Category Archives: Sundance

Sundance Institute Names 2020 January Screenwriters Lab Fellows

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Writer/Directors from China, South Africa, U.S. and U.K.

(FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE) Los Angeles, CA — Fifteen screenwriters will convene to advance their independent projects at Sundance Institute’s January Screenwriters Lab, taking place at the Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah, from January 17-22, 2020. At the Lab, the screenwriters will immerse themselves in a rigorous and holistic creative process, working to further develop their scripts with the mentorship of accomplished Creative Advisors.

The January Screenwriters Lab has been created and organized under the leadership of Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program Founding Director Michelle Satter and Deputy Director Ilyse McKimmie. The team of Creative Advisors includes Artistic Director Scott Frank, Michael Arndt, Suha Arraf, Ritesh Batra, Andrea Berloff, D.V. DeVincentis, Gonzalo Maza, Doug McGrath, Walter Mosley, Nicole Perlman, Howard Rodman, Susan Shilliday, Zach Sklar, Dana Stevens, Joan Tewkesbury, Bill Wheeler, and Tyger Williams.

 

Michelle Satter
Michelle Satter

“We’re so excited to welcome this singular and bold group of artists to our January Screenwriters Lab,” said Satter. “Our program provides a safe and protected space for writers to be rigorous in their creative process as they develop new work that’s a true reflection of their unique voice and power as storytellers. Our Labs are the beginning of a long-term commitment to these writer/directors, who we will continue to advance with a robust, ongoing suite of customized support.”

 

Current award-winning films supported by the Feature Film Program (FFP) Labs include Lulu Wang’s The Farewell, Laure de Clermont Tonnere’s The Mustang, and Joe Talbot’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco. Ten films supported by the Feature Film Program will premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. In U.S. Dramatic Competition, those films include The 40-Year-Old Version, written and directed by Radha Blank; Farewell Amor, written and directed by Ekwa Msangi; Miss Juneteenth, written and directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples; Nine Days, written and directed by Edson Oda; and Save Yourselves!, co-written and co-directed by Alex Huston Fischer and Eleanor Wilson. The World Cinema Dramatic Competition includes the FFP-supported films Cuties, written and directed by Maïmouna Doucouré, and Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness, written and directed by Massoud Bakhshi. In addition, the Midnight section features His House, written and directed by Remi Weekes; the NEXT section includes The Mountains Are a Dream That Call to Me, written and directed by Cedric Cheung-Lau; and Wendy, co-written by Benh and Eliza Zeitlin and directed by Benh Zeitlin, will screen in the Premieres section.

Alumni writer/directors with new films premiering at the Festival include Miranda July, Sean Durkin, Rodrigo Garcia, Sara Colangelo, Braden King, Eliza Hittman, Julie Taymor and Dee Rees.

The projects and fellows selected for the 2020 January Screenwriters Lab are:

Aftersun (United Kingdom/U.S.A.)
Charlotte Wells (writer/director)
A young father and his 11-year-old daughter have impossible expectations of themselves and each other on a week’s holiday at a resort in the Mediterranean, forcing them to confront the disconnect between who they are as a family and who they are apart.

Charlotte “Charlie” Wells is a Scottish filmmaker based in New York. Her first short film, Tuesday, was nominated for a London Critics’ Circle Award, two BAFTA Scotland New Talent Awards, and won special mention at the Glasgow Short Film Festival. Her second short film, Laps, won awards at the Sundance Film Festival and SXSW, screened online as a Vimeo Staff Pick Premiere, and was featured on Short of the Week, Topic, and Nowness. Wells’ most recent short, Blue Christmas, premiered at TIFF, screened at the Sundance Film Festival, and won awards at festivals in the US and UK. She is a graduate of the MBA/MFA dual-degree program at NYU and was featured in Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 Faces of Independent Film” 2018.

Birth/Rebirth (U.S.A.)
Laura Moss (co-writer/director) and Brendan O’Brien (co-writer)
In this all-female reimagining of the Frankenstein story, a grieving maternity nurse and an obsessive morgue technician are unexpectedly bound together in a quest to successfully re-animate a deceased child.

Laura Moss is a filmmaker from New York City whose work has screened at MoMA, Tribeca, Rotterdam and SXSW. She was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2017 and her short film, Fry Day, which is currently available on the Criterion Channel, premiered at SXSW in 2017. Her latest project, the pilot of the sci-fi/comedy series neurotica, starring Karen Gillan and Jon Bass, premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival and won Best Director for a Comedy Pilot at Seriesfest.

Brendan O’Brien is a writer and producer whose films have screened at SXSW, Rotterdam, Tribeca and Clermont-Ferrand. His work has been included in the London Review of Books and the Zombie Movie Encyclopedia.

Chalino (U.S.A.)
Jesus Celaya (writer)
Chalino tells the true story of Chalino Sanchez, the originator of the narcocorrido, who immigrated from Sinaloa to Los Angeles in the early 1990s and started a musical revolution with his songs about the lives of Mexican outlaws. Recipient of the Sundance Institute Latinx Fellowship.

Jesus Celaya is a Mexican American genre writer raised between the mountains of Washington State and the deserts of Sonora, Mexico. He finally settled in Los Angeles for film school, where he now resides. Celaya comes from a storytelling family born of a storytelling culture, marrying his love of history and folklore with his passion for cinema.
Chink (U.S.A.)
Bing Liu (writer/director)
An Asian American teen raised in a volatile household wrestles with complex familial relationships while carving his own path toward independence and self-worth. Recipient of the Sundance Institute Asian American Fellowship.

Bing Liu is a Chicago-based filmmaker best known for the Academy Award and Emmy-nominated documentary Minding the Gap, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win a Peabody Award. He directed three storylines on America To Me, a 10-hour series from Steve James that examines racial inequities in the U.S. education system. Liu is a 2017 Film Independent Fellow, a Garrett Scott Development Grant recipient, and graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is in post-production on his second feature documentary, following two young men and their mentors transforming lives in two Chicago neighborhoods affected by gun violence.

Frybread Face and Me (U.S.A.)
Billy Luther (writer/director)
Two adolescent Navajo cousins from different worlds bond during a summer herding sheep on their grandmother’s ranch in Arizona, as they learn about their family’s past and themselves.

Billy Luther (Navajo, Hopi and Laguna Pueblo) is the director/producer of the award-winning documentary, Miss Navajo, which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and aired nationally on PBS’ Independent Lens that same year. His second documentary featureGRAB premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and aired nationally on Public Television that same year. His latest short documentary film Red Lake had its world premiere at the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival and was nominated for Best Documentary Short at the 2016 International Documentary Association Awards.  In 2018, he launched his web-series alter-NATIVE for PBS’ IndieLens StoryCast.

Luna Likes (U.S.A.)
Danya Jimenez (co-writer) and Hannah McMechan (co-writer)
Luna Ramirez, a melodramatic Mexican teen, is Anthony Bourdain’s biggest fan, and she knows it is her destiny to become the next great culinary/travel documentarian extraordinaire! The only issue: Luna is undocumented, and her family doesn’t understand or support a career they see as fraught with risk. Recipient of the Sundance Institute | Comedy Central Comedy Fellowship.

Danya Jimenez
Hannah McMechan

Danya Jimenez is a Mexican American writer who learned English by repeating everything Lizzie McGuire said. Hannah McMechan was raised in a small tourist town beneath Yosemite National Park before moving to LA to pursue her dream of fulfilling that cliché. Together, their first pilot earned them a place in the 2017 Black List x Women in Film Episodic Television Lab. Since then, they have co-written and co-directed the 2018 Black List Release Video, punched up movies for Universal and Disney, and made The 2019 LatinX List for their feature, Luna Likes. Currently, the two are working on an upcoming Sony feature and writing on the Disney Channel show Gabby Duran & The Unsittables.

Magnolia Bloom (U.S.A.)
Phillip Youmans (writer/director)
Young, black community organizers with bonds thicker than blood strive for self-governance in 1970 New Orleans.

Phillip Youmans is a filmmaker from the 7th Ward of New Orleans. At 19, he became the youngest and first African American director to win the Founder’s Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival for his feature-length debut, Burning Cane, which he wrote, directed, shot, and edited during his final years of high school. Distributed by Ava Duvernay’s ARRAY Releasing, Burning Cane opened in select theaters and on Netflix in fall of 2019, and Youmans was nominated for a Gotham Award for Breakthrough Director for his work on the film.

Nanny (U.S.A.)
Nikyatu (writer/director)
Aisha is an undocumented nanny in New York City,  caring for the privileged child of an Upper East Side family. As she prepares for the arrival of the child she left behind in her native country, a violent presence rattles her reality, jeopardizing the American Dream she has so carefully constructed.

Sierra Leonean American filmmaker Nikyatu’s films have screened at film festivals nationally and internationally. With a BA from Duke University and an MFA from NYU’s Tisch Graduate Film School, she has earned numerous awards including NYU’s Spike Lee Fellowship Award, the Princess Grace Narrative film grant and Director’s Guild of America Honorable Mentions. Her short film Suicide By Sunlight screened at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

Sisyphus (China)
Xixi Wang (writer/director)
Based on true events, a single mother fights to uncover the truth after her son dies in a subway station in China. Over the course of the investigation, she confronts an impenetrable bureaucracy but also rediscovers herself.

Xixi Wang, a Chinese writer and director, graduated from Beijing Film Academy with a B.A. in Screenwriting and received an MFA in Directing from Columbia University. She is currently teaching in the Department of Screenwriting and Film Studies at Beijing Film Academy.

The Spirit Guest (South Africa)
Fanyana Hlabangane (writer/director)
Estranged brothers Tito and Kgabane struggle to make a life on the fringes of Johannesburg. During a mercilessly dry winter, their dead mother suddenly arrives in the flesh, bringing childhood pain to the surface and forcing the brothers to confront the trauma that pulled them apart.

Screenwriter, director, and photographer Fanyana Hlabangane was born and raised in Alexandra, Johannesburg’s oldest township. Having written episodic content professionally for Mnet, Africa’s main Pay TV channel, his shorts have also screened at numerous international film festivals such as Durban and Shnit. He developed his debut feature script The Spirit Guest through Realness, and producer Mmabatho Kau will attend 2020 IFFR PRO with the project. Hlabangane’s photographic work was also recently exhibited at the 12th Recontres de Bamako (2019), Africa’s most significant photo biennale.

Tiger Girl (U.S.A.)
Andrew Thomas Huang (writer/director)
Set in 1966 Los Angeles, Tiger Girl is a coming of age fantasy about a repressed Chinese American teenage girl haunted by a tiger lurking in her attic. When pressured by her immigrant mother’s rigid social expectations, the girl must learn that the beast upstairs is the tiger within that will set her free.

With a background in fine art, visual effects, animation and puppetry, Andrew Thomas Huang is a visual artist and filmmaker whose collaborators include Björk, FKA twigs and Thom Yorke among others. Huang served as creative director for the immersive traveling VR exhibit Bjork Digital and his work has been shown at The Museum of Contemporary Art, NYC, the Sydney Opera House and The Museum of Contemporary Art, LA. Huang is an IFP filmmaker, a Cinereach fellow, a participant in the Film Independent Screenwriters & Directors Labs, and a recipient of the K Period Media Grant. His most recent narrative short Kiss of the Rabbit God premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.

Welcome (United Kingdom)
Nadia Latif (co-writer/director) and Omar El-Khairy (co-writer)
Documentarian Melissa feels compelled to invite Tarek, a Yemeni asylum-seeker and the subject of her latest film, into her London home. As Tarek brings the outside world crashing into these close quarters, it is Melissa’s trauma that begins to surface in unexpected and terrifying ways.

Nadia Latif is a theatre maker and film director, originally from Sudan. She has worked at theatres including the Almeida, Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal Court. She was Associate Director of the Young Vic from 2018-2020, where she most recently directed the sold out production of the Pulitzer-prize winning Fairview. Her first short film, White Girl, written by Omar El Khairy, was produced with BFI support, is currently in festivals, and was nominated for Best Short at the 2019 London Film Festival.

Omar El-Khairy is a former Leverhulme Associate Playwright at the Bush Theatre and an alumnus of The Old Vic 12. His plays include Burst, Sour Lips, The Keepers of Infinite Space, The Chaplain: or, a short tale of how we learned to love good Muslims whilst torturing bad ones, Homegrown and The Mob Reformers. His first short film, No Exit, received its world premiere at the Dubai International Film Festival 2014. White Girl, his latest short, supported by BFI NETWORK, premiered in competition for the Short Film Award at the BFI London Film Festival 2019. He is also co-directing a feature-length documentary with Ana Naomi de Sousa and Hakawati.

In addition to the Lab projects, the Feature Film Program will host Michelle Latimer as an Artist in Residence at the January Screenwriters Lab:

Michelle Latimer is the showrunner and director of the breakout Indigenous resistance series RISE (Viceland), which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and won the 2018 Canadian Screen Award for Best Documentary Series. Her latest film Nuuca (Field of Vision) premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, and screened at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and Berlinale Film Festival. Latimer is currently showrunning and directing a six part scripted series, Trickster, that she co-created and adapted from bestselling author, Eden Robinson’s trilogy Son of a Trickster. She is also completing production on the documentary feature adaptation of Thomas King’s novel Inconvenient Indian (Bell/HBO Canada). Michelle’s Métis/Algonquin heritage informs her filmmaking perspective, and much of her work is dedicated to the pursuit of Indigenous rights and sovereignty.

The Sundance Institute Feature Film Program is supported by explore.org, a direct charitable activity of the Annenberg Foundation; Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation; Maja Kristin; Universal Filmed Entertainment Group; Amazon Studios; Hollywood Foreign Press Association; Karen Lauder; RT Features; Sandra and Malcolm Berman Charitable Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Ray and Dagmar Dolby Family Fund; NHK/NHK Enterprises, Inc.; Comedy Central; John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; SAGindie; Philip Fung—A3 Foundation; Directors Guild of America; Writers Guild of America West; Rosalie Swedlin and Robert Cort; and the Deborah Reinisch and Michael Theodore Fund.

Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Co//ab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from Sundance Advisors and connect with each other in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as The Farewell, Late Night, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Eighth Grade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, RBG, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Top of the Lake, Winter’s Bone, Dear White People, Little Miss Sunshine, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, State of the Union, Indecent, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

sundance_logo

(Source: Sundance press release)

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Sundance Institute Presents: An Artist at the Table Presented by IMDbPro

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, to Receive the Inaugural Vanguard Award for Philanthropy

Evening Featuring the World Premiere of Crip Camp: Tickets on Sale Now Here

(FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE) Park City, UT — Sundance Institute invites champions of independent storytelling to attend An Artist at the Table Presented by IMDbPro, Sundance Institute’s annual fundraising event hosted on the first night of the Sundance Film Festival, Thursday, January 23, 2020, in Park City, Utah. During the celebratory event, Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, will be honored with the Vanguard Award for Philanthropy. Proceeds from the evening will advance Sundance Institute’s mission and programs that discover, support and amplify risk-taking and exciting independent film, media and theatre artists.  In addition to Presenting Sponsor IMDbPro, the event is supported by Lead Sponsor the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation.

The evening will begin with the world premiere of Crip Camp, a documentary detailing the revolution that blossomed in a ramshackle summer camp for disabled teenagers, transforming their young lives and igniting a landmark movement down the road from Woodstock, New York in the early 1970’s. Directed by Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham and produced by Sara Bolder, Jim LeBrecht, and Nicole Newnham, the film will screen in the U.S. Documentary Competition category of the Festival. Crip Camp was developed at Sundance Institute’s 2018 Documentary Edit and Story Lab,  participated in the Institute’s Creative Producing Summit and Catalyst Forum and received a grant from the Institute’s 2017 Sundance Documentary Film Fund.

Following the screening, guests will convene for a celebratory dinner and a brief live program, centered on the creative minds behind some of today’s most exciting new stories in independent film and media and celebrating the Institute’s community of supporters and artists. Each table is hosted by a Sundance Institute artist, allowing guests the unique opportunity to connect directly with Institute alumni and learn more about their artistic paths, works, and experiences. This year’s artists include Ritesh Batra (Photograph), Joe Berlinger (Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile), Catherine Gund (Aggie), Lisa Kron (Fun Home), Dee Rees (The Last Thing He Wanted), Junaid Sarieddeen (36 Abbas Street, Haifa), Nanfu Wang (One Child Nation), Benh Zeitlin (Wendy), and Marina Zenovich (Lance), with more to be confirmed.

The evening will also feature Sundance Institute’s inaugural Vanguard Award for Philanthropy, which honors innovation, originality, and independent spirit as demonstrated over an exemplary career in philanthropy and social impact. This year’s honoree, Darren Walker, has helmed transformational initiatives like the Art for Justice Fund, demonstrated a commitment to diversifying leadership in museums and cultural institutions, and redesigned the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice. His tenure at the Ford Foundation has inspired many, provided long-lasting career stability for hundreds of artists, and created space for a more just and equitable arts landscape in the United States and around the world.

Darren Walker
Darren Walker

“On behalf of my colleagues at the Ford Foundation, I am honored to receive the Vanguard Award for Philanthropy from Sundance Institute,” said Walker. “The projects and artists supported by Sundance have helped shape public discourse on some of the most pressing social issues of our time. As a society, we can, and should, do more to support our artists as leaders in the community.”

 

putnam-1
Keri Putnam

“The opening night of the Sundance Film Festival is a perfect occasion to celebrate the incredible artists, audiences and supporters who together fuel the creative community of Sundance Institute – dedicated to independent voices, risk-taking art, and stories that seek truth and forge connections,” said Keri Putnam, CEO of Sundance Institute. “As a visionary leader in the philanthropic space, Darren and his inspiring work embody the spirit of Sundance Institute and we are pleased to honor him with the Vanguard Award for Philanthropy.”

While this is the first special iteration of the Vanguard to honor a philanthropist, Sundance Institute has previously presented the Vanguard Leadership Award to established filmmakers and the Vanguard Emerging Award to new independent storytellers. Previous winners of the Vanguard Award include Lulu Wang, Boots Riley, Marielle Heller, Benh Zeitlin, Ryan Coogler, Damien Chazelle, and Dee Rees; winners of the Vanguard Leadership Award include Quentin Tarantino, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Glenn Close, and Roger Ebert.

Tickets and packages are available here

Screen Shot 2019-12-16 at 7.28.39 PM

Sundance Institute

Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Sorry to Bother You, Eighth Grade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, RBG, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Top of the Lake, Winter’s Bone, Dear White People, Brooklyn, Little Miss Sunshine, 20 Feet From Stardom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, I’m Poppy, America to Me, Leimert Park, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Sundance Film Festival 2020

NEW FRONTIER LINEUP ANNOUNCED 2020 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

Posted by Larry Gleeson

32 Projects from 21 Countries, Across Multiple New Venues

 

New frontiers 2020
Enter a captionSolastalgia, photo by Marine Bigourie; Hypha, courtesy of Sundance Institute; Anti-Gone, courtesy of Sundance Institute; Dance Trail, courtesy of Sundance Institute; The Book of Distance, courtesy of Sundance Institute; Spaced Out, courtesy of Sundance Institute.

(FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE) Park City, UT — Sundance Institute spotlights work at the dynamic crossroads of film, art and technology with the New Frontier selections for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, announced today. This curated collection of cutting-edge independent and experimental media works are by creators who are pushing artistic innovation across mediums that include rocket travel, biotech, facial recognition, mixed reality (MR), smartphone AR, underwater VR, game engines, big data, AI, the human archive, and innovative uses of SMS text & iPhone video capture. Programmers assembled a global slate of work from a mix of invitations and submissions to an open call for work earlier this year.

The 2020 edition of New Frontier returns to two dedicated venue spaces: New Frontier at The Ray and New Frontier Central, each of which host a variety of media installations, a VR Cinema, and panel discussions. New this year, New Frontier Central also houses the Biodigital Theatre, a cutting-edge presentation space that will feature a rotating schedule of large scale VR theatrical works including a feature-length livestream game telecast. Once again, New Frontier Central will feature lounge space for credential holders to meet and relax before and after experiencing the New Frontier program. New Frontier also breaks out into the wild with satellite projects in the pool at Festival Headquarters, AR dances to be discovered in various locations around Park City, and a nationwide “fugitive newscast” accessed at various sites around the festival, as well as at 11 art house theatres across the U.S., including The Belcourt Theatre (Nashville, Tenn.); Cinema Detroit; The Loft Cinema (Tucson, Arizona); Michigan Theater (Ann Arbor, Michigan); The Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, Texas), Nitehawk Cinema (Brooklyn, New York), Northwest Film Forum (Seattle, Washington), O Cinema (Miami, Florida), Parkway Theatre (Baltimore, Maryland), The State Theatre (Ann Arbor, Michigan) and Texas Theatre (Dallas, Texas).

robert redford
Robert Redford, President and Founder of Sundance Institute (Photo by: Larry Gleeson)

Robert Redford, President and Founder of Sundance Institute, said, “Technology infuses most aspects of modern life — and is evolving at a historic pace. The New Frontier artists that we showcase are taking completely fresh and thoughtful approaches to how the newest technological formats engage with the ancient art of storytelling.”

Shari Frilot
Shari Frilot, courtesy of Sundance photos

Shari Frilot, Chief Curator, New Frontier, said “Powerful technologies now enable experiences that capture, replicate, and replace “the real.” But it is even more special when the human touch converges with technology, we are provoked to reach beyond what we know to be real and enter into unfamiliar terrain. This transcendence can shift who we believe ourselves to be, where our bodies begin and end, what we are to each other, and who we are ultimately capable of being. The 2020 edition of New Frontier stares down the fear of losing our neighborhoods, and losing ourselves, and reminds us that the future is now — and because the future is now, the future can be ours.”

 

With these additions, the 2020 Sundance Film Festival Program features 241 works, 44% are directed or led by one or more women, 35% were directed or led by one or more artists of color, and 19% by one or more people who identify as LGBTQ+. The 32 projects announced today include work from 21 countries, and 31% are directed or led by one or more women, 44% are directed or led by one or more artists of color, and 31% by one or more people who identify as LGBTQ+. 4 were supported by Sundance Institute in development, whether through direct granting or residency Labs.

New Frontier alumni include Doug Aitken, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Chris Milk, Nonny de la Peña, Pipilotti Rist and Jennifer Steinkamp. The Institute’s support extends well beyond its curated slate of Festival projects, and includes the annual New Frontier Story Lab, which offers mentorship and development opportunities for new media storytellers, and the Future of Culture Initiative, an action plan that includes partnerships with Johns Hopkins University and Stanford University in order to implement key recommendations from a two-year global field scan that analyzed strategies for improving equity and inclusion in emerging media. The Sundance Institute New Frontier Program is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Cindy Harrell Horn and Alan Horn, Dell Technologies, Google Empathy Lab, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Oculus from Facebook, Unity Technologies, The Walt Disney Company, YouTube VR, and Adobe.

In addition to the New Frontier program announced today, films across all categories, including works in the Shorts, Special Events and Indie Episodic sections, have been announced and are listed at sundance.org/festival.

The 2020 Sundance Film Festival New Frontier slate:

FILMS AND PERFORMANCES

BLKNWS / U.S.A. (Director: Kahlil Joseph, Screenwriters: Sheba Anyanwu, Lee Harrison, Darol Kae, Producers: Onye Anyanwu, Kahlil Joseph) — An ongoing art project that blurs the lines between art, journalism, entrepreneurship, and cultural critique, appropriating the newsreel format as an opportunity to reimagine the contemporary cinematic experience, mixing an element of seriousness with a lighthearted twist on what news can be. Cast: Helen Molesworth, Alzo Slade, Amandla Stenberg, Trifari Williams. BLKNWS will also screen at 11 art house theatres around the country.

Infinitely Yours / U.S.A. (Director: Miwa Matreyek) ― A live performance at the intersection of cinema and theater exploring what it means to be living in the Anthropocene and the time of climate crisis. A kaleidoscopic meditation that is an emotionally impactful and embodied illustration of news headlines we see everyday.

A Machine for Viewing / United Kingdom, Australia (Directors: Oscar Raby, Richard Misek, Charlie Shackleton, Producers: Richard Misek, Oscar Raby) ― A unique three-episode hybrid of real-time VR experience, live performance and video essay in which three moving-image makers explore how we now watch films by putting various ‘machines for viewing,’ including cinema and virtual reality, face to face.

małni – towards the ocean, towards the shore / U.S.A. (Director, screenwriter and producer: Sky Hopinka) — An experimental look at the origin of the death myth of the Chinookan people in the Pacific Northwest, following two people as they navigate their own relationships to the spirit world and a place in between life and death. Cast: Jordan Mercier, Sweetwater Sahme. World Premiere

Sandlines, the Story of History / Iraq (Director, screenwriter and producer: Francis Alÿs) — The children of a mountain village near Mosul re-enact a century of Iraqi history, from the secret Sykes-Picot agreement in 1916 to the realm of terror imposed by the Islamic State in 2016. The children revisit their past to understand their present. World Premiere

Vitalina Varela / Portugal (Director and screenwriter: Pedro Costa, Producer: Abel Ribiero Chaves) — Vitalina Varela, a 55-year-old, Cape Verdean, arrives in Lisbon three days after her husband’s funeral. She’s been waiting for her plane ticket for more than 25 years. Cast: Vitalina Varela, Ventura.

EXHIBITIONS

All Kinds of Limbo / United Kingdom (Lead Artists: Toby Coffey, Raffy Bushman, Nubiya Brandon) — The National Theatre of Great Britain’s communal musical journey reflecting the influence of West Indian culture on the UK’s music scene across the genres of reggae, grime, classical, and calypso. Immersive technologies, the ceremony of live performance and the craft of theatrical staging bring audiences into a VR performance space. Cast: Nubiya Brandon.

ANIMALIA SUM / Germany, Brazil, Iceland (Lead Artists: Bianca Kennedy, Felix Kraus) ― I am animals. I eat animals. A duality explored in a virtual reality experience in which insects will be the future’s main food supply.

Anti-Gone / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Theo Triantafyllidis, Key Collaborators: Connor Willumsen, Matthew Doyle) ― In a post-climate change world, environmental catastrophe has become normalized. Cities are sunken, yet the vestiges of late-capitalist culture live on, clinging like barnacles to the ruins of civilization. Spyda and Lynxa are a couple navigating this world, gliding frictionlessly from shopping to movies to psychedelic drugs. Cast: Lindsey Normington, Zana Gankhuyag, Matthew Doyle.

Atomu / France, Kenya, U.S.A., United Kingdom (Lead Artists: Shariffa Ali, Yetunde Dada, Key Collaborators: Antoine Cayrol, Rafael Pavon, Arnaud Colinart, Opeyemi Olukemi, Annick Jakobowicz, Cassie Kinoshi, Toby Coffey, Steve Jelly, Simon Windsor) ― Go inside the cyclical center of a Kikuyu Tribal Myth from Kenya, where man may become woman and woman may become man. Through virtual reality, dance and music, a sacred space is created to explore many versions of yourself. Cast: Cassie Kinoshi, Alexander Whitley, Clément Chériot, Amaury La Burthe.

The Book of Distance / Canada (Lead Artist: Randall Okita, Key Collaborators: David Oppenheim, Sam Javanrouh, Emma Burkeitt, Luke Ruminski) ― In 1935, Yonezo Okita left his home in Hiroshima, Japan for Canada. Then war and racism changed everything. Three generations later his grandson leads us on an interactive pilgrimage through an emotional geography of immigration and family to recover what was lost.

Breathe / Sweden, Canada, U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Diego Galafassi, Key Collaborators: Jess Engel, Myriam Achard, Stephen Mangiat)  — A mixed-reality application that uses body movement and breathing to immerse participants in the story of air. Recast the ordinary experience of breathing as an immediate, direct link to a complex living world. We are alive to a planet that is alive to us.

Chomsky vs. Chomsky: First Encounter / Canada, Germany (Lead Artist: Sandra Rodriguez, Key Collaborators: Michael Burk, Cindy Bisho, Johannes Helberger) ― A prologue to a timely conversation on AI’s biggest promises and pitfalls. Lured by the possibility of emulating one of today’s most famous minds, we meet and engage with CHOMSKY_AI, an entity under construction, evolving from the arsenal of digital traces professor Noam Chomsky has left behind. Cast: Sandra Rodriguez, Michael Burk, Cindy Bishop, Johannes Helberger, Moov.AI.

Dance Trail / Switzerland (Lead Artists: Gilles Jobin, Camilo De Martino, Tristan Siodlak, Susana Panades Diaz, Key Collaborators: Laurent Rime, Léo Thiémard) ― A dance piece in augmented reality enabling users to invite virtual dancers into our world. Site-specific and mobile, the app allows to see dance sequences outdoor and indoor during the Festival. Users can place dancers anywhere in the world and share snapshots and videos. Cast: Susana Panadés Diaz, Victoria Chiu, Maelle Deral, Diya Naidu, Tidiani N’diaye, Gilles Jobin.

The Electronic Diaries of Lynn Hershman Leeson / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Lynn Hershman Leeson) ― In 1984, after teaching herself how to use a video camera, Lynn Hershman Leeson sat down in front of it and began to talk and for 40 years developed a sly, profound and raw confessional mediated expression for an unknown audience that led towards personal evolution and survival. Cast: Lynn Hershman Leeson, Dr. George Church, Eleanor Coppola, Dr. Caleb Webber, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, Dr. Anthony Atala.

Hypha / Chile (Lead Artist: Natalia Cabrera, Key Collaborators: Sebastian Gonzalez, Juan Ferrer) ― An immersive virtual reality journey to heal the Earth–by becoming a mushroom. Experience the life cycle of a fungus, and comprehend the importance of the fungi kingdom, Earth’s main bioremediation agent. Cast: Trinidad Piriz.

Living Distance / China, U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Xin Liu, Key Collaborators: Qinya (Jenny) Guo, Gershon Dublon, Reese Donohue) ― A fantasy and a mission, in which a wisdom tooth is sent to outer space and back down to Earth again. Carried by a crystalline robotic sculpture called EBIFA, the tooth becomes a newborn entity in outer space and tells the story of a person in this universe.

Metamorphic / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Matthew Niederhauser, Wesley Allsbrook, Eli Zananiri, John Fitzgerald, Key Collaborators: Tim Fain, Siyuan Qiu) In this social VR experience, the body becomes a vehicle for expression within majestically drawn worlds. Participants explore the radical possibility of effortless transformation as movement and play alter appearances and surroundings.

My Trip / United Kingdom (Lead Artist: Bjarne Melgaard) ― Simulating the experience of a DMT trip, this work draws on new psychedelia, black metal music and internet paranoia to question existential concerns such as procreation and overpopulation. A virtual retrospective, travel with characters such as Octo and Lightbulb Man through the dark web to unknown realms.

Persuasion Machines / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Karim Amer, Guvenc Ozel, Key Collaborators: Jess Engel, , Geralyn White Dreyfous, Marni Grossman) ― How are your likes, shares, selfies, and devices being used against you? By making the invisible world of data visible, this experience will show you how your digital footprint is shaping your reality.

Scarecrow / Korea (Lead Artists: Jihyun Jung, Sngmoo Lee, Taewan Jeong, Cooper Yoo, Key Collaborators: Chungyean Cho, Sanghun Heo, Yeonjee Kim) ― A user walks into a surreal Sisyphean world of cursed artists to break the spell. Cast: Seongtae Kim, Hyoungjun Kwon, Myungseok Chae, Donggen Shin.

Solastalgia / France (Lead Artists: Antoine Viviani, Pierre-Alain Giraud, Key Collaborators: Gabríela Friðriksdóttir, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Nicolas Becker) A mixed-reality installation set in a mysterious future exploring the surface of a planet that has become uninhabitable. The last generations of humans are living as holograms, repeating the same scenes over and over again. What secret does this strange paradise contain? Cast: Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, Audrey Bonnet, Anne Brochet, Nancy Huston, Arthur Nauzyciel, Corine Sombrun.

Spaced Out / France (Lead Artist: Pyaré, Key Collaborators: Sutu, Mourad Bennacer, Ando Shah, Stephen Greenwood, Atlas Roufas) ― An underwater VR experience transports you aboard a voyage from the Earth to the moon, as well as within, led by the audio conversations of the Apollo 11 mission. Using special underwater VR goggles and a snorkel, the experience becomes a space simulation immersing all of the senses.

Still Here / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Zahra Rasool, Sarah Springer, Key Collaborators: Naima Ramos-Chapman, Carvell Wallace, Viktorija Mickute, Maria Fernanda Lauret) ― An immersive, multimedia installation exploring incarceration, erasure and gentrification through the lens of one woman who returns to Harlem after 15 years in prison. The use of interactive VR and AR technologies brings to life this heartfelt story about the reclaiming of space and identity in a changing black community. Cast: LeAsha Julius, Keith Buxton, Marion Green, James Brown-Orleans, Jeorge Watson, Crystal Arnette.

VR CINEMA

After the Fallout / Switzerland, U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Sam Wolson, Dominic Nahr) — In March 2011, an earthquake caused a tsunami and a meltdown at the Daiichi nuclear power plant. The devastating consequences filled the communities in Fukushima with fear of the intangible and split Japan in a distinct before and after.

Azibuye – The Occupation / South Africa (Lead Artists: Dylan Valley, Caitlin Robinson, Stephen Abbott, Key Collaborators: Ingrid Kopp, Steven Markovitz) ― When Masello and Evan, two homeless black artist/activists, break into an abandoned mansion in an affluent part of Johannesburg, they proclaim their occupation to be an artistic and political act in defiance of inequalities in land ownership in South Africa. Cast: Masello Motana, Evan Abrahamse.

Bembé / Cuba (Lead Artists: Marcos Louit, Patricia Diaz, Key Collaborators: Andy Ruiz, Alain López, Ernesto Collinet) ― Bembé is a Cuban tradition that encompasses elements of both Christianity and the African Yoruba, where the souls of dead slaves come to Earth and family, friends, and neighbors take part in a celebration lasting up to 7 days. Cast: Ernesto Collinet, Kalina Collinet, Katyleidy Collinet.

Flowers & a Switchblade / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Nic Koller, Weston Morgan, Key Collaborators: Candice Lee, Bridget Peck) ― An everyday scene–a real-life conversation in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park–collaged together from hundreds of videos to form a fractured, hyper-stimulating, 360° Cubist world.

Go / Switzerland (Lead Artists: Sandro Zollinger, Roman Vital, Klaus Merz, Key Collaborator: Thomas Gassmann) ― Searching for stability in his life, Peter Thaler sets out on a hike in the Swiss mountains, from which he will never return. An unprecedented symbiosis of literature and virtual reality, telling a story of everyday and final farewells, and opening the door to eternity a tiny crack. Cast: Klaus Merz, Niramy Pathmanathan, Robert Vital, Regula Stüssi.

Hominidae / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Brian Andrews, Key Collaborators: Brian Ferguson, Robert Steel, Kahra Scott-James) ― Against a landscape of X-ray imagery and wild anatomical reimagination, a mother and her children struggle for survival. This experience follows an Arachnid Hominid, an intelligent creature with human and spider physiology, from the birth of her children to her premature death in the teeth of her prey. Cast: Phyllis Griffin, Luis Mora, Emily Weems, Kidjie Boyer, Austin Daly, Oliver Angus.

tx-reverse 360° / Austria, Germany (Lead Artists: Martin Reinhart, Virgil Widrich, Key Collaborator: Siegfried Friedrich) ― What is behind the cinema screen? What if the auditorium dissolves and with it the familiar laws of cinema itself? As reality and cinema collide, viewers are drawn into a vortex where the familiar order of space and time seems to be suspended.

VR Free / Italy (Lead Artist: Milad Tangshir, Key Collaborators: Vito Martinelli, Stefano Sburlati) ― Exploring the nature of incarceration spaces by portraying slices of life inside a prison in Turin, Italy. The film also captures the reaction of several inmates during brief encounters with immersive videos of life outside of prison. Cast: Michele Romano, Albert Asllanaj, Cristian De Bonis.

NEW FRONTIER SHORTS

E-Ticket / Hong Kong, U.S.A. (Director: Simon Liu) — A frantic (re)cataloguing of a personal archive and 16,000 splices in the making. 35mm frames are obsessively rearranged in evolving-disorienting patterns, as a Dante’s Inferno for the streaming age emerges, illustrating freedom of movement for the modern cloud.

Guisado on Sunset / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Terence Nance) — Missed connection regret at that one late-night spot–the kind you keep playing back in your head but not quite ever remembering right, until it starts to look like something else. International Premiere

How Did We Get Here? / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michelle Miles) — A visual exploration of progressive atrophy. A study in how microscopic changes can go unnoticed, but amass over time. Even as these changes become drastic, we sometimes fail to realize anything has happened at all. World Premiere

Meridian / U.S.A., Italy (Director and screenwriter: Calum Walter) — Footage transmitted by the last unit in a fleet of autonomous machines sent to deliver an emergency vaccine. The film follows the machine before its disappearance, tracing a path that seems to stray further and further from its objective.

Narcissister Breast Work / U.S.A. (Director: Narcissister) — Focusing on the exercise by women of their right to bare their breasts in public, Narcissister Breast Work aims to investigate – and expose – how prohibitions on female toplessness are grounded in fear of, and desire to control, the female body. World Premiere

Pattaki / Cuba (Director: Everlane Moraes, Screenwriter: Tatiana Monge Herrera) — In the dense night, when the moon rises, those who live in a monotonous daily life without water are hypnotized by the powers of Yemaya, the goddess of the sea. U.S. Premiere

While I’m Still Breathing (Tandis Que Je Respire Encore) / France (Directors: Laure Giappiconi, Elisa Monteil, La Fille Renne, Screenwriter: Laure Giappiconi) — The blurred portrayal of a young woman as she moves through three steps of her sexuality. North American Premiere

The Sundance Film Festival®
The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Eighth Grade, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Precious, The Cove, Little Miss Sunshine, An Inconvenient Truth, Napoleon Dynamite, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Reservoir Dogs and sex, lies, and videotape. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. 2020 Festival sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire; AT&T; Leadership Sponsors – Adobe, Amazon Studios, DIRECTV, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom Group, Southwest Airlines®, Stella Artois®, WarnerMedia; Sustaining Sponsors – Audible, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Dell Technologies, Fire TV, GEICO, High West Distillery, Hulu, IMDbPro, Lyft, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Variety, The Wall Street Journal. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. Look for the Official Partner seal at their venues at the Festival. sundance.org/festival

Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Co//ab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance Advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as The Farewell, Late Night, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Eighth Grade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, RBG, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Top of the Lake, Winter’s Bone, Dear White People, Little Miss Sunshine, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, State of the Union, Indecent, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Sundance Film Festival 2020

(Source: Sundance news release)

 

 

 

2020 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: Hosts The World Premiere Of Native Narrative Short Little Chief

Posted by Larry Gleeson

(Park City, UT) – December 10, 2019. Little Chief, a narrative short film directed by Indigenous filmmaker Erica Tremblay (Seneca-Cayuga), will hold its world premiere as part of the Shorts Selection at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. The story stars an Indigenous cast, including Lily Gladstone (Certain Women, Billions), and was produced through the Sundance Institute Native Filmmakers Lab last year.

SNEAK PREVIEW

Filmed with quiet resilience and against the bleak landscape of a rural reservation in Oklahoma, Little Chief tells the story of Sharon, an exhausted school teacher struggling to keep her head and her school above water. Her student, Bear, is having a particularly hard time enduring challenges both at home and in the classroom. As she watches Bear unravel, Sharon is ultimately forced to accept her role as an imperfect role model, the unlikely matriarch her community needs. Bear becomes desperate to escape it all, and Sharon is left chasing a little boy who is running to nowhere.

Tremblay
Erica Tremblay

“Building off of my experience growing up in Oklahoma and drawing from the true stories of my mother who is a Native school teacher, Little Chief tells a story of contemporary Native America,” says writer-director Erica Tremblay.  “Within the context of national conversations about race, poverty, and education, Little Chief offers a unique perspective. How do colonized cultures grapple with educating their youth in culturally-aware ways? What are the burdens on the next generation, and how are these children emotionally coping with a grim reality that they neither chose nor control? I hope to provide insight into these questions through this work.” 

Erica Tremblay (Seneca-Cayuga) is a filmmaker and activist currently studying her Indigenous language on the Six Nations reservation in Ontario, Canada. Her work has been featured on PBS, CNN, and IFC. Erica’s films explore topics including restorative justice and issues impacting the two-spirit community. She has worked with many grassroots organizations, including the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center and the Healing Native Hearts Coalition. Erica was recently honored as a 40 Under 40 Native American by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) and was a 2018 Sundance Native Filmmakers Lab Fellow.

Little Chief is screening several times during the festival before Patricia Vidal Delgado’s feature  film La Leyenda Negra. Director Erica Tremblay, producer Kasia Chmielinski, picture editor Robert Grigsby Wilson and production manager Dylan Brodie will be attending each presentation.

5 SCREENINGS:

Monday, January 27, 5:30 p.m.

Egyptian Theatre, Park City, UT

Wednesday, January 29, 8:30 a.m.

The MARC Theatre, Park City, UT

Thursday, January 30, 4:00 p.m.

Holiday Village Cinema 4, Park City, UT

Friday, January 31, 9:00 p.m.

Temple Theatre, Park City, UT

Saturday, February 1, 3:00 p.m.

Broadway Centre Cinema 6, Salt Lake City, UT

 

Starring Lily Gladstone as Sharon, Julian Ballentyne as Bear; Writer, Director, Producer Erica Tremblay; Supervising Producer Sterlin Harjo; Producers Deidre Backs, Kasia Chmielinski; Cinematographer Marshall Stief; Editor Robert Grigsby Wilson.

Sundance Film Festival 2020

(Source: Sundance press release)

 

 

2020 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: INDIE EPISODIC, SHORTS AND SPECIAL EVENTS ANNOUNCED

Posted by Larry Gleeson

8 Episodic Works, 74 Short Films, 9 Special Events Join Festival Slate

Sundance_2020
A Love Song for Latasha, photo by Sophia Nahli Allison; Takoyaki Story, courtesy of Sundance Institute; Little Chief, photo by Marshall Stief; City So Real, photo by Steve James; Awkward Family Photos, photo by Rich Schaefer; Hillary,
courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Park City, UT — Works selected across the Indie Episodic, Shorts and Special Events sections of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival were announced today, underlining Sundance Institute’s commitment to showcasing bold independent storytelling regardless of form, format or length.

Kim Yutani, the Festival’s Director of Programming, said, “Authenticity and independent voices resonate across formats – and that’s evident across the full spectrum of this year’s Indie Episodic and Special Events slates. Defined by distinctive voices and enlightening viewpoints, these are riveting projects that find inspiration in the urgent stories and extraordinary individuals of our times.”

Mike Plante, Senior Programmer, Shorts, said, “With an unprecedented number of 10,397 submissions, we had so many great shorts to choose from. It is thrilling to share so many unique visions and new talents from the burgeoning world of shorts.”

Of the projects announced today, 48% were directed or created by one or more women, 33% were directed or created by one or more filmmaker of color, and 19% by one or more people who identify as LGBTQIA. 7 were supported by Sundance Institute in development, whether through direct granting or Labs.

74 short films will screen at the Festival from 27 countries and chosen from 10,397 submissions – 4,992 from the U.S. and 5,405 international. The Institute’s support for short films extends internationally and year-round, with select Festival shorts presented as a traveling program at seventy-five theaters in the U.S., Canada and Europe each year, and short films and filmmakers taking part in regional Master Classes geared towards supporting emerging shorts-makers in several cities. Among the shorts the Festival has shown in recent years are Fauve, Aziza, Ghosts of Sugar Land, Thunder Road, Whiplash and The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom. The 2020 Sundance Film Festival Short Film program is presented by Southwest Airlines.

INDIE EPISODIC
A dedicated showcase for emerging creators of independently produced episodic content for broadcast, web, and streaming platforms. Past projects that have premiered within this category include Work in Progress, State of the Union, Wu Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men and Quarter Life Poetry.

Awkward Family Photos / U.S.A. (Director: William Kirkley, Executive Producers: Mike Bender, Doug Chernack, William Kirkley, Paris Kassidokostas-Latsis, Terry Dougas, Jean-Luc De Fanti) — A hilarious, odd, and heartfelt exploration of the imperfect family experience. The families behind some of the most viral photos from the archives of AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com tell their unique stories and reunite to recreate their original photos, forcing them to reconcile their past and celebrate their awkwardness. World Premiere

Chemo Brain / Denmark (Director: Kristian Håskjold, Screenwriters: Kristian Håskjold, Johan Wang) — When Oliver is diagnosed with testicular cancer, his life is turned upside down. This lighthearted drama-series depicts the derailment of a young man that is doing everything he can to not lose his friends, his girlfriend, himself, and ultimately his life. Cast: Adam Ild Rohweder, Karoline Brygmann, Jens Jørn Spottag, Mads Reuther, Stephanie Nguyen, Mathilde Passer. International Premiere

City So Real / U.S.A. (Director: Steve James) — An impressionistic mosaic portrait of current-day Chicago which delivers a deep, multifaceted look into the soul of America’s third-largest city, set against the backdrop of its history-making 2019 mayoral campaign. World Premiere

Embrace / U.S.A. (Director: Jessica Sanders, Creators: Kathreen Khavari, Chuck Neal) — Against the backdrop of Oakland California, Iranian-American medical student Kat tries to save her Iranian family by taking on a surprising side hustle. The show is a culturally diverse, quasi-surrealist dramedy that captures the ever-increasing need for human connection and the subsequent commodification of it. Cast: Kathreen Khavari, Eddie Huang, Mitra Jouhari. World Premiere

Hey Lady! / Canada (Directors: Sarah Polley, Adriana Maggs, Will Bowes, Screenwriter: Morris Panych) — A fearlessly off-the-charts rampage of urban vengeance as senior-citizen Lady, along with her friend Rosie, upturns everything in her path–social norms, rules of etiquette, and even the series itself. Cast: Jayne Eastwood, Jackie Richardson. World Premiere

Laetitia / France (Director: Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, Screenwriters: Antoine Lacomblez, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade) — Eighteen-year-old Laetitia has disappeared. Police quickly arrest Tony Meilhon but investigators still can’t find the body. This story follows the repercussions for Laetitia’s family and twin sister Jessica; the police force inner workings and social services; the judicial system and government itself. Based on real events. Cast: Marie Colomb, Sophie Breyer, Yannick Choirat, Sam Karmann, Kevin Azïas, Noam Morgensztern. International Premiere

The Ride / U.S.A. (Director: Linas Phillips, Executive Producers: Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass) — Wayne, a 40-year-old ride share driver and spiritual coach, recently moved back in with his mom and discovers the only thing that gives his life meaning is to help his passengers let go of their negative thoughts, whether they want his help or not. Cast: Linas Phillips, Maria Thayer, Alex Karpovsky, Punkie Johnson, Joslyn Jensen, Timm Sharp. World Premiere

Untitled Pizza Movie / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: David Shapiro) — How do you remember somebody in a disposable world? Weaving an abandoned film about pizza (NYC in the early 90s), a stunning, physical archive (thousands of objects) with a remarkable triple portrait, this series traces three lives over thirty years, three continents, and the faultlines of class, dreams, and memory. World Premiere

SPECIAL EVENTS
One-of-a-kind moments highlighting new independent works that add to the unique Festival experience. Past projects that have played in this category include Lorena, Now Apocalypse, Wild Wild Country and Top of the Lake.

Hillary / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Nanette Burstein) — A portrait of a public woman, interweaving moments from never-before-seen 2016 campaign footage with biographical chapters of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s life. Featuring exclusive interviews with Hillary herself, Bill Clinton, friends, and journalists, an examination of how she became simultaneously one of the most admired and vilified women in the world. World Premiere

LANCE / U.S.A. (Director: Marina Zenovich, Producers: Marina Zenovich, P.G. Morgan) — This deeply personal examination of one of the world’s most controversial figures examines a man who’s both winner and loser, saint and sinner. With unprecedented access to Lance’s world, this psychological portrait is a powerful study of that 21st century phenomenon: the celebrity who falls spectacularly and publicly from grace. World Premiere

Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on the Exorcist / U.S.A., Spain (Director: Alexandre O. Philippe, Producer: Kerry Deignan Roy) — A lyrical and spiritual cinematic essay on The Exorcist, and an exploration of the uncharted depths of William Friedkin’s mind’s eye, the nuances of his filmmaking process, and the mysteries of faith and fate that have shaped his life and filmography. Cast: William Friedkin. North American Premiere

Love Fraud / U.S.A. (Directors: Rachel Grady, Heidi Ewing, Executive Producer: Vinnie Malhotra, Amy Goodman Kass, Rachel Grady, Heidi Ewing) — Bigamy. Identity theft. Fraud. For the last 20 years Richard Scott Smith has used the internet and his dubious charms to prey upon unsuspecting women in search of love–conning them out of their money and dignity. But now his victims ban together and seek sweet revenge. World Premiere

Max Richter’s Sleep / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Natalie Johns) — Following the composer as he navigates an ambitious performance of his acclaimed 8-hour opus. Centering around an open air concert in Los Angeles, alongside footage from Berlin, Sydney and Paris, we are plunged deep into the life and process of both the artist and his creative partner Yulia Mahr. North American Premiere

McMillions / U.S.A. (Directors: James Lee Hernandez, Brian Lazarte, Executive Producers: Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, Archie Gips, James Lee Hernandez, Brian Lazarte) — McMillions is the definitive, real-life account of the McDonald’s Monopoly game scam, which defrauded the American public throughout the 1990s, as told by the “prize winners,” criminals, government officials, and FBI agents, whom eventually took the crime ring down. World Premiere

Siempre, Luis / U.S.A. (Director: John James, Executive Producer: Michael Stolper) — Follow one single-minded immigrant’s improbable journey from Puerto Rico to the halls of power. Witness Luis Miranda’s unflappable idealism as he battles his health, mobilizes the mainland Latinx community, matches wits with his youngest child applying to college and brings Hamilton to his island home, all in twelve months. Cast: Luis Miranda, Lin-Manuel Miranda. World Premiere

The Trade / U.S.A. (Director: Matthew Heineman, Executive Producers: Pagan Harleman, Matthew Heineman, Vinnie Malhotra, Joedan Okun) — A deeply personal and intimate portrait of human smuggling, sex trafficking, and the struggle to survive the migrant cycle between Central America and the United States. World Premiere

We Are Freestyle Love Supreme / U.S.A. (Director: Andrew Fried, Producers: Sarina Roma, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Jill Furman, Jon Steingart, Jenny Steingart) — Follow the 15-year journey of the founding members of the improv hip-hop group Freestyle Love Supreme, as they reflect upon why this show remains such an important piece of their personal, creative, and professional history–from the basement of the Drama Bookshop in NYC to the Broadway stage. Cast: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Anthony Veneziale, Christopher Jackson, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Chris Sullivan. World Premiere

U.S. NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS

Arabian Alien / Saudi Arabia, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Meshal Aljaser) — Saad, a Muslim married man, gets over his depression after a space Alien is introduced into his life. World Premiere

Baldwin Beauty / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Thembi Banks) — Farrah, new to LA, goes on the mobile styling app Get Glam, to find new clients. When she arrives at an appointment, she finds a house of girls pre-gaming for a party and maybe a new crew of friends.

Blocks / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Bridget Moloney) — An existential comedy about the mother of two young children who begins to spontaneously vomit plastic toy blocks. World Premiere.
Buck / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Elegance Bratton, Jovan James) — Caught in the throes of a depressive fugue, young Lynn resorts to debauchery to find joy — only to discover that happiness is a much more complicated proposition. World Premiere

Danny’s Girl / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Emily Wilson) — Danny meets his online girlfriend for the first time, but accidentally discovers her unspeakable possession, which throws their first night together into a dizzying tailspin. World Premiere

Dirty / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Matthew Puccini) — Marco cuts class to spend the afternoon with his boyfriend, Graham. Things do not go as planned. World Premiere

He’s the One / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jessie Kahnweiler) — A girl meets guy and falls head over heels, but a shocking discovery forces her to question everything. A dark comedy about falling in love with the one person you’re supposed to hate. World Premiere

How Did We Get Here? / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michelle Miles) — A visual exploration of progressive atrophy. A study in how microscopic changes can go unnoticed, but amass over time. Even as these changes become drastic, we sometimes fail to realize anything has happened at all. World Premiere

Lance (in a Neck Brace) / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Chloé Aktas) — After a devastating breakup, Lance listens to instructional cassette tapes on how to heal his broken heart. World Premiere.

Little Chief / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Erica Tremblay) — The lives of a Native woman and a troubled young boy intersect over the course of a school day on a reservation in Oklahoma. World Premiere

Meats / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ashley Williams) — A pregnant vegan struggles with her newfound craving for meat. World Premiere

Meridian / U.S.A., Italy (Director and screenwriter: Calum Walter) — Footage transmitted by the last unit in a fleet of autonomous machines is sent to deliver an emergency vaccine. The film follows the machine before its disappearance, tracing a path that seems to stray further and further from its objective.

Pillars / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Haley Elizabeth Anderson) — After seeing a boy she likes before church, Amber sneaks out to the Sunday school bathroom during the service and is given her first kiss. World Premiere

Place / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jason Gudasz) — Wanting a fresh start, Lauren moves into a house with her daughter and new boyfriend–but the spirits of the house have plans to turn them all against each other in very bizarre ways.

Ship: A Visual Poem / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Terrance Daye) — A black boy learns contradicting lessons of manhood and masculinity on the day of his cousin’s funeral.

T / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Keisha Rae Witherspoon) — A film crew follows three grieving participants of Miami’s annual T Ball, where folks assemble to model R.I.P. t-shirts and innovative costumes designed in honor of their dead.

Three Deaths / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jay Dockendorf) — Three strangers confront death in a modern interpretation of a Tolstoy short story. World Premiere

Valerio’s Day Out / Colombia, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michael Arcos) — A young jaguar goes on a killing spree when he escapes from his enclosure at a zoo. After he’s captured, sedated and relocated, he makes a video diary for his significant other, Lula.

INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS

Are You Hungry? / Finland (Director: Teemu Niukkanen, Screenwriter: Antti Toivonen) — A single mother struggles to connect with her adopted teenage son, whom she believes is gay. U.S. Premiere.

Backpedal / Australia (Director and screenwriter: Dani Pearce) — A collage of an American poem, exploring the universality of womanhood.

Bad Hair / Estonia (Director and screenwriter: Oskar Lehemaa) — Insecure and balding Leo has decided to try a mysterious hair growth liquid to fix up his looks. The liquid causes a series of grotesque metamorphoses, as Leo tries to get his bodily changes under control, the evening quickly turn into chaos.

Benevolent Ba / Malaysia, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Diffan Sina Norman) — A devout woman’s lust for virtue thrusts her family into a sacrificial slaughter of biblical proportions. World Premiere

The Devil’s Harmony / United Kingdom (Director: Dylan Holmes Williams, Screenwriters: Dylan Holmes Williams, Jess O’Kane) — A bullied teenage girl leads an a cappella club on a trail of destruction against her high school enemies.

Exam / Iran (Director: Sonia K. Hadad, Screenwriters: Sonia K. Hadad, Farnoosh Samadi) — A teenage girl gets involved in the process of delivering a pack of cocaine to its client, and gets stuck in a weird cycle of occurrences.

Former Cult Member Hears Music For The First Time / Norway, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kristoffer Borgli) — After a woman escapes the captivity of her abusive family, a magazine invites her to a journalistic experiment: to hear music for the first time. World Premiere

I’ll End Up in Jail / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Alexandre Dostie) — A stay-at-home mom gets into a murderous car crash where nobody wants to take the blame. U.S. Premiere

Leave of Absence / Russia (Director and Screenwriter: Anton Sazonov) — In Russia, supressed masculinity has led to a feeling of unfulfillment as men feel that the country rejects them, leading to a drastic decline in male life expectancy. North American Premiere.
No One is Crazy in This Town / Indonesia (Director: Wregas Bhanuteja, Screenwriters: Wregas Bhanuteja, Henricus Pria) ) — The owner of a big hotel orders Marwan and his team to remove mentally ill people from the city streets and cast them away in the forests. North American Premiere

Olla / France, United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Ariane Labed) — Olla has answered an ad on a dating website for Eastern European women. She moves in with Pierre, who lives with his old mother, but nothing goes as expected.

Paola Makes A Wish / Switzerland (Director and screenwriter: Zhannat Alshanova) — On an ordinary day at work, Paola starts to feel that she is missing out something exciting in her life. U.S. Premiere 

Pattaki / Cuba (Director: Everlane Moraes, Screenwriter: Tatiana Monge Herrera) — In the dense night, when the moon rises, those who live in a monotonous daily life without water are hypnotized by the powers of Yemaya, the goddess of the sea. U.S. Premiere

Regret / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Santiago Menghini) — Following the death of his father, a man must survive the manifestations of his inner demons over the course of a dreary night. World Premiere

Sadla / South Africa (Director and screenwriter: Zamo Mkhwanazi) — While going on a simple errand, Nathi’s journey is marked by disturbing interactions with authority. But is he an innocent victim? U.S. Premiere.

So What If The Goats Die / France, Morocco (Director and screenwriter: Sofia Alaoui) — Abdellah, a young shepherd living in the mountains, is forced to brave the snow blocking him in order to get food and save this cattle. Once he gets to the village, he faces a supernatural phenomenon. World Premiere

Song of Clouds / Nepal (Director and screenwriter: Ankit Poudel) — A haunting visual fever dream, and a meditation on the afterlife; the journey to the next world, and what gets left behind among the living. World Premiere

Sticker / Macedonia (Director and screenwriter: Georgi M. Unkovski) — After an unsuccessful attempt to renew his car registration, Dejan falls in a bureaucratic trap that tests his determination to be a responsible father. North American Premiere

A Thousand Sails / Hong Kong (Director and screenwriter: Hing Weng Eric Tsang) — Ren promises to keep a secret for her neighbor’s son–a secret she can share with no one on the island. Her only refuge from sleepless nights is her deceased husband. International Premiere

DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILMS

Abortion Helpline, This Is Lisa / U.S.A. (Directors: Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, Mike Attie) — At a Philadelphia abortion helpline, counselors answer nonstop calls from women who seek to end a pregnancy but can’t afford to. In this documentary we learn how economic stigma and cruel legislation determine who has access to abortion.

All That Perishes at the Edge of Land / Pakistan (Director: Hira Nabi, Screenwriters: Hira Nabi, Qurratulain Hyder) — A ship berthed at Gadani and the shipbreakers coming from all over Pakistan to break it discover that they might have more in common than otherwise imagined when they enter into a conversation.

Bereka / U.S.A., Ethiopia (Director and screenwriter: Nesanet Teshager Abegaze) — A family history archive as told by matriarch Azalu Mekonnen and her granddaughter Samira Hooks. Shot on Super 8 film in Los Angeles and Gondar, Ethiopia, capturing the Ethiopian coffee ceremony and explores migration, memory and rebirth.

Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business / U.S.A. (Director: Christine Turner) — At age 93, there’s no stopping the legendary artist Betye Saar. World Premiere

Broken Orchestra / Canada, U.S.A. (Director: Charlie Tyrell) — The Symphony for a Broken Orchestra project collected hundreds of broken instruments from the Philadelphia public school system, fixed them and then returned them into the hands of students.

Character / U.S.A. (Director: Vera Brunner-Sung) — Actor Mark Metcalf made his reputation in Hollywood playing aggrieved authority figures. Now in his 70s, he takes a look back on his career in this meditation on power, privilege, and the perils of being a “type.” World Premiere

Church and the Fourth Estate / U.S.A. (Director: Brian Knappenberger) — A reporter uncovers a file that reveals a shocking series of child abuse allegations in Idaho’s Boy Scouts, which rattle the community and implicate the Mormon church. The story reveals long-running crimes that threaten to bankrupt the Boy Scouts. World Premiere

The Deepest Hole / U.S.A. (Director: Matt McCormick) — While the space and arms races are Cold War common knowledge, few know about the United States and Soviet Union’s race to dig the deepest hole. This is particularly surprising since Hell may have been inadvertently discovered in the process. World Premiere

Día de la Madre / U.S.A. (Directors: Ashley Brandon, Dennis Höhne) — A band of juveniles embark on a 24-hour spree of breaking into houses and causing a ruckus. World Premiere

Do Not Split / U.S.A., Norway (Director: Anders Hammer) — The story of the 2019 Hong Kong protests, told through a series of demonstrations by local protestors that escalate into conflict when highly armed police appear on the scene. World Premiere

E-Ticket / Hong Kong, U.S.A. (Director: Simon Liu) — A frantic (re)cataloguing of a personal archive and 16,000 splices in the making. 35mm frames are obsessively rearranged in evolving-disorienting patterns, as a Dante’s Inferno for the streaming age emerges, illustrating freedom of movement for the modern cloud.

Guisado on Sunset / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Terence Nance) — Missed connection regret at that one late-night spot–the kind you keep playing back in your head but not quite ever remembering right, until it starts to look like something else. International Premiere

John Was Trying to Contact Aliens / U.S.A. (Director: Matthew Killip) — John Shepherd spent 30 years trying to contact extraterrestrials by broadcasting music millions of miles into space. After giving up the search he makes a different connection here on earth. World Premiere.

Junior Bangers / United Kingdom (Director: Danny Lee) — In England, banger racing isn’t just a sport, but a way of life. Join 11-year-olds Finn and Harley on a cold winter race day in Birmingham. North American Premiere

Lichen / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Lisa Jackson) An otherworldly deep dive into the hidden beauty of lichens, asking what we might learn from them. Ancient and diverse, thriving in adversity, confounding scientists to this day, lichen is a model of emergence. International Premiere

A Love Song for Latasha / U.S.A. (Director: Sophia Nahli Allison) A dreamlike archive in conversation with the past and the present to reimagine a more nuanced narrative of Latasha Harlins by excavating intimate and poetic memories shared by her cousin and best friend.

Narcissister Breast Work / U.S.A. (Director: Narcissister) — Focusing on the exercise by women of their right to bare their breasts in public, this film is an investigation into how prohibitions on female toplessness are grounded in fear of, and desire to control, the female body. World Premiere

Now Is the Time / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Christopher Auchter) — On the 50th anniversary of the first new totem pole raising on British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii in almost a century, we revisit the day that would signal the rebirth of the Haida spirit.

See You Next Time / U.S.A. (Director: Crystal Kayiza) — A window into the intimate moments shared across a nail salon table between a Chinese nail artist and her black client in Brooklyn, NY.

The Shawl / U.S.A. (Director: Sara Kiener) After years of long distance, a pair of big and beautiful boyfriends celebrate their reunion at a Stevie Nicks concert, where they share a brush with magic. World Premiere

The Starr Sisters / U.S.A. (Directors: Beth Einhorn, Bridey Elliott) — Patte and Randa Starr are fun specialists. After overcoming a dark past, these sisters are inseparable. Now in their 70s, they do exactly as they please and their candy drawer is always fully stocked.

While I’m Still Breathing (Tandis Que Je Respire Encore) / France (Directors: Laure Giappiconi, Elisa Monteil, La Fille Renne, Screenwriter: Laure Giappiconi) — The blurred portrayal of a young woman as she moves through three steps of her sexuality. North American Premiere

ANIMATED SHORT FILMS

Daughter / Czech Republic (Director and screenwriter: Daria Kashcheeva) — Should you hide your pain, close yourself inside your inner world, and long for your father’s love? Or should you understand and forgive before it’s too late?

Daytime Noir / U.S.A. (Director: Jeron Braxton, Screenwriters: Jeron Braxton, Jay Ellis, Antonio Maclin) — A mother and son’s journey through the exploitative world of tabloid TV. World Premiere

eadem cutis: the same skin / Germany (Director: Nina Hopf) — “I just want to be seen as who I am today!” John shares his thoughts on identity, body and gender and gives a very personal insight into his life–and an intimate proximity to his body. North American Premiere

Eli / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Nate Milton) — A true story from the realms of high strangeness, magical thinking, and manic delusion.

Farce / Norway (Director and screenwriter: Robin Jensen) — A man, a woman and a meat grinder. Love is messy.

Hot Flash / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Thea Hollatz) — Ace is having a hot flash, and she’s about to go live on local television. How one woman tries to keep her cool when one type of flash leads to another. International Premiere

Hudson Geese / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Bernardo Britto) — A goose remembers his last migration. World Premiere. DAY ONE
Inès / France and Switzerland (Director and screenwriter: Élodie Dermange) — Inès is facing a difficult choice. Tonight, she thinks about the decision she will make. North American Premiere

My Juke-Box / France (Director and screenwriter: Florentine Grelier) — Yesterday, I overheard an old rock ‘n’ roll song that sounded familiar. This is probably the music that we used to listen to on my dad’s mechanical devices–the thousand lives man, the king of the jukebox. International Premiere

No, I Don’t Want to Dance! / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Andrea Vinciguerra) — In these dark times, you may think that every hazard has been identified, but nobody has taken into consideration how dangerous dance can be…

Sh_t Happens / Czech Republic, Slovakia, France (Directors and screenwriters: Michaela Mihalyi, David Štumpf) — The caretaker exhausted by everything, his frustrated wife, and one totally depressed deer. Their mutual despair leads them to absurd events, because… shit happens all the time. U.S. Premiere

Slug Life / United Kingdom (Director and Screenwriter: Sophie Koko Gate) — A day in the life of Tanya, a curious woman who has developed a taste for non human lovers. Her next creation: a giant slug. Can such a perfect creature survive in this gnarly world full of freaks and beefs?

Takoyaki Story / Japan (Director and screenwriter: Sawako Kabuki) — Always attracted to takoyaki–octopus balls, a famous Japanese street food–a girl tries them for the first time and becomes addicted.

Wong Ping’s Fables 2 / Hong Kong (Director and Screenwriter: Ping Wong) — Wong Ping urinates twice before gently pressing your head down with his right foot, giving you a closer look at your own reflection in his urine. 

Wood Child and Hidden Forest Mother / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Stephen Irwin) — Deep in the forest, a hunter encounters a strange creature he cannot kill. World Premiere

 

The Sundance Film Festival®
The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Eighth Grade, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Precious, The Cove, Little Miss Sunshine, An Inconvenient Truth, Napoleon Dynamite, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Reservoir Dogs and sex, lies, and videotape. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. 2020 Festival sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire; AT&T; Leadership Sponsors – Adobe, Amazon Studios, DIRECTV, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom Group, Southwest Airlines®, Stella Artois®, WarnerMedia; Sustaining Sponsors – Audible, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Dell Technologies, Fire TV, GEICO, High West Distillery, Hulu, IMDbPro, Lyft, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Variety, The Wall Street Journal. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. Look for the Official Partner seal at their venues at the Festival. sundance.org/festival

Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Co//ab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance Advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as The Farewell, Late Night, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Eighth Grade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, RBG, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Top of the Lake, Winter’s Bone, Dear White People, Little Miss Sunshine, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, State of the Union, Indecent, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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(Source: Sundance press release)

2020 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: 118 FEATURE FILMS ANNOUNCED

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Drawn From a Record High of 15,100 Submissions Across The Program, Including 3,853 Features, Selected Films Represent 27 Countries

 

Sundance 2020
Once Upon A Time in Venezuela, photo by John Marquez; The Mountains Are a Dream That Call to Me, photo by Jake Magee; Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets, courtesy of Sundance Institute; Beast Beast, photo by Kristian Zuniga; I Carry You With Me, photo by Alejandro López; Ema, courtesy of Sundance Institute.

(For Immediate Release) Park City, UT — The nonprofit Sundance Institute announced today the showcase of new independent feature films selected across all categories for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. The Festival hosts screenings in Park City, Salt Lake City and at Sundance Mountain Resort, from January 23–February 2, 2020. The Sundance Film Festival is Sundance Institute’s flagship public program, widely regarded as the largest American independent film festival and attended by more than 120,000 people and 1,300 accredited press, and powered by more than 2,000 volunteers last year.

Sundance Institute also presents public programs throughout the year and around the world, including Festivals in Hong Kong and London, an international short film tour, an indigenous shorts program, a free summer screening series in Utah, and more. Alongside these public programs, the majority of the nonprofit Institute’s resources support independent artists around the world as they make and develop new work, via Labs, direct grants, fellowships, residencies and other strategic and tactical interventions.

Robert Redford, President and Founder of Sundance Institute, said, “Independent artists create and enrich global culture. Their art, which we’re proud to present, can entertain – and much more: it can, illuminate, agitate, and empower. This year’s Festival is full of films that showcase myriad ways for stories to drive change, across hearts, minds, and societies.”

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, said, “At this year’s Festival, we’ll explore the theme of “imagined futures,” inside the theaters and in the conversations sparked by the work we are presenting. We believe diverse stories from independent artists around the world open us up to new perspectives and possibilities – at a time when fresh thinking and dialogue is urgently needed.”

John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival, said, “The program this year, my last as Director, is a celebration: of art and artists, yes, but also of the community that makes the annual pilgrimage to Park City to see the most exciting new work being made today. Watching this group expand and thrive over the years has been exhilarating and wildly rewarding. Our 2020 Festival’s lively and visionary crop of artists has a contagious passion, and I can’t wait to watch the world meet their work.”

Announced today: 118 feature-length films, representing 27 countries and 44 first-time feature filmmakers. Of the 65 directors in all four competition categories, comprising 56 films, 46% are women, 38% are people of color, and 12% are LGBTQ+. In the U.S. Dramatic Competition, 47% of the directors are women; 53% are people of color; 5% are LGBTQ+. In this year’s U.S. Documentary Competition, 45% are women; 23% are people of color; 23% are LGBTQ+.

44%, or 52, of all films announced today were directed by one or more women; 34%, or 40, were directed by one or more filmmaker of color; 15% or 18 by one or more people who are LGBTQ+. 23 films announced today were supported by Sundance Institute in development, whether through direct granting or residency Labs. 107 of the Festival’s feature films, or 91% of the lineup announced today, will be world premieres.

These films were selected from a record high of 15,100 submissions including 3,853 feature-length films. Of the feature film submissions, 1,698 were from the U.S. and 2,155 were international; 29% were directed by one or more women; 40% were directed by one or more filmmaker of color; 15% by one or more people who identify as LGBTQ+.

In 2019, the Festival drew more than 122,000 attendees from 48 U.S. states and 35 other countries, generated $182.5 million in economic activity for the state of Utah and supported 3,052 local jobs. The 2021 Sundance Film Festival will take place January 21–31, 2021.

New announcements, including Shorts, Indie Episodic and New Frontier, are forthcoming; watch sundance.org/festival.

The feature films confirmed for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival are:

U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Presenting the world premieres of 16 narrative feature films, the Dramatic Competition offers Festivalgoers a first look at groundbreaking new voices in American independent film. 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. 47% of the directors in this year’s U.S. Dramatic Competition are women; 52% are people of color; 5% are LGBTQ+.

The 40-Year-Old Version / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Radha Blank, Producers: Lena Waithe, Radha Blank, Inuka Bacote-Capiga, Jennifer Semler, Rishi Rijani) — 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. World Premiere

BLAST BEAT / U.S.A. (Director: Esteban Arango, Screenwriters: Erick Castrillon & Esteban Arango, Producers: Charles D. King, Poppy Hanks, Erick Castrillon, Ty Walker) — 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. World Premiere

Charm City Kings / U.S.A. (Director: Angel Manuel Soto, Screenwriters: Sherman Payne, Chris Boyd & Kirk Sullivan, Barry Jenkins, Producers: Caleeb Pinkett, Clarence Hammond, Marc Bienstock) — 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. World Premiere

Dinner in America / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Adam Rehmeier, Producers: Ben Stiller, Nicholas Weinstock, David Hunter, Ross Putman, John Covert, Sam Slater) — 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. World Premiere

The Evening Hour / U.S.A. (Director: Braden King, Screenwriter: Elizabeth Palmore, Producers: Lucas Joaquin, Braden King, Derrick Tseng) — 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. World Premiere

Farewell Amor / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ekwa Msangi, Producers: Huriyyah Muhammad, Sam Bisbee, Josh Penn) — Reunited after a 17 year separation, Walter, an Angolan immigrant, is joined in the U.S. 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. World Premiere

Minari / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lee Isaac Chung, Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christina Oh) — David, a 7-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. World Premiere

Miss Juneteenth / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Channing Godfrey Peoples, Producers: Neil Creque Williams, Jeanie Igoe, James M. Johnston, Toby Halbrooks, Theresa Steele, Tim Headington) — 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. World Premiere

Never Rarely Sometimes Always / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Eliza Hittman, Producers: Adele Romanski, Sara Murphy, Rose Garnett) — 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. World Premiere

Nine Days / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Edson Oda, Producers: Jason Michael Berman, Mette Marie Kongsved, Matthew Lindner, Laura Tunstall, Datari Turner) — 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. World Premiere. Dolby Institute Fellowship

Palm Springs / U.S.A. (Director: Max Barbakow, Screenwriter: Andy Siara, Producers: Andy Samberg, Becky Sloviter, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, Dylan Sellers, Chris Parker) — When carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honor 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. World Premiere

Save Yourselves! / U.S.A. (Directors and Screenwriters: Alex Huston Fischer, Eleanor Wilson, Producers: Kara Durrett, Mandy Tagger, Adi Ezroni) — 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 Richardson. World Premiere

Shirley / U.S.A. (Director: Josephine Decker, Screenwriter: Sarah Gubbins, Producers: Christine Vachon, David Hinojosa, Sue Naegle, Sarah Gubbins, Jeffrey Soros, Simon Horsman) — 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 psycho-drama that inspires Shirley’s next novel. Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg, Odessa Young, Logan Lerman. World Premiere

Sylvie’s Love / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Eugene Ashe, Producers: Nnamdi Asomugha, Gabrielle Glore, Jonathan Baker, Matthew Thurm) — 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. World Premiere

Wander Darkly / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Tara Miele, Producers: Lynette Howell Taylor, Samantha Housman, Shivani Rawat, Monica Levinson) — 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. World Premiere

Zola / U.S.A. (Director: Janicza Bravo, Screenwriters: Janicza Bravo, Jeremy O. Harris, Producers: Christine Vachon, David Hinojosa, Vince Jolivette, Elizabeth Haggard, Dave Franco, Gia Walsh) 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. World Premiere

U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Sixteen world-premiere American documentaries that illuminate the ideas, people and events that shape the present day. 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. 45% of the directors in this year’s U.S. Documentary Competition are women; 23% are people of color; 23% are LGBTQ+.

A Thousand Cuts / U.S.A., Philippines (Director and screenwriter: Ramona S. Diaz, Producers: Ramona S. Diaz, Leah Marino, Julie Goldman, Chris Clements, Carolyn Hepburn) — Nowhere is the worldwide erosion of democracy, fueled 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 defense of truth and democracy. World Premiere

Be Water / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Bao Nguyen, Producer: Julia Nottingham) — 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 Bruce’s own writings. World Premiere

Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets / U.S.A. (Directors: Bill Ross, Turner Ross, Producers: Michael Gottwald, Chere Theriot) — 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. World Premiere

Boys State / U.S.A. (Directors: Jesse Moss, Amanda McBaine, Producers: Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss) — In an unusual experiment, a thousand 17-year-old boys from Texas join together to build a representative government from the ground up. World Premiere

Code for Bias / U.S.A., United Kingdom, China (Director, screenwriter and producer: 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 U.S. to govern against bias in the algorithms that impact us all. World Premiere

The Cost of Silence / U.S.A. (Director: Mark Manning, Producers: Mark Manning, Langdon Page, Reuben Aaronson) — 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 U.S. coastline to offshore drilling. World Premiere

Crip Camp / U.S.A. (Directors: Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht, Producers: Sara Bolder, Jim LeBrecht, Nicole Newnham) — 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. World Premiere. DAY ONE

Dick Johnson Is Dead / U.S.A. (Director: Kirsten Johnson, Screenwriters: Nels Bangerter, Kirsten Johnson, Producers: Katy Chevigny, Marilyn Ness) — With this inventive portrait, a cameraperson seeks a way to keep her 86-year-old father alive forever. Utilizing moviemaking magic and her family’s dark humor, 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. World Premiere

Feels Good Man / U.S.A. (Director: Arthur Jones, Producers: Giorgio Angelini, Caryn Capotosto, Aaron Wickenden)  — 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. World Premiere

The Fight / U.S.A. (Directors: Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, Eli Despres, Producers: Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, Eli Despres, Maya Seidler, Peggy Drexler, Kerry Washington) — Inside the ACLU, a team of scrappy lawyers battle Trump’s historic assault on civil liberties. World Premiere

Mucho Mucho Amor / U.S.A. (Directors: Cristina Costantini, Kareem Tabsch, Producer: Alex Fumero) — 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. World Premiere

Spaceship Earth / U.S.A. (Director: Matt Wolf, Producers: Stacey Reiss, 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. World Premiere

Time / U.S.A. (Director: Garrett Bradley, Producers: Lauren Domino, Kellen Quinn, 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. World Premiere

Us Kids / U.S.A. (Director: Kim A. Snyder, Producers: Kim A. Snyder, Maria Cuomo Cole, Lori Cheatle) — Determined to turn unfathomable tragedy into action, the teenage survivors of Parkland, Florida catalyze a powerful, unprecedented youth movement that spreads with lightning speed across the country, as a generation of mobilized youth take back democracy in this powerful coming-of-age story. World Premiere

Welcome to Chechnya / U.S.A. (Director: David France, Producers: Alice Henty, David France, Askold Kurov, Joy A. Tomchin) — 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. World Premiere

Whirlybird / U.S.A. (Director: Matt Yoka, Producers: Diane Becker, Matt Yoka) — Soaring above the chaotic spectacle of ‘80s and ‘90s Los Angeles, a young couple revolutionized 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 Premiere

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Twelve films from emerging filmmaking talents around the world offer fresh perspectives and inventive styles. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include The Souvenir, The Guilty, Monos, Yardie, The Nile Hilton Incident and Second Mother.

Charter / Sweden (Director and screenwriter: Amanda Kernell, Producers: Lars G. Lindström, Eva Åkergren) — 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. World Premiere

Cuties / France (Director and screenwriter: Maïmouna Doucouré, Producer: Zangro) — 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. World Premiere. DAY ONE

Exil / Germany, Belgium, Kosovo (Director and screenwriter: Visar Morina, Producers: Janine Jackowski, Jonas Dornbach, Maren Ade) — A chemical engineer feeling discriminated against and bullied at work plunges into an identity crisis. Cast: Mišel Matičević, Sandra Hüller. World Premiere

High Tide / Argentina (Director and screenwriter: Verónica Chen, Producers: Esteban Mentasti, Hori Mentasti) — 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. World Premiere

Jumbo / France, Luxembourg, Belgium (Director and screenwriter: Zoé Wittock, Producers: Anaïs Bertrand, Annabella Nezri, Gilles Chanial) — 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. World Premiere

Luxor / Egypt, United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Zeina Durra, Producers: Mohamed Hefzy, Mamdouh Saba, Gianluca Chakra, Hisham Alghanim) — 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. World Premiere

Possessor / Canada, United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Brandon Cronenberg, Producers: Niv Fichman, Andrew Starke, Kevin Krikst, Fraser Ash) — 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. World Premiere

Sin Señas Particulares / Mexico, Spain (Director: Fernanda Valadez, Screenwriters: Fernanda Valadez, Astrid Rondero, Producers: Astrid Rondero, Fernanda Valadez, Jack Zagha, Yossy Zagha) 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 U.S. 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. World Premiere

Summer White (Blanco de Verano) / Mexico (Director: Rodrigo Ruiz Patterson, Screenwriters: Rodrigo Ruiz Patterson, Raúl Sebastián Quintanilla, Producer: Alejandro Cortés Rubiales) ― 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. World Premiere

Surge / United Kingdom (Director: Aneil Karia, Screenwriters: Rupert Jones, Rita Kalnejais, Producers: Julia Godzinskaya, Sophie Vickers) ― 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. World Premiere

This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection / Lesotho, South Africa, Italy (Director and screenwriter: Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, Producers: Cait Pansegrouw, Elias Ribeiro) — 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. International Premiere

Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness / Iran, France, Germany, Switzerland (Director and screenwriter: Massoud Bakhshi, Producers: Jacques Bidou, Marianne Dumoulin) — 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. International Premiere

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Twelve documentaries by some of the most courageous and extraordinary international filmmakers working today. 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 (Director: Radu Ciorniciuc, Screenwriters: Lina Vdovii, Radu Ciorniciuc, Producer: Monica Lazurean-Gorgan) — 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. World Premiere

The Earth Is Blue as an Orange / Ukraine, Lithuania (Director: Iryna Tsilyk, Producers: Anna Kapustina, Giedrė Žickytė) — 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. World Premiere

Epicentro / Austria, France, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Hubert Sauper, Producers: Martin Marquet, Daniel Marquet, Gabriele Kranzelbinder, Paolo Calamita) — 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. World Premiere

Influence / South Africa, Canada (Directors and Screenwriters: Diana Neille, Richard Poplak, Producers: Bob Moore, Neil Brandt) — Charting the recent advancements in weaponized communication by investigating the rise and fall of the world’s most notorious public relations and reputation management firm: the British multinational Bell Pottinger. World Premiere

Into the Deep / Denmark (Director: Emma Sullivan, Producers: Mette Heide, Roslyn Walker) — 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. World Premiere

The Mole Agent / Chile (Director and screenwriter: Maite Alberdi, Producer: Marcela Santibañez) — 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. World Premiere

Once Upon A Time in Venezuela / Venezuela, United Kingdom, Brazil, Austria (Director: Anabel Rodríguez Ríos, Screenwriters: Anabel Rodríguez Ríos, Sepp R. Brudermann, Producer: Sepp R. Brudermann) — 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. World Premiere

The Painter and the Thief / Norway (Director: Benjamin Ree, Producer: Ingvil Giske) — 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. World Premiere.

DAY ONE

The Reason I Jump / United Kingdom (Director: Jerry Rothwell, Producers: Jeremy Dear, Stevie Lee, Al Morrow)  — Based on the book by Naoki Higashida this immersive film explores the experiences of nonspeaking autistic people around the world. World Premiere

Saudi Runaway / Switzerland (Director and screenwriter: Susanne Regina Meures, Producer: Christian Frei) — Amjad, a young, fearless woman from Saudi Arabia, is tired of being controlled by the state and patronized 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. World Premiere

Softie / Kenya (Director and screenwriter: Sam Soko, Producers: Toni Kamau, Sam Soko) — Boniface Mwangi is daring and audacious, and recognized 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? World Premiere

The Truffle Hunters / Italy, U.S.A., Greece (Directors: Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw, Producers: 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. World Premiere

NEXT
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 presented by Adobe.

Beast Beast / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Danny Madden, Producers: Benjamin Wiessner, Matt Miller, Tara Ansley) — 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. World Premiere

Black Bear / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lawrence Michael Levine, Producers: Julie Christeas, Jonathan Blitstein, Rick Bosner, Aubrey Plaza, Lawrence Michael Levine, Sophia Takal) — 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. World Premiere

I Carry You With Me / U.S.A., Mexico (Director: Heidi Ewing, Screenwriters: Heidi Ewing, Alan Page Arriaga, Producers: Mynette Louie, 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. World Premiere

The Killing of Two Lovers / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Robert Machoian, Producers: Scott Christopherson, Clayne Crawford, 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. World Premiere

La Leyenda Negra / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Patricia Vidal Delgado, Producers: Alicia Herder, Marcel Perez) — 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. World Premiere

The Mountains Are a Dream That Call to Me / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Cedric Cheung-Lau, Producers: Alexandra Byer, Madeleine Askwith) — On the Annapurna Massif, Tukten, a young Nepali man setting off for a new life as a laborer 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. World Premiere

Omniboat: A Fast Boat Fantasia / U.S.A. (Directors and Screenwriters: 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, Producers: Olivia Lloyd, Matthew Perniciaro, Michael Sherman, Taylor Shung) — 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. World Premiere

Some Kind of Heaven / U.S.A. (Director: Lance Oppenheim, Producers: Darren Aronofsky, Kathleen Lingo, Melissa Oppenheim Lano, Pacho Velez, Jeffrey Soros, Simon Horsman) — 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. World Premiere

Spree / U.S.A. (Director: Eugene Kotlyarenko, Screenwriters: Gene McHugh, Eugene Kotlyarenko, Producers: Matthew Budman, Sumaiya Kaveh, John Lang, 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. World Premiere

Summertime / U.S.A. (Director: Carlos Lopez Estrada, Screenwriters: Dave Harris, 19 Get Lit Poets, Producers: Kimberly Stuckwisch, Jeffrey Soros, Alisa Tager, Simon Horsman, Diane Luby Lane) — 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. World Premiere.

DAY ONE

PREMIERES
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.

Downhill / U.S.A. (Directors: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, Screenwriters: Jesse Armstrong, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, Producers: Anthony Bregman, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Stefanie Azpiazu, Erik Hemmendorff, Ruben Östlund) 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. World Premiere

Dream Horse / United Kingdom (Director: Euros Lyn, Screenwriter: Neil McKay, Producers: Katherine Butler, Tracy O’Riordan) — Jan, a cleaner and bartender, decides on a whim to breed a race horse 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. World Premiere

Falling / Canada, United Kingdom, Denmark (Director and screenwriter: Viggo Mortensen, Producers: Viggo Mortensen, Daniel Bekerman, Chris Curling) — 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. World Premiere. CLOSING NIGHT

The Father / United Kingdom, France (Director: Florian Zeller, Screenwriters: Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller, Producers: Philippe Carcassonne, Jean-Louis Livi, David Parfitt) — 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. World Premiere

Four Good Days / U.S.A. (Director: Rodrigo Garcia, Screenwriters: Rodrigo Garcia, Eli Saslow, Producers: Jon Avnet, Marina Grasic, Jake Avnet, Jai Khanna, Rodrigo Garcia, Sage Scroope) — 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. World Premiere

The Glorias / U.S.A. (Director: Julie Taymor, Screenwriters: Julie Taymor, Sarah Ruhl, Producers: Alex Saks, Lynn Hendee) — 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 U.S. and around the world, Steinem has made an everlasting mark on modern history. A nontraditional chronicle of a trailblazing life. Cast: Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Bette Midler, Janelle Monae, Timothy Hutton, Lorraine Toussaint. World Premiere

Herself / Ireland, United Kingdom (Director: Phyllida Lloyd, Screenwriters: Clare Dunne, Malcolm Campbell, Producers: Rory Gilmartin, Ed Guiney, Sharon Horgan) — 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. World Premiere

Horse Girl / U.S.A. (Director: Jeff Baena, Screenwriters: Jeff Baena, Alison Brie, Producers: Alana Carithers, Jeff Baena, Alison Brie) — 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. World Premiere

Ironbark / United Kingdom (Director: Dominic Cooke, Screenwriter: Tom O’Connor, Producers: Adam Ackland, Ben Browning, Ben Pugh, Rory Aitken) — 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. World Premiere

Kajillionaire / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Miranda July, Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner) — 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. World Premiere

The Last Shift / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Andrew Cohn, Producers: Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, Sam Bisbee, Alex Lipschultz, Bert Kern) — 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. World Premiere

The Last Thing He Wanted / U.S.A. (Director: Dee Rees, Screenwriters: Marco Vallalobos, Dee Rees, Producers: Cassian Elwes, 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. World Premiere

Lost Girls / U.S.A. (Director: Liz Garbus, Screenwriter: Michael Werwie, Producers: Anne Carey, Kevin McCormick) — 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. World Premiere

The Nest / United Kingdom, Canada (Director and screenwriter: Sean Durkin, Producers: Ed Guiney, Derrin Schlesinger, Rose Garnett, Sean Durkin, Amy Jackson, Christina Piovesan) — 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. World Premiere

Promising Young Woman / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Emerald Fennell, Producers: Margot Robbie, Tom Ackerly, Josey McNamara, Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, 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. World Premiere

Sergio / U.S.A. (Director: Greg Barker, Screenwriter: Craig Borten, Producers: Brent Travers, Daniel Dreifuss, Wagner Moura) — A sweeping drama set in the chaotic aftermath of the U.S. 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. World Premiere

Tesla Hawke

Tesla / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michael Almereyda, Producers: Avi Lerner, Jeffery Greenstein, Uri Singer, Christa Campbell, Lati Grobman, Isen Robbins) — 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. World Premiere. Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize

Uncle Frank / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Alan Ball, Producers: Alan Ball, Peter Macdissi, Michael Costigan, Jay Van Hoy, Bill Block, Stephanie Meurer) — 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. World Premiere

Wendy / U.S.A. (Director: Benh Zeitlin, Screenwriters: Benh Zeitlin, Eliza Zeitlin, Producers: Dan Janvey, Josh Penn, Paul Mezey, Becky Glupczynski) — 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. World Premiere. Dolby Institute Fellowship

Worth / U.S.A. (Director: Sara Colangelo, Screenwriter: Max Borenstein) — 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. World Premiere

DOCUMENTARY PREMIERES
Renowned filmmakers and films about far-reaching subjects comprise this section highlighting our ongoing commitment to documentaries. 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.

Aggie / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Catherine Gund, Producers: Catherine Gund, Tanya Selvaratnam) — 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 $165 million to start the Art for Justice Fund to end mass incarceration. Cast: Agnes Gund, Darren Walker, Ava DuVernay, Thelma Golden, John Waters, Glenn Ligon. World Premiere

Assassins / U.S.A. (Director: Ryan White, Producers: Jessica Hargrave, 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? World Premiere

Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen / U.S.A. (Director: 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. World Premiere

The Dissident / U.S.A. (Director: Bryan Fogel, Screenwriters: Mark Monroe, Bryan Fogel, Producers: Bryan Fogel, Jake Swantko, Mark Monroe, Thor Halvorssen) — 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. World Premiere

Giving Voice / U.S.A. (Directors: James D. Stern, Fernando Villena, Producers: James D. Stern, Karen Bove, Fernando Villena, Schoen Smith, Craig Piligian) — 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. World Premiere

The Go-Go’s / U.S.A., Ireland, Canada (Director: Alison Ellwood, Producers: Trevor Birney, Corey Russell, Eimhear O’Neill) — As the first all-female band to play their instruments, write their songs and have a No. 1 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 LA punk scene who became a pop phenomenon. Cast: Charlotte Caffey, Belinda Carlisle, Gina Schock, Kathy Valentine, Jane Wiedlin. World Premiere

Happy Happy Joy Joy – The Ren & Stimpy Story / U.S.A. (Directors and Screenwriters: Ron Cicero, Kimo Easterwood, Producer: Ron Cicero) — Exploring the rise and fall of the groundbreaking 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. World Premiere

Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind / U.S.A. (Director: Laurent Bouzereau, Producers: Natasha Gregson Wagner, Manoah Bowman, 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. World Premiere

Okavango: River of Dreams (Director’s Cut) / Botswana (Directors and Producers: Dereck Joubert, Beverly Joubert, Screenwriter: Dereck 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. World Premiere

Rebuilding Paradise / U.S.A. (Director: Ron Howard, Producers: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Xan Parker, Sara Bernstein, Justin Wilkes) — 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. World Premiere

Taylor Swift: Miss Americana / U.S.A. (Director: Lana Wilson, Producers: Morgan Neville, Caitrin Rogers, Christine O’Malley) — 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. DAY ONE

Untitled Kirby Dick/Amy Ziering Film / U.S.A. (Directors: Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering, Screenwriters: Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering, Sara Newens, Producers: Amy Ziering, Kirby Dick, Amy Herdy, Jamie Rogers) — 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. Cast: Drew Dixon, Sil Lai Abrams, Sheri Hines, Joan Morgan, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Shanita Hubbard. World Premiere

Vivos / Germany, Mexico (Director and Producer: 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. World Premiere

MIDNIGHT
From horror and comedy to works that defy genre classification, these films will keep you wide awake, even at the most arduous hour. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include Greener Grass, Hereditary, Assassination Nation, The Little Hours and The Babadook.

Amulet / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Romola Garai, Producers: Matthew James Wilkinson, Maggie Monteith) — 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. World Premiere

Bad Hair / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Justin Simien, Producers: Julia Lebedev, Angel Lopez, Eddie Vaisman, 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 realizes that her new hair may have a mind of its own. Cast: Elle Lorraine, Vanessa Williams, Jay Pharoah, Lena Waithe, Blair Underwood, Laverne Cox. World Premiere. DAY ONE

His House / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Remi Weekes, Producers: Edward King, Martin Gentles, Roy Lee, Aidan Elliott, Arnon Milchan) — 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. World Premiere

Impetigore / Indonesia (Director and screenwriter: Joko Anwar, Producers: Shanty Harmayn, Tia Hasibuan, Aoura Lovenson, Ben Soebiakto) — 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 got what they needed to lift off a plagueing curse. Cast: Tara Basro, Marissa Anita, Christine Hakim, Ario Bayu, Asmara Abigail. International Premiere

The Night House / U.S.A. (Director: David Bruckner, Screenwriters: Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski, Producers: David Goyer, Keith Levine, John Zois) — A widow begins to uncover her recently deceased husband’s disturbing secrets. Cast: Rebecca Hall, Sarah Goldberg, Stacy Martin, Evan Jonigkeit, Vondie Curtis-Hall. World Premiere

The Nowhere Inn / U.S.A. (Director: Bill Benz, Screenwriters: Carrie Brownstein, Annie Clark, Producers: Jett Steiger, Lana Kim, Annie Clark, Carrie Brownstein) — 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. World Premiere

Relic / Australia (Director: Natalie Erika James, Screenwriters: Natalie Erika James, Christian White, Producers: Anna McLeish, Sarah Shaw, Riva Marker, Jake Gyllenhaal) — When Edna, the elderly and widowed matriarch of the family, goes missing, her daughter Kay and granddaughter Sam travel to their remote family home to find her. Soon after her return, they start to discover a sinister presence haunting the house and taking control of Edna. Cast: Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin, Bella Heathcote. World Premiere

Run Sweetheart Run / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Shana Feste, Producers: Jason Blum, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Aml Ameen, Dayo Okeniyi, Betsy Brandt, Shohreh Aghdashloo) — 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. World Premiere

Scare Me / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Josh Ruben, Producers: Alex Bach, Daniel Powell, 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. World Premiere

SPOTLIGHT
The Spotlight program is a tribute to the cinema we love from throughout 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 (Director and screenwriter: Levan Akin, Producers: Mathilde Dedye, Ketie Daniela) — 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 / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kitty Green, Producers: Kitty Green, Scott Macaulay, James Schamus, P. Jennifer Dana, Ross Jacobson) — 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 / U.S.A. (Director: Michael Covino, Screenwriters: Michael Covino, Kyle Marvin, Producers: Noah Lang, Michael Covino, Kyle Marvin) 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. 

Collective / Romania, Luxembourg (Director and screenwriter: Alexander Nanau, Producers: Alexander Nanau, Bianca Oana) — 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. U.S. Premiere

Ema / Chile (Director: Pablo Larraín, Screenwriters: Guillermo Calderón, Alejandro Moreno, Producer: Juan de Dios 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 (Director and screenwriter: Jayro Bustamante, Producers: Jayro Bustamante, Herminio Gutiérrez, Gustavo Matheu, Marina Peralta, Georges Ranand) — 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 (Director: Haifaa Al Mansour, Screenwriters: Haifaa Al Mansour, Brad Niemann, Producers: Roman Paul, Gerhard Meixner, Haifaa Al Mansour, Brad Niemann) — 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. DAY ONE

KIDS
This section of the Festival is especially for our youngest independent film fans. Programmed in cooperation with Utah Film Center, which presents the annual Tumbleweeds Film Festival, Utah’s premiere film festival for children and youth. 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.

Binti / Belgium (Director and Screenwriter: Frederike Migom, Producer: Katleen Goosens) — 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. U.S. Premiere

Come Away / United Kingdom, U.S.A. (Director: Brenda Chapman, Screenwriter: Marissa Kate Goodhill, Producers: Leesa Kahn, James Spring, David Oyelowo, Steve Richards, Andrea Keir) — 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. World Premiere

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made / U.S.A. (Director: Tom McCarthy, Screenwriters: Stephan Pastis, Tom McCarthy, Producers: Tom McCarthy, Jim Whitaker) — 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. World Premiere

 

The Sundance Film Festival®
The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Eighth Grade, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Precious, The Cove, Little Miss Sunshine, An Inconvenient Truth, Napoleon Dynamite, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Reservoir Dogs and sex, lies, and videotape. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. 2020 Festival sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire; AT&T; Leadership Sponsors – Adobe, Amazon Studios, DIRECTV, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom Group, Southwest Airlines®, Stella Artois®, WarnerMedia; Sustaining Sponsors – Audible, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Dell Technologies, Fire TV, GEICO, High West Distillery, Hulu, IMDbPro, Lyft, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Variety, The Wall Street Journal. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. Look for the Official Partner seal at their venues at the Festival. sundance.org/festival

Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Co//ab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance Advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discovering original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as The Farewell, Late Night, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Eighth Grade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, RBG, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Top of the Lake, Winter’s Bone, Dear White People, Little Miss Sunshine, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, State of the Union, Indecent, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

(Source: Sundance Press Release)

 

Sundance Institute Announces Future of Culture Initiative

Posted by Larry Gleeson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Collaborations with Johns Hopkins and Stanford Universities, Produced by Institute’s New Frontier Lab Program, Include New Artists Residencies and Cross Disciplinary Summits on Arts and Technology

Los Angeles, CA — Sundance Institute today announced the Future of Culture Initiative, an action plan that includes partnerships with Johns Hopkins University and Stanford University in order to implement key recommendations from a two-year global field scan that analyzed strategies for improving equity and inclusion in emerging media. The initiative puts artists in discourse with technologists, scientists, policymakers, advocates and business leaders to imagine and design for the future of culture.

“New Frontier is dedicated to creating, advancing and deepening partnerships that put ‘artists at the table’ in sectors where their voices could be transformative but, historically, haven’t been heard,” interim Director, New Frontier Lab Programs, Ruthie Doyle said of the program. “By collaborating with experts across a range of sectors and institutions, we hope to further critical conversations about social impact and inclusivity when it comes to the application of science and new media technologies across a wide range of evolving practices.”

The field scan, funded by the Ford Foundation and supported by Sundance Institute, is titled Making a New Reality. Authored by Kamal Sinclair, Sundance Institute Senior Consultant and former director of the New Frontier Labs Program, it features interviews with more than 100 media experts and practitioners and investigates strategies for achieving equality and justice in emerging media, highlighting the need to break down barriers between tech, arts, media, science, policy and commerce in order to promote intersectional perspectives and values, mitigate bias and blind spots, and advance equity and inclusion.

In response, Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Lab Programs has formed unique collaborations with two trailblazing university research centers and arts programs: Johns Hopkins University’s Immersive Storytelling & Emerging Technology (ISET) concentration, and Stanford University’s Office of the Vice President for the Arts and the new Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (Stanford HAI). Artists’ residency programs are at the core of both collaborations, with cross-disciplinary summits on arts and technology to bring together thought leaders in the field to catalyze further action.

“Connections between immersive art and science have the ability to create new ways of learning and seeing the world. Universities are uniquely positioned to forge inclusive and diverse partnerships between technology, science, and immersive filmmaking,” said Beverly Wendland, James B. Knapp Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University.

“At Stanford HAI, we believe technology should improve the human condition, said Fei-Fei Li, Co-Director of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (Stanford HAI). If we want technology to serve humanity, the creators and users of technology need to be representative of humanity. Interdisciplinary collaboration is central to all of our work at HAI.”

Participating Artists, Already Hard at Work

Diego Galafassi (2019 Talent Forum Fellow and grantee) began working in residence at Johns Hopkins University ISET in Spring 2019. His project, Breathe (in collaboration with Jess Engel, 2016 New Frontier Story Lab Fellow and Phi-Centre), is a mixed-reality application that utilizes the Magic Leap headset to enhance understanding of climate change by inviting viewers to break free from their bodies in order to experience themselves as a cohesive part of the greater living world.

Joining Diego at Johns Hopkins ISET this fall is Penelope Jagessar Chaffer (2019 grantee), who is working on Toxic Baby.ai, a documentary app based on her TED Talk that uses artificial intelligence to piece together a variety of personalized data sources in order to present an interactive non-fiction story about the effects of environmental pollution on children.

“At Johns Hopkins ISET we believe storytelling merged with emerging technologies—like VR, AR, and AI—brings new perspectives and possibilities for technology’s role in shaping our relation to the world, to others and ourselves,” Added Founding Director of Johns Hopkins’ ISET, Gabo Arora. “Storytellers are what will change dominant status quo narratives, values and perspectives, and show the humanizing potential for a future that is more equitable and just.”

Earlier this fall, Stephanie Dinkins (2018 New Frontier Story Lab Fellow and grantee) was in residency at Stanford University. Dinkins is developing her project, Not the Only One, a multigenerational memoir of one black American family told from the “mind” of a social artificial intelligence with an evolving intellect. The artist will be returning in the Spring.

“So much of the discussion about technology today is narrowly focused on algorithms,” Li continues. “We need a broader discussion — something deeper that is linked to our shared future. We are proud to host a residency for Stephanie Dinkins and support the New Frontier Lab Programs in the hope that it helps to bring more people into the discussion and expand our collective mindset.”

DiegoDiego Galafassi is a visual artist and sustainability scientist from Brazil living in Stockholm. He holds a Ph.D. from Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University where he studied the role of co-creation of knowledge and artistic practices in transformations towards sustainability. He is a writer, producer and director of documentaries as well as experimental film and performance.

 

PenelopePenelope Jagessar Chaffer is a BAFTA-nominated director and producer whose credits include BBC’s Shakespeare’s Stories, as well as the BBC4 documentary Me and My Dad, which followed her on a trip to Trinidad to confront her father, a former magistrate jailed for bribery and corruption.

Stephanie

Stephanie Dinkins is a transmedia artist who creates platforms for dialogues about artificial intelligence as it intersects race, culture, aging and future histories. She is drawn to work with communities of color with an eye toward creating inclusive and ethical artificial intelligence ecosystems. She earned an MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art and is an alumna of the Whitney Independent Studies Program.

 

Arts and Technology Summits Complete the Comprehensive Initiative

In addition to the artists residency program, the Future of Culture initiative is collaborating on two cross-disciplinary summits on arts and technology and holding a Sundance Impact Intensive for selected Sundance-supported film, theatre and emerging media artists.

  • The Future Imagination Summit— which took place November 7 and 8, 2019—hosted by New York University’s Tisch Future Imagination Fund and presented by the Guild of Future Architects in collaboration with the Co-Creation Studio at MIT Open Documentary Lab and Sundance Institute, with support from Ford Foundation.
  • On April 6, 2020, a joint Sundance-Stanford symposium will bring together Stanford faculty and students, with international artists, researchers, technologists, and Silicon Valley industry to explore the intersections of artificial intelligence with identity and culture. Immediately following, on April 7, 2020, a Sundance Impact Intensive will allow up to six Sundance artist fellows to workshop their film, theatre or emerging media projects exploring similar themes, and plan impact distribution strategies.

 

Sundance Institute New Frontier Program

The Sundance Institute New Frontier Program is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Cindy Harrell Horn and Alan Horn, Dell, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Oculus from Facebook, Unity Technologies, The Walt Disney Company, PlayStation, YouTube VR, Adobe, and IMAX.

Sundance Institute

Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Co//ab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance Advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as The Farewell, Late Night, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Eighth Grade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, RBG, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Top of the Lake, Winter’s Bone, Dear White People, Little Miss Sunshine, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, State of the Union, Indecent, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Johns Hopkins University Department of Immersive Storytelling and Emerging Technologies (ISET)

Johns Hopkins University Department of Immersive Storytelling and Emerging Technologies (ISET) is designed and led by Founding Director Gabo Arora along with the industry’s award-winning creative pioneers. Its mission is to utilize and contextualize dominant emerging technologies – including virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence – for artistic expression and social impact.

Stanford HAI

Stanford HAI is committed to studying, guiding and developing human-centered AI technologies and applications. It was founded on a belief that AI should be collaborative, augmentative and enhancing to human productivity and quality of life. HAI leverages the university’s strength across all disciplines, including business, economics, education, genomics, law, literature, medicine, neuroscience, philosophy and more, and complementing Stanford’s tradition of leadership in AI, computer science, engineering and robotics.

Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper to Step Aside

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper
to Step Aside

Will Assume Newly-Created Emeritus Director Role Following 2020 Festival,
After 30 Years on Staff, 11 as Director

Legacies Include Short Film Category & Competition, New Frontier, Festivals in London & Hong Kong

Screen Shot 2019-06-27 at 12.25.37 PM
Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper announces he’s stepping aside after the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

Following Robert Redford’s lead from last year’s press conference, Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper stepping aside.

robert redford
Robert Redford addresses the 2019 Sundance Film Festival Press Conference. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

Los AngelesSundance Institute announced today that John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival, will move into a newly-created Emeritus Director role following the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. 2020 will mark his 30th Sundance Film Festival, and his 11th year as Festival Director.

The new role will focus on special projects and overseeing the 40th anniversary of the Sundance Institute to be celebrated in 2021. The search for a new Director for the Sundance Film Festival will be led by the Institute’s CEO, Keri Putnam.

During his tenure to date, Cooper has kept the Festival vital and competitive with the growing independent film community and industry. Signature achievements in the Festival’s programming include the creation of the Short Film section and competition, as well as the Documentary Premiere, NEXT and New Frontier sections. His cultivation of the global independent film community, including helming Sundance Film Festival: London and Sundance Film Festival: Hong Kong, have helped build and reinforce the Institute’s year round global presence.

His community-building efforts included creating the Sundance Industry Office and the youth-focused Sundance Ignite Program, as well as early development of the Arthouse Convergence, all the while building systems and staff to handle a growing volume of submissions.

Said Cooper, “This journey has been exhilarating. I’ve been lucky to find my perfect job. l always had the founding principles, passed down by Robert Redford, to guide me. I attribute any success I have had to being part of an amazing staff (past and present) who strive together to help storytellers follow their dreams and launch careers. I’ve got such confidence and pride in the team, and am excited by all that the future holds. I look forward to remaining a part of this fantastic organization in my new role, and creating a seamless transition for new Festival leadership.”

Putnam said, “Cooper’s contributions are immeasurably large and he will be missed in this role…but then again, he will be right down the hall in this new capacity. He’ll lend his vision and experience to key projects, as we build towards our 40th anniversary celebration and look ahead to the coming decades of supporting independent creativity.”

Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Sorry to Bother You, Eighth Grade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, RBG, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Top of the Lake, Winter’s Bone, Dear White People, Brooklyn, Little Miss Sunshine, 20 Feet From Stardom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, I’m Poppy, America to Me, Leimert Park, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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(Source: Press release provided by Sundance Press Office)

Update: Day 5 Highlights from the Santa Barbara Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Glenn Close receives Modern Maltin Masters Award, Melissa McCarthy receives Montecito Award, and the women of Hollywood speak out

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (February 4, 2019) – The 34th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) kicked off the fifth day of the festival with the Womens’ Panel moderated by Madelyn Hammond, followed by honoring Oscar Nominee Glenn Close for The Wife with the Maltin Modern Master Award and Melissa McCarthy with the Montecito Award for Can You Ever Forgive Me? The women came out in full force on Sunday.

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Maltin Modern Master Award Honoring Glenn Close
Glenn Close speaks onstage at the Maltin Modern Master Award Honoring Glenn Close during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 2, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Hammond, producer of Deadline’s Contenders events, moderated the phenomenal Women’s Panel which consisted of nine Oscar nominated females including Louise Bagnall, writer-director of the animated short Late Afternoon; Hannah Beachler, production designer for Black Panther; Nina Hartstone, sound editor on Bohemian Rhapsody; Ai-Ling Lee, a double nominee for Sound Editing and Sound Mixing on First Man; Domee Shi, director of Pixar’s animated short Bao; Marina de Tavira, Best Supporting Actress for Roma; Lynette Howell Taylor, Producer of Best Picture nominee A Star Is Born; Betsy West, director of the Feature Documentary RBG; and Rayka Zehtabchi, recent USC graduate and among Oscar’s youngest nominees as Director for the documentary short Period. End of Sentence.

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Women's Panel
Pictured left to right; Madelyn Hammond, Louise Bagnall, Hannah Beachler, Nina Hartstone, Lynette Howell, Ai-Ling Lee, Domee Shi, Marina de Tavira, Betsy West amd Rayka Zehtabchi speak onstage at the Women’s Panel during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Lobero Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

 

From a 500 page bible Hannah Beachler built to create the Wakanda civilization, a high school project turned short documentary by Rayka Zehtabchi and resounding applause for Betsy West when discussing RBG, the women of hollywood brought laughs and serious insight to an awestruck crowd.  Gender disparity and female discrimination was a hot topic in which all the women noted the need for expanding the landscape of females in the industry and Lynette Howell-Taylor and West continuing to discuss the importance of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.

 

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Maltin Modern Master Award Honoring Glenn Close
Leonard Maltin, left, and Glenn Close speak onstage at the Maltin Modern Master Award Honoring Glenn Close during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 2, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

After yesterday’s postponement due to weather conditions, SBIFF was finally able to welcome The Wife actress Glenn Close for a special tribute and award presentation. Film critic Leonard Maltin led a career retrospective discussion with Close and at its conclusion she was presented with the Maltin Modern Master Award.

Highlights from the conversation with Close include:

  • Maltin described Close as “one of the greatest actresses on the planet” and also said “I don’t think there is any facet of show business that she hasn’t attempted and succeeded at.”
  • Close was greeted with an enthusiastic and lengthy standing ovation when she came onstage at the beginning of the program.
  • About 12-13 minutes into the interview, Close’s dog Pip ran on-stage to join her. When Pip showed up, Maltin remarked, “You’re about to be upstaged.” The audience was very amused and there were a lot of “ooohs,” “awws,” and applause. CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE CLIP.
  • Close on The Wife:
    • The film almost didn’t get made – it took the producers 14 years to get the money together and Close was attached for 5 years.
    • Novel was written by Meg Wolitzer and Jane Anderson adapted it into a screenplay.
    • When she received the script she thought it was interesting and unlike other things that she’s done before so she said that they could put her name on the project and see how that could help.
    • She met with Bjorn Runge (accomplished Swedish director who had not yet made an English language film) and “there was something about him that I really really liked.”
    • They had to wait to wait another year because Bjorn got sick and they decided to wait for him rather than attach a new director.
    • “I think of him as a total collaborator in my performance because he trusted the close-up, he knew where to put the camera, and he knew how to light our faces. My performance ‘The Wife,’ a lot of it is just in close-up, and without his wonderful instinct about that I don’t think it would have had the impact that it has.”
    • She had never worked with Jonathan Pryce before this film.
    • The film was made in the late fall of 2016, before the #MetToo movement, premiered at TIFF, Sony bought it and then decided to hold a year before releasing it.
  • Close on “Fatal Attraction”:
    • She did more research for this role than any other character she has ever played.
    • She read the script in one sitting and she auditioned for the part.
    • When she got the part she took the script to two psychiatrists because she wanted to know if the behavior of the character was possible and what would cause it.
    • She has a foundation that combats the stigma around mental illness and when she mentioned it during the conversation, the audience responded with applause.
    • “I ended up with great compassion and empathy for that character.”
    • The background that was created for the character was that she was incested by her father over many years and Close studied what that meant in order to prepare for the role.
    • People were so upset by the original ending (where Close’s character kills herself and Michael Douglas’ character goes to jail because his fingerprints are on the knife) that the studio decided to re-shoot it, much to Close’s dismay.
    • She fought against the re-shoot for two weeks and recounted how she expressed her frustration to director Adrian Lyne, producer Stanley Jaffe, and co-star Douglas — “What if they did it to your character? What if they did it to you? What would you say? What would you say?” Douglas, she recalls, responded by saying “Babe, I’m a whore.” This anecdote garnered a hearty laugh.
    • She also called William Hurt for advice because she felt like she was betraying the character by making “her into somebody that would kill somebody.” He told her that she put up the fight but if the studio isn’t budging then “you owe it to the company and to the director and to your fellow actors to go ahead with it.”
    • Looking back Close said she realizes the studio was right because, “After such a disturbing film, the audience needed catharsis.”
    • “It’s a very American ending.”
  • Close on costumes:
    • “I consider the costume designer of anything I’m doing a full collaborator – as important as the director.”
    • “It really helps me to put together the character together in my mind.”
    • She has kept her costumes since “The World According to Garp,” and the living collection / archive is housed in a facility at Indiana University for students. The collection also includes some of her red carpet looks.
  • Close on “Reversal of Fortune”:
    • It was one of the best script she ever read.
    • “Everything for me begins with what I read on the page.”
    • “It was so clever and so original to have someone in a coma narrate a film.”
    • As she prepared for the part, Close was unable to speak with anyone who actually knew Sunny Von Bülow.
    • “I think the script, as brilliant as it is, was written very much from a man’s point-of-view and you don’t really get under the skin of Sunny. It’s more reacting to her behavior. I always wondered if I was able to talk to people that knew her, how that would change my performance.”
    • Close also recounted a hilarious anecdote about how after the film opened, she walked into the Ivory Restaurant in London one day and heard a voice say, “I was Jeremy Irons’ understudy.” And it turned out that the voice belonged to Klaus Von Bülow. Upon hearing this story, Maltin remarked, “That’s a tough one to top.”
  • Close on what she wants from a director:
    • She said she wants a director to provide her with “the assurance and atmosphere…to try things that might be different.”
    • “It’s kind of fascinating that a lot of directors don’t really get what actors do and feel that the only way to direct them is to manipulate them.” She doesn’t like directors like that and doesn’t think that great directors do that.
    • “Albert Nobbs” director Rodrigo Garcia admitted to Close that he was afraid of rehearsal because he had never had them before. “He said a lot of directors are afraid of rehearsal because they think they’ll see the actor do exactly what he wants and then they’ll never be able to do it again.”
  • Close on Cruella de Vil:
    • She loved fairy tales and the Disney witches.
    • She said that Cruella is a “classic witch.”
    • “I was thrilled because I thought, that puts me in a great tradition.”
    • “I worked very hard — it was a John Hughes script — and I felt very strongly that she wasn’t mean enough. That they were trying to water her down.”
    • In the original cartoon, Cruella was mean so Close got permission to pull lines from the cartoon when she constructed the character for the live action version.
  • Close on “Damages”:
    • In asking her about “Damages,” Maltin noted that the show came before A-list movie actors would do television as regularly as they do now.
    • Before “Damages” she had done a season on the FX show “The Shield” and it was great.
    • Close insisted that she has always believed in television because her second onscreen credit was a television movie called “Something About Amelia.” The film dealt with the issue of incest and she filmed it right after “The World According to Garp.” When her agent told her that the TV movie would ruin her film career, Close remarked, “Well the English do it, why can’t we?”
  • Close on “Albert Nobbs”:
    • She spent 20 years with the role – first performed it off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club.
    • She learned mime for the role.
    • “The character just stayed with me.”
    • It took 14 years to bring the film together.
    • Because so much time passed between originating the role on the stage and the start of production on the film, Close had to make sure that she was still right to take on the role because she said, “At this point I was afraid that my face would get in the way.” She thought to herself, “How can I play this character if all they can see is Glenn Close?”
    • She went to special effects makeup artist Matthew Mungle for a solution.
    • “The fact that so much time had gone, I think made the ultimate Albert so much deeper and richer and heartbreaking.”
    • Close thinks that not enough people saw the film because it was released at the wrong time of year.
  • Close on producing:
    • “Sarah, Plain and Tall” was the first thing that she produced.
    • “A lot of it is to create roles for myself. It sounds selfish, but if you’re not getting them then go and create them.”
    • “You should never sit around and wait for the phone to ring. You should be out there with your iPhone, with whatever it is, creating stuff that is your voice.

SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling asked Close to accept the award in honor of his father, who was a huge fan and took Roger to see her performances on the stage in New York ever since the 1970s.

Close was very moved when she accepted the award. “I am very, very blessed to be able to do the thing that I love most in the world,” she told the audience afterwards. “I’m standing up here representing all the people that have been my collaborators all these years. I would not be here without them. I am deeply, deeply grateful to you, who have gone to see my work and are here today. It means a tremendous amount to me. And I am so touched to have this award with Leonard’s name on it — a man who has given so much to our industry, who is one of the greats.”

For a few brief moments during her speech, Pip once again managed to steal the spotlight when he decided to roll around on the ground in front of the podium (much to everyone’s amusement).

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy
Melissa McCarthy, left, and Anne Thompson speak onstage at the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Later that evening, a sold out and lively crowd greeted Can You Ever Forgive Me?’s Melissa McCarthy as she entered the stage to receive the Montecito Award. McCarthy sat in conversation with IndieWire Editor at Large, Anne Thompson, to discuss her beginnings on stage, what she learned from her time at Groundlings, and her future behind the camera.

Some highlights from the evening included:

  • When discussing her early days on comedy stages McCarthy discussed how she “never walked into a room where a guy didn’t tell me, ‘Take your shirt off!’ and they are just yelling. They would keep yelling until you have to embarrass them but then you spend four of your five minutes eviscerating them.”
  • Before hitting it big, McCarthy recounts how she worked as a nanny and a waitress in both New York and Los Angeles.
  • On her early work:
    • “What happened to my voice” McCarthy exclaimed after a series of clips played on the screen from Go, Charlie’s Angels, and The Nines. “My voice was so high. It’s like I’ve been smokin Paul Malls all these years.”
    • McCarthy credited friend Jennifer Cooling for making a call to a casting agent to get her seen for her first gig for which she ended up getting the part, and an agent following.
  • On Gilmore Girls:
    • Reminiscing on how “Sookie” was originally to be played by Alex Borstein who was contractually obligated to MadTV at the time, McCarthy is still in awe that her first job lasted for seven years.
    • “I really loved doing that show. It was such a great group of people. I felt really lucky to be a part of something like that.”
  • On Bridesmaids and working with Kristen Wiig:
    • When reading for the part with Kristen for Judd Apatow and Paul Feig, “Kristen and I were improvising so much in the room and Paul and Judd were in awe. At some point I started talking about dolphin play.” The crowd erupted in laughter.
    • “Everyday of that movie was heaven.”
    • Thompson and McCarthy dove deep into one of the most memorable scenes from that film
      • I don’t think we knew what we were doing while it was happening. It was like oatmeal with like some ketchup in it and somebody was like, ‘does this vomit look ok?’ And I have this picture of Paul like pouring it on me and I was like ‘we are being professional.’”
      • “None of us wanted it to be the gross out scene but we all started talking about how embarrassing it would be while you are trying to maintain your dignity and everyone’s body is disintegrating in front of you. It became about us bonding in the weirdest possible way.”
  • On The Hangover:
    • When speaking on her scene in the pawn shop with Bradley Cooper, “I thought I wonder if anyone has ever just shunned him off like this. I thought, this is probably good for him.”
    • Working with Zack Galifianakis: “That’s kind of like Zack. It just kinda happened. It wasn’t written as being that cruel to the woman that was playing my mother. Once the gloves are off and everyone is ready to go for it, if you go too far your director will protect you and not use it but every now and then you go hard and it works.”
  • On producing and directing:
    • “I like the building of a project from the beginning up as much as I like being in front of the camera.”
    • “You have to really fight for good material. I kept saying why is every part such a bummer. Can I just have a point of view? Can I be more than bland? I don’t know how to play pleasant.”
    • “I like the person that you see walking through the grocery store and you’re like ‘well today is purple huh.’ You’re on your own beat. Those are the characters I fall in love with.”
    • “I am ready to direct. I did some Mike and Molly’s and I did a short for the Oscars and I loved it. I would like to not be in it. I just want to be there and concentrate on the people in it.”
34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy
Melissa McCarthy, left, and Richard E. Grant speak onstage at the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

McCarthy’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? co-star Richard E. Grant presented the award and began his presentation with a google translation of the meaning of McCarthy, loving. “I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t have loving words to say about her.” McCarthy accepted her award giving thanks to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for “shining a light on these types of movies.”

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(Source: Press release from sbiff.org)

‘KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE’ WINS FESTIVAL FAVORITE AWARD AT 2019 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Los AngelesSundance Institute today announced Knock Down the House as the winner of the Festival Favorite Award, selected by audience votes from the 121 features screened at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, which took place in Park City, Salt Lake City and Sundance, Utah from January 24 through February 3. The Festival Favorite is the 29th and final recognition bestowed on this year’s Features, including juried prizes and category-specific Audience Awards; others were announced at a ceremony in Park City on February 2 and a full list is available here. Runners-up and other strong contenders for the Festival Favorite Award included Ask Dr. Ruth, The Biggest Little Farm, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind and Blinded by the Light.

Knock Down the House, which had its world premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, follows four women political candidates from around the country – a young bartender in the Bronx, a coal miner’s daughter in West Virginia, a grieving mother in Nevada and a registered nurse in Missouri – during the 2018 mid-term elections as they took to the campaign trail, built and engaged their bases, and built a movement. The film was directed by Rachel Lears and produced by Lears, Sarah Olson and Robin Blotnick.

John Cooper, Director, Sundance Film Festival, said, “This film is a timely and powerful portrait of bold, risk-taking women, all from very different backgrounds and communities, and we knew it would resonate with and inspire audiences.” Ballots distributed at each screening were counted as the Festival Favorite Award determination.

Runners-up for the Festival Favorite, as ballots were counted, included:

Ask Dr. Ruth / U.S.A. (Director: Ryan White, Producers: Rafael Marmor, Ryan White, Jessica Hargrave, Christopher Leggett) — A documentary portrait chronicling the incredible life of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a Holocaust survivor who became America’s most famous sex therapist. As her 90th birthday approaches, Dr. Ruth revisits her painful past and her career at the forefront of the sexual revolution.

The Biggest Little Farm / U.S.A. (Director: John Chester, Screenwriters: Mark Monroe, John Chester, Producers: Sandra Keats, John Chester) — Two dreamers and a dog embark on an odyssey to bring harmony to their lives and the land. As their plan to create perfect harmony takes a series of wild turns, they will have to reach a far greater understanding of the intricacies and wisdom of nature, and life itself.

Other strong-showing audience favorites included:

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Producers: Andrea Calderwood, Gail Egan) — Against all odds, a thirteen year old boy in Malawi invents an unconventional way to save his family and village from famine. Based on the true story of William Kamkwamba. Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Maxwell Simba, Lily Banda, Noma Dumezweni, Aissa Maiga, Joseph Marcell.

Blinded by the Light / United Kingdom (Director: Gurinder Chadha, Screenwriters: Sarfraz Manzoor, Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges, Producers: Gurinder Chadha, Jane Barclay, Jamal Daniel) — In 1987 during the austere days of Thatcher’s Britain, a teenager learns to live life, understand his family and find his own voice through the music of Bruce Springsteen. Cast: Viveik Kalra, Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon, Kulvinder Ghir, Nell Williams, Aaron Phagura.

The 2020 Sundance Film Festival will take place January 23 through February 2, 2020.

The Sundance Film Festival®

The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Eighth Grade, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Precious, The Cove, Little Miss Sunshine, An Inconvenient Truth, Napoleon Dynamite, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Reservoir Dogs and sex, lies, and videotape. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. 2019 Festival sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire, YouTube; Leadership Sponsors – Adobe, Amazon Studios, AT&T, DIRECTV, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom, Stella Artois; Sustaining Sponsors – Ancestry, Canada Goose, Canon, Dell, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, GEICO, High West Distillery, IMDbPro, Lyft, RIMOWA, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, VARIETY, The Wall Street Journal. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. Look for the Official Partner seal at their venues at the Festival. sundance.org/festival

Sundance Institute

Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Sorry to Bother You, Eighth Grade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, RBG, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Top of the Lake, Winter’s Bone, Dear White People, Brooklyn, Little Miss Sunshine, 20 Feet From Stardom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, I’m Poppy, America to Me, Leimert Park, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home.