Sundance: 5 Fresh Faces (Including an 86-Year-Old) Poised to Break Out

6:30 AM 1/19/2017

by Rebecca Ford

From a musician-director raised in Arkansas by Pakistani immigrants to a Detroit native making her film debut as hip-hop legend Roxanne Shante, THR spotlights five relative newcomers hoping to shine this year in Park City.

Lois Smith, Amman Abbasi
Lois Smith, Amman Abbasi
Walter McBride/WireImage; Courtesy of Dave Anderson

  • Cory Finley, 28


    Courtesy of Sundance Institute

    WHY HIM The New York-based, award-winning playwright makes his feature directorial debut with a creepy tale based on his play. The dark story centers on two friends (Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy) who reunite and hatch a plan for murder.

  • Amman Abbasi, 28


    Courtesy of Dave Anderson

    WHY HIM Raised in Arkansas by Pakistani immigrants, Abbasi makes his helming debut with this film, about a 12-year-old in rural Arkansas who falls in with a gang. The musician-director has been mentored by David Gordon Green and James Schamus.

  • Lois Smith, 86

    'Marjorie Prime'

    Walter McBride/WireImage

    WHY HER With her first starring film role in decades, the Tony-nominated actress reprises a part she played onstage — a former violinist losing her memory who spends time with a holographic version of her dead husband (Jon Hamm).

  • Chante Adams, 22

    'Roxanne Roxanne'

    Courtesy of Subject

    WHY HER The Detroit actress stars in her feature bow as hip-hop legend Roxanne Shante in Michael Larnell's '80s-set biopic, which has the backing of producers Pharrell Williams and Forest Whitaker.

  • Timothee Chalamet, 21

    'Call Me by Your Name'

    Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

    WHY HIM He appeared in Interstellar and Homeland, but Chalamet takes on his biggest role in Luca Guadagnino's gay love story (scooped up by Sony Pictures Classics ahead of the fest) as a teen who falls for an older man (Armie Hammer).