Established and new filmmakers will take a bow at the hybrid 2023 Sundance Film Festival as festival organisers announced 99 features selected from a record number of submissions. There is new work from Holy Spider star Zar Amir Ebrahimi and Cynthia Erivo, We Are Lady Parts creator Nida Manzoor, Nicole Holofcener, Davis Guggenheim, Sophie Bathes and Brandon Cronenberg.
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Anticipated World Cinema Dramatic Competition selections include UK duo Scrapper directed by Charlotte Regan and sold by Charades, and Girl by Adura Onashile. Both were supported through development and production by BBC Film along with Searchlight’s Rye Lane in Premieres.
Animalia is produced by Toufik Ayadi and Christophe Barral, who produced French Oscar submission Saint Omer, while Holy Spider star Zar Amir Ebrahimi plays the lead in Noora Niasari’s Shayda, produced by Cate Blanchett’s Dirty Films and represented for international sales by Hanway Films and UTA Independent Film Group for the US. That is one of a trio of films directed by women of Iranian descent alongside The Persian Version in U.S Dramatic Competition (Maryam Keshavarz) and Joonam in U.S. Documentary Competition (Sierra Urich).
Wild Bunch is selling Heroic produced by Mexican enfant terrible Michel Franco, and CAA Media Finance and Protagonist represent sales on Alice Englert’s New Zealand drama Bad Behaviour starring Jennifer Connelly, Ben Whishaw and Englert – one of a number of films in this year’s selection that address the parent-child relationship.
From Midnight comes Australian drama Run Rabbit Run starring Succession’s Sarah Snook from first time feature director Daina Reid, whose TV directing credits include The Handmaid’s Tale. Meanwhile Manzoor’s Polite Society is the action comedy from Focus Features, Working Title and Parkville Pictures. Neon holds North American rights to Brandon Cronenberg’s long-awaited Infinity Pool, and Shudder brings its original film birth/rebirth.
A24 has US distribution rights and is selling international rights to US Dramatic Competition selection All Dirt Roads Taste Of Salt, produced by Barry Jenkins, with whom the studio collaborated on best picture Oscar winner Moonlight. Meanwhile Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions holds international rights to another film in the section, Maryam Keshavarz’s The Persian Version, which UTA Independent Film Group represents for the US. Focus has producer Lena Waithe’s A Thousand And One.
The US Documentary Competition titles that are already spoken for are Little Richard: I Am Everything at CNN Films for US broadcast and corporate sibling HBO Max for global streaming, and Victim/Suspect at Netflix.
The Premieres section of more ostensibly commercial films brings the latest from Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) – Apple Original Films’ documentary Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie – as well as Nicole Holofcener’s (Enough Said, Friends With Money) You Hurt My Feelings starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, which A24 has for the US and FilmNation licenses internationally. It is one of two features in the section produced by Likely Story (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind) alongside Eileen, William Oldroyd’s film starring Thomasin McKenzie and Anne Hathaway (pictured).
The Amazon-MGM axis holds rights to several films in the section. Prime Video has Cassandro starring Gael Garcia Bernal as the “Liberace of Lucha Libre” and Judy Blume Forever, while MGM has Landscape With Invisible Hand starring Tiffany Haddish and directed by Cory Finley, whose Thoroughbreds premiered at 2017 Sundance. The director’s 2019 crime comedy Bad Education went to HBO and he also directed episodes on the Apple show We Crashed.
A number of films produced by and involving European powerhouses are in selection. Susanna Fogel’s Cat Person (Fra-USA) starring Emilia Jones is fully financed by Studiocanal, which will directly distribute in the UK, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand and is selling worldwide.
Drift marks the first feature from Paradise City, the company co-founded by Memento International founder Emilie Georges and producer Naima Abed. Anthony Chen (2013 Cannes Camera d’Or winner Ilo Ilo) directs the refugee story set in Greece starring Cynthia Erivo and Alia Shawkat. UTA Independent Film Group and Memento International jointly represent sales.
Mk2 is selling The Pod Generation from Sophie Barthes (Cold Souls, Madame Bovary) and The Match Factory handles sales on World Cinema Dramatic Competition entry Sorcery, one of two films produced by the Larrain brothers’ Chilean powerhouse Fabula alongside World Cinema Documentary Competition entry The Eternal Memory.
Two features from Ukraine take their place in World Cinema Documentary Competition and examine the process of journalism and investigation. Mstyslav Chernov’s 20 Days In Mariupol, which PBS will broadcast in the US, follows a team of Ukrainian journalists trapped in the besieged city as the Russian invasion commences. Roman Liubyi’s Iron Butterflies charts the investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014.
The festival will run January 19-29 2023 in person – for the first time back since 2020 before the pandemic brought in-person events to a screeching halt – in Park City, Salt Lake City, and the Sundance Resort.
A selection of films will be available online across the country from January 24–29. They include all Competition titles (U.S. Dramatic, U.S. Documentary, World Cinema Dramatic, World Cinema Documentary, and NEXT), as well as work across other sections of the feature film program, Indie Episodic Program, and Shorts Program. The Shorts and Indie Episodic line-ups Festival will be announced on December 13.
The Pod Generation, screening in the Premieres section, is the winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, the annual award given to an artist with the most outstanding depiction of science and technology in a feature film. The 2023 Sundance Film Festival’s Salt Lake City Opening Night Gala Film is Blueback.
The Day One features are birth/rebirth, L’Immensità, It’s Only Life After All, Kim’s Video, Little Richard: I Am Everything, The Longest Goodbye, The Pod Generation, Radical, Shayda, Sometimes I Think About Dying, and Run Rabbit Run.
“The programme for this year’s festival reiterates the relevancy of trailblazing work serving as an irreplaceable source for original stories that resonate and fuel creativity and dialogue,” said Kim Yutani, Sundance Film Festival director of programming. “In so many ways this year’s slate reflects the voices of communities around the world who are speaking out with urgency and finally being heard. Across our programme, impactful storytelling by fearless artists continues to provide space for the community to come together to be entertained, challenged, and inspired.”
The full slate of 99 films announced on Wednesday, along with the previously announced From The Collection films Slam and The Doom Generation, comprise 101 feature-length films representing 23 countries. Culled from record 15,855 submissions, including a record 4,061 feature-length films, 32 films mark feature directing debuts.
Thirty-two (or 28%) of 115 feature film directors across 27 films are first-time feature filmmakers – 16 made fiction films and 16 made documentaries. Of the first-time feature directors 20 identified as women (13 documentaries, seven fiction films), rising to 23 including three filmmakers who identified as non-binary and go by she/her (resulting in a total of 14 documentary directors and nine fiction film directors).
Seventeen of the feature films and projects announced were supported by Sundance Institute in development through direct granting or residency labs.
All synopses below are provided by the festival. Films without an indicated country hail from the US. All films are world premieres unless indicated otherwise.
U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include Nanny, CODA, Passing, Minari, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, The Farewell, Clemency, Eighth Grade, and Sorry To Bother You.
The Accidental Getaway Driver
Dir. Sing J. Lee, Screenwriter
During a routine pick-up, an elderly Vietnamese cab driver is taken hostage at gunpoint by three recently escaped Orange County convicts. Based on a true story. Producers include Basil Iwanyk and Kimberly Steward.
Cast: Hiệp Trần Nghĩa, Dustin Nguyen, Dali Benssalah, Phi Vũ, Gabrielle Chan.
All Dirt Roads Taste Of Salt
Dir. Raven Jackson
A decades-spanning exploration of a woman’s life in Mississippi and an ode to the generations of people, places, and ineffable moments that shape us.
Cast: Charleen McClure, Moses Ingram, Kaylee Nicole Johnson, Reginald Helms Jr., Sheila Atim, Chris Chalk.
Dir. Chloe Domont
An unexpected promotion at a cutthroat hedge fund pushes a young couple’s relationship to the brink, threatening to unravel far more than their recent engagement.
Cast: Phoebe Dynevor, Alden Ehrenreich, Eddie Marsan.
Dir. Erica Tremblay
Following her sister’s disappearance, a Native American hustler kidnaps her niece from the child’s white grandparents and sets out for the state powwow in hopes of keeping what is left of their family intact.
Cast: Lily Gladstone, Isabel Deroy-Olson, Ryan Begay, Shea Whigham, Audrey Wasilewski.
Dir. Elijah Bynum
An amateur bodybuilder struggles to find human connection as his relentless drive for recognition pushes him to the brink.
Cast: Jonathan Majors, Haley Bennett, Taylour Paige, Mike O’Hearn, Harrison Page, Harriet Sansom Harris.
Dir. Vuk Lungulov-Klotz
Over the course of a single hectic day in New York City, three people from Feña’s past are thrust back into his life. Having lost touch since transitioning from female to male, he navigates the new dynamics of old relationships while tackling the day-to-day challenges of living life in between.
Cast: Lío Mehiel, Cole Doman, MiMi Ryder, Alejandro Goic.
The Persian Version
Dir. Maryam Keshavarz
When a large Iranian-American family gathers for the patriarch’s heart transplant, a family secret is uncovered that catapults the estranged mother and daughter into an exploration of the past. Toggling between the United States and Iran over decades, mother and daughter discover they are more alike than they know. Producers include Anne Carey, Ben Howe, Luca Borghese, and Peter Block. Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions holds international rights and UTA Independent Film Group represents US rights.
Cast: Layla Mohammadi, Niousha Noor, Kamand Shafieisabet, Bella Warda, Bijan Daneshmand, Shervin Alenabi.
Dir. Randall Park,
Following Ben, Miko, and Alice as they navigate a range of interpersonal relationships and traverse the country in search of the ideal connection.
Cast: Justin H. Min, Sherry Cola, Ally Maki, Debby Ryan, Tavi Gevinson, Sonoya Mizuno. Eric d’Arbeloff is among the producers.
Sometimes I Think About Dying
Dir. Rachel Lambert
Fran likes to think about dying. It brings sensation to her quiet life. When she makes the new guy at work laugh, it leads to more: a date, a slice of pie, a conversation, a spark. The only thing standing in their way is Fran herself.
Cast: Daisy Ridley, Dave Merheje, Parvesh Cheena, Marcia DeBonis, Meg Stalter, Brittany O’Grady.
The Starling Girl
Dir. Laurel Akira Parmet
Seventeen-year-old Jem Starling struggles with her place within her Christian fundamentalist community, but everything changes when her magnetic youth pastor Owen returns to their church.
Cast: Eliza Scanlen, Lewis Pullman, Jimmi Simpson, Wrenn Schmidt, Austin Abrams, Jessamine Burgum.
Dirs. Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman
When the beloved founder of a run-down theatre camp in upstate New York falls into a coma, the eccentric staff must band together with the founder’s crypto-bro son to keep the camp afloat. The producer roster includes Will Ferrell.
Cast: Molly Gordon, Ben Platt, Noah Galvin, Jimmy Tatro, Patti Harrison, Ayo Edebiri.
A Thousand And One
Dir. A.V. Rockwell
Convinced it’s one last, necessary crime on the path to redemption, unapologetic and free-spirited Inez kidnaps six-year-old Terry from the foster care system. Holding on to their secret and each other, mother and son set out to reclaim their sense of home, identity, and stability in New York City. Lina Waithe, Eddie Vaisman and Brad Weston are among the producers. Focus Features will distribute in the US on March 31 2023 and Universal Pictures International will distribute across international territories.
Cast: Teyana Taylor, Will Catlett, Josiah Cross, Aven Courtney, Aaron Kingsley Adetola.
U.S. Documentary Competition
Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include Fire of Love, Summer Of Soul, Boys State, Crip Camp, American Factory, Three Identical Strangers, and On Her Shoulders.
AUM: The Cult At The End Of The World
Dirs. Ben Braun, Chiaki Yanagimoto
On the morning of March 20, 1995, a deadly nerve gas attack in the Tokyo subway sent the nation and its people into chaos. This exploration of Aum Shinrikyo, the cult responsible for the attack, involves the participation of those who lived through the horror as it unfolded.
Dirs. Rebecca Landsberry-Baker, Joe Peeler
When the Muscogee Nation suddenly begins censoring its free press, a rogue reporter fights to expose her government’s corruption in a historic battle that will have ramifications for all of Indian country. Available online.
The Disappearance Of Shere Hite
Dir. Nicole Newnham
Shere Hite’s 1976 bestselling book, The Hite Report, liberated the female orgasm by revealing the most private experiences of thousands of anonymous survey respondents. Her findings rocked the American establishment and presaged current conversations about gender, sexuality, and bodily autonomy. So how did Shere Hite disappear?
Going To Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project
Dirs. Joe Brewster, Michèle Stephenson
Intimate vérité, archival footage, and visually innovative treatments of poetry take us on a journey through the dreamscape of legendary poet Nikki Giovanni as she reflects on her life and legacy.
Going Varsity In Mariachi
Dirs: Alejandra Vasquez, Sam Osborn
In the competitive world of high school mariachi, the musicians from the South Texas borderlands reign supreme. Under the guidance of coach Abel Acuña, the teenage captains of Edinburg North High School’s acclaimed team must turn a shoestring budget and diverse crew of inexperienced musicians into state champions.
Dir. Sierra Urich
Spurred by a provocative family memory and a lifetime of separation from the country her mother left behind, a young filmmaker delves into her mother and grandmother’s complicated pasts and her own fractured Iranian identity.
Little Richard: I Am Everything
Dir. Lisa Cortés
This celebration of Little Richard reveals the Black queer origins of rock ’n’ roll, finally exploding the whitewashed canon of American pop music. Through archival and performance footage, the revolutionary icon’s life unspools with all of its switchbacks and contradictions.
Nam June Paik: Moon Is The Oldest TV
Dir. Amanda Kim
The quixotic journey of Nam June Paik, one of the most famous Asian artists of the 20th century, who revolutionized the use of technology as an artistic canvas and prophesied both the fascist tendencies and intercultural understanding that would arise from the interconnected metaverse of today’s world.
A Still Small Voice
Dir. Luke Lorentzen
An aspiring hospital chaplain begins a yearlong residency in spiritual care, only to discover that to successfully tend to her patients, she must look deep within herself.
Dirs. Kristen Lovell, Zackary Drucker
The history of New York’s Meatpacking District, told from the perspective of transgender sex workers who lived and worked there. Filmmaker Kristen Lovell, who walked “The Stroll” for a decade, reunites her community to recount the violence, policing, homelessness, and gentrification they overcame to build a movement for transgender rights.
Dir. Nancy Schwartzman
Investigative journalist Rae de Leon travels nationwide to uncover and examine a shocking pattern: Young women tell the police they’ve been sexually assaulted, but instead of finding justice, they’re charged with the crime of making a false report, arrested, and even imprisoned by the system they believed would protect them.
World Cinema Dramatic Competition
Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include Brian and Charles, Hive, Luzzu, The Souvenir, The Guilty, Monos, Yardie, The Nile Hilton Incident, and Second Mother.
Dir. Sofia Alaoui
A young, pregnant woman finds emancipation as aliens land in Morocco.
Cast: Oumaïma Barid, Mehdi Dehbi, Fouad Oughaou.
Bad Behaviour (NZ)
Dir. Alice Englert
Lucy, a former child actor, seeks enlightenment at a retreat led by spiritual leader Elon while she navigates her close yet turbulent relationship with her stunt-performer daughter, Dylan.
Cast: Jennifer Connelly, Ben Whishaw, Alice Englert, Ana Scotney, Dasha Nekrasova, Marlon Williams.
Dir. Adura Onashile
Eleven-year-old Ama and her mother, Grace, take solace in the gentle but isolated world they obsessively create. Ama’s growing up threatens the boundaries of their tenderness and forces Grace to reckon with a past she struggles to forget.
Cast: Déborah Lukumuena, Danny Sapani, Le’Shantey Bonsu, Liana Turner.
Dir. David Zonana
Luis, an 18-year-old boy with Indigenous roots, enters the Heroic Military College in hopes of ensuring a better future. There, he encounters a rigid and institutionally violent system designed to turn him into a perfect soldier. Mexican filmmaker Michel Franco is among the producers.
Cast: Santiago Sandoval Carbajal, Fernando Cuautle, Mónica del Carmen, Esteban Caicedo, Carlos Gerardo García, Isabel Yudice.
Dir. Patricia Ortega
With the help of her newly emigrated daughter, a religious grandmother learns how to use the internet. However, an accidental encounter with pornography poses a dilemma for her.
Cast: Kiti Mánver.
Mami Wata (Nigeria)
Dir. C.J. “Fiery” Obasi
When the harmony in a village is threatened by outside elements, two sisters must fight to save their people and restore the glory of a mermaid goddess to the land.
Cast: Evelyne Ily, Uzoamaka Aniunoh, Kelechi Udegbe, Emeka Amakeze, Rita Edochie, Tough Bone.
La Pecera (PR-Spa)
Dir. Glorimar Marrero Sánchez
As her cancer spreads, Noelia’s ultimate decision is to return to her native Vieques, Puerto Rico, and claim her freedom to decide her own fate. She reunites with her friends and family, who are still dealing with the contamination of the U.S. Navy after sixty years of military practices.
Cast: Isel Rodríguez, Modesto Lacén, Magali Carrasquillo, Maximiliano Rivas, Anamín Santiago, Idenisse Salamán.
Dir. Charlotte Regan
Georgie is a dreamy 12-year-old girl who lives happily alone in her London flat, filling it with magic. Out of nowhere, her estranged father turns up and forces her to confront reality.
Cast: Harris Dickinson, Lola Campbell, Alin Uzun, Ambreen Razia, Olivia Brady, Aylin Tezel.
Dir. Noora Niasari
Shayda, a brave Iranian mother, finds refuge in an Australian women’s shelter with her 6-year-old daughter. Over Persian New Year, they take solace in Nowruz rituals and new beginnings, but when her estranged husband re-enters their lives, Shayda’s path to freedom is jeopardised.
Cast: Zar Amir Ebrahimi, Osamah Sami, Leah Purcell, Jillian Nguyen, Mojean Aria, Selina Zahednia, Rina Mousavi. Cate Blanchett is an executive producer through her Dirty Films.
Dir. Marija Kavtaradze
Dancer Elena and sign language interpreter Dovydas meet and form a beautiful bond. As they dive into a new relationship, they must navigate how to build their own kind of intimacy.
Cast: Greta Grinevičiūtė, Kęstutis Cicėnas.
Dir. Christopher Murray
Produced by Chile’s Fabula, the story takes place on the remote island of Chiloé in the late 19th century, an Indigenous girl named Rosa lives and works with her father on a farm. When the foreman brutally turns on Rosa’s father, she sets out for justice, seeking help from the king of a powerful organization of sorcerers.
Cast: Valentina Véliz, Daniel Antivilo, Sebastian Hulk, Daniel Muñoz.
When It Melts (Bel)
Dir. Veerle Baetens
Many years after a sweltering summer that spun out of control, Eva returns to the village she grew up in with an ice block in the back of her car. In the dead of winter, she confronts her past and faces up to her tormentors.
Cast: Charlotte De Bruyne, Rosa Marchant.
World Cinema Documentary Competition
Documentaries that premiered in this category in recent years include All That Breathes, Flee, Honeyland, Sea Of Shadows, Shirkers, This Is Home, Last Men In Aleppo, and Hooligan Sparrow.
5 Seasons Of Revolution (Ger-Syr-Neth-Nor)
An aspiring video journalist in her 20s finds herself already facing self-reckoning. Born in Damascus, Syria, Lina starts to report on the events around her until she is compelled to become a war reporter and, later, the unexpected narrator of her own destiny.
20 Days In Mariupol (Ukr)
Dir. Mstyslav Chernov
As the Russian invasion begins, a team of Ukrainian journalists trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol struggle to continue their work documenting the war’s atrocities.
Against The Tide (Ind)
Dir. Sarvnik Kaur
Two friends, both Indigenous fishermen, are driven to desperation by a dying sea. Their friendship begins to fracture as they take very different paths to provide for their struggling families.
The Eternal Memory (Chil)
Dir. Maite Alberdi
Augusto and Paulina have been together for 25 years. Eight years ago, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Both fear the day he no longer recognises her. Produced by Chile’s Fabula.
Fantastic Machine (Swe-Den)
Dirs. Axel Danielson, Maximilien Van Aertryck
From the first camera to 45billion cameras worldwide today, the visual sociologist filmmakers widen their lens to expose both humanity’s unique obsession with the camera’s image and the social consequences that lay ahead.
Iron Butterflies (Ukr-Ger)
Dir. Roman Liubyi
In summer 2014, sunflower fields and coal mines in eastern Ukraine turned into a 12 square kilometer crime scene. A multi-layered investigation into the downing of flight MH17, in which a butterfly-shaped shrapnel was found in the pilot’s body, implicated the state responsible for a war crime that remains unpunished.
Is There Anybody Out There? (UK)
Dir. Ella Glendining
While navigating daily discrimination, a filmmaker who inhabits and loves her unusual body searches the world for another person like her, and explores what it takes to love oneself fiercely despite the pervasiveness of ableism.
The Longest Goodbye (Isr-Can)
Dir. Ido Mizrahy
Social isolation affects millions of people, even Mars-bound astronauts. A savvy NASA psychologist is tasked with protecting these daring explorers.
Dir. Milisuthando Bongela
Set in past, present, and future South Africa — an invitation into a poetic, memory-driven exploration of love, intimacy, race, and belonging by the filmmaker, who grew up during apartheid but didn’t know it was happening until it was over.
Dir. Jakub Piątek
Young pianists take part in the legendary International Chopin Piano Competition. A unique chance of a lifetime, portrayed from backstage and set to Chopin’s music.
Smoke Sauna Sisterhood (Est-Fra-Ice)
Dir. Anna Hints
In the darkness of a smoke sauna, women share their innermost secrets and intimate experiences, washing off the shame trapped in their bodies and regaining their strength through a sense of communion.
Twice Colonized (Grnld-Den-Can)
Dir. Lin Alluna
Renowned Inuit lawyer Aaju Peter has long fought for the rights of her people. When her son suddenly dies, Aaju embarks on a journey to reclaim her language and culture after a lifetime of whitewashing and forced assimilation. But can she both change the world and mend her own wounds?
Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include A Love Song, Riotsville, USA, The Infiltrators, Searching, Skate Kitchen, A Ghost Story, and Tangerine. NEXT is presented by Adobe.
Dir. Walé Oyéjidé
A Burkinabé boy flees his village and migrates to Italy. When disillusioned by heartbreak and haunted by memories of home, he travels through time in hope of regaining all he has lost.
Cast: Alain Tiendrebeogo, Mousty Mbaye, Noel Minougou, Aissata Deme, Afissatou Coulibaly. Fiction.
Dir. Eddie Alcazar
Two mysterious brothers abduct a mogul during his quest for immortality. Meanwhile, a seductive woman helps them launch a journey of self-discovery. Steven Soderbergh is a producer.
Cast: Stephen Dorff, Moises Arias, Jason Genao, Karrueche Tran, Bella Thorne, Scott Bakula. Fiction.
Dir. Babak Jalali
Donya works for a Chinese fortune cookie factory in San Francisco. Formerly a translator for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, she struggles to put her life back in order. In a moment of sudden revelation, she decides to send out a special message in a cookie.
Cast: Anaita Wali Zada, Jeremy Allen White, Gregg Turkington. Fiction.
Dirs. David Redmon, Ashley Sabin
Playing with the forms and tropes of various cinema genres, the filmmaker sets off on a quest to find a legendary lost video collection of 55,000 movies in Sicily. Documentary.
Dir. Elaine McMillion Sheldon
The cultural roots of coal continue to permeate the rituals of daily life in Appalachia even as its economic power wanes. The journey of a coal miner’s daughter exploring the region’s dreams and myths, untangling the pain and beauty, as her community sits on the brink of massive change. Documentary.
Dir. D. Smith
Four Black transgender sex workers explore the dichotomy between the Black community and themselves, while confronting issues long avoided. Documentary.
To Live And Die And Live
Dir. Qasim Basir
Muhammad returns home to Detroit to bury his stepfather and is thrust into settling his accounts, but Muhammad’s struggles with depression and addiction may finish him before he finishes the task. Forest Whitaker is among the producers.
Cast: Amin Joseph, Skye P. Marshall, Omari Hardwick, Cory Hardrict, Dana Gourrier, Maryam Basir. Fiction.
The Tuba Thieves
Dir. Alison O’Daniel
From 2011 to 2013, tubas were stolen from Los Angeles high schools. This is not a story about thieves or missing tubas. Instead, it asks what it means to listen. Documentary.
Young. Wild. Free.
Dir. Thembi L. Banks
High school senior Brandon is drowning in responsibilities when his world is turned upside down after being robbed at gunpoint by the girl of his dreams. MACRO founder Charles D. King and Poppy Hanks are among the producers.
Cast: Algee Smith, Sanaa Lathan, Sierra Capri, Mike Epps. Fiction.
The section encompasses horror, comedy and works that defy genre classification. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include FRESH, Hereditary, Mandy, Relic, Assassination Nation, and The Babadook.
Dir. Laura Moss
A single mother and a childless morgue technician are bound together by their relationship to a little girl they have reanimated from the dead. Cast: Marin Ireland, Judy Reyes, A.J. Lister, Breeda Wool. Fiction.
In My Mother’s Skin (Phil)
Dir. Kenneth Dagatan
Stranded in the Philippines during World War II, a young girl finds that her duty to protect her dying mother is complicated by her misplaced trust in a beguiling, flesh-eating fairy.
Cast: Beauty Gonzalez, Felicity Kyle Napuli, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, James Mavie Estrella, Angeli Bayani. Fiction.
Infinity Pool (Can)
Dir. Brandon Cronenberg
James and Em are enjoying an all-inclusive beach vacation when a fatal accident exposes the resort’s perverse subculture of hedonistic tourism, reckless violence, and surreal horrors.
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman. Fiction.
My Animal (Can)
Dir. Jacqueline Castel
Heather, an outcast teenage goalie in a small northern town, falls for newcomer Jonny, an alluring but tormented figure skater. As their relationship deepens, Heather’s growing desires clash with her darkest secret, forcing her to control the animal within.
Cast: Bobbi Salvör Menuez, Amandla Stenberg, Stephen McHattie, Heidi von Palleske, Cory Lipman, Joe Apollonio. Fiction.
Onyx The Fortuitous And The Talisman Of Souls
Dir. Andrew Bowser
Onyx joins a group of fellow occultists to attend a dark ritual at the mansion of their idol, Bartok. Suspecting Bartok’s nefarious intentions, Onyx is suddenly immersed in a world of monsters, mystery, and mayhem.
Cast: Andrew Bowser, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Jeffrey Combs, Ralph Ineson, Rivkah Reyes, T.C. Carson. Fiction.
Polite Society (UK)
Dir. Nida Manzoor
The Working Title action comedy centres on aspiring martial artist Ria Khan. who believes she must save her older sister, Lena, from her impending marriage. With the help of her friends, Ria attempts to pull off the most ambitious of all wedding heists in the name of independence and sisterhood.
Cast: Priya Kansara, Ritu Arya, Nimra Bucha, Akshay Khanna, Seraphina Beh, Ella Bruccoleri. Fiction.
Run Rabbit Run (Aust)
Dir. Daina Reid
As a fertility doctor, Sarah has a firm understanding of the cycle of life. However, when she is forced to make sense of the increasingly strange behavior of her young daughter, Sarah must challenge her own beliefs and confront a ghost from her past.
Cast: Sarah Snook, Lily LaTorre, Damon Herriman, Greta Scacchi. Fiction.
Talk To Me (Aust)
Dirs. Danny Philippou, Michael Philippou
When a group of friends discover how to conjure spirits using an ancient embalmed hand, they become hooked on the new thrill. Until one of them goes too far and opens the door to the spirit world.
Cast: Sophie Wilde, Miranda Otto, Alexandra Jensen, Joe Bird, Zoe Terakes, Otis Dhanji. Fiction.
Fiction films that have screened in Premieres in prior editions include Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, Promising Young Woman, Kajillionaire,The Report, Late Night, and The Big Sick. Past documentary films include The Dissident, Lucy and Desi, On The Record, and Miss Americana.
Dir. Roger Ross Williams
Saúl Armendáriz, a gay amateur wrestler from El Paso, rises to international stardom after he creates the character Cassandro, the “Liberace of Lucha Libre.” In the process, he upends not just the macho wrestling world, but also his own life.
Cast: Gael García Bernal, Roberta Colindrez, Perla De La Rosa, Joaquín Cosío, Raúl Castillo. Fiction.
Cat Person (Fra-USA)
Dir. Susanna Fogel
College student Margot meets 33-year-old Robert at the movie theater where she works. After a casual flirtation at the concession stand, they carry on conversations through texts. As their perceptions of each other collide, events spiral out of control. Based on The New Yorker short story by Kristen Roupenian.
Cast: Emilia Jones, Nicholas Braun, Geraldine Viswanathan, Hope Davis, Fred Melamed, Isabella Rossellini. Fiction.
Dir. Matthieu Rytz
The fate of the planet’s last untouched wilderness, the deep ocean, is under threat as a secretive organization is about to allow massive extraction of seabed metals to address the world’s energy crisis. Narrated by Jason Momoa. Documentary.
The Deepest Breath (UK-Ire)
Dir. Laura McGann
A champion freediver and expert safety diver seemed destined for one another despite the different paths they took to meet at the pinnacle of the freediving world. A look at the thrilling rewards — and inescapable risks — of chasing dreams through the depths of the ocean. John Battsek is among the producers. Documentary.
Dir. Anthony Chen
Jacqueline, a young refugee, lands alone and penniless on a Greek island where she tries to survive, then to cope with her past. While gathering her strength, she begins a friendship with a rootless tour guide and together they find the resilience to forge ahead.
Cast: Cynthia Erivo, Alia Shawkat, Ibrahima Ba, Honor Swinton Byrne, Zainab Jah, Suzy Bemba. Fiction.
Dir. William Oldroyd
Set during a bitter 1964 Massachusetts winter, young secretary Eileen becomes enchanted by the glamorous new counselor at the prison where she works. Their budding friendship takes a twisted turn when Rebecca reveals a dark secret — throwing Eileen onto a sinister path. Based on Ottessa Moshfegh’s award-winning novel. Produced by Likely Story.
Cast: Thomasin McKenzie, Anne Hathaway, Shea Whigham, Marin Ireland, Owen Teague. Fiction.
Dir. Andrew Durham
Set against the backdrop of San Francisco’s vibrant cultural scene in the 1970s and ’80s, chronicling a father-daughter relationship as it evolves from an era of bohemian decadence to the heartbreaking AIDS crisis. Based on the best-selling memoir Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father by Alysia Abbott. Sofia Coppola is among the producers.
Cast: Scoot McNairy, Emilia Jones, Geena Davis, Cody Fern, Adam Lambert, Maria Bakalova. Fiction.
Food And Country
Dir. Laura Gabbert
America’s policy of producing cheap food at all costs has long hobbled small independent farmers, ranchers, and chefs. Worried for their survival, trailblazing food writer Ruth Reichl reaches out across political and social divides to uncover the country’s broken food system and the innovators risking it all to transform it. Documentary.
Dirs. Bethann Hardison, Frédéric Tcheng
Fashion revolutionary Bethann Hardison looks back on her journey as a pioneering Black model, modeling agent, and activist, shining a light on an untold chapter in the fight for racial diversity. Documentary.
It’s Only Life After All
Dir. Alexandria Bombach
Blending 40 years of home movies, film archives, and intimate present-day vérité, a poignant reflection from Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of iconic folk rock duo Indigo Girls. A timely look into the obstacles, activism, and life lessons of two queer friends who never expected to make it big. Documentary.
Dir. Justin Chon
A father-son relationship is put to the test when an up-and-coming rapper at the crossroads of his career decides to let go of his manager, who is also his father. This decision forces them to confront the past and figure out what they want of each other.
Cast: Brian Imanuel, Yayu A.W. Unru, Kate Lyn Sheil, Henry Ian Cusick, Anthony Kiedis. Fiction.
Judy Blume Forever
Dirs. Davina Pardo, Leah Wolchok
The radical honesty of the books by young adult fiction pioneer Judy Blume changed the way millions of readers understood themselves, their sexuality, and what it meant to grow up, but also led to critical battles against book banning and censorship. A Prime Video documentary.
Landscape With Invisible Hand
Dir. Cory Finley
Produced by Plan B, the film takes place after Earth is taken over by aliens who control the economy, forcing a pair of teenagers come up with a plan to save their family.
Cast: Tiffany Haddish, Asante Blackk, Kylie Rogers, Josh Hamilton, Michael Gandolfini, William Jackson Harper. Fiction.
A Little Prayer
Dir. Angus MacLachlan
In the South, a man tests the limits of patriarchal interference to protect his daughter-in-law when he discovers that his son is having an affair.
Cast: David Strathairn, Jane Levy, Celia Weston, Will Pullen, Anna Camp, Dascha Polanco. Fiction.
Murder In Big Horn
Dirs. Razelle Benally, Matthew Galkin
The deaths of a group of Native American women in rural Montana are the focus as Native families, journalists, and local law enforcement reveal a violent crisis set in motion almost 200 years ago. Documentary.
Dir. Ira Sachs
An intimate examination of attraction and emotional abuse between men and women. Producers include Saïd Ben Saïd.
Cast: Franz Rogowski, Ben Whishaw, Adèle Exarchopoulos. Fiction.
Dir. Tracy Droz Tragos
A hidden grassroots organization doggedly fights to expand access to abortion pills across the United States keeping hope alive during a global pandemic and the fall of Roe v. Wade. Documentary.
The Pod Generation (Bel-Fra-UK)
Dir. Sophie Barthes
In a not-so-distant future, amid a society madly in love with technology, tech giant Pegazus offers couples the opportunity to share their pregnancies via detachable artificial wombs or pods. And so begins Rachel and Alvy’s wild ride to parenthood in this brave new world.
Cast: Emilia Clarke, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rosalie Craig, Vinette Robinson, Jean-Marc Barr. Fiction.
Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields
Dir. Lana Wilson
A galvanising look at actor, model, and icon Brooke Shields as she transforms from sexualized young girl to a woman discovering her power. Holding a mirror up to a society that objectifies women and girls, her story shows the perils and triumphs of gaining agency in a hostile world. Documentary.
Dir. Christopher Zalla
In a Mexican border town plagued by neglect, corruption, and violence, a frustrated teacher tries a radical new method to break through his students’ apathy and unlock their curiosity, their potential… and maybe even their genius. Based on a true story.
Cast: Eugenio Derbez, Daniel Haddad, Jenifer Trejo, Mia Fernanda Solis, Danilo Guardiola. Fiction.
Rotting In The Sun
Dir. Sebastian Silva
After filmmaker Sebastian Silva goes missing in Mexico City, social media celebrity Jordan Firstman begins searching for him, suspecting that the cleaning lady in Sebastian’s building may have something to do with his disappearance.
Cast: Jordan Firstman, Catalina Saavedra, Sebastian Silva. Fiction.
Rye Lane (UK)
Dir. Raine Allen-Miller
Two twenty-somethings reeling from bad breakups deal with their nightmare exes and connect over the course of an eventful day in South London.
Cast: David Jonsson, Vivian Oparah. Fiction.
Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie
Dir. Davis Guggenheim
The improbable tale of a short kid from a Canadian army base who became the darling of 1980s Hollywood — only to find the course of his life altered by a stunning diagnosis. What happens when an incurable optimist confronts an incurable disease? Documentary.
You Hurt My Feelings
Dir. Nicole Holofcener
A novelist’s longstanding marriage is suddenly upended when she overhears her husband giving his honest reaction to her latest book. Produced by Likely Story.
Cast: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tobias Menzies, Michaela Watkins, Owen Teague, Arian Moayed. Fiction.
New Frontier Films
New Frontier is currently being reimagined. This year offers a line-up of experimental films at the intersection of film, art, performance, and media technology.
A Common Sequence
Dirs. Mary Helena Clark, Mike Gibisser
An interconnected look at tradition, colonialism, property, faith, and science, as seen through labor practices that link an endangered salamander, mass-produced apples, and the evolving fields of genomics and machine learning. Documentary.
Dir. Fox Maxy
An embodied rumination of both male and female power, healing and haunting, all within an apocalyptic world. A transformation that courses through unknown terror to untamed collective joy.
Cast: Michel Sayegh, Ruth Fish, Sergio Mejia, Littlebear Sanchez, No’aash Iswut Peltier, Suavitel Paper. Fiction.
Last Things (USA-Port-Fra)
Dir. Deborah Stratman
Evolution and extinction from the point of view of rocks. A humid take on minerals, where sci-fi meets sci-fact. The geo-biosphere is a place of evolutionary possibility, where humans disappear but life endures. Documentary.
Sundance’s tribute to the cinema its programmers loved from 2022. Films that have played in this category in recent years include The Worst Person In tTe World, The Biggest Little Farm, Birds Of Passage, The Rider, Ida, and The Lobster.
The Eight Mountains (Ita-Bel)
Dirs. Felix van Groeningen, Charlotte Vandermeersch
Pietro spends his childhood summers in the same secluded Italian mountain village where Bruno was raised, in which they form a decades-long friendship. Over the years, their paths diverge as Bruno remains faithful to the mountain while Pietro comes and goes from the city. Cast: Luca Marinelli, Alessandro Borghi, Filippo Timi, Elena Lietti. Fiction.
Dir. Emanuele Crialese
Clara has relocated to Rome with Felice and their three children. From their new apartment, Clara sees a city in transition: an old society washed away by an emerging middle class. The paint is fresh, the appliances are new, but expectations around family, desire, and gender remain traditional as ever.
Cast: Penélope Cruz, Vincenzo Amato, Luana Giuliani, Patrizio Francioni, Maria Chiara Gorett, Penelope Nieto Conti. Fiction.
North American Premiere
Dir. Saim Sadiq
As the Ranas, a happily patriarchal joint family, yearn for the birth of a baby boy to continue the family line, their youngest son secretly joins an erotic dance theater and falls for an ambitious trans starlet. Their impossible love story illuminates the entire family’s desire for a sexual rebellion.
Cast: Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gilani, Sania Saeed, Salmaan Peerzada. Fiction.
Other People’s Children (Fra)
Dir. Rebecca Zlotowski
Rachel is 40 years old with no children. She loves her life: her high school students, her friends, her guitar lessons. When she falls in love with Ali, she becomes attached to Leila, his 4-year-old daughter. She loves her like her own, but to love other people’s children is risky.
Cast: Virginie Efira, Roschdy Zem, Chiara Mastroianni, Callie Ferreira-Goncalves, Yamée Couture, Michel Zlotowski. Fiction.
Squaring The Circle (The Story Of Hipgnosis, UK)
Dir. Anton Corbijn
An inside look at the studio responsible for some of the most iconic and recognizable album covers of all time. From Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon to Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy, the studio ruled the ’70s. Documentary. Available online.
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.
Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out
Dir. Jake Van Wagoner
Itsy is new in town and her life seems over until she meets her space-obsessed neighbor Calvin, who believes his parents were abducted by aliens. An aspiring journalist, Itsy decides to write an exposé on Calvin but ends up discovering much more.
Cast: Emma Tremblay, Jacob Buster, Will Forte, Elizabeth Mitchell, Kenneth Cummins, Matt Biedel. Fiction.
The Amazing Maurice (Ger-UK)
Dir. Toby Genkel
A streetwise cat and his gang of rats who come up with a perfect money-making scheme. Based on the novel The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett.
Cast: Hugh Laurie, Emilia Clarke, Himesh Patel, Gemma Arterton. Fiction.
North American premiere.
Dir. Robert Connolly
An intimate mother-daughter relationship is forged by the women’s keen desire to protect the inhabitants of the pristine blue oceans on the Australian coast where they live. Adapted from Tim Winton’s bestselling and critically acclaimed novella.
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Eric Bana, Radha Mitchell, Ilsa Fogg, Liz Alexander, Ariel Donoghue. Fiction.
SALT LAKE CITY OPENING NIGHT GALA FILM