Category Archives: Sundance Film Festival 2022

SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL AWARDS ANNOUNCED!

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Top Jury Prizes Go To Nanny (U.S. Dramatic), The Exiles (U.S. Documentary), All That Breathes (World Cinema Documentary) and Utama (World Cinema Dramatic)

Navalny (U.S. Documentary) and Cha Cha Real Smooth (U.S. Dramatic)
Win Audience Awards Presented by Acura

 

Left to Right Top Row: All That Breathes, Nanny, Utama Middle Row: The Exiles, Cha Cha Real Smooth, Framing Agnes Bottom Row: Navalny, The Territory, Girl Picture. (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)

Park City, UT — After nine days, 84 feature films and 59 short films, the juries have deliberated and the audience has voted, and tonight the 2022 Sundance Film Festival’s Awards were announced. The award-winning films will screen online on the Festival platform on Saturday, January 29 and Sunday, January 30. Tickets for all award screening films are available beginning at 5:00 PM MT today.

The 26 jury-awarded and six audience-awarded prizes recognize achievement in global independent storytelling. Bold, intimate, and culture-shifting stories prevailed across categories, with Grand Jury Prizes awarded to Nanny (U.S. Dramatic), The Exiles (U.S. Documentary), Utama (World Cinema Dramatic), and All That Breathes (World Cinema Documentary). Audience Awards were presented to Navalny (U.S. Documentary), Cha Cha Real Smooth (U.S. Dramatic), Girl Picture (World Cinema Dramatic), The Territory (World Cinema Documentary), Framing Agnes (NEXT), with Navalny winning the Festival Favorite Award.

 

Joana Vicente

“Today’s awards represent the determination of visionary individuals, whose dynamic work will continue to change the culture and create discourse throughout the year,” said Sundance Institute CEO Joana Vicente. “This year’s entire program has proven that no matter the context, independent storytelling remains a pivotal tool in expanding critical dialogues, and these stories will and must be shared.”

 

Tabitha Jackson

“The 2022 Sundance Film Festival once again met our audience wherever they happened to be,” added Sundance Film Festival Director Tabitha Jackson, “Whether you watched from home or one of our seven satellite screens, this year’s Festival expressed a powerful convergence; we were present, together, as a community connected through the work. And it is work that has already changed those who experienced it.”

Kim Yutani

“We are so grateful for this year’s jurors who brought their expertise and passion to their decision-making process,” said the Festival’s Director of Programming Kim Yutani, “We congratulate the award winners and we’re so thankful to each and every film in the program that made the 2022 Sundance Film Festival such a huge success.”

The awards announcement marks a key point of the 2022 Festival, where 84 feature-length and 59 short films — selected from 14,849 submissions — were showcased online via the Festival’s online platform; a selection of the program will play at 7 Satellite Screen locations across the United States, starting tonight.

This year’s jurors were: Chelsea Barnard, Marielle Heller, and Payman Maadi for U.S. Dramatic Competition; Garrett Bradley, Joan Churchill, and Peter Nicks for U.S. Documentary Competition; Andrew Haigh, Mohamed Hefzy, and La Frances Hui for World Cinema Dramatic Competition; and Emilie Bujès, Patrick Gaspard, and Dawn Porter for World Cinema Documentary Competition. Joey Soloway was the juror for the NEXT competition section. Penelope Bartlett, Kevin Jerome Everson, and Blackhorse Lowe juried the Short Film Program Competition.

Feature film award winners in previous years include Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised), CODA, Flee, Hive, Minari, Boys State, Epicentro, Yalda, A Night for Forgiveness, Clemency, One Child Nation, Honeyland, The Souvenir, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, I don’t feel at home in this world anymore., Weiner, Whiplash, Fruitvale Station, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Twenty Feet from Stardom, Searching for Sugarman, The Square, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Cartel Land, The Wolf Pack, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Dope, Dear White People, The Cove and Man on Wire.

GRAND JURY PRIZES

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to Nikyatu Jusu for Nanny / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Nikyatu Jusu, Producers: Nikkia Moulterie, Daniela Taplin Lundberg) — Aisha is an undocumented nanny working for a privileged couple in New York City. As she prepares for the arrival of the son she left behind in Senegal, a violent supernatural presence invades her reality, threatening the American dream she is painstakingly piecing together. Cast: Anna Diop, Michelle Monaghan, Sinqua Walls, Morgan Spector, Rose Decker, Leslie Uggams.

Juror Chelsea Bernard said: “For this Grand Jury Prize we celebrate a movie that flooded us with its compassionate and horrifying portrayal of a mother being separated from her child. This film cannot be contained by any one genre —it’s visually stunning, masterfully acted, impeccably designed from sound to visual effects, and the overall vision, expertly guided by Nikyatu Jusu comes together offering its audience an electrifying experience.”

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to Ben Klein and Violet Columbus for The Exiles / U.S.A. (Directors: Ben Klein, Violet Columbus, Producers: Maria Chiu, Ben Klein, Violet Columbus) — Documentarian Christine Choy tracks down three exiled dissidents from the Tiananmen Square massacre, in order to find closure on an abandoned film she began shooting with Renee Tajima-Peña in 1989.

Juror Joan Churchill said: “For the Grand Jury Prize, we recognize a film which is totally original, layered, philosophical and non-linear — challenging our understanding of history. For celebrating the power of documentary filmmaking and the responsibility of the filmmaker to examine the truth.”

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to Alejandro Loayza Grisi for Utama / Bolivia/Uruguay/France (Director and Screenwriter: Alejandro Loayza Grisi, Producers: Santiago Loayza Grisi, Federico Moreira, Marcos Loayza, Jean-Baptiste Bailly-Maitre) — In the Bolivian highlands, an elderly Quechua couple has been living the same daily life for years. When an uncommon long drought threatens their entire way of life, Virginio and his wife Sisa face the dilemma of resisting or being defeated by the environment and time itself. Cast: Jose Calcina, Luisa Quispe, Santos Choque.

Juror Mohamed Hefzy said: “An intimate and tender portrayal of a family struggling to uphold their traditional way of life and finding resilience in the face of loss, this beautifully shot first feature film brings into focus the effect of climate change on the indigenous populations of South America.”

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to Shaunak Sen for All That Breathes / India/U.K. (Director and Producer: Shaunak Sen, Producers: Aman Mann, Teddy Leifer) — Against the darkening backdrop of Delhi’s apocalyptic air and escalating violence, two brothers devote their lives to protect one casualty of the turbulent times: the bird known as the Black Kite.

Juror Emilie Bujès said: “This poetic film delivers an urgent political story while constructing a singular and loving portrait of protagonists resisting seemingly inevitable ecological disaster – with humorous touches punctuated by the unsentimental depiction of the animal kingdom. For maintaining its suspenseful tension when portraying the interior struggles of its characters and the contradictions in spirituality and materialism they confront, we present the [World Cinema] Grand Jury Prize to All That Breathes.”

AUDIENCE AWARDS

The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, Presented by Acura was awarded to Navalny / U.S.A. (Director: Daniel Roher, Producers: Odessa Rae, Diane Becker, Melanie Miller, Shane Boris) — Shot as the story unfolded, a fly-on-the-wall documentary thriller about anti-authoritarian Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Recovering in Berlin after nearly being poisoned to death with the nerve agent Novichok, Navalny makes shocking discoveries about his assassination attempt and bravely decides to return home – whatever the consequences.

The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, Presented by Acura was awarded to Cha Cha Real Smooth / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Cooper Raiff, Producers: Dakota Johnson, Ro Donnelly, Erik Feig, Jessica Switch, Cooper Raiff) — A directionless college graduate embarks on a relationship with a young mom and her teenage daughter while learning the boundaries of his new bar mitzvah party-starting gig. Cast: Dakota Johnson, Cooper Raiff, Vanessa Burghardt, Evan Assante, Brad Garrett, Leslie Mann.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic was awarded to Girl Picture / Finland (Director: Alli Haapasalo, Screenwriters: Ilona Ahti, Daniela Hakulinen, Producers: Leila Lyytikäinen, Elina Pohjola) — Mimmi, Emma, and Rönkkö are girls at the cusp of womanhood, trying to draw their own contours. In three consecutive Fridays two of them experience the earth-moving effects of falling in love, while the third goes on a quest to find something she’s never experienced before pleasure. Cast: Aamu Milonoff, Eleonoora Kauhanen, Linnea Leino.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary was awarded to The Territory / Brazil/Denmark/United States (Director: Alex Pritz, Producers: Will N. Miller, Sigrid Dyekjær, Lizzie Gillett, Anonymous) — When a network of Brazilian farmers seizes a protected area of the Amazon rainforest, a young Indigenous leader and his mentor must fight back in defense of the land and an uncontacted group living deep within the forest.

The Audience Award: NEXT, Presented by Adobe was awarded to Framing Agnes / Canada/U.S.A. (Director: Chase Joynt, Producers: Samantha Curley, Shant Joshi, Chase Joynt) — After discovering case files from a 1950s gender clinic, a cast of transgender actors turn a talk show inside out to confront the legacy of a young trans woman forced to choose between honesty and access.

FESTIVAL FAVORITE AWARD

Selected by audience votes from the 84 features screened at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, the Festival Favorite Award was presented to Navalny / U.S.A. (Director: Daniel Roher, Producers: Odessa Rae, Diane Becker, Melanie Miller, Shane Boris) — Shot as the story unfolded, a fly-on-the-wall documentary thriller about anti-authoritarian Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Recovering in Berlin after nearly being poisoned to death with the nerve agent Novichok, Navalny makes shocking discoveries about his assassination attempt and bravely decides to return home – whatever the consequences.

JURY AWARDS FOR DIRECTING, SCREENWRITING & EDITING

The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to Reid Davenport for I Didn’t See You There / U.S.A. (Director: Reid Davenport, Producer: Keith Wilson) — Spurred by the spectacle of a circus tent that goes up outside his Oakland apartment, a disabled filmmaker launches into an unflinching meditation on freakdom, (in)visibility, and the pursuit of individual agency.

Juror Peter Nicks said, “In moments ranging from whimsical to hypnotic, this remarkable film demonstrates a singular command of cinematic form to create an immerse and authentic experience. For this captivating tableau that reminds us of the beauty of the unseen, the Directing Award goes to Reid Davenport for I Didn’t See You There.”

The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to Jamie Dack for Palm Trees and Power Lines / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Jamie Dack, Screenwriter: Audrey Findlay, Producers: Leah Chen Baker, Jamie Dack) — Seventeen-year-old Lea spends her summer aimlessly tanning with her best friend, tiptoeing around her fragile mother, and getting stoned with a group of boys from school. This monotony is disrupted by an encounter with Tom, a man twice her age, who promises an alternative to Lea’s unsatisfying adolescent life. Cast: Lily McInerny, Jonathan Tucker, Gretchen Mol.

Juror Marielle Heller said, “Jamie Dack …directs a brave and subtle film that forces us to face something that is happening just under the surface all over the world. She expertly guided two extraordinary lead performances that ground us so deeply in the circumstances that we can’t look away. This is a situation we like to keep at arm’s length but it’s closer and more invasive than we all wish, and this film delicately walks us through how anyone’s desire for love and attention can lead you down a rabbit hole that’s impossible to escape from.”

The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented to Simon Lereng Wilmont for A House Made Of Splinters / Denmark (Director: Simon Lereng Wilmont, Producer: Monica Hellström) — In Eastern Ukraine, follow the daily life of children and staff in a special kind of home: an institution for children who have been removed from their homes while awaiting court custody decisions. Staff does their best to make the time children have there safe and supportive.

Juror Dawn Porter said, “An astonishing achievement in documentary storytelling. With sensitivity, this filmmaker immerses us in an intimate story obscured by a broad political conflict tearing at the fabric of a country. This pristine and highly emotional film embraces the children’s universe within a harsh reality.”

The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented to Maryna Er Gorbach for KLONDIKE / Ukraine/Turkey (Director and Screenwriter: Maryna Er Gorbach, Producers: Maryna Er Gorbach, Mehmet Bahadir Er, Sviatoslav BulakovskyI) — The story of a Ukrainian family living on the border of Russia – Ukraine during the start of the war. Irka refuses to leave her house even as the village gets captured by armed forces. Shortly after they find themselves at the center of an air crash catastrophe on July 17, 2014. Cast: Oxana Cherkashyna, Sergey Shadrin, Oleg Scherbina, Oleg Shevchuk, Artur Aramyan, Evgenij Efremov.

Juror Andrew Haigh said: “An exhilarating piece of cinema, meticulously framed, exquisitely blocked, and beautifully performed, this is a film about the choices we make as the world is torn apart.”

The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to K.D. Dávila for Emergency / U.S.A. (Director: Carey Williams, Screenwriter: KD Davila, Producers: Marty Bowen, Isaac Klausner, John Fischer) — Ready for a night of partying, a group of Black and Latino college students must weigh the pros and cons of calling the police when faced with an unusual emergency. Cast: RJ Cyler, Donald Watkins, Sebastian Chacon, Sabrina Carpenter.

Juror Marielle Heller said, “We celebrate KD Davila’s wildly inventive and instantly compelling script for Emergency. From the beginning premise, we are instantly hooked and on the side of our lead characters as they try to navigate an impossible situation with hilarious and gut-wrenching results. By the end of the film, we are entirely invested in the friendship of these young men and have gone along on this funny and witty ride and come out on the other side feeling more connected to each other as human beings. Davila’s script, in Carey Williams’ extremely capable hands, takes us on a wild ride that we will never forget.”

The Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to Erin Casper and Jocelyne Chaput for Fire Of Love / U.S.A. (Director: Sara Dosa, Producers: Shane Boris, Ina Fichman, Sara Dosa) — Intrepid scientists and lovers Katia & Maurice Krafft died in a volcanic explosion doing the very thing that brought them together: unraveling the mysteries of volcanoes by capturing the most explosive imagery ever recorded. A doomed love triangle between Katia, Maurice, and volcanoes, told through their archival footage.

Juror Peter Nicks said, “For its ability to distill a wealth of immersive archival material into a powerful story of human endeavor and love, the Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award goes to Fire of Love.”

SPECIAL JURY AWARDS

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Uncompromising Artistic Vision was presented to Bradley Rust Gray for blood / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Bradley Rust Gray, Producers: David Urrutia, Bradley Rust Gray, So Yong Kim, Elika Portnoy, Alex Orlovsky, Jonathon Komack Martin) — After the death of her husband, a young woman travels to Japan where she finds solace in an old friend. But when comforting turns to affection, she realizes she must give herself permission before she can fall in love again. Cast: Carla Juri, Takashi Ueno, Gustaf Skarsgård, Futaba Okazaki, Issey Ogata.

Juror Payman Maadi said, “For a special jury award for an uncompromising artistic vision we celebrate Bradley Rust Gray for his film blood. Rust gently walks us through an authentic journey of grief that invites us to observe intimate moments of human connection. It is sometimes the small changes that leave a lasting effect on your life. Sometimes to ease your pain and find yourself, you have to leave your comfortable surroundings to find a world that will help you know yourself better.”

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Ensemble Cast was presented to John Boyega, Nicole Beharie, Selenis Leyva, Connie Britton, Olivia Washington, London Covington, and Michael K Williams for 892 / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Abi Damaris Corbin, Screenwriter: Kwame Kwei-Armah, Producers: Ashley Levinson, Salman Al-Rashid, Sam Frohman, Kevin Turen, Mackenzie Fargo) — When Brian Brown-Easley’s disability check fails to materialize from Veterans Affairs, he finds himself on the brink of homelessness and breaking his daughter’s heart. No other options, he walks into a Wells Fargo Bank and says “I’ve got a bomb.“ Cast: John Boyega, Michael Kenneth Williams, Nicole Beharie, Connie Britton, Olivia Washington, Selenis Leyva.

Juror Payman Maadi said, “For a special jury prize for an incredible ensemble of actors we celebrate 892: John Boyega, Nicole Beharie, Selenis Leyva, Connie Britton, Olivia Washington, London Covington, and the legendary Michael K Williams. These actors represent the best of their craft, bringing their humanity required to tell Lance Corporal Brian Brown-Easley’s heartbreaking story to the screen.”

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Impact for Change was presented to Aftershock / / U.S.A. (Directors and Producers: Paula Eiselt, Tonya Lewis Lee) — Following the preventable deaths of their partners due to childbirth complications, two bereaved fathers galvanize activists, birth-workers and physicians to reckon with one of the most pressing American crises of our time – the U.S. maternal health crisis.

Juror Garrett Bradley said, “We would like to recognize a film which brings to light an issue both historical and ever-present — which weaves together a critical and lesser-known history alongside the urgency of today.”

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Creative Vision was presented to Descendant / U.S.A. (Director: Margaret Brown, Producers: Essie Chambers, Kyle Martin) — Clotilda, the last known ship carrying enslaved Africans to the United States, arrived in Alabama 40 years after African slave trading became a capital offense. It was promptly burned, and its existence denied. After a century shrouded in secrecy and speculation, descendants of Clotilda’s survivors are reclaiming their story.

Juror Peter Nicks said, “For the Creative Vision – Special Jury Award, we would like to recognize a film which evokes, un-surfaces, and reveals, in a profound direction forward. A character-driven film in pursuit of historical reconciliation, the award goes to “Descendant,” directed by Margret Brown.”

A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Documentary Craft was presented to The Territory / Brazil/Denmark/United States (Director: Alex Pritz, Producers: Will N. Miller, Sigrid Dyekjær, Lizzie Gillett, Anonymous) — When a network of Brazilian farmers seizes a protected area of the Amazon rainforest, a young Indigenous leader and his mentor must fight back in defense of the land and an uncontacted group living deep within the forest.

Juror Patrick Gaspard said, “A singular achievement of cinematic craft, the film thrills with a soaring score, sound design, skillful editing and cinematography, all in support of a story that is both intimate and epic. It allows contemplation of this existential crisis from multiple perspectives.”

A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Excellence In Verité Filmmaking was presented to Midwives / Myanmar (Director: Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing, Producers: Bob Moore, Ulla Lehman, Mila Aung-Thwin, Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing) — Two midwives work side-by-side in a makeshift clinic in Myanmar.

Juror Dawn Porter said, “This revealing film is a reminder of the exquisite power of cinema verité filmmaking. A surprising story of female self-determination in the face of militaristic oppression, directed with a rigor that demonstrates the resilience of filmmaker and subjects alike.”

A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Innovative Spirit was presented for Leonor Will Never Die / Philippines (Director and Screenwriter: Martika Ramirez Escobar, Producers: Monster Jimenez, Mario Cornejo) — Fiction and reality blur when Leonor, a retired filmmaker, falls into a coma after television land on her head, compelling her to become the action hero of her unfinished screenplay. Cast: Sheila Francisco, Bong Cabrera, Rocky Salumbides, Anthony Falcon.

Juror La Frances Hui said, “Switching in-between genres, this film within a film follows an ailing screenwriter who enters her unfinished screenplay of a gangster film to experience and edit her own creation. Constantly shifting in tone, the film is a playful display of the love of cinema. Its innovative and risk-taking spirit is especially commendable.”

A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Acting was presented to Teresa Sánchez for Dos Estaciones / Mexico (Director and Screenwriter: Juan Pablo González, Screenwriters: Ana Isabel Fernández, Ilana Coleman, Producers: Jamie Gonçalves, Ilana Coleman, Bruna Haddad, Makena Buchanan) — In the bucolic hills of Mexico’s Jalisco highlands, iron-willed businesswoman Maria Garcia fights the impending collapse of her tequila factory. Cast: Teresa Sánchez, Tatín Vera, Rafaela Fuentes, Manuel García-Rulfo.

Juror La Frances Hui said: “This performance is a total standout. This actress delivers the complexity of a factory owner bearing the weight of a family business under threat. Her nuanced performance embodies toughness, loneliness, a yearning for love, and an ignitable rage that brings the character fully alive and infinitely fascinating to follow.”

NEXT INNOVATOR AWARD PRESENTED BY ADOBE

The NEXT Innovator Award presented by Adobe was presented to Chase Joynt for Framing Agnes / Canada, U.S.A. (Director: Chase Joynt, Producers: Samantha Curley, Shant Joshi, Chase Joynt) — After discovering case files from a 1950s gender clinic, a cast of transgender actors turn a talk show inside out to confront the legacy of a young trans woman forced to choose between honesty and access.

Juror Joey Soloway said, “This film simply grabbed me, taking me on a ride, questioning and re-questioning what was “real”. What an inspiring, alive structure this filmmaker pulled off — holding space for his own subjective presence, compelling and brilliant performances, and actual de-centering of coziness, but mostly — reclaiming history and pumping new breath into the outlines of those we never knew.”

SHORT FILM AWARDS PRESENTED BY XRM Media

Jury prizes for short filmmaking were awarded to:

The Short Film Grand Jury Prize was awarded to The Headhunter’s Daughter / Philippines (Director and Screenwriter: Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan, Producer: Hannah Schierbeek) — Leaving her family behind, Lynn traverses the harrowing roads of the Cordilleran highlands to try her luck in the city as a country singer. Cast: Ammin Acha-ur.

Juror Blackhorse Lowe said, “We were entranced by this poetic and dream-like film, which follows its character’s intimate journey with gorgeous cinematography and direction and acting, capturing a unique sense of place.”

The Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction was awarded to Walter Thompson-Hernández for IF I GO WILL THEY MISS ME / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Walter Thompson-Hernández, Producer: Stuart McIntyre) — Lil’ Ant is obsessed with Pegasus, the Greek mythological character, since first learning about him at school in Watts, California. He begins to notice imaginary airplane people around his home, and yearns to fly with them. Cast: Anthony Harris Jr.

Juror Blackhorse Lowe said, “We were impressed by the personal vision of this drama, a meditation on the filmmaker’s neighborhood, the need to fly and mythology, with vibrant writing and performances to show us all how to take control of our own world.”

The Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction was awarded to Dania Bdeir for Warsha / France/Lebanon (Director and Screenwriter: Dania Bdeir, Producer: Coralie Dias) — A Syrian migrant working as a crane operator in Beirut volunteers to cover a shift on one of the most dangerous cranes, where he is able to find his freedom. Cast: Khansa.

Juror Penelope Barlett said, “What first appears to be an everyday story about man’s quotidian existence set against the drudgery of a hazardous workplace transforms into a stunning, joyful journey of self-discovery and self-expression. For its combination of jaw-dropping aerial cinematography with an intense performance by the lead actor, The Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction goes to Warsha by Dania Bdeir.”

The Short Film Jury Award: Nonfiction was awarded to Samir Karahoda for Displaced / Kosovo (Director and Screenwriter: Samir Karahoda, Producer: Eroll Bilibani) — In postwar Kosovo, driven to keep their beloved sport table tennis alive, two local players wander from one obscure location to another carrying with them their club’s only possession: their tables.

Juror Penelope Barlett said, “Artfully framed and edited, with a droll sensibility that makes it almost feel like a narrative, this subtle, precise observation of a community determined to succeed and excel at their beloved sport, despite a lack of resources, or even a place to gather to play it, speaks powerfully to human resilience.”

The Short Film Jury Award: Animation was awarded to Joe Hsieh for Night Bus / Taiwan (Director and Screenwriter: Joe Hsieh, Producers: Wan Lin Lee, Joe Hsieh, Joe Chan) — On a late-night bus, a panicked scream shatters the night’s calm. A necklace is stolen, followed by a tragic and fatal road accident. The series of intriguing events that follow reveal love, hatred, and vengeance. Cast: Shu Fang Chen, Ming Hsiu Tsai, Yu Fang Lee, Shing Ming Wang, Shang Sing Guo, Pi Li Yeh.

Juror Kevin Jerome Everson said, “With its deft handling of film noir sensibilities, well-rounded storytelling, suspense, and deeply crafted characters this film takes us on a ride figuratively and literally.”

A Short Film Special Jury Award: Ensemble Cast was presented to Zélia Duncan, Bruna Linzmeyer, Camila Rocha, Clarissa Ribeiro, and Lorre Motta for A wild patience has taken me here / Brazil (Director and Screenwriter: Érica Sarmet, Producers: Lívia Perez, Silvia Sobral, Érica Sarmet) — Tired of loneliness, a middle-aged motorcyclist goes to a lesbian party for the first time. There she meets four young queers who share their home and affections. An encounter of generations, a tribute to those who brought us here. Cast: Zélia Duncan, Bruna Linzmeyer, Camila Rocha, Clarissa Ribeiro, Lorre Motta.

Juror Kevin Jerome Everson said, “A film that exercised extreme confidence with its generational group dynamics and an amazing cast that made the story and characters feel natural, exciting and inspirational to live and learn from.”

A Short Film Special Jury Award: Screenwriting was awarded to Sara Driver for Stranger Than Rotterdam with Sara Driver / United States (Directors: Lewie Kloster, Noah Kloster, Screenwriter: Sara Driver) — In 1982, the completion of Jim Jarmusch’s sophomore film, Stranger Than Paradise, hinged on producer Sara Driver’s willingness and ability to smuggle one of the world’s rarest and most controversial films across the Atlantic Ocean.

Juror Kevin Jerome Everson said, “With its unique storytelling approach, this historical documentary tells an all-too-familiar story of fighting for independent cinema. For her screenplay and narration, The Short Film Special Jury Award for screenwriting goes to Sara Driver for Stranger Than Rotterdam with Sara Driver by Lewie and Noah Kloster.”

EARLIER SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL AWARDS

The 2022 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, presented to an outstanding feature film about science or technology, was presented to After Yang. The filmmakers received a $20,000 cash award from Sundance Institute with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Award for Nonfiction went to Su Kim for Free Chol Soo Lee (U.S. Documentary Competition).

The Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Award for Fiction went to Amanda Marshall God’s Country (Premieres).

The Sundance Institute | Adobe Mentorship Award for Editing Nonfiction went to Toby Shimin, and the Sundance Institute | Adobe Mentorship Award for Editing Fiction went to Dody Dorn.

The Sundance Institute | NHK Award went to Hasan Hadi for his film The President’s Cake.

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Jonathan Tucker and Lily McInerny Lead In Jamie Dack’s Cautionary Tale, PALM TREES AND POWER LINES

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Jamie Zach’s Palm Trees and Power Lines, starring Jonathan Tucker and Lily McInerny made its World Premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival this week. The film is an adaptation of Zach’s 2017 short film of the same title.

 

Lily McInerny, left, and Jonathan Tucker lead in Jamie Zach’s cautionary tale, Palm Trees and Power Lines, a premiere feature at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)

 

What begins with an irascible state of condition for 17-year-old high school, party girl Lea, portrayed by Lily McInerny, ends with a state of affairs no one would want or imagine for their friend or child. Lea seems adrift and writer/director Jamie Dack while not pinpointing what has led Lea to her current state, drops hints. Meanwhile, the mounting, turbulent energy finds a vessel when thirty-four-year-old Tom rescues Lea from a teenage group dine and dash incident. Tom takes an interest in Lea, and Zack represents this with a powerful piece of camera work inside the dining establishment prior to the dine and dash incident.

Lea welcomes Tom’s attention and flattery as her high-school, hook-up boyfriend would rather find ways to condescend. Tom, portrayed by Jonathan Tucker, is a smooth operator. Within a short period of time, he has Lea isolated from her friends and her mother. Lea has no father figure in her life and Tom slithers into the role of father and Prince Charming. While imagining what is going on inside a grooming process is not readily accesible, Zach uses McInerny and Tucker to present a believable version with Tom prostituting Lea.

What unfolds may keep Zach’s work hidden outside the parameters of independent film and the festival circuit. Nevertheless, a well-told, cautionary tale by another fresh, nuanced voice from a writer/director reminiscent of Chloe Zhao and her 2021 Academy Award-winning work, Nomadland.

*This film contains sexual content that some viewers may find disturbing.

Aubrey Plaza As Emily The Criminal Steals The Show At Sundance

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Another day, another terrific independent film. Aubrey Plaza, a stalwart comedic actor, tweaked her repertoire with a dramatic performance as Emily in the John Patton Ford directed, 2022 Sundance Film Festival feature premiere, Emily The Criminal. Plaza is also credited as a producer as she found the script and presented it to Ford. As impressive as that is, it’s Plaza’s performance onscreen leaving audiences open-mouthed. To say Plaza is oozing with talent is not an overstatement.

 

Aubrey Plaza, portrays, Emily, in the action thriller, Emily The Criminal. (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)

 

As the film opens, Emily is mired in student debt and is facing a human resource person reminiscent of the 1990s as he pumps Emily for attention with a request to hear her story of an assault charge on her record. Plaza is demure, edgy, and very pensive until she realizes she’s not even close to getting hired. Her sharp delivery as she exits the office sets the tone for her character, Emily.

Emily The Criminal is well crafted, strongly written, and has the look and feel of a Safdie Brothers film (Uncut Gems, Good Time). It’s dark, edgy, and the acting is excellent. As mentioned Plaza portrays the lead character, Emily, and delivers a well-crafted, highly compelling performance with vivacity and vibrancy, not before seen from her previous roles. Theo Rossi delivers a powerful performance as Youcef, a Lebanese gangster, becomes involved with Emily romantically. Youcef is conducting illegal business activities with his conniving cousin, Khalil, portrayed convincingly by Jonathan Avigdori.

Emily the Criminal is an action thriller providing social commentary on the challenges young individuals, saddled with five-figure student debt and a minor criminal offense, face.  Living in shared accommodation, facing judgment at almost every turn, Emily decides to pursue a line of work involving illegal activities. Plaza’s Emily continues to make efforts to find proper work. Her “friend” Liz sets her up for an unpaid internship with her design company. Gina Gershon portrays the designer Alice. Gershon’s chops are spot on as Alice interviews Emily. Plaza’s reactions as Emily sends sparks flying as discovers she’s being interviewed (eventually offered an unpaid internship) and judged for her past minor criminal offense.

After the interview, the criminal enterprise floodgates open as Emily realizes her options are limited. From here Ford tightly keeps the film’s focus on Emily. Wise decision.  The action and plot deepen and darken keeping the viewer engaged. Admittedly, the twist at the end left me wanting more. Much more.

Emily The Criminal is an excellent offering. Four stars.

 

 

Am I OK?

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Wrapping up Day 6 with the Kim Yutani (Festival Programming Director) introduced film, Am I OK? from Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne, I was quickly taken into the relationship fold with an intimated and personalized invitation with a mesmerizing bedroom scene between the film’s two lead actors, Dakota Johnson and Sonoya Mizuno.

Dakota Johnson, left, and Sonoya Mizuno, explore relationships and friendships in Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne’s Am I OK? at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)

The editing from Kayla Emter and Glen Scantlebury and the cinematography from Cristina Dunlap brought to fruition the promise Notaro and Allyne hinted at during Yutani’s intro. The film explores sexuality and relationship mores between two 30ish women who are best friends, Jane, portrayed by Mizuno, is a firmly rooted woman finding success in her career and in her love life. On the other hand, Lucy, portrayed by Johnson, is struggling with her career and in the romance sphere.

Notaro and Allynne present the friendship in a microcosm revolving around work, friendship, relationships, and sexuality. As Lucy comes to the realization her sexual orientation is not what she thought, she has a falling out with Jane. Jane experiences a surprise in her romantic relationship when she accepts a promotion to open a London office and her partner decides he is not interested in supporting the move. Meanwhile, Lucy finds her identity.

Am I OK? is a beautiful story with exquisite character arcs. Johnson and Mizuno turn in highly compelling performances in a well-executed and strongly penned narrative. In addition, the filmmakers add comedic relief with several instances in magnifying character idiosyncrasies. Four stars.

Meet the filmmakers below. You’ll be glad you did. Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies!

 

Descendant Rocks the Boat at Sundance

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Another full day at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival with second screenings of Cooper Raif’s Cha Cha Real Smooth, a far-reaching, exquisitely cinematic effort, and Descendant, a documentary from Margaret Brown delving into the Clotilda, a renegade slave ship from 1859 that ensnared 150 Africans and brought them up into the Mobile River then was burned to hide the illegal run. Efforts were made to keep any and all references to the voyage hidden. The descendants from the Clotilda settled into an area known as Africatown and managed to keep their story alive primarily via the oral tradition.

Brown also reveals the enduring power imbalance that persists between the descendants of Timothy Meaher, the man who chartered the illegal expedition, and the descendants of those who were enslaved aboard it.

 

Cooper Raif, left, and Dakota star in Cha Cha Real Smooth premiering at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)

 

Cha Cha Real Smooth, like its central character, Andrew, portrayed by Raif, struggles to find its footing. Nevertheless, it is a sweetly sentimental story with a strong production design with a bountiful color pallette. Raif writes, directs, and stars with significant support from seasoned pros Dakota Johnson, Leslie Mann, and Brad Garrett. Raif is a remarkable talent comparable to the young Canadian filmmaker extraordinaire, Xavier Dolan. Of note, this is Dakota Johnson’s third film of the year (Lost Daughter premiered at the 2021 Telluride Film Festival) and her second Sundance film, following the highly compelling and well-executed story, Am I OK? from Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allyne. Stay tuned for more on Am I OK?

So many films, so little time…

Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies!

 

Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah.

 

Sundance Grabs History with Navalny

Posted by Larry Gleeson

 

PARK CITY, UT (January 25, 2022) – After a surprise announcement yesterday, today’s sixth day of the Sundance Film Festival saw the debut of the mystery film, Navalny, on the very same day that Russia added the Putin critic and subject of the documentary, Alexei Navalny, to their ‘terrorist’ list. In conjunction with this explosive moment, today the United States denounced this act and called for his immediate release. Never before in the history of Sundance has a film’s real-life circumstances reverberated so strongly in the culture and conversation of the day.

 

A still from Navalny, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary section at the 2022 Sundance

Sundance Film Festival completed the sixth day of its online festival programming featuring conversations with Daniel Roher, John Early, Kogonada, Lisa Joy, Donald Elise Watkins, Lily McInerny, and was home to the World Premiere of Navalny on the very same day that Russia added Alexei Navalny to their terror list.  Never before in the history of Sundance has a film and real-life circumstances been more timely.

Here’s background from Sundance’s BT –

In August 2020 while on a plane traveling from Siberia to Moscow, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent implicated in attacks on other opponents of the Russian government.

Taken to a local Siberian hospital and eventually evacuated to Berlin, doctors confirmed that he had been poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent implicated in attacks on other opponents of the Russian government. President Vladimir Putin immediately cast doubt on the findings and denied any involvement.

While recovering, Navalny and his team — already with a large social media following in tow — partnered with the data investigative journalism outlet Bellingcat as well as other international news organizations to investigate his attempted assassination and find proof of the Kremlin’s involvement. In NAVALNY, filmmaker Daniel Roher reveals a courageous and controversial would-be president at the precipice of sacrificing everything in order to bring reform to his homeland. —BT

Navalny Panel Members

 

Check out these quotes from January 25th, 2022, Navalny panel (included below):

  • DANIEL ROHER (Director) on the best case scenario this film could have on Navalny’s release: “I want every single human being on the planet earth to know the name Alexei Navalny.  I want that name to be associated with a grotesque injustice being perpetrated by the Russian state against a man who survived a murder attempt and then was arrested for merely surviving.  I want there to be a global outrage and outcry because of Alexei’s detainment, and I want people to stop doing business with the Russians, and I want there to be reasonable expectations for Navalny’s release.”
  • CHRISTO GROZEV (subject/CEO Bellingcat) on how he wants the world to treat President Putin: “I want the whole world on a daily basis to be confronting President Putin and treating him in no way different than say the president of North Korea.  This is not a civilized country, this is not a civilized establishment.  Just think of the glaring irony that on the day of the release of the film that discloses how Alexei Navalny was poisoned by his government – his government branded him a terrorist.  The people who are the terrorists brand him as a terrorist.  This is something that should sink in and be remembered by as many people as possible on a daily basis.”
  • MARIA PEVCHIKH (Executive Producer) on making the film accessible to Russians: “We are doing everything possible, and then a little bit more on top of it, to make it accessible to the Russian audience because we are convinced that they deserve it more than anybody else.”
  • DASHA NAVALNY (Subject/Alexei’s Daughter) on how her family is doing: “we are doing good, considering everything.  Our primary thinking with this movie coming out is that we want Alexei to be released.  My dad is doing okay, but excited to see the movie if he ever gets to.”

 

 

Each year, Sundance serves as a cultural launchpad, helping to expand audience horizons through film and the conversations that occur the minute that credits roll. Continuing to foster this spirit of discussion into 2022, Sundance Film Festival programs a series of panels across discipline and topic to keep the conversation going.

Stay tuned for more on Navalny!

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize Awarded at 2022 Sundance Film Festival, Three New Artist Grant Recipients Revealed

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize Awarded at 2022 Sundance Film Festival, Three New Artist Grant Recipients Revealed

20th Year of Science-In-Film Initiative Celebrated, Feature Film Prize Goes to After Yang

Park City, UT – The Sundance Film Festival has announced the artist grant recipients for the Sundance Institute Science-in-Film initiative at the twentieth annual Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize Reception, where the previously announced 2022 Feature Film Prize winner (Kogonada, After Yang) was honored. The grantees received a total of $70,000 in funding for their projects in development through the Sloan Episodic Fellowship (Kathryn Lo, Our Dark Lady), Sloan Development Fellowship (Nuhash Humayun, Moving Bangladesh) and Sloan Commissioning Grant (Shawn Snyder and Jason Begue, The Futurist).

“The Science-In-Film Initiative is turning 20 and we are thrilled to gather and celebrate After Yang and our grantees. With the importance of this initiative becoming clearer every year, it’s with gratitude that we mark two decades of the Sloan Foundation providing material support and recognition for filmmakers whose work engages with science and technology in an entertaining, meaningful way” said Festival Director Tabitha Jackson.

“From Primer, Grizzly Man, and Robot & Frank to Searching, Tesla, and After Yang – I was there for every award – it’s been a wonderful, pioneering, two-decade partnership with Sundance,” said Doron Weber, Vice President and Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “To see extraordinary work move from development to the screen and beyond for 20 years is to witness a line of progress in science and technology representation that has deeply influenced our culture. This year’s Feature Film Prize winner Kogonada and screenwriting recipients – Kathryn Lo, Nuhash Humayun, Shawn Snyder, and Jason Begue – are outstanding additions to the multitalented Sloan family. We’re honored to recognize these gifted artists and look forward to contributing to their future success.”

The twenty-year partnership between the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Sundance Institute forms part of the Sloan Foundation’s nationwide Film Program, which includes support for six of the nation’s leading film schools plus six additional public schools and seven screenwriting development partners and has resulted in over 750 film projects and 30 completed feature films. In addition to Hidden Figures, originally supported by a Sloan book grant, the film program has long championed stories about women in science from Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story to stories about Louise Pearce, Rosalind Franklin, Marie Curie, Lise Meitner and Jane Goodall. The program has also supported many works about the role of technology in daily life, including the impact of machine learning, robotics and artificial intelligence. Sloan has supported feature narrative films such as Adventures of a Mathematician, One Man Dies a Million Times, The Sound of Silence, To Dust, The Catcher Was a Spy, The Man Who Knew Infinity, The Imitation Game, Experimenter and Operator, along with documentaries, such as the 2020 Sundance Film Festival selection Coded Bias and several new projects, including episodic television, in development. The program has also given early recognition to stand-out films such as Don’t Look Up, Ammonite, The Aeronauts, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, First Man, Searching, The Martian and Son of Monarchs, last year’s recipient of the Feature Film Prize.

AFTER YANG: Winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize

After Yang has been awarded the 2022 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize and received a $20,000 cash award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation at today’s online reception. The Prize is selected by a jury of film and science professionals and presented to an outstanding feature film focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer or mathematician as a major character.

The 2022 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize Jury was previously announced on December 13th.

The jury stated, “For its exquisitely crafted and deep poetic meditation on how technology can help us reflect on our humanity, and the ways our brains navigate memory, loss, and connection — even while it poses new challenges to our privacy, security, and identity — the 2022 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Sundance Film Festival goes to Kogonada’s After Yang.”

After Yang / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Kogonada, Producers: Andrew Goldman, Caroline Kaplan, Paul Mezey, Theresa Park)  — In the near future, a father and daughter try to save the life of Yang, their beloved robotic family member. Cast: Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith. Justin H. Min, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, Haley Lu Richardson. North American Premiere. Fiction.

Koganada’s debut film, Columbus, starring John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson, premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. He wrote and directed his second feature, After Yang, starring Colin Farrell and Jodie Turner-Smith, for A24.

Sundance Institute / Sloan Episodic Fellowship

Kathryn Lo (writer) will receive a $10,000 cash award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival for Our Dark Lady. Previous winners include: The Harvard Computers, Higher, and DELTA-V.

Our Dark Lady: After James Watson trashes scientist Rosalind Franklin in his memoir on the discovery of DNA’s double helix, a friend seeks to uncover the theft of her data by investigating two labs in 1950s England — where Rosalind emerges as the centerpiece of the most important scientific breakthrough of the modern era.

Working in print, radio, television and online, Kathryn Lo relishes storytelling of all forms.  She spent 10 years curating the Emmy-winning documentary series Independent Lens, and oversaw a 450-hour program pipeline at PBS.  After a career of championing others’ work, Kathryn is excited to pursue her own curiosity and projects.

Sundance Institute / Sloan Development Fellowship

Nuhash Humayun (writer and director) will receive a $15,000 cash award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival for Moving Bangladesh. Previous winners include: Chariot, Tidal Disruption, and Goliath.

Moving Bangladesh: Stuck in traffic and in life – a struggling Bangladeshi entrepreneur creates an app that may change transport in developing countries forever, but must first overcome his skeptical family.

Nuhash Humayun is a Bangladesh-based writer/director with a focus on the intersection of genre and Asian identity. His credits include Sincerely Yours, Dhaka (world premiere at Busan 2018, acquired by Netflix). Nuhash’s upcoming feature Moving Bangladesh has  received support from Film Independent, Cannes Marche du Film, Locarno Open Doors and Film Bazaar.

Sundance Institute / Sloan Commissioning Grant

Shawn Snyder (co-writer and director) and Jason Begue (co-writer)  will receive a $25,000 cash award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival for The Futurist. Previous winners include: Pharmacopeia, The Plutonians and Challenger.

The Futurist: When the scientific community abandons him, a renowned neuroscientist attempts to rectify his complicated past and to author a more auspicious future by using his own brain for cyborgian experimentation. The Futurist takes place inside that brain. Inspired by true events.

Shawn Snyder’s first feature, the Sloan/Sundance supported To Dust, won the Best New Director Award and Audience Award at Tribeca 2018 and was nominated for Best Screenplay at the 2020 Independent Spirit Awards. Having studied Religion at Harvard and Filmmaking at NYU, Shawn never imagined making movies about science. He stands corrected.

Jason Begue is a Latinx filmmaker known for To Dust, which he co-wrote with Shawn Snyder and co-produced alongside Alessandro Nivola, Emily Mortimer and Ron Perlman. He is currently completing studies at NYU Grad Film, while the writing duo continues to develop a larger slate of projects – including Baby-Face, Jason’s first feature.

About the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation:
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a New York-based, philanthropic, not-for-profit institution that makes grants in three areas: research in science, technology, and economics; quality and diversity of scientific institutions; and public engagement with science. Sloan’s program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology, directed by Doron Weber, supports books, radio, film, television, theater, and new media to reach a wide, non-specialized audience and to bridge the two cultures of science and the humanities.

Sloan’s Film Program encourages filmmakers to create more realistic and compelling stories about science and technology and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists and engineers in the popular imagination. Over the past two decades, Sloan has partnered with top film schools in the country – including AFI, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, NYU, UCLA, and USC, plus six public film schools – and established annual awards in screenwriting and film production, along with an annual best-of-the-best Student Grand Jury Prize. The Foundation also supports screenplay development programs with the Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, Film Independent, SFFILM, the Black List, the Athena Film Festival, and  the North Fork TV Festival. The Foundation has helped develop over 30 feature films including Michael Almereyda’s Tesla, Lydia Dean Pilcher and Ginny Mohler’s Radium Girls, Thor Klein’s Adventures of a Mathematician, Jessica Oreck’s One Man Dies a Million Times, Michael Tyburski’s The Sound of Silence, Shawn Snyder’s To Dust,  Logan Kibens and Sharon Greene’s Operator, Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, and Matthew Brown’s The Man Who Knew Infinity. The Foundation has supported feature documentaries such as Picture a Scientist, Coded Bias, In Silico, Oliver Sacks: His Own Life, The Bit Player, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, Particle Fever, and Oceans.

The Foundation has an active theater program and commissions about 20 science plays each year from the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, and the National Theatre, as well as supporting select productions across the country and abroad. Recent grants have supported Bess Wohl’s Continuity, Charly Evon Simpson’s New York Times Critic’s Pick Behind the Sheet, Chiara Atik’s Bump, Leigh Fondakowski’s Spill, Lucy Kirkwood’s Mosquitoes, Nick Payne’s Constellations, Lucas Hnath’s Isaac’s Eye, and Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51. The Foundation’s book program includes support for Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures, which became the highest-grossing Oscar-nominated film of 2017 and a social and cultural milestone.

For more information about the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, please visit www.sloan.org or follow the Foundation at @SloanPublic on Twitter and Facebook.

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 Flee, CODA, Passing, Summer Of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, 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. 2022 Festival sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, AMC+, Chase Sapphire, Adobe; Leadership Sponsors – Amazon Studios, DIRECTV, DoorDash, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom Group, WarnerMedia, XRM Media; Sustaining Sponsors – Aflac, Audible, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Dell Technologies, IMDbPro, Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold, Rabbit Hole Bourbon & Rye, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health, White Claw Hard Seltzer; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, NPR, Shadow And Act, Variety, Vulture. 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. sundance.org/festival

Sundance Institute
As a champion and curator of independent stories for the stage and screen, Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, film composing, and digital media to create and thrive.
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, 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 Collab, 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 Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, City So Real, Top of the Lake, Between the World & Me, Wild Goose Dreams and Fun Home. Join the Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

(Press release provided by Sundance Institute)

Sundance 2022 Mid-Festival Report Beyond Film

Posted by Larry Gleeson

While there are still a few more days of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival left to watch movies, there’s also plenty of time left to check out all of the Beyond Film programmings they’ve been rolling out daily on the online Festival Platform.

Beyond Film includes Sundance-produced talks and events as well as artist meet-ups and a daily talk show with Fest Director Tabitha Jackson–there’s something for everyone and all of it is free at Festival.Sundance.org, without needing any kind of credential or ticket to accessing! The full list of programming is available here.

 

Dakota Johnson in the Q & A for Am I OK? at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)

 

There are big names (including actors and directors from the 2022 Sundance films this year, such as Dakota Johnson, Keke Palmer, Eva Longoria Bastòn, Amy Poehler, Emma Thompson and Karen Gillan) and big topics (such as climate change, robotics and censorship)

This is an excellent opportunity to check in and check out what’s going on behind the scenes and to get that little something extra.

 

 

Check it out!

 

THE BLACKHOUSE FOUNDATION WRAPS 2022 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL PROGRAMMING

Posted by Larry Gleeson

THE BLACKHOUSE FOUNDATION WRAPS 2022 FESTIVAL PROGRAMMING WITH A CELEBRATION OF 15 YEARS AT
THE SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
Reaffirms Commitment to Education by Introducing 
The International Screenwriter’s Lab
(Los Angeles, California, January 23, 2022) – With festivities underway, The Blackhouse Foundation has curated dynamic conversations in celebration of the culture’s premier thought leaders, with a lineup including Regina Hall, Tina Knowles-Lawson, Richard Lawson, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, industry executives across film, television, visual media, and more!
Today, The Blackhouse Foundation’s programming slate will culminate with a celebratory look back at the foundation’s 15-year history at The Sundance Film Festival, its evolution, and a look towards the future of Blackhouse. Executive Director Jenean Glover will moderate this discussion with Blackhouse Chairman and Co-Founder Brickson Diamond, Co-Founder and Board Member Carol Ann Shine, and Board Members Pauline Fischer, Datari Turner, and Dolly Turner. Register now via Crowdcast to attend!
As The Blackhouse Foundation steps into its 15th year, Blackhouse reaffirms its commitment to education and to creating opportunities for Black filmmakers domestically and internationally. The Blackhouse Foundation, in partnership with Pauline Fischer’s PMF Media Group and VentureLift Africa, recently introduced the International Scriptwriter’s Lab, a creative accelerator and fellowship program whose core mission is to support global, emerging storytellers of compelling film and television projects and help position the participants on a path to project launch. Focusing on Kenyan participants this year – the five Fellows of the inaugural cohort consist of screenwriters Damaris Irungu, Voline Ogutu, Carolyne Kemunto, Wanjiru Kairu and Grace Irungu – the goal is to create a bridge between African and Hollywood-based storytellers, especially African-American storytellers, and help position all participants for success through increased preparedness and connection and to create and nurture a pipeline of talented creative voices across the region.

Today’s Programming Schedule at The Blackhouse!

Building Inclusive Content at Lionsgate
Date: Sunday, 1/23
Time: 1pm – 2pm MT
The Blackhouse Foundation is proud to present a fireside chat with Lionsgate on the future of inclusive content. Join their President of Motion Picture Group, Nathan Kahane, and Head of Inclusive Content, Kamala Avila-Salmon, for an intimate conversation with Blackhouse CEO, Brickson Diamond, on how this leading film studio is building an intentional and integrated roadmap for a more diverse and inclusive film slate for years to come.
Onyx Collective Presents: Summer of Soul, A Necessary Story
Date: Sunday, 1/23
Time: 2:30pm – 3:30pm MT
Join Summer of Soul Director Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Onyx Collective’s President Tara Duncan for an intimate conversation about Black erasure and getting history right. Moderated by The Atlantic’s Hannah Giorgis, they will reflect on the importance of building transformative narratives and curating these untold stories that have the power to change the world.
Celebrating 15 Years of the Blackhouse at Sundance
Date: Sunday, 1/23
Time: 4pm – 5pm MT
The Blackhouse Foundation remains a linchpin for culture on a global scale through engagements at Sundance and beyond. But how did we get here? Join the foundation’s leadership as they recap their illustrious 15-year evolution.
For 2022, The Blackhouse Foundation proudly welcomes Meta back as Presenting Sponsor. Onyx Collective joins The Blackhouse Foundation as Select Sponsor, while Lionsgate and Participant contribute as Supporting Sponsors and ICM Partners joins as Sponsor.
The Blackhouse Foundation continues to champion and support leading black writers, directors, producers, crew, and talent throughout film, television, digital media, and beyond with an unshakable platform.

ABOUT THE BLACKHOUSE FOUNDATION:

The Blackhouse Foundation works to expand opportunities for Black content creators by providing pathways to opportunities within film, television, digital, and emerging platforms. Blackhouse provides opportunities for minority creatives to learn about the financial production, marketing, and distribution resources that will raise the profile of their content, while also providing participants with a nucleus for continuing support, community, and education.

(Press release provided by the Purple Agency, Andre Watson)

Sundance Day Four For Fans of the Spooky and Supernatural

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Katie Small

What to Watch at the 2022 Festival: Films for Fans of the Spooky and Supernatural

 

Maika Monroe appears in Watcher by Chloe Okuno, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

From the Festival that brought you some of the most iconic and deeply disturbing horror flicks of the last several decades — including The Blair Witch Project, Hereditary, Halloween, and Saw — the 2022 Sundance Film Festival boasts yet another impressive lineup of deeply imaginative films that dwell in the terrifying and supernatural.

Whether you’re a fan of gripping psychological thrillers or supernatural folk horror, this year’s selections are sure to keep you engaged and on the edge of your seat. But if you abhor gore, fear not, as there are plenty of palatable films for the squeamish; elements of magical realism and the paranormal abound.

The following list breaks the lineup down into supernatural dramas, psychological thrillers, and films that include a bit of both. Themes of social isolation, motherhood, family dynamics, romance, and racism dominate.

Supernatural Dramas

 

A still from Nanny by Nikyatu Jusu, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Nanny (U.S. Dramatic) — Aisha is an undocumented Senegalese immigrant in pursuit of the American dream — her specific version of which involves bringing her young son, whom she was forced to leave behind in Senegal, to join her in New York City. She finds work as a nanny for a wealthy Manhattan family, but must carefully navigate the tense atmosphere between the workaholic mother and the disillusioned father. Meanwhile, she is haunted by a supernatural entity derived from West African folklore, a presence that invades both her dreams and reality.

The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future (World Dramatic) — Magical realism propels the melodrama in the Spanish language film The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future; the mysterious resurrection of her long-dead mother forces Cecilia to return home to her family’s dairy farm in southern Chile. Once there, she rendezvous with magical farm animals, eschews a connection with her mother, struggles to find common ground with her estranged brother and father, and grapples with the budding transgender identity of her eldest child.

 

Supernatural Horror

Regina Hall appears in Master by Mariama Diallo, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

 

Master (U.S. Dramatic) — At an elite New England university, the dean of students (Regina Hall), a first-year student (Zoe Renee), and a literature professor (Amber Gray) navigate politics and privilege as they encounter increasingly terrifying manifestations of their school’s haunted and racist past. An eye-opening study of power and privilege, Master marks writer-director Mariama Diallo’s first feature and blends horror, drama, psychological thriller, and social critique. Sundance programmer John Nein says, “What begins as a search for belonging becomes a chilling struggle for survival, and Diallo shrewdly reframes a basic horror trope — escaping an evil force — asking what escape is possible for communities of color confronting a racial terror that is everywhere.”

You Won’t Be Alone (World Dramatic) — Set in 19th-century Macedonia, folk horror film You Won’t Be Alone is a dark fable propelled by the supernatural. After a young girl is transformed into a witch by an ancient, shape-shifting spirit, she is left to roam the woods in a feral state. When she inadvertently kills a villager, she becomes a shape-shifter herself, assuming the body of her victim. The young witch continues to inhabit different people (played by multiple actors), living among the villagers for years, observing and mimicking their behavior until the ancient spirit who cursed her returns.

Resurrection (Premieres) — Taking an unsettling look at the consequences of emotional manipulation and codependent relationships, Resurrection mixes magical realism and horror to unnerving effect. After a phantom from her past returns to haunt her, Margaret finds herself being pushed to extreme limits that test her “kindness” and ability to be a good mother — a key facet of her personal identity, and one that she has carefully cultivated while juggling single parenthood and building a successful career. Rebecca Hall’s magnetic lead performance makes this surreal psychological thriller unforgettable.

Hatching (Midnight) — Tween gymnast Tinja spends most of her time fighting with her obnoxious little brother and trying to please her image-obsessed mother, who showcases their family’s existence on her popular blog “Lovely Everyday Life” as a bright and cheery vision of suburban perfection. After Tinja discovers a dying bird in the woods, she brings its strange egg home and nurtures it until it hatches. According to Sundance programmer Heidi Zwicker, “The creature that emerges, christened Alli, becomes Tinja’s closest friend, surrogate child, and living nightmare in this tremendously twisted coming-of-age body horror film.”

Horror and Psychological Thrillers

Maika Monroe appears in Watcher by Chloe Okuno, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

 

Watcher (U.S. Dramatic) — Newly married, Julia moves with her husband to Romania where he has just landed a new job. While he’s busy working all day, she’s left alone to wander the wintery streets of Bucharest and lounge in their luxurious apartment. Cooped up, she notices someone watching her in the adjacent building, and as the stranger’s observations continue unabated, Julia launches an obsessive quest to prove her suspicions to her skeptical husband. Meanwhile, a serial killer known as The Spider stalks Bucharest, targeting young women. Watcher hypnotically weaves a web of suspense and misgivings as Julia, isolated in a foreign landscape, must defend her intuition.

Speak No Evil (Midnight) — While on vacation in Tuscany, a polite Danish family befriends a free-spirited Dutch couple and their mute son; a few months later, the Dutch invite the Danes to visit them at their home in the Netherlands. They happily oblige, but what starts out as an idyllic reunion quickly takes a turn for the worse. The Danes’ exceptional houseguest manners are repeatedly tested by their erratic and eccentric hosts, who are harboring secret and sinister intentions. Speak No Evil masterfully builds tension and suspense, with a visual crescendo that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

PIGGY (Midnight) — Sara, a small town butcher’s daughter, is routinely ridiculed for her appearance by a clique of mean girls in her rural Spanish village. One summer day at the community pool, the girls take the bullying too far, nearly drowning Sara. A vigilante stranger witnesses the event and responds by kidnapping Sara’s tormentors. As the town searches for the bullies, Sara, intrigued by the stranger’s ambiguous intentions, keeps quiet. Horrific brutalities ensue and the violence only worsens the longer Sara holds her tongue. Bloody and laced with grim satire, PIGGY is a psychologically thrilling, nail-biting tale of justice, redemption, and the vulnerability of a tormented teenager desperate to fit in.

Fresh (Midnight) — Frustrated by dating apps, Noa takes a chance on the awkward-but-charming cosmetic surgeon that she bumped into in the produce section of the grocery store. Their romance quickly takes off, and she accepts his invitation for an impromptu weekend getaway, but quickly discovers that her roguish new lover is hiding some unusual appetites. Starring Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan, Fresh tells a twisted tale of the horrifying realities of modern dating.