13 Sundance Film Festival Movies You Have To See

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Thanks to Richard Gere and the financial crisis, the Sundance Film Festival is returning to its indie roots this year. The festival, which starts Thursday, has long served as a launching pad for smaller movies, as it did last year in catapulting “Beasts of the Southern Wild” to four Oscar nominations. However, as the festival has grown in stature, it also has craved big-ticket movies with brand-name stars, from John Wells’ “The Company Men” (Ben Affleck and a reported $15 million budget) to Antoine Fuqua’s “Brooklyn’s Finest” (Richard Gere and a $17 million budget).

“At previous Sundances, there was a real effort to try and have very high-profile mainstream films,” Jessica Lacy, head of ICM’s international and independent film department, told TheWrap. 

But this new crop, she said, “all feel like unique, independent films. The distribution landscape lends itself to making and having more kinds of these films, and there are more opportunities for them to be distributed.”

Indeed, two recent Sundance premieres — “Margin Call,” a drama about the early stages of the financial crisis, and  “Arbitrage,” Nicholas Jarecki’s film about an unscrupulous hedge-fund manager — validated the increasingly popular strategy of simultaneously releasing films in theatres and on video by demand or other platforms.

Now, more buyers are trying new approaches, actors, directors — and even stars are more willing to make the small movies. 

A year after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, two gunmen petrified an already-shaken nation with a series of sniper attacks in the Washington, D.C., area that left 10 dead.

John Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were dubbed the 'Beltway Snipers,' and while it's hard to think of two less sympathetic figures, they are at the centre of Alexandre Moors' fictionalized account from the perspective of the shooters in which Moors explores what led them to commit such attacks. Isiah Washington plays Muhammad and Tequan Richmond plays Malvo.

The film is not for the faint of heart.

Snowboarding is a beautiful sport to behold, and this film combines awe-inspiring aerial acrobatics with the heart wrenching story of Kevin Pearce. While training for the 2010 Winter Olympics, Pearce crashed and suffered a severe brain injury.

Oscar-nominated director Lucy Walker follows Pearce's daredevil efforts, his injury and his recovery, framing it in the larger context of athletes who risk their lives to excel at a sport.

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