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Sundance Day 0: The ragged troops assemble

Posted by Ty Burr  January 15, 2009 03:28 PM

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I just landed in Park City, a sunny, balmy 31 degrees, for the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Ha ha, Boston, you're freezing and I'm not.

Sorry. Couldn't resist.

Nothing much is happening today except for the opening night film, "Mary and Max," an Australian claymation drama about two oddball pen-pals featuring the voices of Toni Collette and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Yep, a weird one to kick off Sundance 2009, but this promises to be a different sort of festival anyway: Last year's big buys ("Hamlet 2," "American Teen") stiffed in theaters, the economy's in the dumper, and a large number of boutique distributors -- the very companies who existed to buy Sundance movies -- went out of business in 2008.

There will be parties, obviously, and celeb-spotting, and maybe even a deal or two (Sony Picture Classics bought up "Rudo and Cursi," which reunites "Y Tu Mama Tambien" stars Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal, and the self-explanatory documentary "Tyson," which has been floating around since Cannes last May.) But the pre-fest mood is a subdued wait-and-see. If there's buzz, it surrounds "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men," and adaptation of the book by the late David Foster Wallace by "Office" star-turned-director John Krasinski; "I Love You Philip Morris," with Jim Carrey in a dramatic role as a true-life gay con man; "You Won't Miss Me," which stars Stella Schnabel (Julian's daughter), "Children of Invention" (photo above), a drama of parental neglect by the Boston-raised Asian-American filmmaker Tze Chun; "Big Fan," written and directed by "Wrestler" writer Robert Siegel and starring Patton Oswalt; and "Paper Heart," in which Michael Cera more or less plays himself. And that's just the fictional films: The documentary everyone wants to see is "The September Issue," with Anna Wintour doing what she does at Vogue, but I'm looking forward to "Afghan Star" (TV's "Pop Idol" comes to Afghanistan) and Joe Berlinger's "Crude," about nefarious doings in the Amazon River basin

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Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.

Janice Page is movies editor for The Boston Globe.

Tom Russo is a regular correspondent for the Movies section and writes a weekly column on DVD releases.

Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.

Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.

Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer for Boston.com.

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