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Fifteen Faces to Watch Out For at Sundance This Year

The Sundance Film Festival kicked off in Park City yesterday and, amid the hundreds of actors, directors and producers in attendance for their work, here are fifteen we think you should have on your radars.

936full-lake-bell.jpegLake Bell: While Lake Bell has quickly made a name for herself as an actress by playing uptight fauxhemian Rachel Chapman on How to Make It In America, awesomely twisted Dr. Cat Black on Children's Hospital and a trophy wife in It's Complicated, she's about to start building her reputation as a director when her feature-length directorial debut premieres at Sundance. The film, In a World..., also features Bell in the lead role as a struggling vocal coach who -- inspired by a father known as "the reigning king of movie-trailer voice-over artists" -- decides to make a career change and go after voiceover work. The flick also features comedians Demetri Martin and Michaela Watkins and her Children's Hospital co-stars Rob Corddry and Ken Marino.

danedehaan_sundance.jpgDane DeHaan: Dane DeHaan has already taped arcs on cable dramas True Blood and In Treatment, and had an unnamed role in Lincoln, but will be hard to avoid this year with parts in thrillers The Place Beyond the Pines (with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper) and Devil's Knot (with Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth). Next year, he will replace James Franco as Harry Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. But first: he's headed to Sundance in Kill Your Darlings, a film that sees him starring against Daniel Radcliffe's Allen Ginsberg (another former Franco role!) as Beat writer Lucien Carr, who was convicted of killing an elder admirer.

skylan_sundance.jpgSkylan Brooks: The adolescent Brooks leads a cast that includes Anthony Mackie, Jeffrey Wright, and American Idol alumnae Jennifer Hudson and Jordin Sparks as "Mister" in The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, a summer-in-the-city adventure story soundtracked (and executive-produced) by Alicia Keys.

Shareeka-Epps_sundance.jpgShareeka Epps: Most people know Epps from her starring role alongside Ryan Gosling in  Half Nelson and the actress has grown up quite a bit since then. You can next see her playing a girl who's pregnant with a child that is not her boyfriend's in David Andalman's 90s-era coming-of-age tale Milkshake (see above) and we think she's someone to keep your eye on in 2013. 

scoot-mcnairy-premiere-argo-01.jpegScoot McNairy: If you made it into a movie theater this fall/winter, chances are you saw Scoot McNairy on the screen. With key roles in Argo, Killing Them Softly and Promised Land, the actor is on the verge of becoming a household name and his role in Lynn Shelton's latest film, Touchy Feely, may be the final tipping point. Though details on his character are surprisingly scarce, the movie itself centers on a quirky enough premise: Rosemarie DeWitt plays a massage therapist who spontaneously develops an aversion to physical contact, which causes major problems at her job and in her relationship. At the same time, her emotionally catatonic dentist brother starts seeing an influx of patients after word spreads that he has a "healing touch."

alicia van couvering_sundance.jpgAlicia Van Couvering: Having produced such Spirit Award-friendly flicks like Lena Dunham's Tiny Furniture, Junebug, Todd Solondz's Palindromes, Ry Russo-Young's Nobody Walks and Whit Stillman's Damsels in Distress among others, Alicia Van Couvering is definitely and independent producer to watch. This year, she's headed to Sundance for The Apocalypse, a film short directed by Andrew Zuchero and starring Martin Starr about a group of bored friends that suddenly stumble upon an awful way to end the monotony (hint: it involves exploding body parts but that's all we'll reveal). You can watch the short HERE.  [Photo by Owen Hoffmann/PatrickMcMullan.com]

danai-gurira2sundance.jpgDanai Gurira: Danai Gurira has been everywhere lately, what with roles in Treme and The Walking Dead, and now she's getting back in the movie biz with a lead role in the drama Mother of George. Directed by Andrew Dosunmu, who has worked as a photographer and creative director at YSL, the film revolves around Gurira's character Adenike and her struggle to conceive a child as well as adjust to the differences between life in Brooklyn and life in Nigeria following her marriage.

99percentsundance.jpgFilmmakers behind 99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film: Aaron Aites, Audrey Ewell, Nina Krstic, and Lucian Read are all credited as directors on this documentary, which, in true horizontal fashion, draws on supporters across the country for both footage and (via Kickstarter) funds. Aites and Ewell previously made the 2009 black metal doc Until the Light Takes Us; Krstic and Read both have experience in documentary TV.

kaya-scodelario-11607504.jpegKaya Scodelario: Fans of the original British version of Skins might recognize Kaya Scodelario for her role as Effy Stonem, the troubled younger sister of Nicholas Hoult's Tony Stonem and, later, a central figure on the teen soap series. Now the young actress might make a few more fans stateside, thanks to a leading role in Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes, in which Scodelario plays a young woman who begins a friendship with a neighbor that eerily resembles her deceased mother. Directed by Francesca Gregorini and co-produced by Rooney Mara and Tatiana Von Furstenberg, the film also stars Jessica Biel and Alfred Molina.

miles_teller_sundance.jpgMiles Teller: Even if you've never heard his name, get used to it because you'll be seeing quite a bit of Miles Teller soon. His starring role in Sundance film The Spectular Now as a popular -- but alcoholic -- high-school guy with no plans for the future who becomes involved with a less-popular classmate played by Shailene Woodley, is joined by a smattering of roles in films like Get a Job, 21 And Over, Two Night Stand, and Are We Officially Dating?, making him poised to be the next go-to guy for college flicks and buddy comedies.

tequan-richmond-everybody-hate-chris.jpgTeQuan Richmond: Having played younger brother Drew Rock on Everybody Hates Chris for five years, the 20-year-old Richmond tries something else entirely in Blue Caprice, playing Lee Boyd Malvo, a perpetrator, along with John Allen Muhammad (Isaiah Washington), of October 2002's Beltway sniper attacks.

caseywilson_sundance.jpgCasey Wilson: Wilson is one of our favorite women in comedy, seeing as she's responsible for some of the best one-liners and catch phrases from Happy Endings. It looks like she's about to make us cackle again as Chloe in Ass Backwards, a comedy that centers on two best friends who take a cross-country trip back home in order to win a beauty pageant that they lost when they were children. We hope there's a Honey Boo-Boo cameo.

Zal_Batmanglij_by_Gage_Skidmore.jpegZal Batmanglij: After 2011's Sound of My Voice, director Zal Batmanglij (brother of Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij) teams up again with Brit Marling on his sophomore feature, The East, a film centered on an ex-FBI agent's infiltration of an anarchist collective that is thought responsible for a spate of attacks on high-powered corporate CEOs. In addition to Marling, Batmanglij has enlisted Alexander Skarsgård, Ellen Page, Patricia Clarkson, Shiloh Fernandez and Toby Kebbell to round out his psychological thriller. And, with Ridley Scott tapped to co-produce, we bet the young director will quickly start adding more credits to his name.

michaelbjordansundance.jpgMichael B. Jordan: At only 24-years-old, Michael B. Jordan has appeared on three critically-acclaimed TV shows -- The Wire, Friday Night Lights and Parenthood -- and his upcoming starring role in Fruitvale might finally cause people to associate the moniker with more than just basketball. In the film, which is based on true events, Jordan plays a young Bay Area man who was shot to death by BART officers at the stop that lends its name to the movie title. Directed by 26-year-old Bay Area filmmaker Ryan Coogler, the film also stars Octavia Spencer, Ahna O'Reilly, Chad Michael Murray, Kevin Durand and Melonie Diaz.

HannahFidell_sundance.pngHannah Fidell: Fidell wrote, directed and produced A Teacher, her debut feature about a teacher-student affair in suburban Texas, that reunited the director with Lindsay Burdge, the star of her 2010 post-grad mini-feature We're Glad You're Here.

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