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2018 Slamdance Film Festival Announces Feature Competition Lineup

Written by: Christopher Llewellyn Reed | November 28th, 2017

From AfterBruce PR & Marketing*:

  • Festival to Showcase 10 Narrative and 8 Documentary Features
  • 9 World Premieres Among Feature Competition Titles
  • The Russo Brothers Grow Festival Support With Major Prize

November 28, 2017 (Los Angeles) – The Slamdance Film Festival announced today their Narrative and Documentary Feature Film Competition programs for its 24th Festival edition, taking place January 19-25, 2018 in Park City. Dedicated to fostering a community for independent emerging artists, Slamdance continues to be the premiere film festival by filmmakers, for filmmakers.

The feature competition lineup includes 16 premieres—9 World, 6 North American, and 1 US premiere. Most titles were produced in the US, with additional features coming from: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany and Netherlands. All competition films are feature length directorial debuts with budgets of less than $1 million USD, and without US distribution.

“Born out of rejection, Slamdance’s artist-led group continues to discover cutting edge talent creating work outside of convention.” states Co-founder and President, Peter Baxter. “Our 2018 competition lineup is daring, varied, and vivid—it represents the spirit of our time and leads us into the future.”

All films were selected from blind submissions by a team of Slamdance alumni and are programmed democratically. Jury and Audience Awards are presented for the Best Narrative Feature and Best Documentary Feature.  

Additionally, a major new Festival award has been launched. Alumni Anthony and Joe Russo (Welcome To Collinwood, Captain America: Civil War) have partnered with Slamdance to further develop the mission of the artist led organization with their inaugural Russo Fellowship award. The award winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize and mentorship from Joe and Anthony in the development of the winner’s next project at the brother’s new Los Angeles based studio. Every participating filmmaker at the 2018 festival is eligible for this prize. The award will be presented annually to a new recipient at the Slamdance Film Festival.

“The Russo brothers exemplify our “by filmmakers for filmmakers” paradigm says Peter Baxter. They are joined by a great number of dedicated alumni who’ve shown when it comes to recognizing talent and launching careers, Slamdance’s independent and grassroots film community really can do it themselves.”

Established in 1995, Slamdance is dedicated to discovering and supporting new talents in independent filmmaking. In addition to the Russo Brothers, notable Slamdance alumni include: Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk, Interstellar), Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity), Bong Joon Ho (Snowpiercer), Lena Dunham (Girls), Azazel Jacobs (The Lovers), and Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild).

Previous Feature Competition winners include: Dim the Fluorescents (Best Narrative Feature, 2017) and Strad Style (Best Documentary Feature, 2017). Films in both categories are eligible for the Audience Award and Spirit of Slamdance Award, the latter of which is voted upon by this year’s presented filmmakers.

The list of competition features is below:


Still from “Birds Without Feathers” ©Wendy McColm

Birds Without Feathers

  • (USA) World Premiere
  • Director: Wendy McColm
  • Screenwriter: Wendy McColm

Desperate for human interaction, six emotionally damaged individuals risk self respect, shedding their disillusionment in a last grasp for happiness. A cruel-world comedy populated by struggling Instagram stars, Russian cowboys, Self-help gurus and more, their lives collide and crash in astounding ways.

Cast: Wendy McColm, Lenae Day Cooper Oznowicz, William Gabriel Greer, Sara Estefanos, and Alexander Stasko

Charlie and Hannah’s Grand Night Out

  • (Belgium) North American Premiere
  • Director: Bert Scholiers
  • Screenwriter: Bert Scholiers

Two Girls. One Night. Magical Candy Consumed. Twenty-somethings, Charlie and Hannah, find themselves strolling through the city as events take a wildly surreal turn. Transported to a trippy galaxy, filled with cosmic wisdom and contradictions, the pair learn to realize the search for love can take many forms.

Cast: Evelien Bosmans, Daphne Wellens, Patrick Vervueren

Fake Tattoos

  • (Canada) US Premiere
  • Director: Pascal Plante
  • Screenwriter: Pascal Plante

Shy Theo finds himself unexpectedly kicked in the heart by a punk-rock romance on his 18th birthday as Mag bursts into his life for a rollicking encounter. Set against a backdrop of music and mayhem, this coming-of-age tale, explores the thrashing fragility of summer love as life choices and separation loom with no true answers in sight.

Cast: Anthony Therrien, Rose-Marie Perreault

Still from “Fish Bones” ©Joanne Mony Park

Fish Bones

  • (USA) World Premiere
  • Director: Joanne Mony Park
  • Screenwriter: Joanne Mony Park

Hana, a Korean immigrant on winter break, is caught between worlds. While struggling to find peace with her conservative mother and the expectations surrounding her future, Hana finds herself falling for Nico, a tender and affectionate Latina music producer.  

Cast: Joony Kim, Cris Gris

Human Affairs

  • (USA) World Premiere
  • Director: Charlie Birns
  • Screenwriter: Charlie Birns

This richly earnest drama follows Geneviève, a surrogate who must reckon with her ambivalence about the pregnancy and her precarious feelings for the parents-to-be.  

Cast: Dominic Fumusa, Kerry Condon, David Harbour, Julie Sokolowski


  • (Denmark) North American Premiere
  • Director: Niels Holstein Kaa
  • Screenwriter: Magnus B. B. Lysbakken

In the streets, parks and cafes of Copenhagen, a triptych of love stories come to vivid life. Framed with a superb naturalism, these tales through the seasons tackle the ever rising tide of loneliness and self-doubt that can come in the face of new love.

Cast: Marie Mailand, Niklas Herskind, Nina Terese Rask

Still from “M/M” ©Drew Lint


  • (Canada, Germany) World Premiere
  • Director: Drew Lint
  • Screenwriter: Drew Lint

Wayward Canadian, Matthew, crushed by the isolation of being new to Berlin, turns his sexual desires toward Matthias that spiral into a dark fixation of assumed identity. Soon, this obsessive power struggle between the two, careens toward brutal passion and violence in a bid for dominance.

Cast: Antoine Lahaie, Nicolas Maxim Endlicher

Rock Steady Row

  • (USA) World Premiere
  • Director: Trevor Stevens
  • Screenwriter: Bomani Story

Demented chaos rules this bizarro-world college campus where the reigning gang-frats target a freshman, who dare crosses their path. Trapped between a blaze of twisted ‘Mad Max’ style power games, he shrewdly plays both sides, fueling apocalyptic-sized battles that escalate to ensnare the school Dean who’s coming unglued.

Cast: Heston Horwin, Diamond White, Logan Huffman, Isaac Alisma, Allie Marie Evans, Larry Miller, Peter Gilroy

Songs in the Sun

  • (Denmark) North American Premiere
  • Director: Kristian Sejrbo Lidegaard
  • Screenwriter: Allan Hyde, Kristian Sejrbo Lidegaard

Off the coast of Denmark, young Anna discovers she is the only lifeline to ailing childhood friend Julie and Sonja, Julie’s apathetic mother. Over the course of one momentous afternoon, Anna will learn the healing power of belief and myth-making in everyday living

Cast: Emma Sehested Høeg, Charlotte Munck, Victoria Carmen Sonne

Still from “The Starry Sky Above Me” ©Ilan Klipper

The Starry Sky Above Me

  • (France) North American Premiere
  • Director: Ilan Klipper
  • Screenwriter: Ilan Klipper, Raphaël Neal

Bruno is happy to live out his days luxuriating in the existential highs and lows only a brilliant literary mind can appreciate. But when his loved ones seek to intervene with the help of a psychiatrist, Bruno’s bohemian lifestyle may in fact be the perfect anecdote to the colorless, PC lives they didn’t know they hated.   

Cast: Laurent Poitrenaux, Camille Chamoux, Marilyne Canto, Alma Jodorowsky, François Chattot, Michèle Moretti, Frank Williams


Still from “Circus Ecuador” ©Ashley Bishop/James Brassard

Circus Ecuador

  • (Ecuador, USA) World Premiere
  • Directors: Ashley Bishop and Jim Brassard

James and Ashley travel to the jungles of Ecuador to make a documentary about a school being built for an indigenous community only to discover that the community may or may not be involved in aliens, gold smuggling, human trafficking, and murder.

Freedom for the Wolf

  • (Germany, USA)
  • Director: Rupert Russell

From Hong Kong to Tunisia to Bollywood, people are fighting against elected leaders dismantling freedom and democracy. These seemingly disparate international stories are cohesively tied into what is happening in the US to reach some very compelling conclusions.


  • (USA) World Premiere
  • Director: Morrisa Maltz

An intimate look at a woman who left her life as a successful fashion designer and mother in Texas to become a reclusive hermit, immersed in nature, focused solely on creating art.

Still from “Instant Dreams” ©Willem Baptist

Instant Dreams

  • (Netherlands) North American Premiere
  • Director: Willem Baptist

An essayistic quest for the secret of instant film, the magic appeal of Polaroid and what that tells us about the fascinating relationship we have with the photographic image.

Man on Fire

  • (USA) World Premiere
  • Director: Joel Fendelman

Grand Saline, Texas was a sleepy, unremarkable town–until a white preacher lit himself on fire to protest the town’s racism in 2014.


  • (USA) World Premiere
  • Director: Josh Polon

Germán is a young artist and filmmaker striving to complete his first feature film, while plagued by the ghost of a long-lost love and a battle for creative control with his producers.

Still from “Mr. Fish: Cartooning from the Deep End” ©Pablo Bryant

Mr. Fish: Cartooning from the Deep End

  • (USA)
  • Director: Pablo Bryant

This personal documentary follows a controversial political cartoonist as he struggles to provide for his family and stay true to his creativity in a world where biting satiric humor has an ever-diminishing commercial value.


  • (Belgium, Netherlands) North American Premiere
  • Director: Frederik Carbon

On a seaside mountain in Northern California two old friends (one a visionary architect and the other an influential sound artist) dream, talk, live, and create.

*Text copied directly from AfterBruce press release


Christopher Llewellyn Reed is a film critic, filmmaker, and educator, as well as Film Festival Today's Editor. A member of both the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, Chris is, in addition, lead film critic at Hammer to Nail and the author of Film Editing: Theory and Practice.

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