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The 2010 Sundance Film Festival

Today marks the beginning of the 26th annual Sundance Film Festival, which takes place in Northeastern Utah (primarily in Park City) each January. The festival runs until Sunday January 31, at which time the awards will be handed out and the winning films will be screened one last time. The Akron Movie Examiner will arrive tomorrow in Park City, Utah, and will cover the festival until mid-next week.

Each year, the festival commences with a big movie premiere that normally generates a large amount of industry buzz. This year is no different as Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s HOWL will be the opening night film. In HOWL, James Franco stars as a young Allen Ginsberg in the midst of the 1950s obscenity trial, which occurred after the release of his controversial poem, entitled “Howl.” Jon Hamm and Jeff Daniels co-star in what will surely be a film to look out for later in the year.

Other standouts among the American dramatic entries include Hesher, a film about a troubled teenager growing up in a broken home, and happythankyoumoreplease, a story about life, love, and young adults struggling to find their place in New York City. Hesher stars the ever-impressive Joseph Gordon-Levitt and happythankyoumoreplease is written by, directed by, and starring Josh Radnor from CBS’s How I Met Your Mother as well as Malin Akerman (Watchmen).

Star-studded, Hollywood premieres draw the biggest crowds at Sundance. This year’s frontrunners in the Premieres category star Hollywood’s younger talent. Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning star in The Runaways, a biopic about the titular all-girl band from the ‘70s, while somewhat older actors, Casey Affleck and Jessica Alba light up the screen in Michael Winterbottom’s thriller The Killer Inside Me.

The standout documentary at this year’s festival is Lucky, which is directed by Jeffrey Blitz who tantalized audiences with his 2002 breakout Spellbound. The film follows former lottery winners and paints a picture rarely seen in the mainstream media: frustrated winners dodging scam artists and pesky relatives, constantly worrying about their newfound fortune.  If Blitz's previous work is any indication, Lucky will be a delight for documentary fans and a pleasant surprise for other curious viewers.

Throw in some bloody midnight movies and low-budget indie flicks, and this should be another great festival. Stay tuned for more updates from the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. The Akron Movie Examiner will be reporting from Park City over the next week bringing you early reviews and festival buzz.

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