Mark your calendars for the largest independent film festival in America; the Sundance Film Festival is coming back to Utah January 21st-31st and here are some movies to look out for.
Mirroring the continuing wave of 90’s nostalgia in pop culture, this week’s Sundance Film Festival features the return of several New York indie pioneers who first made their mark during the 90’s. Whit Stillman, Todd Solondz, Spike Lee, and former Focus Features CEO, James Schamus (who makes his highly anticipated directorial debut Indignation), are all premiering films at the festival.
The 90’s film icons are proving such a draw that the Friday night Kick Off Party they are co-hosting at the Stella Artois Filmmaker Lounge was already at capacity four days out and the list closed before the festival even began. Invites to the party mimicked the Vanity Fair Oscar Party with guests being invited to different time slots. The venue’s entrance address is only being revealed once guests are confirmed on the list. Rumor has it, Whit Stillman will be taking over DJ duties and providing the music for those lucky enough to have gained entry.
Below is a list of films we are most excited for this festival!
Produced by James Franco and directed by Andrew Neel, this drama centers on Nick Jonas’ character going through brutal greek life hazing rituals. The interesting fact is Jonas’ character pledges the same fraternity as his brother. Whether the film will delve into the deeper and darker tendencies of the cruel actions towards pledges or fall flat with rough visuals and queer baiting is yet to be known.
- Yoga Hosers
Directed by Kevin Smith and starring young actresses Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp, the film is a spin-off of Tusk, a horror comedy. The two young girls are yoga enthusiasts who work in a convenience store and end up teaming up with a legendary man-hunter, played by the director himself, to battle evil.
- Swiss Army Men
This wild drama combines the talents of writer/directors Daniel Scheinert, Daniel Kwan and actors Paul Dano. The survivalist drama depicts the story of a man forming a strange bond to the dead body he finds in the wilderness. This is the feature length debut for the directors, but buzz around the film is growing due to the established brand of the two men. Coming from the music video world, both are being praised as visionaries who continue their saga as unorthodox storytellers with this film.
Bringing her feature debut to Utah, award-winning short films creator Sian Heder adapts her previous Cannes-nominated work “Mother” into a longer narrative. Starring Ellen Paige and Allison Janney and based on the director’s personal experiences with babysitting in a Beverley Hills hotel, this film explores concepts like motherhood, femininity, possession, and so much more. Plus a small Juno reunion is always welcomed.
- The Birth of a Nation
Directed by, written by, and starring Nate Parker comes the depiction of Nat Turner’s 1831 slave rebellion throughout Virginian plantations. Not only is this the actor’s first feature length debut but also his sharp insight shows in the jab taken by adopting the title of D.W. Griffith’s racist film. Joining him in the movie will be Armie Hammer, Gabrielle Union, and Aja Naomi King.
A true vision of female power, actors Jena Malone and Riley Keough work with director So Yong Kim to bring a tale about young girls in love but come with complications due to their relationships with men. The actresses are known for their roles in famous actions movies such as Hunger Games and Mad Max: Fury Road and the director is praised for her previous Sundance work.
- We Are X
The Japanese film has been garnering lots of buzz as it documents the tumultuous history of Japaense glam-metal music legends X. The documentary follows them through their career and the ups and downs they face bringing them to their headlining gig at Madison Square Garden.
- The Fits
At first the seemingly innocent film follows the tale of a tomboy boxer joining the dance team but then takes a serious turn when all the members begin shaking uncontrollably. Director Anna Rose Holmer weaves together a tale about the health related dangers a dance troupe faces using her own personal experience with mass hysteria.
- Dark Night
Tim Sutton returns to the film festival to deliver another hard hitting film, but because of its topic. The “Memphis” director brings to the festival the tale of the aftermath of the Colorado movie theater shootings. Though the topic may seem controversial, especially with the symbolic title revolving around the movie playing during the shooting The Dark Knight Rises, the director claims the film is more dream like than it is controversial.
What seems to be the most buzzed about film of the festival line up so far comes the tale of Christine Chubbuck, the young news reporter who ended her life publicly on TV in the 1970s. Director Antonio Campos was never known for shying away from dark topics and hopes to show the woman’s psyche to audiences with the acting talents of Rebecca Hall. It’s already being claimed the strongest and most provocative film and even faces competition from another documentary style film encompassing the same topic.