After toiling for years in the studio system as a digital design associate (Batman & Robin), visual effects art director (Practical Magic), assistant art director (The Man Who Wasn't There) and, probably, a host of other jobs not yet recorded at IMDb, Lance Hammer completed his first feature film. Ballast will have its World Premiere at Sundance as part of the Dramatic Competition; its first screening is Saturday morning.

Hammer enlisted the assistance of Hollywood veterans like Andrew Adamson and Mark Johnson, who both serve as executive producers, and William Morris Independent is representing the film for US rights. Now indieWIRE reports that Celluloid Dreams has grabbed all international rights outside the US. The Paris-based sales outfit, which advertises itself as "The Directors' Label," has several other titles at Sundance, including the high-profile remake Funny Games, from Michael Haneke, and Alan Ball's Towelhead, as well as Dennis Gansel's The Wave, also screening in the Dramatic Competition.

Ballast is set in a Mississippi Delta township, where a man's suicide "radically transforms" three people and their respective relationships: a single mother (Tarra Riggs), her 12-year-old son (JimMyron Ross), and a man (Michael J. Smith, Sr.) on whose property they seek "safe harbor." The mother and the man have been feuding for a dozen years so, I imagine, sparks will fly.

One more piece of good news for the fledging feature director: Ballast has been selected for the competition at the Berlin festival next month. I'm sure we'll hear more about the film this weekend, after it starts screening at Sundance.