Md.-made 'Ping Pong Summer' to debut at Sundance

Writer-director Michael Tully's "Ping Pong Summer," inspired by summer vacations in the Ocean City of the 1980s with his parents, will have its world premiere at January's Sundance Film festival.

The movie was filmed in Ocean City in autumn 2012. Its cast includes Susan Sarandon, Lea Thompson, John Hannah and Amy Sedaris.

A coming-of-age film set in 1985, "Ping Pong Summer" has been a years-long project for Tully, who says he's thrilled not just to have the movie finished, but to have it accepted at one of the country's premier showcases for independent film.

"It's only been 22 years of me talking about making this movie," said Tully, who lived in Bowie before moving to Mount Airy in 1982, when he was 8. "I had the idea for this movie when I was in high school at Linganore [in Frederick] in '92. I went to college at UMBC and studied film, specifically for the purpose of making this movie called 'Ping Pong Summer.' Every winter, I'd say, 'This summer, I'm doing it.' Then, come March, I'd have only $4 in my pocket, and I couldn't do it."

Even with its cast of familiar names, Tully said he was able to make the film on a budget in the "low seven-figures" -- a small amount for a feature film. "Everyone was really doing it for scale, doing it for the love of Maryland or the love of the script."

"Ping Pong Summer" will be shown as part of Sundance's "Next" competition, for lower-budget, cutting-edge films -- "works distinguished by an innovative, forward-thinking approach to storytelling," according to the festival's website.

Tully is no stranger to the local film scene. Two of his earlier films have played at the Maryland Film Festival, 2011's "Septien" and 2006's "Cocaine Angel."

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival is scheduled for Jan. 16-26 in Park City, Utah. The "Ping Pong Summer" premiere is set for Jan. 18, Tully said.

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