Sundance Unveils Premieres, Midnight, Spotlight Films Starring Jack Black, Jeremy Renner, Cate Blanchett
As was on display with the Competition lineup unveiled last week, there’s plenty of timely social commentary onscreen like Dee Rees' 'Mudbound,' set in the post-World War II South and revolving around black and white families pitted against one another.
In what looks to be one of the strongest lineups in years, the Sundance Film Festival on Monday revealed the films that will screen in its Premieres, Documentary Premieres, Midnight, Spotlight and Kids sections. Among the highlights are films starring Jack Black (The Polka King), Jeremy Renner (Wind River) and Cate Blanchett (Manifesto).
As was on display with the Competition lineup unveiled last week, there’s plenty of timely social commentary onscreen with the selections, particularly Dee Rees' Mudbound, set in the post-World War II South and revolving around a black and white family who are pitted against a barbaric social hierarchy and an unrelenting landscape. The film, which stars Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige, Garrett Hedlund and Jonathan Banks, marks Rees' follow-up to Sundance breakout Pariah.
Other hot-button fare includes the first two episodes of the 10-hour series Shots Fired from executive producers Gina Prince-Bythewood, Reggie Rock Bythewood, Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo. The series takes place in the wake of racially charged shootings in a North Carolina town, where an investigator digs into the cases alongside a special prosecutor. Together they seek justice while navigating the ensuing media attention and public unrest threatening the divided town. Sanaa Lathan, Stephan James, Helen Hunt, Richard Dreyfuss, Stephen Moyer and Mack Wilds star.
Among the more promising debuts are Charlie McDowell's sci-fi pic The Discovery, which stars Jason Segel, Rooney Mara, Sundance founder Robert Redford, Jesse Plemons, Riley Keough and Ron Canada; and Michael Showalter's The Big Sick, starring Silicon Valley's Kumail Nanjiani (he co-wrote the semi-autobiographical story with his wife, Emily V. Gordon).
Also likely to make a splash are Cate Blanchett's one-woman ode to the 20th century artist Manifesto (Julian Rosefeldt directs), Danny Strong's J.D. Salinger biopic Rebel in the Rye and the Woody Harrelson-led Wilson about a lonely, neurotic and honest middle-aged misanthrope. Additionally, the thriller Wind River, which stars Jeremy Renner, will make its world premiere. The film revolves around an FBI agent who teams with the town's veteran game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation.
“Some of the most pressing themes that we can trace through the festival lineup — the environment, political upheaval, social change — are distilled to their very human essences in both comic and dramatic stories,” John Cooper, director of the Sundance Film Festival, said in a statement. “These stories, and the conversations they spark, start here and will extend well beyond the mountain and the festival in the months ahead.”
This year, the festival will launch The New Climate program, the first time it has ever dedicated programming to a specific theme. Three projects announced Monday are part of that program, including Susan Froemke, John Hoffman and Beth Aala’s Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman in Documentary Premieres and Laura Dunn and Jef Sewell’s Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry in Spotlight.
Other hot docs on the slate include Cries From Syria, about the European migrant crisis, and the post-9/11 pic Legion of Brothers, about the small teams of Green Berets on secret missions to overthrow the Taliban. Midnight standouts include the all-female horror anthology XX from directors Annie Clark, Karyn Kusama, Roxanne Benjamin and Jovanka Vuckovic as well as Alexandre Philippe's 78/52, which delves into the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
“Powerful visions of our times — past, present and future — resound throughout these sections,” added Trevor Groth, the festival’s director of programming. “Inspired storytellers are shining a light on urgent issues or providing an exhilarating escape from them. From citizen journalists to robust and powerful roles for women — in front of and behind the camera — these projects are a testament to the force and value of the individual.”
Among the films that have premiered in these sections in recent years are Boyhood, Twenty Feet From Stardom, Captain Fantastic and Manchester by the Sea.
The Sundance Film Festival, marking its 33rd anniversary, is set to Jan. 19-29 in and around Park City, Utah, and will showcase 113 feature-length films, representing 32 countries and 37 first-time filmmakers, including 20 in competition. The films were selected from 13,782 submissions, including 4,068 feature-length films and 8,985 shorts. Of the feature submissions, 2,005 were from the U.S. The fest is expected to draw more than 45,000 attendees. The Short Film program will be announced Tuesday.
A complete list of Premieres, Documentary Premieres, Midnight, Spotlight, Kidsand Special Events selections follows:
A showcase of world premieres of some of the most highly anticipated narrative films of the coming year.
Beatriz at Dinner / U.S.A. (Director: Miguel Arteta, Screenwriter: Mike White) — Beatriz, an immigrant from a poor town in Mexico, has drawn on her innate kindness to build a career as a health practitioner. Doug Strutt is a cutthroat, self-satisfied billionaire. When these two opposites meet at a dinner party, their worlds collide and neither will ever be the same. Cast: Salma Hayek, John Lithgow. (World Premiere)
Before I Fall / U.S.A. (Director: Ry Russo-Young, Screenwriter: Maria Maggenti) — Samantha Kingston has everything. Then, everything changes. After one fateful night, she wakes up with no future at all. Trapped into reliving the same day over and over, she begins to question just how perfect her life really was. Cast: Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Logan Miller, Kian Lawley, Elena Kampouris, Diego Boneta. (World Premiere)
The Big Sick / U.S.A. (Director: Michael Showalter, Screenwriters: Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani) — Based on the real-life courtship: Pakistan-born comedian Kumail and grad student Emily fall in love, but they struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail must navigate the crisis with her parents and the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart. Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher. (World Premiere)
Call Me by Your Name / Italy, France (Director: Luca Guadagnino, Screenwriters: James Ivory, Luca Guadagnino) — The sensitive and cultivated Elio, only child of the American-Italian-French Perlman family, is facing another lazy summer at his parents’ villa in the beautiful and languid Italian countryside when Oliver, an academic who has come to help with Elio’s father’s research, arrives. Cast: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, Victoire Du Bois. (World Premiere)
The Discovery / U.S.A. (Director: Charlie McDowell, Screenwriters: Charlie McDowell, Justin Lader) — In a world where the afterlife has just been scientifically proven—resulting in millions of people taking their own lives to get there—comes this love story. Cast: Jason Segel, Rooney Mara, Robert Redford, Jesse Plemons, Riley Keough, Ron Canada. (World Premiere)
Fun Mom Dinner / U.S.A. (Director: Alethea Jones, Screenwriter: Julie Rudd) — Four women, whose kids attend the same preschool class, get together for a "fun mom dinner." When the night takes an unexpected turn, these unlikely new friends realize they have more in common than just marriage and motherhood. Together, they reclaim a piece of the women they used to be. Cast: Katie Aselton, Toni Collette, Bridget Everett, Molly Shannon, Adam Scott, Adam Levine. (World Premiere)
The Incredible Jessica James / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jim Strouse) — Jessica James, an aspiring NYC playwright, is struggling to get over a recent breakup. She sees a light at the end of the tunnel when she meets the recently divorced Boone. Together, they discover how to make it through the tough times while realizing they like each other — a lot. Cast: Jessica Williams, Chris O'Dowd, Keith Stanfield, Noël Wells. World Premiere. (CLOSING-NIGHT FILM)
The Last Word / U.S.A. (Director: Mark Pellington, Screenwriter: Stuart Ross Fink) — Harriett is a retired businesswoman who tries to control everything around her. When she decides to write her own obituary, a young journalist takes up the task of finding out the truth, resulting in a life-altering friendship. Cast: Shirley MacLaine, Amanda Seyfried, Anne Heche, Thomas Sadoski, Philip Baker Hall. (World Premiere)
Manifesto / Germany (Director and screenwriter: Julian Rosefeldt) — Can history’s art manifestos apply to contemporary society? An homage to the twentieth century’s most impassioned artistic statements and innovators, from Futurists and Dadaists to Pop Art, Fluxus, Lars von Trier and Jim Jarmusch, this series of reenactments performed by Cate Blanchett explores these declarations’ performative components and political significance. Cast: Cate Blanchett. (World Premiere)
Marjorie Prime / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michael Almereyda) — In the near future — a time of artificial intelligence — 86-year-old Marjorie has a handsome new companion who looks like her deceased husband and is programmed to feed the story of her life back to her. What would we remember, and what would we forget, if given the chance? Cast: Jon Hamm, Geena Davis, Lois Smith, Tim Robbins. (World Premiere)
Mudbound / U.S.A. (Director: Dee Rees, Screenwriters: Virgil Williams, Dee Rees) — In the post-World War II South, two families are pitted against a barbaric social hierarchy and an unrelenting landscape as they simultaneously fight the battle at home and the battle abroad. This epic pioneer story is about friendship, heritage and the unending struggle for and against the land. Cast: Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige, Garrett Hedlund, Jonathan Banks. (World Premiere)
The Polka King / U.S.A. (Director: Maya Forbes, Screenwriters: Maya Forbes, Wally Wolodarsky) — Based on the remarkable true story of the world's only known Polka Ponzi scheme, this mix of comedy and tragedy is about Jan Lewan, a Polish immigrant who believed in the American Dream. But with big dreams came big mistakes for the man who became the "King of Pennsylvania Polka." Cast: Jack Black, Jenny Slate, Jason Schwartzman, Jacki Weaver, J.B. Smoove. (World Premiere)
Rebel in the Rye / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Danny Strong) — This portrait of the life and mind of reclusive author J.D. Salinger goes from the bloody front lines of World War II to his early rejections and the PTSD-fueled writer's block that led to his iconic novel, The Catcher in the Rye. Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Kevin Spacey, Sarah Paulson, Zoey Deutch, Hope Davis, Victor Garber. (World Premiere)
Rememory / U.S.A., Canada (Director: Mark Palansky, Screenwriters: Michael Vukadinovich, Mark Palansky) — A visionary inventor found dead. A machine that can record people’s memories. A man haunted by the past. This noir mystery explores the ways in which memory defines the present. Cast: Peter Dinklage, Julia Ormond, Martin Donovan, Anton Yelchin, Henry Ian Cusick, Evelyne Brochu. (World Premiere)
Sidney Hall / U.S.A. (Director: Shawn Christensen, Screenwriters: Shawn Christensen, Jason Dolan) — Over the course of 12 years, and three stages of life, Sidney Hall falls in love, writes the book of a generation and then disappears without a trace. Cast: Logan Lerman, Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Monaghan, Nathan Lane, Margaret Qualley. (World Premiere)
Where Is Kyra? / U.S.A. (Director: Andrew Dosunmu, Screenwriters: Andrew Dosunmu, Darci Picoult) — Pushed to the brink after losing her job, a woman struggles to survive. As the months pass and her troubles deepen, she embarks on a perilous and mysterious journey that threatens to usurp her life. Cast: Michelle Pfeiffer, Kiefer Sutherland. (World Premiere)
Wilson / U.S.A. (Director: Craig Johnson, Screenwriter: Daniel Clowes) — Wilson, a lonely, neurotic and hilariously honest middle-aged misanthrope, reunites with his estranged wife and gets a shot at happiness when he learns he has a teenage daughter he has never met. In his uniquely outrageous and slightly twisted way, he sets out to connect with her. Cast: Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Judy Greer. (World Premiere)
Wind River / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Taylor Sheridan) — An FBI agent teams with the town's veteran game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation. Cast: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Jon Bernthal. (World Premiere)
Renowned filmmakers and films about far-reaching subjects comprise this section highlighting our ongoing commitment to documentaries.
500 YEARS / U.S.A. (Director: Pamela Yates) — From a historic genocide trial to the overthrow of a president, the sweeping story of mounting resistance played out in Guatemala’s recent history is told through the actions and perspectives of the majority indigenous Mayan population, who now stand poised to reimagine their society. (World Premiere)
Cries From Syria / U.S.A., Syria, Czech Republic (Director: Evgeny Afineevsky) — This documentary attempts to recontextualize the European migrant crisis and ongoing hostilities in Syria, through eyewitness and participant testimony. Children and parents recount the revolution, civil war, air strikes, atrocities and ongoing humanitarian aid crises, in a portrait of recent history and the consequences of violence. (World Premiere)
Give Me Future: Major Lazer in Cuba / U.S.A., Cuba (Director: Austin Peters) — In the spring of 2016, global music sensation Major Lazer performed a free concert in Havana, Cuba — an unprecedented show that drew an audience of almost half a million. This concert documentary evolves into an exploration of youth culture in a country on the precipice of change. (World Premiere)
Legion of Brothers / U.S.A. (Director: Greg Barker) — Afghanistan, immediately post-9/11: Small teams of Green Berets arrive on a series of secret missions to overthrow the Taliban. What happens next is equal parts war origin story and cautionary tale, illuminating the nature and impact of 15 years of constant combat, with unprecedented access to U.S. Special Forces. (World Premiere)
Oklahoma City / U.S.A. (Director: Barak Goodman) — The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995 is the worst act of domestic terrorism in American history; this documentary explores how a series of deadly encounters between American citizens and federal law enforcement — including the standoffs at Ruby Ridge and Waco — led to it. (World Premiere)
Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman / U.S.A. (Directors: Susan Froemke, John Hoffman, Beth Aala) — From the Montana Rockies to the wheat fields of Kansas and the Gulf of Mexico, families who work the land and sea are crossing political divides to find unexpected ways to protect the natural resources vital to their livelihoods. These are the new heroes of conservation, deep in America's heartland. (World Premiere) THE NEW CLIMATE
Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton / U.S.A. (Director: Rory Kennedy) — This is the remarkable story of an American icon who changed the sport of big wave surfing forever. Transcending the surf genre, this in-depth portrait of a hard-charging athlete explores the fear, courage and ambition that push a man to greatness — and the cost that comes with it. (World Premiere)
Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities / U.S.A. (Director: Stanley Nelson) — A haven for black intellectuals, artists and revolutionaries — and path of promise toward the American dream — black colleges and universities have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field. They have been unapologetically black for 150 years. For the first time ever, their story is told. (World Premiere)
This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous / U.S.A. (Director: Barbara Kopple) — Are there limits to your love for your family? One family's acceptance is tested when a champion diver, destined for the Olympics, announces he's transitioning into a woman — and invites his YouTube followers along for every moment. It's a story about unconditional love and finding the courage to be yourself. (World Premiere)
Untitled Lucy Walker / Buena Vista Social Club Documentary / U.S.A., United Kingdom, Cuba (Director: Lucy Walker) — The musicians of the Buena Vista Social Club exposed the world to Cuba's vibrant culture with their landmark 1997 album. Now, against the backdrop of Cuba’s captivating musical history, hear the band’s story as they reflect on their remarkable careers and the extraordinary circumstances that brought them together. (World Premiere)
From horror and comedy to works that defy genre classification, these films will keep you wide awake, even at the most arduous hour.
78/52 / U.S.A. (Director: Alexandre Philippe) — This is an unprecedented look at the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, the "man behind the curtain," and the screen murder that profoundly changed the course of world cinema. (World Premiere)
Bad Day for the Cut / Northern Ireland (Director: Chris Baugh, Screenwriters: Chris Baugh, Brendan Mullin) — A middle-aged Irish farmer, who still lives at home with his mother, sets off on a mission of revenge when the old lady is murdered. Cast: Nigel O'Neill, Susan Lynch, Józef Pawłowski, Stuart Graham, Anna Próchniak, Ian McElhinney. (World Premiere)
Bitch / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Marianna Palka) — A woman snaps under crushing life pressures and assumes the psyche of a vicious dog. Her philandering, absentee husband is forced to become reacquainted with his four children and sister-in-law as they attempt to keep the family together during this bizarre crisis. Cast: Jason Ritter, Jaime King, Marianna Palka, Brighton Sharbino, Rio Mangini, Kingston Foster. (World Premiere)
Bushwick / U.S.A. (Directors: Cary Murnion, Jonathan Milott, Screenwriters: Nick Damici, Graham Reznick) — Lucy emerges from a Brooklyn subway to find that her neighborhood is under attack by black-clad military soldiers. An ex-Marine corpsman, Stupe, reluctantly helps her fight for survival through a civil war, as Texas attempts to secede from the United States of America. Cast: Dave Bautista, Brittany Snow, Angelic Zambrana, Jeremie Harris, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Arturo Castro. (World Premiere)
Killing Ground / Australia (Director and screenwriter: Damien Power) — Ian and Samantha arrive at an isolated campsite to find an SUV and a tent — with no sign of the occupants. The discovery of a distressed child wandering in the woods unleashes a terrifying chain of events that will test the young couple's breaking point. Cast: Aaron Pedersen, Ian Meadows, Harriet Dyer, Aaron Glenane. (International Premiere)
Kuso / U.S.A. (Director: Steven Ellison, Screenwriters: Steven Ellison, David Firth, Zach Fox) — Broadcasting through a makeshift network of discarded televisions, this story is tangled up in the aftermath of Los Angeles's worst earthquake nightmare. Travel between screens and aftershocks into the twisted lives of the survived. Cast: Iesha Coston, Zack Fox, Hannibal Buress, The Buttress, Tim Heidecker, Mali Matsuda. (World Premiere)
The Little Hours / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jeff Baena) — A young servant fleeing from his master takes refuge at a dysfunctional convent in medieval Tuscany. Cast: Alison Brie, Dave Franco, Kate Micucci, Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon. (World Premiere) DAY ONE
XX / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Annie Clark, Karyn Kusama, Roxanne Benjamin, Jovanka Vuckovic) — This all-female horror anthology features four dark tales from four fiercely talented women. Cast: Natalie Brown, Melanie Lynskey, Breeda Wool, Christina Kirk. (World Premiere)
The Spotlight program is a tribute to the cinema we love from throughout the past year.
Colossal / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Nacho Vigalondo) — An unapologetic party girl dreams of a fresh start only to discover a mysterious and fantastical connection between herself and a city-wrecking monster on the other side of the globe. Cast: Anne Hathaway, Dan Stevens, Jason Sudeikis, Tim Blake Nelson, Austin Stowell.
Frantz / France, Germany (Director: François Ozon, Screenwriters: François Ozon, Philippe Piazzo) — In a small German town after World War I, Anna mourns daily at the grave of her fiancé, Frantz, killed in battle in France. One day a young Frenchman, Adrien, also lays flowers at the grave. His presence, so soon after the German defeat, ignites passions. Cast: Pierre Niney, Paula Beer, Ernst Stötzner, Marie Gruber, Johann von Bülow, Anton von Lucke.
Lady Macbeth / U.K. (Director: William Oldroyd, Screenwriter: Alice Birch) — Rural England, 1865: Katherine is stifled by her loveless marriage to a bitter man and his unforgiving family. When she embarks on a passionate affair with a stableman from the estate, the force unleashed inside her is so powerful that she will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Cast: Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis, Paul Hilton, Naomi Ackie, Christopher Fairbank. (U.S. Premiere)
Look and See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry / U.S.A. (Directors: Laura Dunn, Jef Sewell) — This cinematic portrait of the changing landscapes and shifting values of rural America in the era of industrial agriculture is seen through the mind’s eye of farmer and writer Wendell Berry. THE NEW CLIMATE
Raw / France (Director and screenwriter: Julia Ducournau) — When a young vegetarian undergoes a carnivorous hazing ritual at vet school, she develops an unbidden taste for meat, with unexpected consequences. Cast: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Nait Oufella, Laurent Lucas, Joana Preiss.
Sami Blood / Sweden (Director and screenwriter: Amanda Kernell) — Elle Marja, 14, is a reindeer-breeding Sámi girl. Exposed to race biology examinations at her boarding school and the racism of the 1930s, she starts dreaming of another life — one that demands she become someone else and break all ties with her family and culture. Cast: Lene Cecilia Sparrok, Mia Sparrok, Maj-Doris Rimpi, Olle Sarri, Hanna Alström, Malin Crépin. (U.S. Premiere)
Their Finest / U.K. (Director: Lone Scherfig, Screenwriter: Gaby Chiappe) — During the 1940 London Blitz, untried screenwriter Catrin struggles to find her voice amidst war, as she and a makeshift cast work under fire to create a film to lift the nation's spirits — and inspire America to join the war. Cast: Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy, Jack Huston, Jake Lacy, Jeremy Irons. (U.S. Premiere)
This section of the Festival is especially for our youngest independent film fans. Programmed in cooperation with Utah Film Center, which presents the annual Tumbleweeds Film Festival, Utah’s premiere film festival for children and youth.
The Mars Generation / U.S.A. (Director: Michael Barnett) — Aspiring teenage astronauts reveal that a journey to Mars is closer than you think. (World Premiere) SALT LAKE CITY OPENING-NIGHT FILM
My Life as a Zucchini / Switzerland, France (Director: Claude Barras, Screenwriter: Céline Sciamma) — After his mother’s death, Zucchini is befriended by a police officer, Raymond, who accompanies him to a foster home filled with other orphans his age. There, with the help of his newfound friends, Zucchini eventually learns to trust and love as he searches for a new family of his own. (World Premiere – English Version)
Red Dog: True Blue / Australia (Director: Kriv Stenders, Screenwriter: Daniel Taplitz) — When 11-year-old Mick is shipped off to his grandfather's cattle station in Australia’s remote Pilbara, he prepares himself for a life of dull hardship but instead finds myth, adventure and a friendship with a scrappy, one-of-a-kind pup that will change his life forever. Cast: Levi Miller, Bryan Brown, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence, Thomas Cocquerel, Jason Isaacs. (North American Premiere)
One-of-a-kind moments highlighting new independent works that add to the unique Festival experience. An evolving section, this year includes episodic work, short films and live post-screening discussions.
Shots Fired / U.S.A. (Executive Producers: Gina Prince-Bythewood, Reggie Rock Bythewood, Brian Grazer, Francie Calfo) — After racially charged shootings in a North Carolina town, an investigator digs into the cases alongside a special prosecutor. Together they seek justice while navigating the ensuing media attention and public unrest threatening the divided town. The festival will premiere two episodes of this 10-hour series, followed by an extended Q&A. Cast: Sanaa Lathan, Stephan James, Helen Hunt, Richard Dreyfuss, Stephen Moyer, Mack Wilds. (World Premiere)
Downward Dog / U.S.A. (Showrunners: Kat Likkel, John Hoberg, Creators: Michael Killen, Samm Hodges) — The story of a struggling millennial, Nan, as observed from the point of view of her lonely and philosophical dog, Martin. The festival will premiere the first four episodes of the series, followed by an extended Q&A with the cast, creators and showrunners. Cast: Allison Tolman, Samm Hodges, Lucas Neff, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Barry Rothbart. (World Premiere )
The History of Comedy / U.S.A. (Executive Producers: Mark Herzog, Christopher G. Cowen, Sean Hayes, Todd Milliner) — Utilizing archival footage punctuated by contemporary interviews with comedy legends and scholars, this is the history of not only what makes us laugh, but how comedy has affected the social and political landscape throughout history. The festival will premiere two episodes of this docuseries, "Spark of Madness" and "Going Blue," followed by an extended Q&A. (World Premiere)
I Love Dick / U.S.A. (Directors: Jill Soloway, Andrea Arnold, Kimberly Peirce, Executive Producers: Jill Soloway, Sarah Gubbins, Andrea Sperling, Victor Hsu) — Chris and Sylvere, a married couple in the intellectual community of Marfa, Texas, become obsessed with a charismatic artist named Dick. What follows is the unraveling of a marriage, the deification of a reluctant messiah and the awakening of the female gaze. The festival will present the first three episodes of this Amazon original series, followed by an extended Q&A. Cast: Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Hahn, Griffin Dunne, Roberta Colindrez, India Menuez, Phoebe Robinson. (World Premiere)
Rise / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Michelle Latimer) — This vibrant and immersive documentary series explores the front lines of indigenous resistance. Episodes "Apache Stronghold," "Sacred Water" and "Red Power" examine factors that threaten indigenous liberation in the 21st century. A series of contrasts, this series is both a condemnation of colonialism and a celebration of indigenous peoples. Continuing Sundance Institute’s ongoing commitment to presenting bold stories from within the Native American and Indigenous communities, we are proud to debut three episodes: "Apache Stronghold," "Sacred Water" and "Red Power," followed by an extended Q&A. (World Premiere) THE NEW CLIMATE
Time: The Kalief Browder Story / U.S.A. (Director: Jenner Furst, Executive Producers: Jenner Furst, Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, Harvey Weinstein, David C. Glasser, Nick Sandow, Julia Willoughby Nason, Michael Gasparro) — After his arrest at age 16, Kalief Browder fought the system and prevailed, despite unthinkable circumstances. He became an American hero. The festival will debut the first two episodes of this in-depth, humanizing look at a broken justice system, followed by an extended Q&A. (World Premiere)
DOCUSERIES SHOWCASE — The Festival is proud to debut individual episodes from two exciting new Netflix docuseries, featuring an extended Q&A with directors Morgan Neville and Rashida Jones.
● Abstract: The Art of Design / U.S.A. (Director and executive producer: Morgan Neville) — A look beyond blueprints and computers into the art and science of design, showcasing great designers from every discipline whose work shapes our world. The Festival will debut one episode of the series, followed by an extended Q&A with director and executive producer Morgan Neville. Cast: Christoph Niemann. (World Premiere)
● Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On / U.S.A. (Director: Rashida Jones, “Women on Top,” Executive Producers: Rashida Jones, Ronna Gradus, Jill Bauer, Peter LoGreco) — Porn has gone mainstream; the question is, can we handle it? This exploration of the intersection of sex and technology is told through the stories of the people whose lives are defined by the current explosion of internet porn — whether they're creating it, consuming it or both. The festival will debut one episode of the series, followed by an extended Q&A with director and executive producer Rashida Jones. (World Premiere)
INDEPENDENT PILOT SHOWCASE — We are proud to present the world premieres of these outstanding pilot presentations, highlighting the best in episodic series work from the independent community.
● Playdates / U.S.A. (Writers: Giles Andrew, Dan Marshall, Creators: Giles Andrew, Dan Marshall, Alex Bourne) — Uprooted from their Midwestern life, Bennett, a new stay-at-home dad, and Julie, a working mom, are forced to take their kids on playdates inside the elitist parenting culture of Silicon Beach. Cast: Paul Scheer, Carla Gallo, Miles Fisher, Craig Frank, Gemma Brooke Allen, Landon Gordon. (World Premiere)
● Shit Kids / U.S.A. (Director and creator: Kyle Dunnigan) — The daughter of an earth-shatteringly boring couple, along with the son of an equally humdrum set of parents, have decided to plot their parents' murders. Cast: Kyle Dunnigan, Kevin Berntson, Candace Brown, Margee Magee, Grace van Dien, Doug Noble. (World Premiere)
● When the Street Lights Go On / U.S.A. (Director: Brett Morgen, Screenwriters: Eddie O'Keefe, Chris Hutton) — The residents of a small town grapple with the ruthless killing of a young girl and a teacher. Cast: Max Burkholder, Odessa Young, Adam Long, Ben Winchell, Kelli Mayo, Graham Beckel.
WORLD PREMIERE MADE IN CUBA — We are proud to present these three cinematic and affecting Cuban short documentaries, reflecting Sundance Institute's longstanding commitment to international artists. These films were guided by the Institute’s Documentary Film Program in collaboration with La Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV (EICTV) and The Guardian Multimedia Program.
● Connection (Conectifai) / Cuba (Director: Horizoe Garcia Miranda) — ETECSA, Cuba’s only telephone company, installed Wi-Fi routers in 18 public parks in 2016. For many Cubans, this meant being able to go online for the first time. This film shows us how Cubans of all ages initially explore social media, online dating and more. (U.S. Premiere)
● Great (Muy Bien) / Cuba (Director: Sheyla Pool Pástor) — The U.S. restored diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2015, making it no longer unrealistic for Cubans to dream of one day living and working abroad. Cubans of all ages and diverse aspirations enroll at the makeshift Big Ben English school in Havana. (U.S. Premiere)
● House for Sale (Casa en Venta) / Cuba (Director: Emanuel Giraldo Betancur) — After more than 50 years, the ban on individuals in Cuba selling their houses was lifted in 2011. Three Cubans invite us into their homes — full of memories, souvenirs and family members — to hear their "sales pitch." (U.S. Premiere)
MIDNIGHT EPISODIC SHOWCASE — For the after-dark crowd, we present the world premieres of two thrilling new episodic additions to our Midnight lineup: Pineapple, from Adaptive Studios, and Snatchers, from Stage 13, followed by an extended Q&A with the creators of both series.
● Pineapple / U.S.A. (Director and writer: Arkasha Stevenson) — When a miner’s daughter is assaulted in the local coal mine, she utters only one word, leaving the town’s sheriff baffled. The event quickly spirals out of control, impacting the entire town. The festival will premiere three shortform episodes of this uniquely cinematic drama series. Cast: Tyler Vickers, Kel Owens, Ron Gilbert, Gloria Vonn, Lucille Sharp, Brooklyn Robinson. (World Premiere)
● Snatchers / U.S.A. (Directors: Stephen Cedars, Benji Kleiman, Screenwriters: Scott Yacyshyn, Benji Kleiman, Stephen Cedars) — After status-obsessed teen Sara has sex for the first time, she wakes up the next day nine months pregnant — with an alien. Turning to her nerdy ex-bestie, Hayley (the only person she can trust without ruining her reputation), they strive to put an end to all the carnage. The festival will premiere eight shortform episodes of this otherworldly horror-comedy series. Cast: Mari Nepi, Gabrielle Elyse, Austin Fryberger, J.J. Nolan, Nick Gomez, Rich Fulcher. (World Premiere)
SHORTFORM EPISODIC SERIES — A celebration of the evolving landscape of content consumption, we present these shortform episodic series as new voices in the medium, defying broadcast boilerplates with a redefinition of traditional episodic conventions.
● The Chances / U.S.A. (Director: Anna Kerrigan, Creators: Josh Feldman, Shoshannah Stern) — Best friends Kate and Michael, who are deaf, try their best to see their friendship through new changes in their lives, as Kate adjusts to being newly married and Michael attempts to get over his ex-boyfriend. The Festival will debut five episodes of this short-form episodic series. Cast: Josh Feldman, Shoshannah Stern, Aaron Costa Ganis, Lucas Near-Verbrugghe, Darryl Stephens, Wilson Cruz. (World Premiere)
● Gente-fied / U.S.A. (Creator: Marvin Lemus, Executive Producers: Charles D. King, Aaliyah Williams, America Ferrera) — Seven characters deal with the effects of change in Los Angeles' Boyle Heights. Bicultural millennials and old-school business owners hustle to create spaces that celebrate their Latino identities — even while faced with rent hikes, a housing crisis and a steady stream of outsiders threatening to gentrify their barrio. The festival will debut three episodes of this shortform episodic series. Cast: Edsson Morales, Alicia Sixtos, Victoria Ortiz, Yareli Arizmendi, Salvador Velez Jr, Rafael Sigler. (World Premiere)
● Strangers / U.S.A. (Director: Mia Lidofsky, Executive Producers: Michael B. Clark, Alex Turtletaub, Jesse Peretz, Mia Lidofsky) — Isobel decides to rent out her spare bedroom in order to generate much-needed extra income after a messy and painful breakup. With the help of her best friend, she navigates the most emotionally, sexually and professionally complicated time of her life, while hosting a constant stream of new guests. The festival will debut the first three episodes of this shortform episodic series. Cast: Zoë Chao, Meredith Hagner, Jemaine Clement, Breeda Wool, Matthew Oberg, Shiri Appleby. (World Premiere)