LUV – Common comes to Sundance's U.S. Dramatic Competition

In interviews, LUV co-writer/director Sheldon Candis likes to describe his film as a “driller” — part drama, part thriller. Candis, a USC grad and one of Filmmaker Magazine‘s 25 New Faces of Independent Film for 2011, based the film’s coming of age story on his own life growing up on the streets of Baltimore. Looking for a father figure, he found one in an uncle — not realizing that, as he puts it in his Sundance ’12 Meet the Artists interview (see below), the man he idolized was “one of the most infamous and feared drug dealers” in the entire city.

In the film version, Michael Rainey Jr. plays Candis’ avatar Woody. Common plays his Uncle Vincent. After Vincent gets released from prison, he takes Woody under his wing, leading to some very unexpected life lessons. The rest of the impressive cast includes Dennis Haysbert, Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton, and Michael Kenneth Williams, who fans of the greatest Baltimore “driller” of all-time — The Wire — will remember as vigilante and urban legend Omar Little.

To call LUV a labor of, y’know, luv, would be a serious understatement. Candis worked on the project for more than eight years and a staggering 45 screenplay drafts. He later took the film through the Film Independent Directors Lab and created a short version of the material entitled LEARNING UNCLE VERNON starring Grimm‘s Russell Hornsby and Lost‘s Malcolm David Kelley.

For a taste of what the final product will look and feel like, you can watch the eight minute LEARNING UNCLE VERNON on Candis’ website, Cinephile Academy. For the real deal, you’ll have to be at Sundance next week, where LUV will premiere in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. Here’s hoping the finished feature is a killer driller.

LUV premieres Monday, January 23rd at 3:30pm at the Eccles Theatre. For a full list of festival screenings, go to