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Thursday Roundup: Reitman, Burnett to be honored by Palm Springs Film Fest; Slamdance 2010 selects 18 for feature competition; 'Nine' opens Dubai Film Fest

December 10, 2009 |  9:46 pm

Jason Reitman

Three lights of the current indie film scene will add to the glitter on hand at the 21st Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) on Jan. 5. Jason Reitman will receive the fest's Director of the Year Award for his critically acclaimed film "Up in the Air," while Jeremy Renner, star of "The Hurt Locker," will be the recipient of the Breakthrough Performance Award. And musician/producer extraordinaire T Bone Burnett is this year's winner of the Frederick Loewe Award for Composing for his work on the Jeff Bridges starrer "Crazy Heart." They join an already celeb-heavy -- and buzzworthy -- lineup of talent being honored at the fest's Awards Gala, which includes Morgan Freeman, Jeff Bridges, Helen Mirren, Anna Kendrick (also in "Up in the Air") and Mariah Carey

The PSIFF in recent years has established itself as a fairly accurate indicator of the direction in which the year's award season will head, so how might this recognition affect Reitman, Renner and Burnett in the weeks to come? Well, last year's Loewe Award winner, Alexandre Desplat, later earned an Oscar nod for his work on "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." And the 2008 Director of the Year, Sean Penn (the 2009 fest gave Ron Howard a Lifetime Achievement Award in Directing), received nominations from both the Directors Guild and Broadcast Film Critics Assn. Last year's Breakthrough Performance Award winner, Freida Pinto, was among those honored by the Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by a Cast and also earned a BAFTA nod, so perhaps all three might want to save their acceptance speeches for the PSIFF for future events.

Variety has posted the 2010 Slamdance Film Festival competition lineup, and it's par for the course -- an eclectic collection of 10 features and eight documentaries, all proudly waving the fest's "by filmmakers, for filmmakers" flag. The 18 selections were culled from 5,000 submissions -- a record for the Sundance alternative, now in its 16th edition. Among the highlights: "William Burroughs: The Man Within," about the Beat author and outsider icon; "The Wild Hunt," a Canadian comedy-drama about a jealous boyfriend who invades a live-action role-playing game to win back his girlfriend (it's also part of the Toronto International Film Festival's Top Ten) and "Drones," a science fiction comedy with an office setting from actors-turned-directors Amber Benson and Adam Busch -- both vets of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" -- and a solid indie cast that includes Angela Bettis ("May"), James Urbaniak ("Henry Fool") and Samm Levine ("Inglourious Basterds"). Busch also turns up in another fest entry, "Cummings Farm," a comedy about three couples experimenting with group sex, with Laura Silverman ("The Sarah Silverman Show"). 

As announced yesterday, Steven Soderbergh's "And Everything Is Going Fine," a documentary about Spalding Gray, will also screen at Slamdance. The 2010 Slamdance Film Festival will run from Jan. 21 to 28 in Park City, Utah.

The 6th Dubai International Film Festival  continued to assert its dominance over the growing number of film festivals in the Middle East with a celeb-heavy opening night screening of Rob Marshall's "Nine" on Dec. 9. The fest, the largest in the region, faces competition for the attention of the world press from two up-and-coming fests in the region -- the Middle East International Film Festival in Abu Dhabi and the newer Doha Tribeca Film Festival in Qatar -- and Dubai itself is in the midst of a severe financial crisis. But the fest's lineup of 168 films, which runs through Dec. 16, should allay any concerns about attendance; James Cameron's "Avatar" closes the event, which will also feature such top international releases as Pedro Almodovar's "Broken Embraces," Jim Sheridan's "Brothers," "Fantastic Mr. Fox" from Wes Anderson and the Cannes Grand Jury Prize winner "A Prophet."

-- Paul Gaita

Photo: Jason Reitman. Credit: Dale Robinette

 More from The Circuit:

Sundance Film Festival USA takes festival experience, major films to eight cities

Mavis Spencer is Miss Golden Globe 2010

Review roundup: "Nine"