Welcome to a new series here at Cinematical where we'll shine a spotlight on different films premiering at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival in January.


With two weeks until the 2010 Sundance Film Festival officially launches, we're trying our best to give you a more intimate taste of the festival by showcasing not only some of the films premiering this year, but also the directors behind them. Next up in our exclusive series is Winter's Bone, from director Debra Granik. Back in 2004, Granik premiered her debut feature, Down to the Bone, at the Sundance Film Festival, and now she's back several years later with another unique story about a female protagonist struggling to fight the odds stacked against her.

Winter's Bone will premiere in the US Dramatic Competition category at Sundance, and it stars Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Dale Dickey, Lauren Sweetser, Kevin Breznahan, Tate Taylor, Casey MacLaren, Cody Brown and Charlotte Lucas. Cinematical caught up with Granik to ask her some brief questions about the film and the festival life.

Cinematical: Give us the "dude on the street" description of your film.

Debra Granik: Ree, a teenager living in the Missouri Ozarks, has to find her father. He put their house up for his bail bond and then disappeared. If she can't turn him up, she and her family will lose the house. She is blocked and threatened by her relatives who have something to hide. With the help of her closest friend and her intimidating uncle, she begins to piece together the truth.

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Cinematical: You don't see many movies shot in the Missouri mountain region. What were some of the unique challenges you came across, and what is it about this story that makes it accessible to people who aren't familiar with the region?

Debra Granik: Ree has got some of the daunting challenges that many young people have in remote areas, places where ways of making a living are scarce and marginal. She is a kid with a lot of responsibilities who witnesses the adults around her making dangerous and dead-end choices. Without many buffers, Ree has to navigate her survival in a place that is hardscrabble to its core. She has no map to follow except for loyalty to her family. The particulars of the region that are "foreign" are found in some of the language, eating wild game, learning to hunt and ride ATVs at a young age. These things were all unfamiliar in my existence. Yards may have an accumulation of objects and debris, and this may feel strange or reinforce certain assumptions, so perhaps the only thing a film can do is to try to show the life, the specific life attached to that yard. The author of the novel from which this film is based did not try to speak in broad strokes. He zoomed in and tried to focus on one girl, depicting in detail her moxie to survive.

Cinematical: Give us your one film festival rule ...

Debra Granik: (in three parts) a. I like to take a moment to absorb and digest the miracle of documentaries getting finished. Especially a subject documented over time. Every doc that takes on a challenging subject, that is done well, and thoroughly, and then pieced together is a miracle to me. My rule is to toast that miracle several times in the company of other compadres. b. I jump up and down with glee and optimism when new actors are brought out onto the scene. c. I note with reverence anytime I see photography in a film that wows me.

For more on Debra Granik and Winter's Bone, check out this video profile from the Sundance Film Festival:





For more on Winter's Bone, including its screening dates and times at Sundance, please see the film's page on the official festival website.