Ben York Jones and His Chapman Pals Storm Sundance

Categories: Film
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The Weekly introduced readers to actor Ben York Jones a year ago, right after the Corona del Mar resident and his childhood pal, filmmaker Drake Doremus, stormed the 2010 Sundance Film Festival with their dramedy Douchebag.

Jones returns to Park City, Utah, with Doremus' new indie-drama, Like Crazy, but there are two differences: Jones is not the co-star but the co-writer this time, and he'll be blogging from Sundance 2011 for the Weekly.

Jones tells me he has already made arrangements to hook up with some fellow Chapman University alumni who also have projects at Sundance, which runs Thursday through Jan. 30.

The Chapman-tinged projects include:

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Photo by John Gilhooley/OC Weekly
Ben York Jones on the eve of his first Sundance Film Festival, in 2010.
Ex-Sex. Kristen Riley and Jacob Womack star in writer/director Mike Mohan's short about a one-night stand between two people who used to be in love (or so they thought). Mohan's fellow 2002 Chapman film school grad Elisha Christian was the cinematographer for the film, which is entered in Sundance's U.S. Narrative Shorts category.

The Woods. Writer/director Matthew Lessner and producer Max Knies (who, like Jones, are '07 Chapman grads) check in with a satirical attack on young, modern, globally conscious citizens as eight grown-up American children try to create a utopian society as best they can. Justin Phillips, Toby David, Nicola Persky, Brian Woods, Lauren Hamersmith and Anne-Sophie star, and the soundtrack features Dirty Projectors, Sun Araw and Lucky Dragons. This is entered in Sundance's New Frontier Section.

Stones. This mythical Hawaiian tale was produced as a 2009 graduate-thesis project at Chapman, so, naturally, much talent from the Orange university went into the project. All '09 masters grads, they include: writer/director Ty Sanga, producer Jessie Creel, cinematographer Richie Yau, editor Dennis Alaniz, production designer Sarah Pott and sound designer Mark Hawkins. The story for the film entered in Sundance's Indigenous Shorts Showcase: "According to legends, Nihipali and Na'wii are the last of their people on their island. The legend states that they can only come out at night because the sun's harsh rays would turn them to stone. Nihipali is tired of living alone with her husband. She believes they should befriend the newcomers to the island. Her husband forbids it. Na'iwi blames the newcomers for their people's departure. But the loneliness is unbearable for Nihipali, and one night, she befriends a young girl from the village. They spend the night enjoying each other's company, but will this truly make her happy?" James Bright, Briana Garrido, Moses Goods, Brendi Heresa, Kawai Hoe, Kawai Lui-Koko and Rava Shastid star.

Oh, and let us not forget Like Crazy, which, like Douchebag was in 2010, is entered in Sundance's prestigious U.S. Dramatic Competition. Doremus' third film tells the story of Jacob, an American, and Anna, who is British. They meet at college in Los Angeles, fall madly in love, and then must overcome the rigors of a long-distance romance when Anna returns to London. The couple is played by Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones, who also appear together in Jodie Foster's doomed project The Beaver--doomed because it stars Foster's pariahed pal Mel Gibson. (Things are looking up for the weird-ass comedy about a guy who wears a beaver puppet on his hand and treats it like a real person: It got picked up for March's South By Southwest festival.) Jones also has an acting part in it, as do Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead. Jonathan Schwartz, who produced Doremus' previous films, Spooner and Douchebag, is back, this time with a new partner, Andrea Sperling.

For more about the festival, go to this Sundance page--and then wait for Jones' blog posts to start rolling right here on Navel Gazing.
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