EDITOR walks to REPORTER's messy cubicle.
EDITOR: I want you to write a story about the movies with the biggest buzz going into the Sundance Film Festival.
REPORTER: [sighs] But pre-festival buzz is garbage. Manufactured hype based on what publicists say about their clients. Anything else is just guesswork based on the names attached to a movie.
EDITOR: But everybody writes about buzz before the festival.
REPORTER: Yeah, and everybody's always wrong. Look at last year's Sundance. Who would have guessed that a little movie from Louisiana with no stars, no professional actors, would get standing ovations and four Oscar nominations? But that's what happened with "Beasts of the Southern Wild."
EDITOR: So write a story that dismisses pre-festival buzz, but list some movies that should get attention anyway.
REPORTER: OK. That I can do.
EDITOR exits, REPORTER starts typing.
End of scene.
So, with the previous scene still echoing in our minds, let's consider what looks promising at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Here are a few educated guesses:
"After Tiller" » Expect protests at this hot-button documentary, which profiles the four doctors in the United States who still perform late-term abortions. (U.S. Documentary)
"Anita" » Freida Mock's documentary about Anita Hill, the lawyer and academic at the heart of the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings two decades ago, promises to illuminate a still-burning dispute. Hill will be in attendance for the premiere. Any chance of Orrin Hatch, who grilled Hill during the hearings, showing up for a reunion? Not likely, but it would be exciting. (Documentary Premieres)
"Before Midnight" » Director Richard Linklater reteams with stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy for the third installment of this European romantic trilogy, begun with "Before Sunrise" in 1995 and continuing with "Before Sunset" in 2004. In the first, they were young people meeting and falling in love in Vienna. Then they were older and wiser, and walking around Paris. This time, they're even older, more wistful and reuniting in Greece. If you've loved these characters before, you're going to want to know what happens next. (Premieres)
"Blue Caprice" » Expect some controversy coming out of this spare character study inspired by the 2002 "Beltway Sniper" case, starring Isaiah Washington ("Grey's Anatomy") and Tequan Richmond ("Everybody Hates Chris"). (Next)
"C.O.G." » Fans of humorist and author David Sedaris will want to see this movie, the first adaptation from one of his pieces. Jonathan Groff ("Glee") stars as a man who finds work on an Oregon apple farm. (U.S. Dramatic)
"In a World …" » A whole lot of comic talent — including Rob Corddry, Ken Marino and Michaela Watkins — is assisting actress and first-time writer-director Lake Bell on her story of a vocal coach trying to make it as a voice actor. (U.S. Dramatic)
"Kill Your Darlings" » Daniel Radcliffe stretches beyond Harry Potter, portraying a young Allen Ginsberg as he meets his future Beat Generation cohorts, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, amid a murder case at Columbia University in 1944. (U.S. Dramatic)
"Lovelace" » In a festival loaded with sexually charged drama, this biography of "Deep Throat" star Linda Lovelace (played by "Les Misérables" ingenue Amanda Seyfried) stands out. The stellar cast includes Peter Sarsgaard, James Franco, Adam Brody, Hank Azaria and Sharon Stone. (Premieres)
"Touchy Feely" » Director Lynn Shelton has a good track record with her semi-improvised character-driven comedies, "Humpday" and "Your Sister's Sister." This time, she's reteamed with Rosemarie DeWitt in the story of a massage therapist who develops a sudden aversion to bodily contact. (U.S. Dramatic)
"Which Way Is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington" » Three years ago, Hetherington and Sebastian Junger were being feted at Sundance for their Afghanistan combat documentary "Restrepo." Now Hetherington is dead, killed while taking pictures of the Libyan uprising, and Junger marks his memory with this film. There won't be a dry eye in the house. (Documentary Premieres)