarkson, André 3000, D.L. Hughley, Camryn Manheim, Matt Maxey, Nyle DiMarco, Camryn Manheim, 

Wisdom Gone Wild – (United States)

Director: Rea Tajiri; Screenwriter: Rea Tajiri; Producers: Rea Tajiri, Sian Evans

In this moving and original reflection on aging, mortality, and transformation, Rea Tajiri partners with her mother, Rose Tajiri Noda, to create a film about the final sixteen years of Rose’s life as a person living with dementia.

Cast: Rose Tajiri, Rea Tajiri

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