Christopher Barzak is going to the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
Organizers announced on Wednesday that "Jamie Marks Is Dead," a film based on the Kinsman native's 2007 novel "One for Sorrow," will be shown in competition at the festival generally considered the most prestigious for independent filmmakers.
"Jamie Marks" is one of 16 films being shown in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. The festival, which runs Jan. 16-26 in Park City, Utah, will show 118 films in all selected from 12,218 submissions.
"I was really thrilled and excited," Barzak said. "This has been in the works for a long time, and I knew it was one of the hopes of the director that it could debut at Sundance ... It brings a lot of films to a wider audience that have something about them that doesn't fit the Hollywood mold. They're films that take chances and try to tell stories that aren't necessarily mainstream or traditional."
The film was written and directed by Carter Smith, who directed the 2008 film "The Ruins." It tells the story of a teenager who bonds with the ghost of a dead classmate.
Its young stars are Cameron Monaghan (''Shameless"), Noah Silver (''The Borgias") and Morgan Saylor (''Homeland"), and the movie also features Liv Tyler and Judy Greer.
Barzak, who grew up in Kinsman and graduated from Maplewood High School in 1993, set the novel in Youngstown and rural Trumbull County, although the specific town never is identified.
''I wanted to use set pieces from those rural townships - Kinsman, Johnston, Gustavus and Greene," he said. "In my mind I took places from all those townships and tried to meld them together into a mythical small-town Ohio."
While filming took place in upstate New York in March and April, the film is set in Ohio. Barzak, who took a break from teaching at Youngstown State University to see a couple days of filming, saw a rough cut of the film in September.
"I never really thought anything like this would happen with for anything I wrote," he said. "When I saw it, it was a little shocking, but in a good way ... I loved seeing the characters brought to life with actors. I love the cast he put together."
Barzak said about 75 percent of the film is faithful to his book while other elements of the novel have been omitted and / or altered.
"He picked out some of the most telling imagery from the book and made it palpable on the screen. It's really visceral, really intimate and tender, unnerving in some cases and eerie."
He is looking forward to seeing the completed film at Sundance.
"I'm going for the first two days will be there for the premiere night," Barzak said. "I don't know what to expect. It's somewhat of a foreign country for me. I just hope I can go and speak the language well enough."