The Sundance Film Festival has wrapped another successful year of showcasing the very best independent films from across the globe. Festival programmers, who this year painstakingly whittled down 3,762 feature-length submissions to the final 82 selections — not counting Shorts, Midnight, and other film categories; strove to create a balanced slate of films under Festival Programming Director Kim Yutani’s direction, “that were meaningful and inspiring, in addition to being simply entertaining.”
Here were some of my top takeaways:
La Guerra Civil, directed and produced by Eva Longoria Bastón tells the story of two of Mexico’s greatest lightweight modern-era boxers, American-born Oscar De La Hoya and Julio Cesar Chavez. More than a boxing story, Longoria Bastón shapes the narrative through the Mexican and Mexican-American cultural lens. What emerges is a very intimate look at both boxers and their impact on the dichotomy of what it means to be Mexican and what it means to be Mexican-American. Four stars.
The Worst Person in the World directed by Joachim Trier is the third part of his Oslo trilogy. A beautifully made film with a first-time film portrayal for the lead actress, Renate Reinsve. The film is told through Reinsve’s character and is about finding one’s place in the world. In the film’s introduction, Trier referred to the film as a Norwegian romantic comedy told in twelve separate chapters with an epilogue and a prologue. Originally premiered in competition at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival (with Renate Reinsve winning Best Actress for her performance).
Chiqui, an indie episodic set in the 1980s was a romp. It’s 1987. Chiqui and Carlos emigrate from Colombia to New Jersey to find a better life for themselves and their unborn son. Upon their arrival, they quickly realize that the American dream is not as easy to achieve as they thought. The cast and crew – simply superb.
Downfall: The Case Against Boeing. One of the most anticipated films of the festival from acclaimed director, Rory Kennedy. Kennedy’s films are well-researched and provide astute socio-cultural insights. Downfall’s production values were exceptional resulting in a very polished film revealing shifts in cultural norms undoubtedly contributing to the untimely and tragic Max 737 plane crashes. Scheduled for a February 13th Netflix release followed by a theatrical run. A Netflix and Moxie Films Production. Four stars.
Watcher, Chloe Okuno’s, multi-layered suspenseful horror, drama, thriller features Maika Monroe as a young, blonde female coping with life in a foreign country. Monroe delivers a highly competent and strong performance. The non-diegetic soundtrack added immensely to the suspense and featured Max Richter’s “Moment in Paris.” Undeniable Charade and Rear Window Hitchcockian influences Shot on location in Bucharest, Romania. Four stars.
So many films, so little time….Stay tuned for Part II, III, and IV!
Day 3 at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival brought forth in the US Dramatic Competition what seemed like a Maika Monroe vehicle with Chloe Okuno’s Watcher, a genre-bending thriller. Watcher is set in Bucharest, Romania, and tells the tale of a young, blonde, expatriate female coping with life in a new country and the uneasy feeling she is being watched.
Maika Monroe is cast as the lead, Julia, and her physical talent is on full display. Her physicalities in a train sequence are extraordinary. While the plot is a bit predictable, the visuals and inclusiveness of various genres, combined with Hitchcockian touches make the film quite palatable, and Maika Monroe’s performance as Julia is just as delightful as it is impressive.
Another day, another batch of Sundance 2022 films! The film festival is set to run January 20th throught January 30th, 2022. Check out 42West Sundance 2022 Slate with riveting and informative documentaries from Rory Kennedy (DOWNFALL: THE CASE AGAINST BOEING), Eva Longoria Bastion (LA GUERRA CIVIL chronicling the epic boxing matches between Oscar De la Hoya and Julio César Chávez), Tia Lessin, and Emma Pildes (THE JANES, a revelatory period piece on finding a safe alternative to a life-threatening pregnancy). And, there’s the riveting Maika Monroe-led Watcher from Chloe Okuno! See below for more.
42West Sundance 2022 Slate
Premieres — Acquisition
A film by Phyllis Nagy
Starring Elizabeth Banks, Sigourney Weaver, Chris Messina, Kate Mara, Wunmi Mosaku, Cory Michael Smith, Grace Edwards
Set in Chicago, 1968. As a city and the nation are poised on the brink of violent political upheaval, suburban housewife Joy leads an ordinary life with her husband and daughter. When Joy’s pregnancy leads to a life-threatening condition, she must navigate a medical establishment unwilling to help. Her journey to find a solution to an impossible situation leads her to the “Janes,” a clandestine organization of women who provide Joy with a safer alternative — and in the process, change her life.
DOWNFALL: THE CASE AGAINST BOEING
Premieres — Netflix
A film by Rory Kennedy
Many of us take for granted that commercial air travel is safe. In 2018, with some 10,000 aircraft in service in more than 150 countries, industry leader Boeing had built its reputation on a dogged commitment to safety. But after 346 passengers are killed when two Boeing 737 MAX jets crash less than five months apart, dedicated journalists, surviving family members, and the United States Congress fight to reveal a culture of concealment and deceit within the venerated company.
Acclaimed director Rory Kennedy returns to the Sundance Film Festival with this comprehensive investigation into the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. Families of the victims relate the human cost of these tragedies, while aviation experts and former Boeing employees reveal what went wrong at the company, offering damning evidence of lies, negligence, and cover-up. DOWNFALL: The Case Against Boeing serves as a searing indictment of a once-principled company corrupted by the influence of Wall Street to prioritize profits above all else.
Rory’s films are all well-researched, informative and can pack a punch – expect nothing less with DOWNFALL.
Premieres — Acquisition
A film by Julian Higgins
Starring Thandiwe Newton, Jeremy Bobb, Joris Jarsky, Jefferson White, Kai Lennox, Tanaya Beatty
When a grieving college professor confronts two hunters she catches trespassing on her property, she’s drawn into an escalating battle of wills with catastrophic consequences.
US Documentary Competition — HBO
A film by Tia Lessin and Emma Pildes
In the spring of 1972, police raided an apartment on the South Side of Chicago. Seven women were arrested and charged. The accused were part of a clandestine network. Using code names, blindfolds, and safe houses to protect their identities and their work, they built an underground service for women seeking safe, affordable, illegal abortions. They called themselves Jane. Facing off against the mafia, the church, and the state, the Janes exhibited unparalleled bravery and compassion for those most in need.
Co-directors and Sundance Film Festival alumni Tia Lessin and Emma Pildes unearth this incredibly timely story to demonstrate how the fight for safe and legal abortions was and continues to be, an uncertain and perilous undertaking. Electrifying archival footage of Chicago in the late ’60s and early ’70s, coupled with affectingly honest interviews with the Janes themselves, brings to life the city and its spirit of revolution in that historic moment.
LA GUERRA CIVIL
Premieres — DAZN
A film by Eva Langoria Bastón
This feature-length documentary follows the epic rivalry between iconic boxers Oscar De La Hoya and Julio César Chávez in the 1990s sparked a cultural divide between Mexican nationals and Mexican-Americans. A chronicle of a battle that was more than a boxing rivalry, and examining a fascinating slice of the Latino experience in the process. La Guerra Civil is a DAZN Originals production, directed by Actress, Producer, Director & Activist, Eva Longoria Bastón and produced by her Emmy-nominated UnbeliEVAble Entertainment.
MEET ME IN THE BATHROOM
Midnight — Acquisition
A film by Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace
An immersive journey through the New York music scene of the early 2000s. Set against the backdrop of 9/11, the film tells the story of how a new generation kickstarted a musical rebirth for New York City that reverberated around the world. Inspired by the book by Lizzy Goodman.
U.S. Dramatic Competition — Acquisition
A film by Chloe Okuno
Starring Maika Monroe, Karl Glusman, Burn Gorman, Ciubuciu Bogdan Alexandru
A young woman moves into a new apartment with her fiancé and is tormented by the feeling that she is being stalked by an unseen watcher in an adjacent building.
Season Three Premiere Event Screening + Panel
Daveed Diggs, Rowan Blanchard, Lena Hall, Iddo Goldberg, Alison Wright, Mickey Sumner, Katie McGuinness, Chelsea Harris, Mike O’Malley, Annalise Basso, Steven Ogg, Sheila Vand, Roberto Urbina, Christoph Schrewe (subject to change pending availability)
Friday, January 21st at 5:00-6:30PM
ABOUT SNOWPIERCER SEASON THREE: At the end of “Snowpiercer” season two, Layton (Daveed Diggs) and Ruth (Alison Wright), who were banished to Big Alice’s compost car, plotted to take back Snowpiercer. With the help of Javier (Roberto Urbina) and Alexandra (Rowan Blanchard), Layton and Ruth made it back to Snowpiercer and rallied with their supporters. Josie (Katie McGuiness) destroyed the Aquarium car, separating Snowpiercer’s head from the remaining 1,023 cars. Season three picks up with Layton (Diggs) and his inner circle commanding a small 10 car “pirate train” in search of Melanie (Jennifer Connelly) and a possible warm location to restart civilization; while back on Snowpiercer, Mr. Wilford (Sean Bean) is consolidating power, awaiting Layton’s return.