For nearly 15 years, Slamdance Film Festival officials have tried to compete with the Sundance Film Festival by being more "independent" than the premier showcase for independent film work from around the world.
But next year's Slamdance event features more films with name actors, as well as themes that pop up in some 2009 Sundance selections as well such as domestic dysfunction and war.
This week, the festival "by filmmakers, for filmmakers" announced its slate for the 15th annual event, which runs Jan. 15-23 at Park City's Treasure Mountain Inn. Included are 100 features and shorter-length works. Twenty of those will compete for narrative-feature and documentary-feature awards.
Slamdance's Opening Night Gala will feature the premiere of "I Sell the Dead," a darkly comic horror movie about grave-robbing that stars Dominic Monaghan and Ron Perlman.
They're not the only recognizable names associated with next year's festival, though. Michael Madsen leads the cast of "You Might as Well Live," Matthew Lillard and Christopher McDonald star in "Spooner," and "Finding Bliss" features Leelee Sobieski, Denise Richards and Jamie Kennedy.
Highlights of the narrative competition include the "City Rats," a "modern-day Dickensian tale" from British television director Steve Kelly, and the thriller "The Ante."
"Road to Fallujah" looks at Mark Manning's experiences living with the people of Fallujah and is one of the documentary-competition selections.
Special screenings include the premiere of "The Slammin' Salmon," the latest comedy from the Broken Lizard comedy troupe, which debuted its films "Puddle Cruiser" and "Super Troopers" at Sundance.
According to Peter Baxter, Slamdance's president and co-founder, the upcoming programming helps celebrate "our original mission of showcasing emerging talent and their creative vision."
Film competition director Sam Roberts agreed, saying that "this year we are more excited than ever to showcase a slate of feature films we believe truly reflects the diversity of independent voices and content and shows the best work from emerging and first-time filmmakers."For more information, go online to www.slamdance.com or call 1-323-466-1786. Festival passes ($250 to $330) are currently available, and individual tickets ($11, $9 for Utah residents) go on sale Dec. 15.