In a scene from the documentary Last Train Home, migrant workers jam a train station in Guangzhou. ((Liming Fan/EyeSteelFilm))

Montreal-based filmmaker Lixin Fan's Last Train Home, a documentary about the lives of migrant Chinese workers, will be screened at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

It's one of two Canadian works announced Thursday for Sundance as the most important festival for independent film in the United States released part of its competition lineup.


Mark Ruffalo makes his directorial debut at Sundance with Sympathy for Delicious. ((Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press))

Also on the bill is Grown Up Movie Star, a debut directorial effort by Adriana Maggs, a Newfoundland-born filmmaker who was also writer and producer of Three Chords from the Truth and Rabbittown. It stars Shawn Doyle and Tatiana Maslany in a story about a young teen who has to grow up fast after she's left to care for her rural father.

Grown Up Movie Star will be part of the World Cinema competition, one of just 14 films selected from more than 1,000 submitted to the festival.

Fan's Last Train Home scored the top prize at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam last weekend and screens at Sundance in the world documentary competition.

It is the feature debut for the Chinese-Canadian filmmaker, who is a former China Central Television journalist and worked with Montreal's EyeSteelFilm. The film centres on a family who see a rebellious daughter only once a year, when they return to their village from jobs in Guangzhou.

There are 24 first-time filmmakers set to show works at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, which will screen a total of 112 feature-length films.

Among the better-known filmmakers is actor Mark Ruffalo, who is making a directing debut with Sympathy for Delicious, about a paralyzed man drawn into the world of faith healing.


Kristen Stewart, shown Nov. 19 in New York, stars in Welcome to the Rileys. ((Evan Agostini/Associated Press))

American Jake Scott directs Welcome to the Rileys, a drama about a troubled young woman who unites a grieving couple. It stars Twilight's Kristen Stewart, Natalie Portman and The Sopranos co-stars James Gandolfini and Edie Falco.

Portman also appears alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Rainn Wilson in Spencer Susser's family tale Hesher, which is among 16 films screening in Sundance's U.S. dramatic competition.

Melissa Leo, who starred in last year's grand jury prize-winner Frozen River, appears in both Welcome to the Rileys and Ryan Piers Williams's war-homecoming drama The Dry Land.

The U.S. documentary competition includes world premieres of:

  • Bhutto, directed by Jessica Hernandez and Johnny O'Hara, about Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan who was assassinated in December 2007.
  • Casino Jack & The United States of Money, directed by Alex Gibney, an investigation of super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his cronies. 
  • Freedom Riders by Stanley Nelson, about a courageous band of civil rights activists called the Freedom Riders, who in 1961 challenged segregation in the American South.

In the New Frontier section, there will be screening of a film by Ragnar Kjartansson called End, in which the Icelandic musician performs a surround-sound concert from five different locations in the Canadian Rockies.

The Sundance Film Festival is to announce more details about its lineup on Thursday. The festival runs Jan. 21-31 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah.