The Fox Searchlight pair of Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts Of The Southern Wild follow-up Wendy and Force Majeure remake Downhill will join Focus Features’ Carey Mulligan drama Promising Young Woman and Ai Weiwei’s latest documentary Vivos in the 118-strong selection of features announced for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
The line-up, unveiled on Wednesday (December 4) includes Dear White People director Justin Simien’s return to Park City with Bad Hair, Julianne Moore as feminist icon Gloria Steinem in Julie Taymor’s The Glorias, and Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman in The Father.
Documentarian Liz Garbus makes her fictional debut in the sex trafficking drama Lost Girls, Sundance godfather Robert Redford appears in NEXT entry Omniboat: A Fast Boat Fantasia, feature directorial debutants Viggo Mortensen (closing night selection Falling) and Romola Garai (Amulet) make the cut, and Tom McCarthy presents Timmy Failure, his first film since Spotlight won the best picture Oscar nearly four years ago. Sundance Film Festival runs from January 23–February 2, 2020.
Day One selections are Crip Camp (USA) from US Documentary Competition; Cuties (France) from World Cinema Dramatic Competition; The Painter And The Thief (Norway) from World Cinema Documentary Competition; Summertime (US) from NEXT; Haifaa Al Mansour’s The Perfect Candidate from Spotlight; Bad Hair from Midnight; and Netflix’s Taylor Swift: Miss Americana from Documentary Premieres. Wendy in Premieres and Edson Oda’s Nine Days in US Dramatic Competition are both designated recipients of the Dolby Institute Fellowship. Tesla is the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize winner.
”This year’s programme is filled with films, and artists, who celebrate the strength of the individual voice,” said John Cooper heading into his last outing as festival director before he assumes the new role of emeritus director. ”Whether that voice is speaking truth to power, rallying others in support of world-changing ideas, or just sharing a personal history, they illuminate our culture’s potential. As always, and especially as we work to create the future of Sundance, we’re encouraged and inspired by these storytellers.”
Selectors mulled over a record 15,100 submissions, including 3,853 features (1,698 from the US and 2,155 from international territories) representing 27 countries. Forty-four films are from first-time filmmakers. Of the 65 directors in all four competition categories comprising 56 films, 46% are women, 38% are people of colour, and 12% are LGBTQ+.
In the US Dramatic Competition, 47% of the directors are women, 53% are people of colour, and 5% are LGBTQ+. Forty-five percent of the directors in this year’s US Documentary Competition are women, 23% are people of colour, and 23% are LGBTQ+.
Furthermore 44%, or 52, of all films announced on Wednesday were directed by one or more women, 34%, or 40, were directed by one or more filmmaker of colour, and 15%, or 18, by one or more people who are LGBTQ+. Twenty-three films were supported by the Sundance Institute while in development, either through direct granting or residency labs. World premieres comprise 91% of the line-up – or 107 films.
Festival brass said the 2019 edition drew more than 122,000 attendees from 48 US states and 35 other countries, generated $182.5m in economic activity for the state of Utah, and supported 3,052 local jobs. The 2021 Sundance Film Festival will take place from January 21-31.
Selections for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival Indie Episodic, Shorts, Special Events and New Frontier strands will be announced next Tuesday and Thursday.
The feature films confirmed for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival appear below. All are world premieres unless stated otherwise. All synopses were provided by the festival and some have been modified slightly.
US DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include The Farewell, Honey Boy, Clemency, Eighth Grade, Sorry to Bother You, and The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Some 47% of the directors are women, 52% are people of colour, and 5% are LGBTQ+.
The 40-Year-Old Version
Dir: Radha Blank
A down-on-her-luck New York playwright decides to reinvent herself and salvage her artistic voice the only way she knows how: by becoming a rapper at age 40. Cast: Radha Blank, Peter Kim, Oswin Benjamin, Reed Birney, Imani Lewis, T.J. Atoms
Dir: Esteban Arango
After their family emigrates from Colombia during the summer of ‘99, a metalhead science prodigy and his deviant younger brother do their best to adapt to new lives in America.
Cast: Moises Arias, Mateo Arias, Daniel Dae Kim, Kali Uchis, Diane Guerrero, Wilmer Valderrama
Charm City Kings (USA)
Dir: Angel Manuel Soto
Mouse desperately wants to join The Midnight Clique, the infamous Baltimore dirt bike riders who rule the summertime streets. When Midnight’s leader, Blax, takes 14-year-old Mouse under his wing, Mouse soon finds himself torn between the straight-and-narrow and a road filled with fast money and violence.
Cast: Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Meek Mill, Will Catlett, Teyonah Parris, Donielle Tremaine Hansley, Kezii Curtis
Dinner in America
Dir: Adam Rehmeier
An on-the-lam punk rocker and a young woman obsessed with his band go on an unexpected and epic journey together through the decaying suburbs of the American Midwest.
Cast: Kyle Gallner, Emily Skeggs, Pat Healy, Griffin Gluck, Lea Thompson, Mary Lynn Rajskub
The Evening Hour
Dir: Braden King
Cole Freeman maintains an uneasy equilibrium in his rural Appalachian town, looking after the old and infirm while selling their excess painkillers to local addicts. But when an old friend returns with plans that upend the fragile balance and identity he’s so painstakingly crafted, Cole is forced to take action.
Cast: Philip Ettinger, Stacy Martin, Cosmo Jarvis, Michael Trotter, Kerry Bishé, Lili Taylor
Dir: Ekwa Msangi
Reunited after a 17-year separation, Walter, an Angolan immigrant, is joined in the US by his wife and teenage daughter. Now absolute strangers sharing a one-bedroom apartment, they discover a shared love of dance that may help overcome the emotional distance between them.
Cast: Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, Zainab Jah, Jayme Lawson, Joie Lee, Marcus Scribner, Nana Mensah
Dir: Lee Isaac Chung
David, a seven-year-old Korean-American boy, gets his life turned upside down when his father decides to move their family to rural Arkansas and start a farm in the mid-1980s, in this charming and unexpected take on the American Dream.
Cast: Steven Yeun, Han Yeri, Youn Yuh Jung, Will Patton, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho
Dir: Channing Godfrey Peoples
Turquoise, a former beauty queen turned hardworking single mother, prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the “Miss Juneteenth” pageant, hoping to keep her from repeating the same mistakes in life that she did.
Cast: Nicole Beharie, Kendrick Sampson, Alexis Chikaeze, Lori Hayes, Marcus Maudlin
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Dir: Eliza Hittman
An intimate portrayal of two teenage girls in rural Pennsylvania. Faced with an unintended pregnancy and a lack of local support, Autumn and her cousin Skylar embark on a brave, fraught journey across state lines to New York City.
Cast: Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder, Théodore Pellerin, Ryan Eggold, Sharon Van Etten
Dir: Edson Oda
In a house distant from the reality we know, a reclusive man interviews prospective candidates – personifications of human souls – for the privilege that he once had: to be born.
Cast: Winston Duke, Zazie Beetz, Benedict Wong, Bill Skarsgård, Tony Hale, David Rysdahl
Dolby Institute Fellowship
Dir: Max Barbakow
When carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honour Sarah have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated the next morning when they find themselves unable to escape the venue, themselves, or each other.
Cast: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons, Meredith Hagner, Camila Mendes, Peter Gallagher
Dirs: Alex Fischer, Eleanor Wilson
A young Brooklyn couple head upstate to disconnect from their phones and reconnect with themselves. Cut off from their devices, they miss the news that the planet is under attack.
Cast: Sunita Mani, John Reynolds, Ben Sinclair, Johanna Day, John Early, Gary Clark
Dir: Josephine Decker
A young couple moves in with the famed author, Shirley Jackson, and her Bennington College professor husband, Stanley Hyman, in the hope of starting a new life but instead find themselves fodder for a psychodrama that inspires Shirley’s next novel.
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg, Odessa Young, Logan Lerman
Dir: Eugene Ashe
Years after their summer romance comes to an end, an aspiring television producer and a talented musician cross paths, only to find their feelings for each other never changed. With their careers taking them in different directions, they must choose what matters most.
Cast: Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Eva Longoria, Aja Naomi King, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Jemima Kirke
Dir: Tara Miele
New parents Adrienne and Matteo are forced to reckon with trauma amidst their troubled relationship. They must revisit the memories of their past and unravel haunting truths in order to face their uncertain future. Cast: Sienna Miller, Diego Luna, Beth Grant, Aimee Carrero, Tory Kittles, Vanessa Bayer
Dir: Janicza Bravo
2015: @zolarmoon tweets “wanna hear a story about why me & this bitch here fell out???????? It’s kind of long but full of suspense.” Two girls bond over their “hoeism” and become fast friends. What’s supposed to be a trip from Detroit to Florida turns into a weekend from hell.
Cast: Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun, Colman Domingo
US DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include Apollo 11, Knock Down The House, One Child Nation, American Factory, Three Identical Strangers, and On Her Shoulders. Forty-five percent of the directors are women, 23% are people of colour, and 23% are LGBTQ+.
A Thousand Cuts (USA/Philippines)
Dir: Ramona S. Diaz
Nowhere is the worldwide erosion of democracy, fuelled by social media disinformation campaigns, more starkly evident than in the authoritarian regime of Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte. Journalist Maria Ressa places the tools of the free press – and her freedom – on the line in defence of truth and democracy.
Be Water (USA/UK)
Dir: Bao Nguyen
In 1971, after being rejected by Hollywood, Bruce Lee returned to his parents’ homeland of Hong Kong to complete four iconic films. Charting his struggles between two worlds, this portrait explores questions of identity and representation through the use of rare archival, interviews with loved ones, and Lee’s own writings.
Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets
Dirs: Bill Ross, Turner Ross
In the shadows of the bright lights of Las Vegas, it’s last call for a beloved dive bar known as the Roaring 20s. A document of real people, in an unreal situation, facing an uncertain future: America at the end of 2016.
Dirs: Jesse Moss, Amanda McBaine
In an unusual experiment, a thousand 17-year-old boys from Texas join together to build a representative government from the ground up.
Code For Bias (USA/UK/China)
Dir: Shalini Kantayya
Exploring the fallout of MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini’s startling discovery that facial recognition does not see dark-skinned faces accurately, and her journey to push for the first-ever legislation in the US to govern against bias in the algorithms that impact us all.
The Cost Of Silence
Dir: Mark Manning
An industry insider exposes the devastating consequences of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and uncovers systemic corruption between government and industry to silence the victims of a growing public health disaster. Stakes could not be higher as the Trump administration races to open the entire US coastline to offshore drilling.
Dirs: Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht
Down the road from Woodstock in the early 1970s, a revolution blossomed in a ramshackle summer camp for disabled teenagers, transforming their young lives and igniting a landmark movement.
Dick Johnson Is Dead
Dir: Kirsten Johnson
With this inventive portrait, a cameraperson seeks a way to keep her 86-year-old father alive forever. Utilising moviemaking magic and her family’s dark humour, she celebrates Dr. Dick Johnson’s last years by staging fantasies of death and beyond. Together, dad and daughter confront the great inevitability awaiting us all.
Feels Good Man
Dir: Arthur Jones
When indie comic character Pepe the Frog becomes an unwitting icon of hate, his creator, artist Matt Furie, fights to bring Pepe back from the darkness and navigate America’s cultural divide.
Dirs: Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, Eli Despres
Inside the ACLU, a team of scrappy lawyers battle Trump’s historic assault on civil liberties.
Mucho Mucho Amor
Dirs: Cristina Costantini, Kareem Tabsch
Once the world’s most famous astrologer, Walter Mercado seeks to resurrect a forgotten legacy. Raised in the sugar cane fields of Puerto Rico, Walter grew up to become a gender non-conforming, cape-wearing psychic whose televised horoscopes reached 120 million viewers a day for decades before he mysteriously disappeared.
Spaceship Earth (pictured)
Dir: Matt Wolf
In 1991 a group of countercultural visionaries built an enormous replica of earth’s ecosystem called Biosphere 2. When eight “biospherians” lived sealed inside, they faced ecological calamities and cult accusations. Their epic adventure is a cautionary tale but also a testament to the power of small groups reimagining the world.
Dir: Garrett Bradley
Fox Rich, indomitable matriarch and modern-day abolitionist, strives to keep her family together while fighting for the release of her incarcerated husband. An intimate, epic, and unconventional love story, filmed over two decades.
Dir: Kim A. Snyder
Determined to turn unfathomable tragedy into action, the teenage survivors of Parkland, Florida, catalyse a powerful, unprecedented youth movement that spreads with lightning speed across the country, as a generation of mobilised youth take back democracy in this powerful coming-of-age story.
Welcome To Chechnya
Dir: David France
This searing investigative work shadows a group of activists risking unimaginable peril to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ pogrom raging in the repressive and closed Russian republic. Unfettered access and a remarkable approach to protecting anonymity exposes this under-reported atrocity – and an extraordinary group of people confronting evil.
Dir: Matt Yoka
Soaring above the chaotic spectacle of ‘80s and ‘90s Los Angeles, a young couple revolutionised breaking news with their brazen helicopter reporting. Culled from this news duo’s sprawling video archive is a poignant L.A. story of a family in turbulence hovering over a city unhinged.
WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include The Souvenir, The Guilty, Monos, Yardie, The Nile Hilton Incident, and Second Mother.
Dir: Amanda Kernell
After a recent and difficult divorce, Alice hasn’t seen her children in two months as she awaits a custody verdict. When her son calls her in the middle of the night, Alice takes action, abducting the children on an illicit charter trip to the Canary Islands.
Cast: Ane Dahl Torp, Troy Lundkvist, Tintin Poggats Sarri, Sverrir Gudnasson, Eva Melander, Siv Erixon
Dir: Maïmouna Doucouré
Amy, 11 years old, meets a group of dancers called “Cuties.” Fascinated, she initiates herself to a sensual dance, hoping to join their band and escape family dysfunction.
Cast: Fathia Youssouf, Médina El Aidi-Azouni, Esther Gohourou, Ilanah Cami-Goursolas, Myriam Hamma, Maïmouna Gueye
Dir: Visar Morina
A chemical engineer feeling discriminated against and bullied at work plunges into an identity crisis.
Cast: Mišel Matičević, Sandra Hüller
High Tide (Argentina)
Dir: Verónica Chen
Laura is spending a few days at her beach house to supervise the construction of a barbecue shed. One afternoon, she seduces the chief builder, who never returns. Over the following days, the builders continually invade her home – until Laura grows ferocious.
Cast: Gloria Carrá, Jorge Sesán, Cristian Salguero, Mariana Chaud, Camila Fabbri, Héctor Bordoni
Dir: Zoé Wittock
Jeanne, a shy young woman, works in an amusement park. Fascinated with carousels, she still lives at home with her mother. That’s when Jeanne meets Jumbo, the park’s new flagship attraction.
Cast: Noémie Merlant, Emmanuelle Bercot, Sam Louwyck
Dir: Zeina Durra
When British aid worker Hana returns to Luxor, a sleepy city on the banks of the Nile, she comes across Sultan, a talented archeologist and former lover. As she wanders, haunted by the familiar place, she struggles to reconcile the choices of the past with the uncertainty of the present.
Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Karim Saleh, Michael Landes, Sherine Reda, Salima Ikram, Shahira Fahmy
Possessor (Canada-UK, pictured)
Dir: Brandon Cronenberg
Vos is a corporate agent who uses brain-implant technology to inhabit other people’s bodies, driving them to commit assassinations for the benefit of the company. When something goes wrong on a routine job, she finds herself trapped inside a man whose identity threatens to obliterate her own.
Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Christopher Abbott, Rossif Sutherland, Tuppence Middleton, Sean Bean, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Sin Señas Particulares (Mexico/Spain)
Dir: Fernanda Valadez
Magdalena makes a journey to find her son, gone missing on his way to the Mexican border with the US. Her odyssey takes her to meet Miguel, a man recently deported from the US. They travel together, Magdalena looking for her son, and Miguel hoping to see his mother again.
Cast: Mercedes Hernández, David Illescas, Juan Jesús Varela, Ana Laura Rodríguez, Laura Elena Ibarra, Xicoténcatl Ulloa
Summer White (Blanco de Verano, Mexico)
Dir: Rodrigo Ruiz Patterson
Rodrigo is a solitary teenager, a king in the private world he shares with his mother. Things change when she takes her new boyfriend home to live. He must decide if he fights for his throne and crushes the happiness of the person he loves the most.
Cast: Adrián Rossi, Sophie Alexander-Katz, Fabián Corres
Dir: Aneil Karia
A man goes on a bold and reckless journey of self-liberation through London. After he robs a bank he releases a wilder version of himself, ultimately experiencing what it feels like to be alive.
Cast: Ben Whishaw, Ellie Haddington, Ian Gelder, Jasmine Jobson.
This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection (Lesotho/South Africa/Italy)
Dir: Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese
When her village is threatened with forced resettlement due to reservoir construction, an 80-year-old widow finds a new will to live and ignites the spirit of resilience within her community. In the final dramatic moments of her life, Mantoa’s legend is forged and made eternal.
Cast: Mary Twala Mhlongo, Jerry Mofokeng Wa Makheta, Makhoala Ndebele, Tseko Monaheng, Siphiwe Nzima
Yalda, A Night For Forgiveness (Iran/France/Germany/Switzerland)
Dir: Massoud Bakhshi
Maryam accidentally killed her husband Nasser and is sentenced to death. The only person who can save her is Mona, Nasser’s daughter. All Mona has to do is appear on a TV show and forgive Maryam. But forgiveness proves difficult when they are forced to relive the past.
Cast: Sadaf Asgari, Behnaz Jafari, Babak Karimi, Fereshteh Sadr Orafaee, Forough Ghajebeglou, Fereshteh Hosseini
WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include Honeyland, Sea Of Shadows, Shirkers, This Is Home, Last Men In Aleppo, and Hooligan Sparrow.
Acasa, My Home (Romania/Germany/Finland)
Dir: Radu Ciorniciuc
In the wilderness of the Bucharest Delta, nine children and their parents lived in perfect harmony with nature for 20 years – until they are chased out and forced to adapt to life in the big city.
The Earth Is Blue As An Orange (Ukraine/Lithuania)
Dir: Iryna Tsilyk
To cope with the daily trauma of living in a war zone, Anna and her children make a film together about their life among surreal surroundings.
Dir: Hubert Sauper
Cuba is well known as a so-called time capsule. The place where the New World was discovered has become both a romantic vision and a warning. With ongoing global cultural and financial upheavals, large parts of the world could face a similar kind of existence.
Influence (South Africa/Canada)
Dirs: Diana Neille, Richard Poplak
Charting the recent advancements in weaponised communication by investigating the rise and fall of the world’s most notorious public relations and reputation management firm: the British multinational Bell Pottinger.
Into The Deep (Denmark)
Dir: Emma Sullivan
In 2016, a young Australian filmmaker began documenting amateur inventor Peter Madsen. One year in, Madsen brutally murdered Kim Wall aboard his homemade submarine. An unprecedented revelation of a killer and the journey his young helpers take as they reckon with their own complicity and prepare to testify.
The Mole Agent (Chile)
Dir: Maite Alberdi
When a family becomes concerned about their mother’s well-being in a retirement home, private investigator Romulo hires Sergio, an 83-year-old man who becomes a new resident – and a mole inside the home, who struggles to balance his assignment with becoming increasingly involved in the lives of several residents.
Once Upon A Time In Venezuela (Venezuela/UK/Brazil/Austria)
Dir: Anabel Rodríguez Ríos
Once upon a time, the Venezuelan village of Congo Mirador was prosperous, alive with fisherman and poets. Now it is decaying and disintegrating – a small but prophetic reflection of Venezuela itself.
The Painter And The Thief (Norway)
Dir: Benjamin Ree
An artist befriends the drug addict and thief who stole her paintings. She becomes his closest ally when he is severely hurt in a car crash and needs full time care, even if her paintings are not found. But then the tables turn.
The Reason I Jump (UK)
Dir: Jerry Rothwell
Based on the book by Naoki Higashida this immersive film explores the experiences of non-speaking autistic people around the world.
Saudi Runaway (Switzerland)
Dir: Susanne Regina Meures
Amjad, a young, fearless woman from Saudi Arabia, is tired of being controlled by the state and patronised by her family. With an arranged marriage imminent, a life without rights and free will seems inevitable. Amjad decides to escape. An unprecedented view inside the world’s most repressive patriarchy.
Dir: Sam Soko
Boniface Mwangi is daring and audacious, and recognised as Kenya’s most provocative photojournalist. But as a father of three young children, these qualities create tremendous turmoil between him and his wife Njeri. When he wants to run for political office, he is forced to choose: country or family?
The Truffle Hunters (Italy/USA/Greece)
Dirs: Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw
In the secret forests of Northern Italy, a dwindling group of joyful old men and their faithful dogs search for the world’s most expensive ingredient, the white Alba truffle. Their stories form a real-life fairy tale that celebrates human passion in a fragile land that seems forgotten in time.
Pure, bold works distinguished by an innovative, forward-thinking approach to storytelling populate this program. Digital technology paired with unfettered creativity promises that the films in this section will shape a “greater” next wave in American cinema. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include The Infiltrators, Searching, Skate Kitchen, A Ghost Story, and Tangerine. NEXT is presented by Adobe.
Dir: Danny Madden
Three interwoven stories of youths navigating identity, first love, petty crime, and gun violence in a southern American town.
Cast: Shirley Chen, Will Madden, Jose Angeles, Courtney Dietz, Daniel Rashid
Dir: Lawrence Michael Levine
At a remote lake house, a filmmaker plays a calculated game of desire and jealousy in the pursuit of a work of art that blurs the boundaries between autobiography and invention.
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Abbott, Sarah Gadon
I Carry You With Me (USA/Mexico)
Dir: Heidi Ewing
An epic love story spanning decades is sparked by a chance encounter between two men in provincial Mexico. Based on a true story, ambition and societal pressure propel an aspiring chef to leave his soulmate and make the treacherous journey to New York, where life will never be the same.
Cast: Armando Espitia, Christian Vázquez, Michelle Rodríguez, Ángeles Cruz, Arcelia Ramírez, Michelle González
The Killing Of Two Lovers
Dir: Robert Machoian
David desperately tries to keep his family of six together during a separation from his wife. They both agree to see other people but David struggles to grapple with his wife’s new relationship.
Cast: Clayne Crawford, Sepideh Moafi, Chris Coy, Aver Pizzuto, Arri Graham, Ezra Graham
La Leyenda Negra
Dir: Patricia Vidal Delgado
In Compton, a soon-to-be undocumented teenager fights for her right to stay in America while risking her family, her friendships, and her first love.
Cast: Monica Betancourt, Kailei Lopez, Irlanda Moreno, Justin Avila, Sammy Flores, Juan Reynoso
The Mountains Are A Dream That Call To Me
Dir: Cedric Cheung-Lau
On the Annapurna Massif, Tukten, a young Nepali man setting off for a new life as a labourer in Dubai, encounters an older Australian woman who causes him to change course and discover his homeland in a new light.
Cast: Sanjay Lama Dong, Alice Cummins
Omniboat: A Fast Boat Fantasia
Dirs: The Daniels, Hannah Fidell, Alexa Lim Haas, Lucas Leyva, Olivia Lloyd, Jillian Mayer, The Meza Brothers, Terence Nance, Brett Potter, Dylan Redford, Xander Robin, Julian Yuri Rodriguez, Celia Rowlson-Hall
It’s not just a speed boat ride, it’s a Miami adventure.
Cast: Mel Rodriguez, Finn Wolfhard, Casey Wilson, Adam Devine, Jessica Williams, Robert Redford
Some Kind of Heaven (USA)
Dir: Lance Oppenheim
Behind the gates of a palm tree-lined fantasyland, four residents of America’s largest retirement community, The Villages, FL, strive to find happiness and meaning.
Dir: Eugene Kotlyarenko
Kurt Kunkle, a rideshare driver thirsty for followers, has figured out a deadly plan to go viral. As his disturbing livestream is absurdly embraced by the social media hellscape, a comedienne emerges as the only hope to stop this rampage.
Cast: Joe Keery, Sasheer Zamata, David Arquette, Kyle Mooney, Mischa Barton, Josh Ovalle
Dir: Carlos Lopez Estrada
In the heat of the summer, the lives of 25 strangers collide. A love letter to Los Angeles written and performed by a collective of young spoken word poets.
Cast: 19 Get Lit Poets
A showcase of world premieres of some of the most highly anticipated narrative films of the coming year. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include The Report, Late Night, The Big Sick, and Call Me By Your Name.
Dirs: Jim Rash, Nat Faxon
Barely escaping an avalanche during a family ski vacation in the Alps, a married couple is thrown into disarray as they are forced to reevaluate their lives and how they feel about each other.
Cast: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Will Ferrell, Zach Woods, Zoë Chao, Miranda Otto
Dream Horse (UK)
Dir: Euros Lyn
Jan, a cleaner and bartender, decides on a whim to breed a racehorse in her Welsh village. As the horse rises through the ranks against all odds, Jan and the townspeople are pitted against the racing elite in a nail-biting race for the national championship.
Cast: Toni Collette, Damian Lewis
Dir: Viggo Mortensen
When 80-year-old independent farmer Willis travels to Los Angeles for an indefinite stay with son John and his family, two very different worlds collide. Mentally declining, Willis’ abrasiveness is both caustic and funny, bringing old wounds from the past and years of mutual mistrust to the surface.
Cast: Lance Henriksen, Viggo Mortensen, Terry Chen, Sverrir Gudnason, Hannah Gross, Laura Linney
The Father (UK-France)
Dir: Florian Zeller
Anthony is 80 years old. He lives alone in London and refuses the nurses that his daughter tries to impose upon him. Yet help is becoming more pressing, as she has decided to move to Paris. At once comedic and profound, this is a moving story of our human condition.
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, Olivia Williams
Four Good Days (USA)
Dir: Rodrigo Garcia
Ten years of opioids have left Molly’s life in shambles. A new drug may give her a chance to break free if she is able to stay clean for four days, with the help of her mother Deb, a tough, clear-eyed woman. Their love will be tested to the limits.
Cast: Glenn Close, Mila Kunis, Stephen Root, Joshua Leonard
The Glorias (USA)
Dir: Julie Taymor
An equal rights crusader, journalist and activist: Gloria Steinem embodies these and more. From her role in the revolutionary women’s rights movement to her travels throughout the US and around the world, Steinem has made an everlasting mark on modern history. A non-traditional chronicle of a trailblazing life.
Cast: Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Bette Midler, Janelle Monae, Timothy Hutton, Lorraine Toussaint
Dir: Phyllida Lloyd
Struggling to provide her daughters with a safe, happy home, Sandra decides to build one – from scratch. Using all her ingenuity to make her ambitious dream a reality, Sandra draws together a community to lend a helping hand to build her house and ultimately recover her own sense of self.
Cast: Clare Dunne, Harriet Walter, Conleth Hill
Horse Girl (USA)
Dir: Jeff Baena
A socially awkward woman with a fondness for arts and crafts, horses, and supernatural crime shows finds her increasingly lucid dreams trickling into her waking life.
Cast: Alison Brie, Debby Ryan, John Reynolds, Molly Shannon, John Ortiz, Jay Duplass
Dir: Dominic Cooke
The true story of a British businessman unwittingly recruited into one of the greatest international conflicts in history. Forming an unlikely partnership with a Soviet officer hoping to prevent a nuclear confrontation, the two men work together to provide the crucial intelligence used to defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Merab Ninidze, Rachel Brosnahan, Jessie Buckley
Dir: Miranda July
Low-stakes grifters, Old Dolio and her parents invite a chipper young woman into their insular clan, only to have their entire world turned upside down.
Cast: Evan Rachel Wood, Gina Rodriguez, Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger
The Last Shift (USA)
Dir: Andrew Cohn
Stanley, an aging fast food worker, prepares to work his final graveyard shift after 38 years. When he’s asked to train his replacement, Jevon, Stanley’s weekend takes an unexpected turn.
Cast: Richard Jenkins, Shane Paul McGhie, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Birgundi Baker, Allison Tolman, Ed O’Neill
The Last Thing He Wanted (USA)
Dir: Dee Rees
A veteran D.C. journalist loses the thread of her own narrative when a guilt-propelled errand for her father thrusts her from byline to unwitting subject in the very story she’s trying to break. Adapted from the Joan Didion novel of the same title.
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck, Willem Dafoe, Rosie Perez
Lost Girls (USA)
Dir: Liz Garbus
When Mari Gilbert’s daughter disappears, police inaction drives her own investigation into the gated Long Island community where Shannan was last seen. Committed to finding the truth, her search brings attention to over a dozen murdered sex workers Mari will not let the world forget. Inspired by true events.
Cast: Amy Ryan, Thomasin McKenzie, Lola Kirke, Oona Laurence, Gabriel Byrne, Miriam Shor
The Nest (UK/Canada)
Dir: Sean Durkin
Charismatic entrepreneur, Rory, relocates his family to England with dreams of profiting from booming 1980’s London. But as his wife, Allison, struggles to adapt, and the promise of a lucrative new beginning starts to unravel, the couple have to face the unwelcome truths lying beneath the surface of their marriage.
Cast: Jude Law, Carrie Coon, Charlie Shotwell, Oona Roche.
Promising Young Woman (USA)
Dir: Emerald Fennell
Everyone said Cassie was a promising young woman… until something abruptly derailed her future. Nothing in Cassie’s life is as it appears: she’s smart, cunning, and living a double life by night. Now, Cassie has a chance to right the wrongs of the past in this thrilling take on revenge.
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Connie Britton, Adam Brody, Jennifer Coolidge
Dir: Greg Barker
A sweeping drama set in the chaotic aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq, where the life of top UN diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello hangs in the balance during the most treacherous mission of his career.
Cast: Wagner Moura, Ana de Armas, Garret Dillahunt, Will Dalton, Bradley Whitford, Brían F. O’Byrne
Dir: Michael Almereyda
Highlighting the Promethean struggles of Nikola Tesla, as he attempts to transcend entrenched technology – including his own previous work – by pioneering a system of wireless energy that will change the world.
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Kyle Maclachlan, Eve Hewson, Jim Gaffigan, Hannah Gross, Josh Hamilton
Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize winner
Uncle Frank (USA)
Dir: Alan Ball
In 1973, when 18-year-old Beth and her uncle Frank take a road trip from Manhattan to Creekville, South Carolina, for the family patriarch’s funeral, they’re unexpectedly joined by Frank’s lover Walid. A story about family, forgiveness, and our inherent power to choose who we want to be.
Cast: Paul Bettany, Sophia Lillis, Peter Macdissi, Steve Zahn, Judy Greer, Margo Martindale
Dir: Benh Zeitlin
Lost on a mysterious island where aging and time have come unglued, Wendy must fight to save her family, her freedom, and the joyous spirit of youth from the deadly peril of growing up. The classic story of Peter Pan is wildly reimagined in this ragtag epic.
Cast: Devin France, Yashua Mack, Gage Naquin, Gavin Naquin, Ahmad Cage, Krzysztof Meyn
Dolby Institute Fellowship
Dir: Sara Colangelo
Kenneth Feinberg, a powerful D.C. lawyer appointed Special Master of the 9/11 Fund, fights off the cynicism, bureaucracy, and politics associated with administering government funds and, in doing so, discovers what life is worth. Based on true events.
Cast: Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci, Amy Ryan, Tate Donovan, Talia Balsam, Laura Benanti
Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include Ask Dr. Ruth, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, RBG, An Inconvenient Sequel, and The Hunting Ground.
Dir: Catherine Gund
An exploration of the nexus of art, race, and justice through the story of art collector and philanthropist Agnes Gund, who sold Roy Lichtenstein’s painting “Masterpiece” in 2017 for $165m to start the Art for Justice Fund to end mass incarceration.
Cast: Agnes Gund, Darren Walker, Ava DuVernay, Thelma Golden, John Waters, Glenn Ligon
Director: Ryan White
True crime meets global spy thriller in this gripping account of the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of the North Korean leader. The film follows the trial of the two female assassins, probing the question: were the women trained killers or innocent pawns of North Korea?
Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen (USA)
Dir: Sam Feder, Producers: Amy Scholder, Sam Feder
An investigation of how Hollywood’s fabled stories have deeply influenced how Americans feel about transgender people, and how transgender people have been taught to feel about themselves.
Cast: Laverne Cox, Mj Rodriguez, Lilly Wachowski, Yance Ford, Chaz Bono, Jamie Clayton
The Dissident (USA)
Dir: Bryan Fogel
When Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappears after entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, his fiancée and dissidents around the world are left to piece together the clues to a brutal murder and expose a global cover-up perpetrated by the very country he loved.
Giving Voice (USA)
Dirs: James D. Stern, Fernando Villena
Every year, thousands of high schoolers enter the August Wilson monologue competition for a chance to perform on Broadway. This film follows these students, examining how Wilson and his characters speak to a new generation, inspiring them to listen to his words and find their own voice.
The Go-Go’s (USA/Ireland/Canada)
Dir: Alison Ellwood
As the first all-female band to play their instruments, write their songs and have a number one album, The Go-Go’s made history. Underpinned by candid testimonies, this film chronicles the meteoric rise to fame of a band born in the L.A. punk scene who became a pop phenomenon.
Cast: Charlotte Caffey, Belinda Carlisle, Gina Schock, Kathy Valentine, Jane Wiedlin
Happy Happy Joy Joy – The Ren & Stimpy Story (USA)
Dirs: Ron Cicero, Kimo Easterwood
Exploring the rise and fall of the ground-breaking animated series Ren & Stimpy and its controversial creator, John Kricfalusi, through archival footage, show artwork and interviews with the artists, actors and executives behind the show.
Cast: John Kricfalusi, Robyn Byrd, Vanessa Coffey, Chris Reccardi, Richard Pursel, Bobby Lee
Taylor Swift: Miss Americana (USA)
Dir: Lana Wilson
A raw and emotionally revealing look at one of the most iconic artists of our time during a transformational period in her life as she learns to embrace her role not only as a songwriter and performer, but as a woman harnessing the full power of her voice.
Cast: Taylor Swift. World Premiere.
Okavango: River Of Dreams (Director’s Cut, Botswana)
Dirs: Dereck Joubert, Beverly Joubert
An insiders’ view of one of the greatest river systems on the planet, presented as a love letter, exploring the layers of paradise, limbo and inferno in a natural history echo of Dante’s Divine Comedy, a river of dreams, or beauty of conflict and turmoil.
Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind (USA)
Dir: Laurent Bouzereau
Exploring actor Natalie Wood’s life and career through the unique perspective of her daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner, and others who knew her best. An examination of her personal and professional triumphs and challenges, which have often been overshadowed by her tragic death at age 43.
Rebuilding Paradise (USA)
Dir: Ron Howard
On November 8, 2018, a spark flew in the Sierra Nevada foothills, igniting the most destructive wildfire in California history and decimating the town of Paradise. Unfolding during the year after the fire, this is the story of the Paradise community as they begin to rebuild their lives.
Untitled Kirby Dick/Amy Ziering Film (USA)
Dirs: Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering
A brilliant former hip-hop executive grapples with whether to go public about her rape by one of the most powerful men in the music industry. A gripping and profound examination of race, gender, intersectionality, and the toll sexual abuse takes on survivors and on society at large.
Dir: Ai Weiwei
Since an attack on students of the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in 2014 resulted in six deaths and in the forced disappearance of 43, the students’ families have been living in limbo with their unanswered questions, their struggle embodying the psychological and emotional toll of endemic violence upon Mexican society.
Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include Greener Grass, Hereditary, Assassination Nation, The Little Hours, and The Babadook.
Dir: Romola Garai
Tomaz, an ex-soldier now homeless in London, is offered a place to stay at a decaying house, inhabited by a young woman and her dying mother. As he starts to fall for Magda, Tomaz cannot ignore his suspicion that something insidious might also be living alongside them.
Cast: Carla Juri, Alec Secareanu, Imelda Staunton, Angeliki Papoulia
Bad Hair (USA)
Dir: Justin Simien
In this horror satire set in 1989, an ambitious young woman gets a weave in order to succeed in the image-obsessed world of music television. However, her flourishing career may come at a great cost when she realises that her new hair may have a mind of its own.
Cast: Elle Lorraine, Vanessa Williams, Jay Pharoah, Lena Waithe, Blair Underwood, Laverne Cox
His House (UK)
Dir: Remi Weekes
A young refugee couple makes a harrowing escape from war-torn South Sudan, but then they struggle to adjust to their new life in a small English town that has an evil lurking beneath the surface.
Cast: Wunmi Mosaku, Sope Dirisu, Matt Smith
Dir: Joko Anwar
An out-of-luck woman decides to go back to her secluded home village in hopes of inheritance. Little does she know, the villagers have been waiting for her because she has what they need to lift a curse.
Cast: Tara Basro, Marissa Anita, Christine Hakim, Ario Bayu, Asmara Abigail
The Night House (USA)
Dir: David Bruckner
A widow begins to uncover her recently deceased husband’s disturbing secrets.
Cast: Rebecca Hall, Sarah Goldberg, Stacy Martin, Evan Jonigkeit, Vondie Curtis-Hall
The Nowhere Inn (USA)
Dir: Bill Benz
When St. Vincent sets out to make a documentary about her music, the goal is to both reveal and revel in the unadorned truth behind her on-stage persona. But when she hires a close friend to direct, notions of reality, identity, and authenticity grow increasingly distorted and bizarre.
Cast: Annie Clark, Carrie Brownstein
Dir: Natalie Erika James
When Edna, an elderly woman living alone with dementia inexplicably vanishes, her daughter Kay and granddaughter Sam arrive to look for her. When Edna returns as mysteriously as she disappeared, Kay and Sam discover a presence haunting the house that appears to be taking control of Edna.
Cast: Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin, Bella Heathcote
Run Sweetheart Run (USA)
Dir: Shana Feste
A blind date turns violent and the woman has to get home through Los Angeles, with her date in pursuit.
Cast: Ella Balinska, Pilou Asbaek, Clark Gregg
Scare Me (USA)
Dir: Josh Ruben
During a power outage, two strangers tell scary stories. The more Fred and Fanny commit to their tales, the more the stories come to life in the dark of a Catskills cabin. The horrors of reality manifest when Fred confronts his ultimate fear: Fanny is the better storyteller.
Cast: Aya Cash, Josh Ruben, Chris Redd, Rebecca Drysdale
A tribute to the cinema Sundance selectors love from the past year. Films that have played in this category in recent years include The Biggest Little Farm, The Death Of Stalin, The Rider, Ida, and The Lobster
And Then We Danced (Sweden/Georgia/France)
Dir: Levan Akin
In the conservative confines of modern Tbilisi, Merab, a competitive dancer, is thrown off balance by the arrival of Irakli, a fellow male dancer with a rebellious streak.
Cast: Levan Gelbakhiani, Bachi Valishvili, Ana Javakhishvilli, Kakha Gogidze, Anano Makharadze
The Assistant (USA)
Dir: Kitty Green
A day in the life of Jane, an assistant to a high-powered film executive.
Cast: Julia Garner, Matthew Macfadyen, Makenzie Leigh, Kristine Froseth, Jon Orsini, Noah Robbins
The Climb (USA)
Dir: Michael Covino
Kyle and Mike are best friends who share a close bond – until Mike sleeps with Kyle’s fiancée. A portrait of a tumultuous but enduring relationship between two men across many years of laughter, heartbreak, and rage.
Cast: Kyle Marvin, Michael Covino, Gayle Rankin, Talia Balsam, George Wendt, Judith Godrèche
Dir: Alexander Nanau
Investigative journalists uncover massive fraud in the Romanian health care system revealing the price of corruption and ultimately, the price of truth.
Cast: Catalin Tolontan, Mirela Neag, Razvan Lutac, Tedy Ursuleanu, Vlad Voiculescu, Camelia Roiu.
Dir: Pablo Larraín
After a shocking incident upends her family life and marriage to a tempestuous choreographer, Ema, a reggaeton dancer, sets out on an odyssey of personal liberation in this incendiary story of art, desire, and the modern family.
Cast: Mariana Di Girolamo, Gael García Bernal, Santiago Cabrera
La Llorona (Guatemala/France)
Dir: Jayro Bustamante
Enrique, a retired general who oversaw the Maya genocide, is haunted by his devastating crimes. A tale of horror and fantasy, reimagining the Latin American fable as an urgent metaphor of Guatemalan recent history and its unhealed political wounds.
Cast: María Mercedes Coroy, Sabrina De La Hoz, Julio Diaz, Margarita Kénefic, Juan Pablo Olyslager, Ayla-Elea Hurtado
The Perfect Candidate (Germany/Saudi Arabia)
Dir: Haifaa Al Mansour
A determined young Saudi doctor’s surprise run for office in the local city elections sweeps up her family and community as they struggle to accept their town’s first female candidate.
Cast: Mila Alzahrani, Dhay, Khalid Abdulrahim, Shafi Al Harthy
Programmed in cooperation with Utah Film Center, which presents the annual Tumbleweeds Film Festival, Utah’s premiere film festival for children and youth. Films that have played in this category in recent years include The Elephant Queen, Science Fair, My Life As A Zucchini, The Eagle Huntress, and Shaun The Sheep.
Dir: Frederike Migom
Twelve-year-old Binti dreams of becoming a famous vlogger like her idol Tatyana. But when the police raid her home, and try to deport her and her dad, they are forced to flee. Together with her friend Elias she now plots the perfect plan to stay in the country.
Cast: Bebel Tshiani Baloji, Mo Bakker, Joke Devynck, Baloji, Caroline Stas, Noa Jacobs.
Come Away (UK/USA)
Dir: Brenda Chapman
Before Alice found Wonderland, and Peter became Pan, they were brother and sister. When their brother dies in an accident, they seek to save their parents from downward spirals until finally they’re forced to choose between home and imagination, setting the stage for their iconic journeys into Wonderland and Neverland.
Cast: Angelina Jolie, David Oyelowo, Jordan Nash, Keira Chansa, Reece Yates, Michael Caine
Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made (USA)
Dir: Tom McCarthy
The hilarious exploits of Timmy Failure and his 1,500-pound polar bear partner, Total, as they operate Total Failure, Inc., a Portland detective agency. Based on the book by Stephan Pastis.Cast: Winslow Fegley, Ophelia Lovibond, Wallace Shawn, Craig Robinson, Kyle Bornheimer.