The Sundance Film Festival will open on Thursday, January 17, 2008 with Martin McDonagh's comedy In Bruges, according to Jason Guerrasio of Filmmaker Magazine. McDonagh (pictured) is a playwright whose first foray into filmmaking, Six Shooter, won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film; In Bruges marks his feature directorial debut. The film stars Ralph Fiennes, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, who also starred in Six Shooter.

In Bruges is described as a "darkly comic suspense thriller [that] tells the story of hit men Ray and Ken (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson). After a botched job in London, the team is ordered by their boss Harry (two-time Academy Award nominee Ralph Fiennes) to cool their heels in the storybook city of Bruges, Belgium. Very much out of their comfort zones, the men find themselves drawn into increasingly dangerous entanglements with locals, tourists, and a film shoot. As their stay in Bruges gets weirder, they realize Harry may have other plans for them than a simple vacation."

Martha Fischer first wrote about In Bruges in March 2006, which is when Focus Features made a deal to produce and distribute the film. Monika Bartyzel updated us when the cast was assembled earlier this year. Focus plans to release the film on February 8. Festival openers go down easier when they're a bit light-hearted, and the combination of a new director, stars and a dark comedy sounds ideal. The complete lineup for Sundance will be announced on November 28 and 29; the festival runs from January 17-27. Look for complete coverage right here on Cinematical.