We probably missed a few gems, but we'll dig em out before the festival begins on June 2.
Here is the almost-full schedule
1. “Winter’s Bone”
(Narrative Feature) The festival opens with this Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner (as we predicted a little while back
), an adaptation of Daniel Woodrell's novel of the same name. Set in the meth-plagued Missouri Ozarks near the Arkansas border, it centers on a 17-year-old girl who's trying to track down her father, who's forfeited his family's house by skipping bond and it stars several Arkansas actors, including Fayetteville’s Lauren Sweetser, who’ll be in attendance along with director Debra Granik. LM.
2. “Racing Dreams”
(Documentary Feature) Produced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Springdale-based Hannover House, this doc follows three pre-teens as they battle for the World Karting Association’s National Series, sort of the go-kart version of NASCAR. It’s drawn all kinds of plaudits and taken home awards at Tribeca and other festivals. LM.
3. “Citizen Architect”
(Documentary Feature) The Clinton School of Public Service spotlights this hugely compelling, decidedly Southern documentary that follows Auburn University’s Rural Studio project. The hour-long film follows a team of socially-conscious architecture students as they take their craft into Alabama’s impoverished “black belt,” interacting with the vibrant locals and building functional (and, no doubt, eye catching) new homes for those saddled with the most destitute, unhealthy living situations. JT
4. "Passenger Pigeons"
(Narrative Feature) The debut feature from Martha Stephens, who like David Gordon Green, Jeff Nichols and a host of other budding filmmakers graduated from the North Carolina School of Arts and, at least based on the film’s trailer, is a big Terrence Malick fan. Her film weaves four different storylines in an Eastern Kentucky town grappling with the death of a coalminer. LM
5. “American: the Bill Hicks Story”
(Documentary Feature) Buzz and anticipation come in spades anytime a film is made about a cult figure, much less one that elicits such fervor as the late, great and, hell, fascinating comedian/social commentator/firebrand Bill Hicks. The Little Rock connection here is what sets this one in a field all unto itself: The razor-tongued comedian spent his last days in Little Rock with his parents before succumbing to pancreatic cancer at the age of 32. Consider this one the preliminary front-runner for the Golden Rock documentary award. JT
6. “Big River Man”
(Documentary Feature) Another doc in contention for the namesake award of the festival follows the world’s greatest swimmer. Not Michael Phelps: a barrel of a 50-year old man who drinks liters of beer at a time and took cameras with him as he swum all 3,300 miles of the Amazon. One part Herzog, one part Zwigoff, this movie has garnered no shortage of attention during its festival rounds. Expect this one to be a crowd-pleaser. JT
7. “Spanola Pepper Sauce Company”
(Narrative Short). Friends of Dwight David Honeycutt Ray McKinnon and Graham Gordy collaborated on this short about a deranged hot sauce king (Gordy). LM
8. "I Am Comic"
(Documentary Feature) Interviews with comics like Sarah Silverman, Bobcat Goldthwait and Nick Kroll on process, what life's like on the road and such. Should be funny, right? LM
(Narrative Feature) Having won the Grand Jury prize at the Miami Film Festival mere weeks ago, this feature-length blurs the line between documentary and narrative film, plucking real life characters and situations (a Mexican father estranged from his Italian ex and their young son caught in between) and delicately placing them on the screen in beautiful, seemingly minimal meditation on fathers, sons and the sea that calls to mind early Van Sant or a Chantal Akerman take on Hemingway. JT.
10. "Tiny Furniture"
(Narrative Feature) Yes, I too am tired of young people adrift movies. But this one, a largely autobiographical debut from director/writer/star Lena Dunham about a woman who breaks up with her boyfriend and returns home from college to live with her artistic family, looks funny and well-made (the camera work particularly) and it won the jury prize at SXSW. LM