Check out the first part of our roundup of the music and composers of the movies premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival by clicking here.

A film that is likely to find distribution within the next few days or weeks given its high profile cast and positive critical reaction is the comedy drama Robot and Frank directed by Jake Schreier. The movie stars Frank Langella as an elderly ex-jewel thief who leads a lonely life until his grown children install a robot to care for him, sparking off an unlikely friendship. Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, Liv Tyler, Peter Saarsgard (as the robot’s voice), Jeremy Sisto and Jeremy Strong are co-starring. Christopher Ford has written the screenplay and Galt Niederhoffer (The Romantics), Sam Bisbee, Jackie Kelman Bisbee and Lance Acord (BAFTA-nominated cinematographer for Lost in Translation) are producing. The film’s music is written by Francis and the Lights (aka Francis Farewell Starlit). The project marks the singer/songwriter’s first film music project. Check out his official website for more information about his previous work.

A music-themed movie that has received mostly enthusiastic reviews at the festival and has been compared to the 2007 Sundance indie hit Once is the drama I Am Not a Hipster written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. The film set in San Diego’s indie music and art scene tells the story of a San Diego musician struggling to deal with himself and his family. The film’s cast includes Dominic Bogart, Alvaro Orlando, Brad William Henke, Tammy Minoff, Kandis Erickson and Lauren Coleman. Cretton is also producing the film with Ron Najor and Trevor Fernando. San Diego musician Joel P. West has written all the original songs from the film and also composed the movie’s score. A soundtrack album has already been announced for a release later this year. The album will feature recordings of performances from the film, as well as songs by various San Diego indie artists including Black Mamba, The Donkeys and Jamuel Saxon. For more information about the film and soundtrack and to watch the trailer, visit the official movie website.

A movie that was already shown at other film festivals last year (including a premiere in Toronto), but premiered at Sundance with a new original score is the Indonesian martial arts action film The Raid directed by Gareth Huw Evans. The film about a SWAT team that infiltrates and attempts to take over an apartment complex acting as a safe house for a drug lord is produced by Ario Sagantoro and stars Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Donny Alamsyah, Ray Sahetapy, Joe Taslim and Pierre Gruno. The film’s new score is written by Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda and Joseph Trapanese who previously collaborated with Daft Punk on their music for Tron: Legacy. Sony Pictures Classics has picked up domestic rights for the film and will be releasing the film on March 23, 2012. Click here to watch the trailer.

Another well received film that appears to be nearing a major distribution deal is the drama Beasts of the Southern Wild directed by Benh Zeitlin and starring Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry. The movie revolves around an intrepid six-year-old girl who lives with her father in “the Bathtub,” a southern Delta community at the edge of the world and goes in search of her lost mother. Michael Gottwald, Dan Janvey and Josh Penn are the producers of the project. Zeitlin has written the music for the drama with composer Dan Romer who is also known as the lead singer of the indie rock band Fire Flies. Beasts of the Southern Wild marks his first major feature scoring assignment. To learn more about the film, visit the official Facebook movie page.

Among the most critically acclaimed movies at the festival so far is the drama Compliance written and directed by Craig Zobel. The film starring Ann Dowd, Dreama Walker, Pat Healy and Bill Camp is based on a true story about mind games at a fast-food restaurant. Zobel is producing the indie production with Sophia Lin & Tyler Davidson (Take Shelter), Lisa Muskat (All the Real Girls) and Theo Sena. David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) is among the executive producers. Heather McIntosh has written the score for the film, which has been singled out in a couple of reviews by major publications, including Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. To learn more about the composer, visit her official website. Compliance has gathered interest from a number of major distributors and is expected to sell in the near future.

Another film that premiered last weekend is the drama For Ellen written and directed by So Yong Kim (In Between Days) and starring Paul Dano, Jon Heder, Jena Malone, Margarita Levieva, Shaylena Mandigo and Julian Gamble. In the movie, Dano plays a struggling musician who arrives in a small Midwestern town to deal with his impending divorce and to fight for custody of his young daughter. Yong Kim also produced the project with Jen Gatien (Hounddog) and Bradley Rust Gray (The Exploding Girl). The film’s music is composed by Johann Johannsson. The Icelandic composer’s previous credits include the 2009 drama Personal Effects staring Michelle Pfeiffer and Ashton Kutcher. For updates on the composer’s work, visit his official website. No word yet on a distribution deal for the drama.

Among the short films to premiere at Sundance and worth mentioning because of the involvement of a major film composer is the documentary The Movement: One Man Joins an Uprising directed by Greg Hamilton and Kurt Miller who is also producing the project. The film follows Rick Finkelstein who was paralyzed in a ski accident on Aspen Mountain. Six years and nine surgeries later, cameras captured his dramatic return to Aspen. Composer Trevor Rabin (National Treasure, Armageddon, Remember the Titans) has written the music for the short film narrated by Robert Redford and Warren Miller.

Finally, another film scored by a well known composer within the film music community and classical music world is the documentary Me @The Zoo directed by Chris Moukarbel and Valerie Veatch. The movie revolves around Chris Crocker, a video blogger from a small town in Tennessee and chronicles the controversial rise of the Internet folk hero. Nicholas Shumaker, Jack Turner are producing alongside both directors. Nico Muhly (The Reader, Margaret) has composed the music for the film. HBO Documentary Films has bought U.S. broadcast rights for Me @the Zoo and no air date has been announced yet.

Check back for our third part of the Sundance series to be published within the next couple of days.

  1. Have you heard if a soundtrack is being released for Beasts of the Southern Wild?