LOS ANGELES - John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale, Heather Graham and Dakota Fanning are among the stars appearing in films that will compete for top honors at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.
The lineup announced Wednesday includes writer-director James C. Strouse's topical drama "Grace Is Gone," starring Cusack as a father who must deal with telling his two young daughters that their mother has been killed in Iraq.
The film is one of 16 in the dramatic competition for American fictional films at Sundance, the nation's top showcase for independent cinema. The festival runs Jan. 18-28 in Park City, Utah.
Also competing is Alfredo de Villa's "Adrift in Manhattan," starring Graham in an ensemble drama set among New Yorkers at crossroads; David Gordon Green's "Snow Angels," featuring Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell in the story of a teenager whose life is intercut with that of his former babysitter and her estranged husband; and Fanning in a yet to be titled movie from filmmaker Deborah Kampmeier about a troubled girl in 1950s Alabama who finds solace in blues music. The film co-stars Robin Wright Penn, David Morse and Piper Laurie.
Rockwell is among several actors appearing in two films in the dramatic competition. He also stars with Vera Farmiga in George Ratliff's "Joshua," about a family in turmoil over the antics of their 8-year-old son after his baby sister is born.
Farmiga, who won a special jury prize at Sundance in 2004 for her performance in "Down to the Bone," also stars in Gina Kim's "Never Forever," about a woman who takes up with a stranger after she and her husband learn they cannot have children.
Drea de Matteo of "The Sopranos" also is in two Sundance competition films: Zoe Cassavetes' "Broken English," costarring Parker Posey, Peter Bogdanovich and the filmmaker's mother, Gena Rowlands, in the story of a thirtysomething woman in an odd relationship with a Frenchman; and Steve Berra's "The Good Life," with Mark Webber, Zooey Deschanel and Bill Paxton in the tale of a small-town theater operator whose life is changed by a mysterious woman.
Sundance organizers also announced a slate of 16 films each in the festival's American documentary, world documentary and world dramatic competitions.
The American documentary category includes "Ghosts of Abu Ghraib," director Rory Kennedy's examination of abuses at the Iraq prison in 2003; and "No End in Sight," Charles Ferguson's exploration of President Bush's handling of the Iraq war.
Other American documentary contenders include Marco Williams' "Banished," a chronicle of three U.S. towns that evicted all their black residents in the early 20th century; David Stenn's "Girl 27," the story of the rape and disappearance of an underage dancer at a Hollywood stag party in 1937; and Judith Helfand and Daniel B. Gold's global-warming narrative "Everything's Cool."
The global-warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," featuring Al Gore, premiered at Sundance last year.
Among world documentary entries at Sundance are Daniel Gordon's "Crossing the Line," the story of an American who defected to North Korea amid the Cold War; Alejandra Sanchez's "Bajo Juarez, the City Devouring Its Daughters," examining the sexual abuse and murders of women in a Mexican town along the U.S. border; and Julien Temple's "The Future Is Unwritten," a portrait of punk rock legend Joe Strummer.
Sundance organizers planned to announce their lineup of star-driven premieres on Thursday.
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