Maryam Keshavarz's Circumstance, one of two '11 Sundance favorites in Waterville (this one took home the Audience Award), is a stylish and roundly acclaimed tale of sexual awakening on the alternately bohemian and repressive streets of Tehran.
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The most-discussed debut film at Sundance this year was Matthew Lessner's The Woods, about a group of hipsters who embark on a back-to-the-land movement. Begrudgingly admired despite obvious accusations of hypocrisy (materialists disdaining materialism), the film has drawn frequent comparisons to Malick's Days of Heaven.
With a star-studded cast (Pierce Brosnan, Ed Harris, and Jennifer Connelly, among others), George Ratliff follows up his underrated thriller Joshua with a broad comedy taking aim at megachurches, called Salvation Boulevard. Festival favorite Karen Green (Heat), in attendance this year, gets meaty roles in two new films, The Green and Warrior Woman (a work-in-progress screening). Higher Ground, another Sundance film examining the lives of cult members, is the directorial debut of actress Vera Farmiga. Closing out the festival on July 24, Mike Cahill's anticipated, low-budget sci-fi mind-bender Another World gets an early showing before it opens in local theaters in August.
MAINE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL | July 15-24 | locations in Waterville and Skowhegan | individual tickets $9-12; Festival passes $85-200 | miff.org
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