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Music In The Sundance Spotlight

Music seems to take a bigger role each year at the annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The Jan. 20-30 independent film showcase will see a slate of eclectic live performances to entertain attendees in between screenings, while music will receive its due on screen from a variety of perspectives. The Sundance documentary competition will host the world premieres of director Jeff Feurzeig’s “The Devil and Daniel Johnston” a profile the beloved Austin, Texas-based singer/songwriter, and Greg Whitely’s “New York Doll,” which captures the reunion of legendary punk Arthur “Killer” Kane, a recovering alcoholic and recent Mormon convert, with the rest of his New York Dolls bandmates. Johnston is also slated to perform at the festival as part of the Jan. 26 Sundance Night Café bill with Craig Armstrong and Yo La Tengo. The wartime hardships of Iraqi pianist Samir Peter are the basis of director Sean McAllister’s “The Liberace of Baghdad,” which will be among the offerings in the world cinema documentary competition, while Don Argott’s “Rock School” will receive a special screening and give festival goers a look at the real life version of an idea that gained acclaim in the 2003 Jack Black comedy “School of Rock.” Distinct areas of the music world are utilized as plot devices in a pair of films receiving their world premiere in Sundance’s dramatic competition. In Craig Brewer’s “Hustle & Flow,” a Memphis pimp attempts a mid-life career change as a rapper. “Forty Shades of Blue,” written by Michale Rohatyn and directed by Ira Sachs, also takes place in Memphis, centering on a young Russian woman’s personal awakening as she meets the estranged son of her husband, an aging rock’n’roll legend. The Australian film “Green Bush” (directed by Warwick Thornton) and the U.S. feature “A Thousand Roads” (directed by Chris Eyre) both probe the reach of radio DJs and the communities they build. Both will receive special screenings during the festival. The “Park City at Midnight” series will showcase “9 Songs,” writer/director Michael Winterbottom’s tale of lovers’ encounters between rock concerts. Sundance will also host the world premiere of director Andy Fickman’s tongue-in-cheek musical adaptation of the classic anti-marijuana propaganda film “Reefer Madness.” On live music side, Michael Franti & Spearhead will entertain at the Gala at Snow Park Lodge at the Deer Valley Resort, the later of a pair of Sundance’s opening night parties. The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) will host the daytime Music Café for attendees throughout the Sundance Film Festival. Four or five artists will perform daily, including vocalists Andgelique Kidjo and Michael McDonald, Toad The Wet Sprocket frontman Glen Phillips with Nickel Creek siblings Sara and Sean Watkins, hip-hop poet Saul Williams, country artist Billy Currington, singer/songwriters Suzanne Vega, Rickie Lee Jones, Linda Perry and Ben Kweller, offbeat performers Dresden Dolls and Nellie McKay and rock acts Midnight Movies, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead and Kings Of Leon. In addition to the aforementioned Night Café featuring Johnston, an earlier Jan. 23 version will boast a collaboration between Jayhawks leader Gary Louris and ambient electronic artist Raz Mesinai, as well as performances by alaska! and Calexico. The Sundance Village will host Cyrus Chesnutt (Jan. 22), Bill Charlap (Jan. 26), Marcus Roberts (Jan. 28) and Judy Carmichael (Jan. 29) in its presentation of jazz trios at the Sundance Rehearsal Hall. The venue will also showcase Steinway at Sundance, a gallery of legendary pianos. A free outdoor concert will be staged Jan. 22 on Park City’s lower Main Street under the Music on Main banner, while a music showcase will be held Jan. 26 at the “Sundance House,” a meeting place for attendees at the Kimball Arts Center. Performers for those events have not been announced. Additionally music’s role in the movies will be the focal point of “Music and Film: The Creative Process,” a Jan. 26 roundtable discussion as part of Sundance’s conference panel offerings. Among those taking part will be actor/musician Kevin Bacon and his Bacon Brothers bandmate Michael Bacon, composers George S. Clinton (“Austin Powers”), Rolfe Kent (“Mean Girls,” “About Schmidt”) and Peter Golub (“The Laramie Project”) and director/cinematographer Rodrigo Garcia (“Six Feet Under,” “Carnivale”). For more information on the scheduled films and events, visit the Sundance Film Festival Web site at