Sundance 2023 Unseen Films capsule review: ‘Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis)’

Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis)

Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey “Po” Powell, are the men behind the art design studio, Hipgnosis. Named by Syd Barrett when he scrolled the name across a door, the studio went on to create hundreds of record covers for all of the great bands and performers.

One of the great films of the year this is going to be an absolute delight to anyone who loves the great art that accompanies great music. Not only do we get to see how the art was created but we also get to hear all sorts of magnificent stories from the creators, but also the musicians themselves Paul McCartney, Roger Waters, Dave Gilmour, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Peter Gabriel, and others are here telling stories.

I smiled from ear to ear for 100 minutes.

This is exactly what you hope the film will be except it’s even better.

I can’t say more than that except this is on my best-of-2023 list.

Highly recommended.


Screening Times

In Person

  • PREMIERE
    Jan. 20 8:30PM MST

    Egyptian Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 21 3:30PM MST

    Megaplex Theatres at The Gateway 8/9

    SALT LAKE CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 25 3:00PM MST

    Park Avenue Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 26 1:00PM MST

    Redstone Cinemas – 2

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 28 6:45PM MST

    Rose Wagner Center

    SALT LAKE CITY

Online

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 24 8:00AM MST

    Available Until Jan. 29  11:55PM MST


     

Sundance 2023 capsule review: Anna Hints’ profound documentary ‘SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD’ is a collective sigh of womanhood.

SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD

The ancient Estonian ritual of sauna building is a physical and spiritual cleansing. Women gather to share everything from funny childhood stories to earthly, almost guttural chants to intimate confessions with unfiltered honesty. Anna Hints‘ Sundance 2023 documentary Smoke Sauna Sisterhood is a visceral and profoundly deep film.

Mesmerizing closeups of body parts beading with sweat captured with static and handheld camerawork beautifully complement the conversations and place the audience inside the room. Haunting vocals during transition moments captivate the audience. Images of south Estonian matriarchs are projected on the sauna smoke as their voices recall tales from their lives. It is another stunning addition to an already visually sumptuous film.

Topics like cancer, women’s rights, body shaming, unresolved trauma, sex, and sexuality swirl freely. It is a safe space I envy. Smoke Sauna Sisterhood brings a contagious joy. There is a raw elegance I think Sundance 2023 audiences, specifically female viewers, will welcome. This film is a celebration of our complexities, highlighting the tender care we take with one another. It is revelatory to rediscover the interconnectedness of women and our shared experiences, good and bad. It is an astonishingly rewarding emotional catharsis.


Screening Times
In Person
PREMIERE
AddFAVORITE
Jan. 22 6:00PM MST
Prospector Square Theatre

PARK CITY

SECOND SCREENING
AddFAVORITE
Jan. 23 8:30PM MST
Megaplex Theatres at The Gateway 6

SALT LAKE CITY

SECOND SCREENING
AddFAVORITE
Jan. 25 11:45AM MST
Egyptian Theatre

PARK CITY

SECOND SCREENING
AddFAVORITE
Jan. 26 4:00PM MST
Redstone Cinemas – 2

PARK CITY

SECOND SCREENING
AddFAVORITE
Jan. 27 12:00PM MST
Screening Room

SUNDANCE MOUNTAIN RESORT

Online
SECOND SCREENING
AddFAVORITE
Jan. 24 8:00AM MST
Available Until Jan. 29 11:55PM MST


Anna Hints is an Estonian film director with a background in contemporary art and experimental folk music. Having deep roots in the distinct culture of South Estonia, Hints’ second home is in India. As an active dumpster diver, Hints’ short documentary For Tomorrow Paradise Arrives initiated public discussion and growth of new grassroot movements against food waste in Estonia.


 

Sundance 2023 capsule review: ‘BAD PRESS’ is a striking microcosm of tribal oppression and corruption.

BAD PRESS

Imagine a scenario, if you will, where the federal government controlled the entirety of the media. Ask North Korea and China’s citizens how well that works for them. Native American tribes are sovereign nations. They do not have freedom of the press. In the Sundance 2023 documentary from Rebecca Landsberry-Baker and Joe Peeler, BAD PRESS exposes the crushing actions of tribe leaders to remain in power. MVSKOKE MEDIA journalists are under attack while the Chief manipulates the Muscogee community with misinformation. Who will protect the truth?

Bad Press describes the hierarchy of tribal media. Money and politics rule, making a constitutional Free Press amendment vital to every nation. The film follows the journey to change, from new candidates for a new chief to election fraud allegations, and boy does it mirror national shenanigans. MVSKOKE MEDIA journalist Angel Ellis and her colleagues report everything in real-time, fighting against fear, false claims, threats, and connected politicians who wish to silence them.

The biggest question becomes, “What do you have to hide?” BAD PRESS is the perfect Sundance 2023 companion to watch with Fantastic Machine. It’s a heart-pounding, sweaty palm viewing experience. The emotional gravity of this story is shocking. BAD PRESS is a microcosm of tribal oppression and global journalistic reality. Those in the film are brave as hell for speaking out. National news, take note. Transparency is key.


Screening Times

In Person

  • PREMIERE

    Jan. 22 8:40PM MST

    The Ray Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING

    Jan. 24 3:30PM MST

    Redstone Cinemas – 1

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING

    Jan. 25 12:00PM MST

    Screening Room

    SUNDANCE MOUNTAIN RESORT

  • SECOND SCREENING

    Jan. 26 12:40PM MST

    Holiday Village Cinemas – 2

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING

    Jan. 27 9:45PM MST

    Broadway Centre Cinemas – 3

    SALT LAKE CITY

Online

  • SECOND SCREENING

    Jan. 24 8:00AM MST

    Available Until Jan. 29  11:55PM MST


Sundance 2023 documentary review: ‘FANTASTIC MACHINE’ is a gasp-worthy watch.

FANTASTIC MACHINE

Memory preservation, emotional resonance, exploration, and exposure of truth, FANTASTIC MACHINE explores the history of capturing the first image to the deliberate curation of media content through the ages.

The swiftness of the manipulation of images shocked me. From the beginning, the film is ruthless in its takedown of perceived truth. It is what we don’t see changes everything. Fantastic Machine has outtakes from a 2017 ISIS propaganda video, Eurovision’s use of the green screen in their scoring reports, how-to YouTube videos, and viral video reactions. At one point, I exclaimed, “What The Fuck,” louder than I intended. 

The power of curated messaging in politics is something we know well. The film features a breathtaking 1993 interview with a filmmaker that changed the face of WW2 and modern-day filmmakers. In 1934, The Nazi Party hired Leni Reifenstahl to show the movement as powerful and attractive. She speaks about the entertainment factor, how a two-hour speech must be compressed to five minutes with a beginning, middle, and thrilling middle, despite the subject. As I witnessed the pride in her technical work, my mouth was agape. Juxtapose those images with the Sidney Bernstein footage from the final day of the war in 1945. Charged with proving the atrocities of war ever existed, Bernstein brings humanity, suffering, and truth. In the end, it is a product. In most cases, it is void of morality.

Maximilien Van Aertryck narrates with a profound statement: “A lack of perspective can distort what the world looks like.” There is such a fine line between propaganda and truth. We are all too familiar with this tactic. The results of media manipulation are monumentally dangerous but immensely lucrative. Instagram is rewiring young brains in a similar manner fashion magazines impacted our self-esteem in the 90s. It, quite literally, changes brain chemistry. The editing from Mikel Cee Karlsson and writer-directors Axel Danielson and Maximilien Van Aertryck is award-worthy. As the saying goes, they understood the assignment.

FANTASTIC MACHINE is ceaselessly fascinating and undeniably disturbing to experience. As a commentary on entertainment, it is both a celebration and a condemnation. Sundance 2023 audiences are in for something absolutely brilliant. 


Screening Times

In Person

  • PREMIERE

    Jan. 23 3:00PM MST

    Prospector Square Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING

    Jan. 24 6:55PM MST

    Broadway Centre Cinemas – 3

    SALT LAKE CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING

    Jan. 25 2:45PM MST

    Egyptian Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING

    Jan. 26 3:00PM MST

    Park Avenue Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING

    Jan. 27 9:30AM MST

    Redstone Cinemas – 1

    PARK CITY

Online

  • SECOND SCREENING

    Jan. 24 8:00AM MST

    Available Until Jan. 29  11:55PM MST


Sundance 2023 doc review: ‘Is There Anybody Out There?’ is an unexpectedly badass victory cry

IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?

In search of someone else with the same physical condition, Ella Glendining takes us on a thoughtful journey in Sundance 2023 documentary IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?

The editing combined with the score creates a charming and deeply affecting quality. Confessional diary logs place us in Ella’s headspace. She uses home videos and sit-down chats with her Mum and Dad about what it was like to raise her. Seeking specialists and families with the same disability offers Ella more questions than answers. We follow Ella through an unexpected pregnancy. Her gorgeous son River and the Covid 19 pandemic change how she views potential surgery options. As she speaks to others via Zoom, she contemplates the appreciation of her body.

The discussion of ableism is paramount to understanding Ella’s life and any family with a differently abled member. I am the mother of a seven-year-old son with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I suspect that with his off-the-charts cognitive abilities, the more precise diagnosis is Aspergers. I appreciated Ella and her best friend Naomi’s honest discussions about her autism and the challenges of an invisible disability. Each admits they cannot fully understand the inner workings of one another’s feelings and worry they have inadvertently said horrible things to one another. Understanding the staring, judgment, and how it pierces the heart cannot be ignored. That is also why the conversations with Ella’s parents resonated with me. Like Ella seeking someone to connect to, her Mum and Dad were touchstones for me.

IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE? tackles outdated stereotypes and deep-seated trauma, but also optimism. I hope Ella Glendining understands the gravity of her film. I have to thank her for sharing her life, and I look forward to sharing her story with my son when he is a bit older. IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE? celebrates individualism and isn’t that the ultimate goal?


Screening Times

In Person

  • PREMIERE
    Jan. 22 3:00PM MST

    Prospector Square Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 24 3:00PM MST

    Park Avenue Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 25 12:00PM MST

    Park Avenue Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 26 5:30PM MST

    Megaplex Theatres at The Gateway 6

    SALT LAKE CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 27 2:30PM MST

    Holiday Village Cinemas – 1

    PARK CITY

Online

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 24 8:00AM MST

    Available Until Jan. 29  11:55PM MST


     

Sundance 2023 review: ‘TALK TO ME’ is visually horrifying and ready for a franchise .

TALK TO ME

When an unusual object allows a group of teens to not only speak with the dead but allow them to enter their bodies, things get violent and personal when Mia’s mother reaches out from beyond the grave. The veil has lifted, and secrets will spill over the threshold, whether Mia and her friends like it or not. Directors Danny Philippou and Michael Philippou bring Sundance 2023 audiences TALK TO ME.

The thrill of taking the otherworldly hand becomes like a drug to the group. This shockingly dangerous behavior throws me back to my teen years, forcing this horror fan to wonder if I would suffer the same fate. A goody two shoes concerning drugs and alcohol does not negate my risky excursions in the New England woods in the pitch black of summer nights. As Mia and her friends battle the typical parental control and need to fit in, their heightened chase of danger spells nothing but doom. Writers Bill Hinzman and Daley Pearson, with concept by Danny Philippou, give us all the background we need to get sucked into this wild scenario, leaving just enough mystery to keep us salivating.

The practical fx are solid. The film’s special effects makeup team does a remarkable job of creeping the audience the fuck out. The work becomes more elaborate as the story progresses. It is spectacular.

This ensemble of young actors wowed with the complex task of playing “multiple roles” (without spoiling the action.) Sophia Wilde as Mia astounded me. The specificity of this performance rocked my world.

TALK TO ME almost demands a franchise. I have so many questions. I’d love a sequel and a prequel! TALK TO ME serves up Sundance 2023 audiences enough to chew on while filmmakers dig deeper into the film’s canon.


Screening Times

In Person

  • PREMIERE
    Jan. 21 11:55PM MST

    Egyptian Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 22 9:45PM MST

    Broadway Centre Cinemas – 3

    SALT LAKE CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 25 9:45PM MST

    Library Center Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 27 9:00PM MST

    Park Avenue Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 28 10:00PM MST

    Megaplex Theatres at The Gateway 8/9

    SALT LAKE CITY

Online

THIS FILM IS NOT AVAILABLE ONLINE.


 

Sundance 2023 review: ‘MAMACRUZ’ is a bold reclamation of sensuality.

MAMACRUZ

In Patricia Ortega‘s Sundance 2023 film MAMACRUZ, devout seamstress Mari Cruz spends her days dutifully attending to the needs of her church community and caring for her grandchild while her daughter tours with a dance troupe. But, quite by accident, we discover her longing for touch. What begins as an accidental discovery of internet pornography and then unexpected sexual fantasies of a statue of Jesus lead her down a path of exploration.

After her husband shuns her advances, Mari Cruz is undeterred. Nor does the righteous gossip at church stop her. Pushing aside shame, with her sewing skills and newfound knowledge, she heals herself and those around her.

The film looks beautiful. Fran Fernández Pardo‘s cinematography highlights the rich colors in fabrics and paint and captures extraordinary angles in fantasy sequences. The commentary on religious oppression and desire is unmissable. The performances are outstanding. Kiti Mánve breathes vulnerability and quiet ferocity into the role of Mari Cruz. It is a stunning, award-worthy turn.

The film drips with visual innuendo and lust. The audience must leave judgment at the door. MAMACRUZ permits the audience to embrace intimacy, pleasure, and the complexities of womanhood. Life is short. Choose fearless happiness.


Screening Times

In Person

  • PREMIERE
    Jan. 20 9:15PM MST

    Library Center Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 21 12:00PM MST

    Broadway Centre Cinemas – 6

    SALT LAKE CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 22 12:30PM MST

    Redstone Cinemas – 1

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 24 8:30AM MST

    Egyptian Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 27 8:30AM MST

    Holiday Village Cinemas – 1

    PARK CITY

Online

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 24 8:00AM MST

    Available Until Jan. 29  11:55PM MST


     

Sundance 2023 review: ‘PIANOFORTE’ earns a standing ovation for director Jakub Piatek.

PIANOFORTE

Four stages. 21 straight days. Since 1927, The Chopin Competition has been held in Warsaw. Featuring the most elite piano players in the world, Sundance’s 2023 documentary film PIANOFORTE follows a small group of contestants vying for the illustrious title.

The competition does not occur annually, making it all the more exclusive. Here is how it works: Stage One: 87 participants, Stage Two: 46, Stage Three: 23, Stage Four: 12. The film bounces from the competition to our pianists’ hometowns before competing. A peek beyond the bench, we witness rehearsals, family life, and personal confessions.

Eva (17) is an unsure but internationally acclaimed phenom. She is a sponge for the technical perfection demanded by her instructor. Marcin goes from a confident swagger to an anxious mess as the rounds progress. It is devastating. Alex utilizes yoga and meditation to focus, and his calm demeanor catches you off-guard. He has a surprising swagger as the ladies flock to him throughout the film. Hao (17) is quiet and intensely focused. In Stage Three, one moment of forgetfulness could be his last. Michelle is a delight, confessing her dog is her biggest fan. She also openly talks about the fear of competition and the reality of pursuing anything but piano. Leonora is a spitfire. She beams with each breath.

An undeniably shocking level of emotional investment comes with experiencing PIANOFORTE. The amount of pressure is unimaginable. The film’s final edit is a masterpiece. Undoubtedly, the audience may suddenly find themselves unexpected piano enthusiasts.


Screening Times

In Person

  • PREMIERE
    Jan. 20 2:30PM MST

    Egyptian Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 21 2:55PM MST

    Screening Room

    SUNDANCE MOUNTAIN RESORT

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 22 3:45PM MST

    Broadway Centre Cinemas – 3

    SALT LAKE CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 24 12:00PM MST

    Redstone Cinemas – 7

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 26 6:00PM MST

    Park Avenue Theatre

    PARK CITY

Online

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 24 8:00AM MST

    Available Until Jan. 29  11:55PM MST


    In 2021, Jakub Piatek’s feature fiction debut Prime Time premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. (Now available on Netflix in all regions.)


 

Sundance 2023 short film review: ‘AirHostess- 737’ is a delicious descent into chaos.

AIRHOSTESS-737

In AirHostess- 737, we meet Vanina, a 39-year-old flight attendant trying to hold it together. Self-conscious over her new braces, her anxiety rises as the film progresses, exacerbated by a passenger, the pilots, and strong turbulence. But there is far more on Vanina’s mind than her newfound hardware.

The choreography of the scenes is spectacular. The audience serves as pov, and Vanina speaks just over the shoulder of the camera lens the entire film. It takes your average walk-and-talk to another level as she juggles casual conversation with her duties down the aisle. Writer-director Thanasis Neofotistos and co-writer Grigoris Skarakis implement a subtle and perfectly placed visual gag in Vanina’s makeup. It is a physical manifestation of her turmoil.

As a frequent flyer, I instantly grinned at actress Lena Papaligoura‘s deadpan demonstration of safety protocols. Her performance hits every note. She is funny, manic, dedicated, and pitch-perfect.

AirHostess- 737 is a descent into the depths of unresolved trauma hidden inside a sharp comedy. I laughed, gasped, and marveled at this short film’s ability to surprise me in fifteen minutes. It is undeniably impressive work from everyone involved. Sundance 2023 audiences will love it.


Screening Times

In Person

  • PREMIERE
    Jan. 20  9:00AM MST

    Prospector Square Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 21  3:45PM MST

    Broadway Centre Cinemas – 3

    SALT LAKE CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 22  9:30PM MST

    Megaplex Theatres at The Gateway 8/9

    SALT LAKE CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 25  12:00PM MST

    Redstone Cinemas – 7

    PARK CITY

Online

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 24  8:00AM MST

    Available Until Jan. 29  11:55PM MST




Synopsis:
AIRHOSTESS-737 completes Filmmaker Thanasis Neofotistos’s award-winning short film trilogy
(Patision Avenue, Route-3, AirHostess-737) about a road, a journey, a route – traveling this time in a
Boeing-737 with 39-year-old flight attendant, Vanina, accompanying her mother back to her hometown
while seeking, as one does, a reconciliation which her mother appears least able to provide.


 

Sundance 2023 short film review: ‘TROY’ is a New York rite of passage with a twist.

TROY

Living in New York has its ups and downs. No matter how expensive your apartments are, the walls are always paper thin. You come to know your neighbors for better or for worse. Director Mike Donahue and writer Jen Silverman give Sundance 2023 audiences so much in their 15-minute short film TROY.

Thea and Charlie share a wall with Troy. He has very loud sex 24/7. When the moans turn to arguments and tears, Thea and Charlie’s emotional investment in their mysterious neighbor’s life takes on a life of its own.

Adina Verson, Michael Braun, and Florian Klein dazzle. Klein’s physicality speaks volumes. It could have easily wandered into a goofy territory but remained wholeheartedly sincere. Verson and Braun have a grounded chemistry that I bought instantly. I found myself in their delightful shenanigans again and again. The film also includes recognizable faces from television.

There is a visual gag with bleach that is perfection. Turning up the music and elevator run-ins become an all too familiar activity. Couples’ internet snooping is also an indulgent pastime. It’s funny because it is so relatable. In this city of over 8 million, most of us never meet. But we still protect our own with small gestures of kindness every once in a while. TROY is one of those stories you tell your friends back home during the holidays and a stellar proof of concept for an entire series of building-wide encounters.


TROY is screening in person at Sundance on January 20th, 21st, 23rd, and 25th.

Writer/director Mike Donahue is a graduate of Harvard University and the Yale School of Drama. Prior to making this, his debut film, he’s worked extensively as a theatre director in New York and Los Angeles. Just some of his extensive credits include the world premieres of Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride (MCC, The Geffen and Denver Center, Joe A. Callaway Award, Outer Critics Circle Nomination, Ovation Award Nomination); Jen Silverman’s Collective Rage (MCC, Woolly Mammoth, Drama League Nomination); The Moors (Playwrights Realm – NYC premiere; Phoebe in Winter (Clubbed Thumb); Ana Nogueira’s Which Way To The Stage (MCC); Ethan Lipton’s Red-Handed Otter (Playwrights Realm); the LA premiere of Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance (Geffen Playhouse); and Little Shop of Horrors with MJ Rodriguez, George Salazar, and Amber Riley (Pasadina Playhouse).

Starring Adina Verson and Michael Braun as Thea and Charlie, the stellar cast also features Emmy Award winner Dana Delaney (Desperate Housewives, China Beach), Emmy Award nominee Dylan Baker (The Good Wife), Billy Carter (Apple + The Crowded Room, HBO’s The Plot Against America), Kristin Villanueva (Gossip Girl), Max Jenkins (High Maintenance + Special) and Samantha Sherman (Showtime’s Billions).



ICYMI: Women take the reins as Sundance Film Festival Announces 2023 Features Lineup!

2023 Sundance Film Festival Announces Lineup of 99 Feature Films

Find Out Why All Eyes Are On Independents

In-Person Ticket Packages Now On Sale; Online Ticket Package Sales Begin December 13

Top L–R: Bravo, Burkina!, Girl, Polite Society, Mami Wata.
Center L–R: Going Varsity in Mariachi, The Accidental Getaway Driver, Deep Rising, Cassandro.
Bottom L–R: The Pod Generation, Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields, Nam June Paik: Moon is the Oldest TV, The Eternal Memory.

PARK CITY, UTAH, December 7, 2022 — Today the nonprofit Sundance Institute announced the comprehensive slate of independent films selected across the feature film categories for the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. The 2023 Festival will take place January 19–29, 2023, in person in Park City, Salt Lake City, and the Sundance Resort, along with a selection of films available online across the country January 24–29, 2023. Festivalgoers will once again return to theaters to discover this upcoming year’s most impactful independent stories. In-Person Ticket Packages are currently on sale through December 16, Online Ticket Packages go on sale December 13 at 10 a.m. MT, and single film tickets go on sale January 12 at 10 a.m. MT.

Setting the scene, Day One Features will open the Festival in Park City: 11 features, plus a Shorts program, will illustrate the scope of Festival work across genre and form. Day One Features are birth/rebirth, L’Immensità, It’s Only Life After All, Kim’s Video, Little Richard: I Am Everything, The Longest Goodbye, The Pod Generation, Radical, Shayda, Sometimes I Think About Dying, and Run Rabbit Run. In addition, on January 19, the Institute will host the inaugural Opening Night: A Taste of Sundance presented by IMDbPro. The celebration will kick off the Festival welcoming everyone back together again while raising funds for the Institute’s critical year-round artist support. The evening will honor Ryan Coogler, Nikyatu Jusu, W. Kamau Bell, and more whose journeys have been connected to Sundance throughout the years. In addition, in-person attendees will get to experience a robust offering of talks and events during the Festival, with more details to be announced.

Films will become available online during the second half of the Festival — beginning January 24 — and will include all Competition titles (U.S. Dramatic, U.S. Documentary, World Cinema Dramatic, World Cinema Documentary, and NEXT), as well as exciting work across other sections of the feature film program, Indie Episodic Program, and Shorts Program. Audiences can enjoy the selection of films exclusively on the Sundance Film Festival online platform — those that will be available online are noted below. The online offering reinforces the Institute’s commitment to accessibility by allowing audiences coast to coast to take part in the discovery of captivating stories. The Shorts and Indie Episodic lineups for the 2023 Sundance Film Festival will be announced on December 13.

“Maintaining an essential place for artists to express themselves, take risks, and for visionary stories to endure and entertain is distinctly Sundance,” said Robert Redford, Sundance Institute Founder and President. “The Festival continues to foster these values and connections through independent storytelling. We are honored to share the compelling selection of work at this year’s Festival from distinct perspectives and unique voices.”

“As a program of the Sundance Institute, the Festival provides a place for artists globally to connect with audiences around a shared and inclusive experience of discovery,” said Joana Vicente, Sundance Institute CEO. “These filmmakers reflect the world around us through bold and thrilling storytelling. It is critical for the arts to foster dialogue, especially during unprecedented times — these stories are needed to provoke discussion, share diverse viewpoints, and challenge us. We are delighted to welcome this group of passionate artists to the Festival and look forward to celebrating the films together with audiences.”

“The program for this year’s Festival reiterates the relevancy of trailblazing work serving as an irreplaceable source for original stories that resonate and fuel creativity and dialogue,” said Kim Yutani, Sundance Film Festival Director of Programming. “In so many ways this year’s slate reflects the voices of communities around the world who are speaking out with urgency and finally being heard. Across our program, impactful storytelling by fearless artists continues to provide space for the community to come together to be entertained, challenged, and inspired.”

The 2023 Sundance Film Festival’s Salt Lake City Opening Night Gala Film is Blueback, premiering at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center on January 20. The upcoming Festival will expand its presence in Salt Lake City, providing more places to take part in the thrilling experience, including at The Megaplex Theatres at The Gateway.

Also announced today, The Pod Generation, screening in the Premieres section, has been named the winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, an annual award given to an artist with the most outstanding depiction of science and technology in a feature film.

The slate announced to date includes SLAM and The Doom Generation, which are featured in the From the Collection section bringing archival screenings back into focus as part of the Festival.

The Sundance Film Festival is an artist program of the Sundance Institute. Proceeds earned through Festival ticket sales go to uplifting and developing emerging artists on a year-round basis through focused labs, direct grants, fellowships, residencies, and more.

The full slate of works announced today, along with the From the Collection films previously announced, includes 101 feature-length films representing 23 countries. The 2023 program is made up of 32 of 115 (28%) feature film directors who are first-time feature filmmakers, and 17 of the feature films and projects announced today were supported by Sundance Institute in development through direct granting or residency labs.

World premieres make up 93, or 94%, of the Festival’s 99 feature films announced today.

These films were selected from 15,855 submissions, including 4,061 feature-length films. Of the 4,061 feature film submissions, 1,662 were from the U.S., and 2,399 were international. Director demographics are available in an editor’s note below.

U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Presenting 12 world premieres of fiction feature films, the Dramatic Competition offers audiences a first look at groundbreaking new voices in American independent film. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include Nanny, CODA, Passing, Minari, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, The Farewell, Clemency, Eighth Grade, and Sorry to Bother You.

The Accidental Getaway Driver / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Sing J. Lee, Screenwriter: Christopher Chen, Producers: Kimberly Steward, Basil Iwanyk, Andy Sorgie, Brendon Boyea, Joseph Hiếu) — During a routine pickup, an elderly Vietnamese cab driver is taken hostage at gunpoint by three recently escaped Orange County convicts. Based on a true story. Cast: Hiệp Trần Nghĩa, Dustin Nguyen, Dali Benssalah, Phi Vũ, Gabrielle Chan. World Premiere. Available online.

All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Raven Jackson, Producers: Maria Altamirano, Barry Jenkins, Adele Romanski, Mark Ceryak) – A decades-spanning exploration of a woman’s life in Mississippi and an ode to the generations of people, places, and ineffable moments that shape us. Cast: Charleen McClure, Moses Ingram, Kaylee Nicole Johnson, Reginald Helms Jr., Sheila Atim, Chris Chalk. World Premiere. Available online.

Fair Play / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Chloe Domont, Producers: Leopold Hughes, Ben LeClair, Tim White, Trevor White, Allan Mandelbaum) — An unexpected promotion at a cutthroat hedge fund pushes a young couple’s relationship to the brink, threatening to unravel far more than their recent engagement. Cast: Phoebe Dynevor, Alden Ehrenreich, Eddie Marsan. World Premiere. Available online.

Fancy Dance / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Erica Tremblay, Screenwriter: Miciana Alise, Producers: Deidre Backs, Heather Rae, Nina Yang Bongiovi, Tommy Oliver) — Following her sister’s disappearance, a Native American hustler kidnaps her niece from the child’s white grandparents and sets out for the state powwow in hopes of keeping what is left of their family intact. Cast: Lily Gladstone, Isabel Deroy-Olson, Ryan Begay, Shea Whigham, Audrey Wasilewski. World Premiere. Available online.

Magazine Dreams / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Elijah Bynum, Producers: Jennifer Fox, Dan Gilroy, Jeffrey Soros, Simon Horsman) — An amateur bodybuilder struggles to find human connection as his relentless drive for recognition pushes him to the brink. Cast: Jonathan Majors, Haley Bennett, Taylour Paige, Mike O’Hearn, Harrison Page, Harriet Sansom Harris. World Premiere. Available online.

Mutt / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, Producers: Alexander Stegmaier, Stephen Scott Scarpulla, Jennifer Kuczaj, Joel Michaely) — Over the course of a single hectic day in New York City, three people from Feña’s past are thrust back into his life. Having lost touch since transitioning from female to male, he navigates the new dynamics of old relationships while tackling the day-to-day challenges of living life in between. Cast: Lío Mehiel, Cole Doman, MiMi Ryder, Alejandro Goic. World Premiere. Available online.

The Persian Version / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Maryam Keshavarz, Producers: Anne Carey, Ben Howe, Luca Borghese, Peter Block, Corey Nelson) — When a large Iranian-American family gathers for the patriarch’s heart transplant, a family secret is uncovered that catapults the estranged mother and daughter into an exploration of the past. Toggling between the United States and Iran over decades, mother and daughter discover they are more alike than they know. Cast: Layla Mohammadi, Niousha Noor, Kamand Shafieisabet, Bella Warda, Bijan Daneshmand, Shervin Alenabi. World Premiere. Available online.

Shortcomings / U.S.A. (Director: Randall Park, Screenwriter: Adrian Tomine, Producers: Margot Hand, Randall Park, Hieu Ho, Jennifer Berman, Howard Cohen, Eric d’Arbeloff) — Following Ben, Miko, and Alice as they navigate a range of interpersonal relationships and traverse the country in search of the ideal connection. Cast: Justin H. Min, Sherry Cola, Ally Maki, Debby Ryan, Tavi Gevinson, Sonoya Mizuno. World Premiere. Available online.

Sometimes I Think About Dying / U.S.A. (Director: Rachel Lambert, Screenwriters: Kevin Armento, Stefanie Abel Horowitz, Katy Wright-Mead, Producers: Alex Saks, Daisy Ridley, Dori Rath, Lauren Beveridge, Brett Beveridge) — Fran likes to think about dying. It brings sensation to her quiet life. When she makes the new guy at work laugh, it leads to more: a date, a slice of pie, a conversation, a spark. The only thing standing in their way is Fran herself. Cast: Daisy Ridley, Dave Merheje, Parvesh Cheena, Marcia DeBonis, Meg Stalter, Brittany O’Grady. World Premiere. Available online. DAY ONE

The Starling Girl / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Laurel Akira Parmet, Producers: Kevin Rowe, Kara Durrett) — Seventeen-year-old Jem Starling struggles with her place within her Christian fundamentalist community, but everything changes when her magnetic youth pastor Owen returns to their church. Cast: Eliza Scanlen, Lewis Pullman, Jimmi Simpson, Wrenn Schmidt, Austin Abrams, Jessamine Burgum. World Premiere. Available online.

Theater Camp / U.S.A. (Directors and Screenwriters: Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman, Screenwriters: Noah Galvin, Ben Platt, Producers: Erik Feig, Samie Kim Falvey, Julia Hammer, Ryan Heller, Will Ferrell, Jessica Elbaum) — When the beloved founder of a run-down theater camp in upstate New York falls into a coma, the eccentric staff must band together with the founder’s crypto-bro son to keep the camp afloat. Cast: Molly Gordon, Ben Platt, Noah Galvin, Jimmy Tatro, Patti Harrison, Ayo Edebiri. World Premiere. Available online.

A Thousand and One / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: A.V. Rockwell, Producers: Eddie Vaisman, Julia Lebedev, Lena Waithe, Rishi Rajani, Brad Weston) — Convinced it’s one last, necessary crime on the path to redemption, unapologetic and free-spirited Inez kidnaps 6-year-old Terry from the foster care system. Holding on to their secret and each other, mother and son set out to reclaim their sense of home, identity, and stability in New York City. Cast: Teyana Taylor, Will Catlett, Josiah Cross, Aven Courtney, Aaron Kingsley Adetola. World Premiere. Available online.

U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
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 Fire of Love, Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Boys State, Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, APOLLO 11, Knock Down the House, One Child Nation, American Factory, Three Identical Strangers, and On Her Shoulders.

AUM: The Cult at the End of the World / U.S.A. (Directors and Producers: Ben Braun, Chiaki Yanagimoto, Producers: Dan Braun, Josh Braun, Rick Brookwell) — On the morning of March 20, 1995, a deadly nerve gas attack in the Tokyo subway sent the nation and its people into chaos. This exploration of Aum Shinrikyo, the cult responsible for the attack, involves the participation of those who lived through the horror as it unfolded. World Premiere. Available online.

Bad Press / U.S.A (Directors: Rebecca Landsberry-Baker, Joe Peeler, Producers: Conrad Beilharz, Garrett F. Baker, Tyler Graim) — When the Muscogee Nation suddenly begins censoring its free press, a rogue reporter fights to expose her government’s corruption in a historic battle that will have ramifications for all of Indian country. World Premiere. Available online.

The Disappearance of Shere Hite / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Nicole Newnham, Producers: Molly O’Brien, R.J. Cutler, Elise Pearlstein, Kimberley Ferdinando, Trevor Smith) — Shere Hite’s 1976 bestselling book, The Hite Report, liberated the female orgasm by revealing the most private experiences of thousands of anonymous survey respondents. Her findings rocked the American establishment and presaged current conversations about gender, sexuality, and bodily autonomy. So how did Shere Hite disappear? World Premiere. Available online.

Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project / U.S.A. (Directors and Producers: Joe Brewster, Michèle Stephenson, Producer: Tommy Oliver) — Intimate vérité, archival footage, and visually innovative treatments of poetry take us on a journey through the dreamscape of legendary poet Nikki Giovanni as she reflects on her life and legacy. World Premiere. Available online.

Going Varsity in Mariachi / U.S.A. (Directors: Alejandra Vasquez, Sam Osborn, Producers: James Lawler, Luis A. Miranda, Jr., Julia Pontecorvo) — In the competitive world of high school mariachi, the musicians from the South Texas borderlands reign supreme. Under the guidance of coach Abel Acuña, the teenage captains of Edinburg North High School’s acclaimed team must turn a shoestring budget and diverse crew of inexperienced musicians into state champions. World Premiere. Available online.

Joonam / U.S.A. (Director: Sierra Urich, Producer: Keith Wilson) — Spurred by a provocative family memory and a lifetime of separation from the country her mother left behind, a young filmmaker delves into her mother and grandmother’s complicated pasts and her own fractured Iranian identity. World Premiere. Available online.

Little Richard: I Am Everything / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Lisa Cortés, Producers: Robert Friedman, Liz Yale Marsh, Caryn Capotosto) — This celebration of Little Richard reveals the Black queer origins of rock ’n’ roll, finally exploding the whitewashed canon of American pop music. Through archival and performance footage, the revolutionary icon’s life unspools with all of its switchbacks and contradictions. World Premiere. Available online. DAY ONE

Nam June Paik: Moon is the Oldest TV / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Amanda Kim, Producers: Amy Hobby, David Koh, Mariko Munro, Jennifer Stockman, Jesse Wann) — The quixotic journey of Nam June Paik, one of the most famous Asian artists of the 20th century, who revolutionized the use of technology as an artistic canvas and prophesied both the fascist tendencies and intercultural understanding that would arise from the interconnected metaverse of today’s world. World Premiere. Available online.

A Still Small Voice / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Luke Lorentzen, Producer: Kellen Quinn) — An aspiring hospital chaplain begins a yearlong residency in spiritual care, only to discover that to successfully tend to her patients, she must look deep within herself. World Premiere. Available online.

The Stroll / U.S.A. (Directors: Kristen Lovell, Zackary Drucker, Producer: Matt Wolf) — The history of New York’s Meatpacking District, told from the perspective of transgender sex workers who lived and worked there. Filmmaker Kristen Lovell, who walked “The Stroll” for a decade, reunites her community to recount the violence, policing, homelessness, and gentrification they overcame to build a movement for transgender rights. World Premiere. Available online.

Victim/Suspect / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Nancy Schwartzman, Producers: Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Alice Henty, Rachel de Leon, Amanda Pike) — Investigative journalist Rae de Leon travels nationwide to uncover and examine a shocking pattern: Young women tell the police they’ve been sexually assaulted, but instead of finding justice, they’re charged with the crime of making a false report, arrested, and even imprisoned by the system they believed would protect them. World Premiere. Available online.

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Fiction projects from emerging artists around the world offer fresh perspectives and inventive styles. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include Brian and Charles, Hive, Luzzu, The Souvenir, The Guilty, Monos, Yardie, The Nile Hilton Incident, and Second Mother.

Animalia / France, Morocco, Qatar (Director and Screenwriter: Sofia Alaoui, Producers: Margaux Lorier, Toufik Ayadi, Christophe Barral) — A young, pregnant woman finds emancipation as aliens land in Morocco. Cast: Oumaïma Barid, Mehdi Dehbi, Fouad Oughaou. World Premiere. Available online.

Bad Behaviour / New Zealand (Director and Screenwriter: Alice Englert, Producers: Molly Hallam, Desray Armstrong) — Lucy, a former child actor, seeks enlightenment at a retreat led by spiritual leader Elon while she navigates her close yet turbulent relationship with her stunt-performer daughter, Dylan. Cast: Jennifer Connelly, Ben Whishaw, Alice Englert, Ana Scotney, Dasha Nekrasova, Marlon Williams. World Premiere. Available online.

Girl / U.K. (Director and Screenwriter: Adura Onashile, Producers: Rosie Crerar, Ciara Barry) — Eleven-year-old Ama and her mother, Grace, take solace in the gentle but isolated world they obsessively create. Ama’s growing up threatens the boundaries of their tenderness and forces Grace to reckon with a past she struggles to forget. Cast: Déborah Lukumuena, Danny Sapani, Le’Shantey Bonsu, Liana Turner. World Premiere. Available online.

Heroic / Mexico, Sweden (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: David Zonana, Producers: Michel Franco, Eréndira Núñez Larios) — Luis, an 18-year-old boy with Indigenous roots, enters the Heroic Military College in hopes of ensuring a better future. There, he encounters a rigid and institutionally violent system designed to turn him into a perfect soldier. Cast: Santiago Sandoval Carbajal, Fernando Cuautle, Mónica del Carmen, Esteban Caicedo, Carlos Gerardo García, Isabel Yudice. World Premiere. Available online.

MAMACRUZ / Spain (Director and Screenwriter: Patricia Ortega, Screenwriter: José Ortuño, Producer: Olmo Figueredo) — With the help of her newly emigrated daughter, a religious grandmother learns how to use the internet. However, an accidental encounter with pornography poses a dilemma for her. Cast: Kiti Mánver. World Premiere. Available online.

Mami Wata / Nigeria (Director and Screenwriter: C.J. “Fiery” Obasi, Producer: Oge Obasi) — When the harmony in a village is threatened by outside elements, two sisters must fight to save their people and restore the glory of a mermaid goddess to the land. Cast: Evelyne Ily, Uzoamaka Aniunoh, Kelechi Udegbe, Emeka Amakeze, Rita Edochie, Tough Bone. World Premiere. Available online.

La Pecera / Puerto Rico, Spain (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Glorimar Marrero Sánchez, Producers: Amaya Izquierdo, José Esteban Alenda) — As her cancer spreads, Noelia’s ultimate decision is to return to her native Vieques, Puerto Rico, and claim her freedom to decide her own fate. She reunites with her friends and family, who are still dealing with the contamination of the U.S. Navy after sixty years of military practices. Cast: Isel Rodríguez, Modesto Lacén, Magali Carrasquillo, Maximiliano Rivas, Anamín Santiago, Idenisse Salamán. World Premiere. Available online.

Scrapper / U.K. (Director and Screenwriter: Charlotte Regan, Producer: Theo Barrowclough) — Georgie is a dreamy 12-year-old girl who lives happily alone in her London flat, filling it with magic. Out of nowhere, her estranged father turns up and forces her to confront reality. Cast: Harris Dickinson, Lola Campbell, Alin Uzun, Ambreen Razia, Olivia Brady, Aylin Tezel. World Premiere. Available online.

Shayda / Australia (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Noora Niasari, Producer: Vincent Sheehan) — Shayda, a brave Iranian mother, finds refuge in an Australian women’s shelter with her 6-year-old daughter. Over Persian New Year, they take solace in Nowruz rituals and new beginnings, but when her estranged husband re-enters their lives, Shayda’s path to freedom is jeopardized. Cast: Zar Amir Ebrahimi, Osamah Sami, Leah Purcell, Jillian Nguyen, Mojean Aria, Selina Zahednia. World Premiere. Available online. DAY ONE

Slow / Lithuania, Spain, Sweden (Director and Screenwriter: Marija Kavtaradze, Producer: Marija Razgute) — Dancer Elena and sign language interpreter Dovydas meet and form a beautiful bond. As they dive into a new relationship, they must navigate how to build their own kind of intimacy. Cast: Greta Grinevičiūtė, Kęstutis Cicėnas. World Premiere. Available online.

Sorcery / Chile, Mexico, Germany (Director and Screenwriter: Christopher Murray, Screenwriter: Pablo Paredes, Producers: Juan de Dios Larraín, Pablo Larraín, Rocío Jadue, Nicolás Celis) — On the remote island of Chiloé in the late 19th century, an Indigenous girl named Rosa lives and works with her father on a farm. When the foreman brutally turns on Rosa’s father, she sets out for justice, seeking help from the king of a powerful organization of sorcerers. Cast: Valentina Véliz, Daniel Antivilo, Sebastian Hulk, Daniel Muñoz. World Premiere. Available online.

When It Melts / Belgium (Director and Screenwriter: Veerle Baetens, Screenwriter: Maarten Loix, Producers: Bart Van Langendonck, Ellen Havenith, Jacques-Henri Bronckart) — Many years after a sweltering summer that spun out of control, Eva returns to the village she grew up in with an ice block in the back of her car. In the dead of winter, she confronts her past and faces up to her tormentors. Cast: Charlotte De Bruyne, Rosa Marchant. World Premiere. Available online.

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Documentaries by some of the boldest global filmmakers capturing the world today. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include All That Breathes, Flee, Honeyland, Sea of Shadows, Shirkers, This Is Home, Last Men in Aleppo, and Hooligan Sparrow.

5 Seasons of Revolution / Germany, Syria, Netherlands, Norway (Director: Lina, Producer: Diana El Jeiroudi) — An aspiring video journalist in her 20s finds herself already facing self-reckoning. Born in Damascus, Syria, Lina starts to report on the events around her until she is compelled to become a war reporter and, later, the unexpected narrator of her own destiny. World Premiere. Available online.

20 Days in Mariupol / Ukraine (Director and Producer: Mstyslav Chernov, Producers: Michelle Mizner, Raney Aronson-Rath, Derl McCrudden) — As the Russian invasion begins, a team of Ukrainian journalists trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol struggle to continue their work documenting the war’s atrocities. World Premiere. Available online.

Against the Tide / India (Director and Producer: Sarvnik Kaur, Producer: Koval Bhatia) — Two friends, both Indigenous fishermen, are driven to desperation by a dying sea. Their friendship begins to fracture as they take very different paths to provide for their struggling families. World Premiere. Available online.

The Eternal Memory / Chile (Director and Producer: Maite Alberdi, Producers: Juan de Dios Larraín, Pablo Larraín, Rocío Jadue) — Augusto and Paulina have been together for 25 years. Eight years ago, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Both fear the day he no longer recognizes her. World Premiere. Available online.

Fantastic Machine / Sweden, Denmark (Directors and Producers: Axel Danielson, Maximilien Van Aertryck) — From the first camera to 45 billion cameras worldwide today, the visual sociologist filmmakers widen their lens to expose both humanity’s unique obsession with the camera’s image and the social consequences that lay ahead. World Premiere. Available online.

Iron Butterflies / Ukraine, Germany (Director: Roman Liubyi, Producers: Andrii Kotliar, Volodymyr Tykhyy, David Armati Lechner, Isabelle Bertolone, Trini Götze) — In summer 2014, sunflower fields and coal mines in eastern Ukraine turned into a 12 square kilometer crime scene. A multi-layered investigation into the downing of flight MH17, in which a butterfly-shaped shrapnel was found in the pilot’s body, implicated the state responsible for a war crime that remains unpunished. World Premiere. Available online.

Is There Anybody Out There? / U.K. (Director: Ella Glendining, Producer: Janine Marmot) — While navigating daily discrimination, a filmmaker who inhabits and loves her unusual body searches the world for another person like her, and explores what it takes to love oneself fiercely despite the pervasiveness of ableism. World Premiere. Available online.

The Longest Goodbye / Israel, Canada (Director and Producer: Ido Mizrahy, Producers: Nir Sa’ar, Paul Cadieux) — Social isolation affects millions of people, even Mars-bound astronauts. A savvy NASA psychologist is tasked with protecting these daring explorers. World Premiere. Available online. DAY ONE

Milisuthando / South Africa (Director and Screenwriter: Milisuthando Bongela, Producer: Marion Isaacs) — Set in past, present, and future South Africa — an invitation into a poetic, memory-driven exploration of love, intimacy, race, and belonging by the filmmaker, who grew up during apartheid but didn’t know it was happening until it was over. World Premiere. Available online.

Pianoforte / Poland (Director: Jakub Piątek, Producer: Maciej Kubicki) — Young pianists take part in the legendary International Chopin Piano Competition. A unique chance of a lifetime, portrayed from backstage and set to Chopin’s music. World Premiere. Available online.

Smoke Sauna Sisterhood / Estonia, France, Iceland (Director: Anna Hints, Producer: Marianne Ostrat) — In the darkness of a smoke sauna, women share their innermost secrets and intimate experiences, washing off the shame trapped in their bodies and regaining their strength through a sense of communion. World Premiere. Available online.

Twice Colonized / Greenland, Denmark, Canada (Director: Lin Alluna, Producers: Emile Hertling Péronard, Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, Stacey Aglok MacDonald, Bob Moore) — Renowned Inuit lawyer Aaju Peter has long fought for the rights of her people. When her son suddenly dies, Aaju embarks on a journey to reclaim her language and culture after a lifetime of whitewashing and forced assimilation. But can she both change the world and mend her own wounds? World Premiere. Available online.

NEXT
Visionary works distinguished by an innovative, forward-thinking approach to storytelling populate this program. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include A Love Song, RIOTSVILLE, USA, The Infiltrators, Searching, Skate Kitchen, A Ghost Story, and Tangerine. NEXT is presented by Adobe.

Bravo, Burkina! / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Walé Oyéjidé, Producers: Giulia Alagna, Heather Barnes) — A Burkinabé boy flees his village and migrates to Italy. When disillusioned by heartbreak and haunted by memories of home, he travels through time in hope of regaining all he has lost. Cast: Alain Tiendrebeogo, Mousty Mbaye, Noel Minougou, Aissata Deme, Afissatou Coulibaly. World Premiere. Fiction. Available online.

Divinity / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Eddie Alcazar, Producer: Steven Soderbergh) — Two mysterious brothers abduct a mogul during his quest for immortality. Meanwhile, a seductive woman helps them launch a journey of self-discovery. Cast: Stephen Dorff, Moises Arias, Jason Genao, Karrueche Tran, Bella Thorne, Scott Bakula. World Premiere. Fiction. Available online.

Fremont / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Babak Jalali, Screenwriter: Carolina Cavalli, Producers: Marjaneh Moghimi, Sudnya Shroff, Rachael Fung, George Rush, Chris Martin, Laura Wagner) — Donya works for a Chinese fortune cookie factory in San Francisco. Formerly a translator for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, she struggles to put her life back in order. In a moment of sudden revelation, she decides to send out a special message in a cookie. Cast: Anaita Wali Zada, Jeremy Allen White, Gregg Turkington. World Premiere. Fiction. Available online.

Kim’s Video / U.S.A. (Directors, Screenwriters, and Producers: David Redmon, Ashley Sabin, Producers: Deborah Smith, Dale Smith, Francesco Galavotti, Rebecca Tabasky) — Playing with the forms and tropes of various cinema genres, the filmmaker sets off on a quest to find a legendary lost video collection of 55,000 movies in Sicily. World Premiere. Documentary. Available online. DAY ONE

King Coal / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Producers: Shane Boris, Diane Becker, Peggy Drexler) — The cultural roots of coal continue to permeate the rituals of daily life in Appalachia even as its economic power wanes. The journey of a coal miner’s daughter exploring the region’s dreams and myths, untangling the pain and beauty, as her community sits on the brink of massive change. World Premiere. Documentary. Available online.

KOKOMO CITY / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: D. Smith, Producers: Harris Doran, Bill Butler) — Four Black transgender sex workers explore the dichotomy between the Black community and themselves, while confronting issues long avoided. World Premiere. Documentary. Available online.

To Live and Die and Live / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Qasim Basir, Producers: Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, Amin Joseph, Dana Offenbach, Samantha Basir) — Muhammad returns home to Detroit to bury his stepfather and is thrust into settling his accounts, but Muhammad’s struggles with depression and addiction may finish him before he finishes the task. Cast: Amin Joseph, Skye P. Marshall, Omari Hardwick, Cory Hardrict, Dana Gourrier, Maryam Basir. World Premiere. Fiction. Available online.

The Tuba Thieves / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Alison O’Daniel, Producer: Rachel Nederveld, Wendy Ettinger, Maida Lynn, Su Kim, Maya E. Rudolph) — From 2011 to 2013, tubas were stolen from Los Angeles high schools. This is not a story about thieves or missing tubas. Instead, it asks what it means to listen. World Premiere. Documentary. Available online.

Young. Wild. Free. / U.S.A (Director: Thembi L. Banks, Screenwriters: Juel Taylor, Tony Rettenmaier, Producers: Charles D. King, James Lopez, Poppy Hanks, Tommy Oliver, Baron Davis, Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd) — High school senior Brandon is drowning in responsibilities when his world is turned upside down after being robbed at gunpoint by the girl of his dreams. Cast: Algee Smith, Sanaa Lathan, Sierra Capri, Mike Epps. World Premiere. Fiction. Available online.

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 FRESH, Hereditary, Mandy, Relic, Assassination Nation, and The Babadook.

birth/rebirth / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Laura Moss, Screenwriter: Brendan J. O’Brien, Producers: Mali Elfman, David Grove Churchill Viste) — A single mother and a childless morgue technician are bound together by their relationship to a little girl they have reanimated from the dead. Cast: Marin Ireland, Judy Reyes, A.J. Lister, Breeda Wool. World Premiere. Fiction. DAY ONE

In My Mother’s Skin / Philippines (Director and Screenwriter: Kenneth Dagatan, Producers: Bradley Liew, Bianca Balbuena, Huang Junxiang, Stefano Centini) — Stranded in the Philippines during World War II, a young girl finds that her duty to protect her dying mother is complicated by her misplaced trust in a beguiling, flesh-eating fairy. Cast: Beauty Gonzalez, Felicity Kyle Napuli, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, James Mavie Estrella, Angeli Bayani. World Premiere. Fiction. Available online.

Infinity Pool / Canada (Director and Screenwriter: Brandon Cronenberg, Producers: Karen Harnisch, Andrew Cividino, Christian Piovesan, Noah Segal, Rob Cotterill, Anita Juka) — James and Em are enjoying an all-inclusive beach vacation when a fatal accident exposes the resort’s perverse subculture of hedonistic tourism, reckless violence, and surreal horrors. Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman. World Premiere. Fiction.

My Animal / Canada (Director: Jacqueline Castel, Screenwriter: Jae Matthews, Producers: Andrew Bronfman, Michael Solomon) — Heather, an outcast teenage goalie in a small northern town, falls for newcomer Jonny, an alluring but tormented figure skater. As their relationship deepens, Heather’s growing desires clash with her darkest secret, forcing her to control the animal within. Cast: Bobbi Salvör Menuez, Amandla Stenberg, Stephen McHattie, Heidi von Palleske, Cory Lipman, Joe Apollonio. World Premiere. Fiction.

Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Andrew Bowser, Producers: Clark Baker, Michael Mobley, Olivia Taylor Dudley) — Onyx joins a group of fellow occultists to attend a dark ritual at the mansion of their idol, Bartok. Suspecting Bartok’s nefarious intentions, Onyx is suddenly immersed in a world of monsters, mystery, and mayhem. Cast: Andrew Bowser, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Jeffrey Combs, Ralph Ineson, Rivkah Reyes, T.C. Carson. World Premiere. Fiction. Available online.

Polite Society / U.K. (Director and Screenwriter: Nida Manzoor, Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Olivier Kaempfer, John Pocock) — Aspiring martial artist Ria Khan believes she must save her older sister, Lena, from her impending marriage. With the help of her friends, Ria attempts to pull off the most ambitious of all wedding heists in the name of independence and sisterhood. Cast: Priya Kansara, Ritu Arya, Nimra Bucha, Akshay Khanna, Seraphina Beh, Ella Bruccoleri. World Premiere. Fiction.

Run Rabbit Run / Australia (Director: Daina Reid, Screenwriter: Hannah Kent, Producers: Sarah Shaw, Anna McLeish) — As a fertility doctor, Sarah has a firm understanding of the cycle of life. However, when she is forced to make sense of the increasingly strange behavior of her young daughter, Sarah must challenge her own beliefs and confront a ghost from her past. Cast: Sarah Snook, Lily LaTorre, Damon Herriman, Greta Scacchi. World Premiere. Fiction. Available online. DAY ONE

Talk to Me / Australia (Director and Screenwriter: Danny Philippou, Director: Michael Philippou, Screenwriter: Bill Hinzman, Producers: Samantha Jennings, Kristina Ceyton) — When a group of friends discovers how to conjure spirits using an ancient embalmed hand, they become hooked on the new thrill. Until one of them goes too far and opens the door to the spirit world. Cast: Sophie Wilde, Miranda Otto, Alexandra Jensen, Joe Bird, Zoe Terakes, Otis Dhanji. International Premiere. Fiction.

PREMIERES
A showcase of world premieres of some of the most highly anticipated fiction and documentary films of the coming year. Fiction films that have screened in Premieres include Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, Promising Young Woman, Kajillionaire, The Report, Late Night, and The Big Sick. Past documentary films include The Dissident, Lucy and Desi, On the Record, and Miss Americana.

Cassandro / U.S.A (Director and Screenwriter: Roger Ross Williams, Screenwriters: David Teague, Julián Herbert, Producers: Gerardo Gatica, Todd Black, David Bloomfield, Ted Hope, Julie Goldman) — Saúl Armendáriz, a gay amateur wrestler from El Paso, rises to international stardom after he creates the character Cassandro, the “Liberace of Lucha Libre.” In the process, he upends not just the macho wrestling world, but also his own life. Cast: Gael García Bernal, Roberta Colindrez, Perla De La Rosa, Joaquín Cosío, Raúl Castillo. World Premiere. Fiction.

Cat Person / France, U.S.A (Director: Susanna Fogel, Screenwriter: Michelle Ashford, Producers: Helen Estabrook, Jeremy Steckler) — College student Margot meets 33-year-old Robert at the movie theater where she works. After a casual flirtation at the concession stand, they carry on conversations through texts. As their perceptions of each other collide, events spiral out of control. Based on The New Yorker short story by Kristen Roupenian. Cast: Emilia Jones, Nicholas Braun, Geraldine Viswanathan, Hope Davis, Fred Melamed, Isabella Rossellini. World Premiere. Fiction. Available online.

Deep Rising / U.S.A (Director and Producer: Matthieu Rytz) — The fate of the planet’s last untouched wilderness, the deep ocean, is under threat as a secretive organization is about to allow massive extraction of seabed metals to address the world’s energy crisis. Narrated by Jason Momoa. World Premiere. Documentary.

The Deepest Breath / U.K, Ireland (Director and Screenwriter: Laura McGann, Producers: John Battsek, Sarah Thomson, Jamie D’Alton, Anne McLoughlin) — A champion freediver and expert safety diver seemed destined for one another despite the different paths they took to meet at the pinnacle of the freediving world. A look at the thrilling rewards — and inescapable risks — of chasing dreams through the depths of the ocean. World Premiere. Documentary.

Drift / France, U.K, Greece (Director and Producer: Anthony Chen, Screenwriters: Susanne Farrell, Alexander Maksik, Producers: Peter Spears, Emilie Georges, Naima Abed, Cynthia Erivo, Solome Williams) — Jacqueline, a young refugee, lands alone and penniless on a Greek island where she tries to survive, then to cope with her past. While gathering her strength, she begins a friendship with a rootless tour guide and together they find the resilience to forge ahead. Cast: Cynthia Erivo, Alia Shawkat, Ibrahima Ba, Honor Swinton Byrne, Zainab Jah, Suzy Bemba. World Premiere. Fiction.

Eileen / U.S.A (Director and Producer: William Oldroyd, Screenwriters and Producers: Luke Goebel, Ottessa Moshfegh, Producers: Anthony Bregman, Stefanie Azpiazu, Peter Cron) — Set during a bitter 1964 Massachusetts winter, young secretary Eileen becomes enchanted by the glamorous new counselor at the prison where she works. Their budding friendship takes a twisted turn when Rebecca reveals a dark secret — throwing Eileen onto a sinister path. Based on Ottessa Moshfegh’s award-winning novel. Cast: Thomasin McKenzie, Anne Hathaway, Shea Whigham, Marin Ireland, Owen Teague. World Premiere. Fiction.

Fairyland / U.S.A (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Andrew Durham, Producers: Sofia Coppola, Megan Carlson, Siena Oberman, Greg Lauritano, Laure Sudreau) — Set against the backdrop of San Francisco’s vibrant cultural scene in the 1970s and ’80s, chronicling a father-daughter relationship as it evolves from an era of bohemian decadence to the heartbreaking AIDS crisis. Based on the best-selling memoir Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father by Alysia Abbott. Cast: Scoot McNairy, Emilia Jones, Geena Davis, Cody Fern, Adam Lambert, Maria Bakalova. World Premiere. Fiction.

Food and Country / U.S.A (Director and Producer: Laura Gabbert, Producers: Ruth Reichl, Paula P. Manzanedo, Caroline Libresco) — America’s policy of producing cheap food at all costs has long hobbled small independent farmers, ranchers, and chefs. Worried for their survival, trailblazing food writer Ruth Reichl reaches out across political and social divides to uncover the country’s broken food system and the innovators risking it all to transform it. World Premiere. Documentary. Available online.

Invisible Beauty / U.S.A (Directors: Bethann Hardison, Frédéric Tcheng, Producer: Lisa Cortés) — Fashion revolutionary Bethann Hardison looks back on her journey as a pioneering Black model, modeling agent, and activist, shining a light on an untold chapter in the fight for racial diversity. World Premiere. Documentary.

It’s Only Life After All / U.S.A (Director and Producer: Alexandria Bombach, Producers: Kathlyn Horan, Jess Devaney, Anya Rous) — Blending 40 years of home movies, film archives, and intimate present-day vérité, a poignant reflection from Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of iconic folk rock duo Indigo Girls. A timely look into the obstacles, activism, and life lessons of two queer friends who never expected to make it big. World Premiere. Documentary. DAY ONE

Jamojaya / U.S.A (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Justin Chon, Screenwriter: Maegan Houang, Producers: Alan Pao, David Matheny, Joseph Dang, Alex Chi, Yama Cibulka, Shaun Sanghani) — A father-son relationship is put to the test when an up-and-coming rapper at the crossroads of his career decides to let go of his manager, who is also his father. This decision forces them to confront the past and figure out what they want of each other. Cast: Brian Imanuel, Yayu A.W. Unru, Kate Lyn Sheil, Henry Ian Cusick, Anthony Kiedis. World Premiere. Fiction. Available online.

Judy Blume Forever / U.S.A (Directors and Producers: Davina Pardo, Leah Wolchok, Producers: Sara Bernstein, Justin Wilkes, Marcella Steingart) — The radical honesty of the books by young adult fiction pioneer Judy Blume changed the way millions of readers understood themselves, their sexuality, and what it meant to grow up, but also led to critical battles against book banning and censorship. World Premiere. Documentary.

Landscape With Invisible Hand / U.S.A (Director and Screenwriter: Cory Finley, Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner) — When Earth is taken over by aliens who control the economy, a pair of teenagers come up with a plan to save their family. Cast: Tiffany Haddish, Asante Blackk, Kylie Rogers, Josh Hamilton, Michael Gandolfini, William Jackson Harper. World Premiere. Fiction.

A Little Prayer / U.S.A (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Angus MacLachlan, Producers: Lauren Vilchik, Max A. Butler) — In the South, a man tests the limits of patriarchal interference to protect his daughter-in-law when he discovers that his son is having an affair. Cast: David Strathairn, Jane Levy, Celia Weston, Will Pullen, Anna Camp, Dascha Polanco. World Premiere. Fiction. Available online.

Murder in Big Horn / U.S.A (Director and Producer: Razelle Benally, Director: Matthew Galkin, Producers: Ivan Macdonald, Ivy Macdonald) — The deaths of a group of Native American women in rural Montana are the focus as Native families, journalists, and local law enforcement reveal a violent crisis set in motion almost 200 years ago. World Premiere. Documentary. Available online.

Passages / France (Director and Screenwriter: Ira Sachs, Screenwriter: Mauricio Zacharias, Producers: Saïd Ben Saïd, Michel Merkt) — An intimate examination of attraction and emotional abuse between men and women. Cast: Franz Rogowski, Ben Whishaw, Adèle Exarchopoulos. World Premiere. Fiction.

PLAN C / U.S.A (Director and Producer: Tracy Droz Tragos) — A hidden grassroots organization doggedly fights to expand access to abortion pills across the United States keeping hope alive during a global pandemic and the fall of Roe v. Wade. World Premiere. Documentary.

The Pod Generation / Belgium, France, U.K (Director and Screenwriter: Sophie Barthes, Producers: Geneviève Lemal, Yann Zenou, Nadia Kamlichi, Martin Metz) — In a not-so-distant future, amid a society madly in love with technology, tech giant Pegazus offers couples the opportunity to share their pregnancies via detachable artificial wombs or pods. And so begins Rachel and Alvy’s wild ride to parenthood in this brave new world. Cast: Emilia Clarke, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rosalie Craig, Vinette Robinson, Jean-Marc Barr. World Premiere. Fiction. DAY ONE

Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields / U.S.A (Director: Lana Wilson, Producers: Christine O’Malley, Jack Turner) — A galvanizing look at actor, model, and icon Brooke Shields as she transforms from sexualized young girl to a woman discovering her power. Holding a mirror up to a society that objectifies women and girls, her story shows the perils and triumphs of gaining agency in a hostile world. World Premiere. Documentary.

Radical / U.S.A (Director and Screenwriter: Christopher Zalla, Producers: Ben Odell, Eugenio Derbez, Joshua Davis) — In a Mexican border town plagued by neglect, corruption, and violence, a frustrated teacher tries a radical new method to break through his students’ apathy and unlock their curiosity, their potential… and maybe even their genius. Based on a true story. Cast: Eugenio Derbez, Daniel Haddad, Jenifer Trejo, Mia Fernanda Solis, Danilo Guardiola. World Premiere. Fiction. DAY ONE

Rotting in the Sun / U.S.A (Director and Screenwriter: Sebastian Silva, Screenwriter: Pedro Peirano, Producer: Jacob Wasserman) — After filmmaker Sebastian Silva goes missing in Mexico City, social media celebrity Jordan Firstman begins searching for him, suspecting that the cleaning lady in Sebastian’s building may have something to do with his disappearance. Cast: Jordan Firstman, Catalina Saavedra, Sebastian Silva. World Premiere. Fiction.

Rye Lane / U.K (Director: Raine Allen-Miller, Screenwriters: Nathan Bryon, Tom Melia, Producers: Yvonne Isimeme Ibazebo, Damian Jones) — Two twenty-somethings reeling from bad breakups deal with their nightmare exes and connect over the course of an eventful day in South London. Cast: David Jonsson, Vivian Oparah. World Premiere. Fiction.

Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie / U.S.A (Director and Producer: Davis Guggenheim, Producers: Jonathan King, Annetta Marion, Will Cohen) — The improbable tale of a short kid from a Canadian army base who became the darling of 1980s Hollywood — only to find the course of his life altered by a stunning diagnosis. What happens when an incurable optimist confronts an incurable disease? World Premiere. Documentary.

You Hurt My Feelings / U.S.A (Director and Screenwriter: Nicole Holofcener, Producers: Stefanie Azpiazu, Anthony Bregman) — A novelist’s longstanding marriage is suddenly upended when she overhears her husband giving his honest reaction to her latest book. Cast: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tobias Menzies, Michaela Watkins, Owen Teague, Arian Moayed. World Premiere. Fiction.

NEW FRONTIER FILMS
New Frontier champions artists who engage in experimental storytelling at the crossroads of film, art, performance, and media technology, showcasing cutting-edge work that explores and evolves cinema culture in today’s rapidly changing landscape. New Frontier is presently in a process of reimagination. This year, we return to our roots to offer a lineup of resonant experimental films.

A Common Sequence / U.S.A (Directors and Producers: Mary Helena Clark and Mike Gibisser, Producer: Graciela Guerrero-Reyes) — An interconnected look at tradition, colonialism, property, faith, and science, as seen through labor practices that link an endangered salamander, mass-produced apples, and the evolving fields of genomics and machine learning. World Premiere. Documentary. Available online.

Gush / U.S.A (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Fox Maxy) — An embodied rumination of both male and female power, healing and haunting, all within an apocalyptic world. A transformation that courses through unknown terror to untamed collective joy. Cast: Michel Sayegh, Ruth Fish, Sergio Mejia, Littlebear Sanchez, No’aash Iswut Peltier, Suavitel Paper. World Premiere. Fiction. Available online.

Last Things / U.S.A, Portugal, France (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Deborah Stratman, Producers: Anže Peržin, Gaëlle Boucand) — Evolution and extinction from the point of view of rocks. A humid take on minerals, where sci-fi meets sci-fact. The geo-biosphere is a place of evolutionary possibility, where humans disappear but life endures. World Premiere. Documentary. Available online.

SPOTLIGHT
A tribute to the cinema we love from throughout the past year. Films that have played in this category in recent years include The Worst Person in the World, The Biggest Little Farm, Birds of Passage, The Rider, Ida, and The Lobster.

The Eight Mountains / Italy and Belgium (Directors and Screenwriters: Felix van Groeningen, Charlotte Vandermeersch, Producers: Mario Gianani, Lorenzo Gangarossa) — Pietro spends his childhood summers in the same secluded Italian mountain village where Bruno was raised, in which they form a decades-long friendship. Over the years, their paths diverge as Bruno remains faithful to the mountain while Pietro comes and goes from the city. Cast: Luca Marinelli, Alessandro Borghi, Filippo Timi, Elena Lietti. Fiction. Available online.

L’Immensità / Italy (Director and Screenwriter: Emanuele Crialese, Screenwriter: Francesca Manieri, Vittorio Moroni, Producer: Lorenzo Gangarossa, Mario Gianani — Clara has relocated to Rome with Felice and their three children. From their new apartment, Clara sees a city in transition: an old society washed away by an emerging middle class. The paint is fresh, the appliances are new, but expectations around family, desire, and gender remain traditional as ever. Cast: Penélope Cruz, Vincenzo Amato, Luana Giuliani, Patrizio Francioni, Maria Chiara Gorett, Penelope Nieto Conti. North American Premiere. Fiction. Available online. DAY ONE

Joyland / Pakistan (Director and Screenwriter: Saim Sadiq, Producers: Apoorva Guru Charan, Sarmad Sultan Khoosat, Sabiha Sumar, Lauren Mann) — As the Ranas, a happily patriarchal joint family, yearn for the birth of a baby boy to continue the family line, their youngest son secretly joins an erotic dance theater and falls for an ambitious trans starlet. Their impossible love story illuminates the entire family’s desire for a sexual rebellion. Cast: Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gilani, Sania Saeed, Salmaan Peerzada. Fiction. Available online.

Other People’s Children / France (Director and Screenwriter: Rebecca Zlotowski, Producers: Frederic Jouve, Marie Lecoq — Rachel is 40 years old with no children. She loves her life: her high school students, her friends, her guitar lessons. When she falls in love with Ali, she becomes attached to Leila, his 4-year-old daughter. She loves her like her own, but to love other people’s children is risky. Cast: Virginie Efira, Roschdy Zem, Chiara Mastroianni, Callie Ferreira-Goncalves, Yamée Couture, Michel Zlotowski. U.S. Premiere. Fiction. Available online.

Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis) / U.K. (Director: Anton Corbijn, Screenwriter, and Producer: Trish D Chetty, Producers: Ged Doherty, Colin Firth) — An inside look at the studio responsible for some of the most iconic and recognizable album covers of all time. From Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon to Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy, the studio ruled the ’70s. Documentary. Available online.

KIDS
This section of the Festival is especially for our youngest independent film fans. Films that have played in this category in recent years include The Elephant Queen, Science Fair, My Life as a Zucchini, The Eagle Huntress, and Shaun the Sheep.

Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Jake Van Wagoner, Screenwriter and Producer: Austin Everett, Producers: Micah Merrill, Maclain Nelson, Jeremy Prusso) — Itsy is new in town and her life seems over until she meets her space-obsessed neighbor Calvin, who believes his parents were abducted by aliens. An aspiring journalist, Itsy decides to write an exposé on Calvin but ends up discovering much more. Cast: Emma Tremblay, Jacob Buster, Will Forte, Elizabeth Mitchell, Kenneth Cummins, Matt Biedel. World Premiere. Fiction. Available online.

The Amazing Maurice / Germany, U.K. (Director: Toby Genkel, Screenwriter: Terry Rossio, Producers: Emely Christians, Andrew Baker, Robert Chandler) — A streetwise cat and his gang of rats who come up with a perfect money-making scheme. Based on the novel The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Sir Terry Pratchett. Cast: Hugh Laurie, Emilia Clarke, Himesh Patel, Gemma Arterton. North American Premiere. Fiction. Available online.

Blueback / Australia (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Robert Connolly, Producers: Liz Kearney, James Grandison) — An intimate mother-daughter relationship is forged by the women’s keen desire to protect the inhabitants of the pristine blue oceans on the Australian coast where they live. Adapted from Tim Winton’s bestselling and critically acclaimed novella. Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Eric Bana, Radha Mitchell, Ilsa Fogg, Liz Alexander, Ariel Donoghue. U.S. Premiere. Fiction. SALT LAKE CITY OPENING NIGHT GALA FILM

The Sundance Film Festival®
The Sundance Film Festival, a program of the nonprofit, Sundance Institute, is the pre-eminent gathering of original storytellers and audiences seeking new voices and fresh perspectives. Since 1985, hundreds of films launched at the Festival have gone on to gain critical acclaim and reach new audiences worldwide. The Festival has introduced some of the most groundbreaking films and episodic works of the past three decades, including Fire of Love, Cha Cha Real Smooth, Flee, CODA, Passing, Summer Of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, O.J.: Made in America, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Top of the Lake, 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 program consists of fiction and nonfiction features and short films, series and episodic content, emerging media, and performances, as well as conversations, and other events. The Festival takes place both in person in the state of Utah and online, connecting audiences across the U.S. to bold new artists and films. The 2023 Festival takes place January 19–29. Be a part of the Festival at Sundance Film Festival and follow the Festival on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

The Festival is a program of the nonprofit Sundance Institute. To date, 2023 Festival sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, AMC+, Chase Sapphire®, Adobe; Leadership Sponsors – Audible, DIRECTV, Netflix, Omnicom Group, Shutterstock, Stacy’s Pita Chips, United Airlines, XRM Media; Sustaining Sponsors – Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., DoorDash, Dropbox, World of Hyatt®, IMDb, Lyft, MACRO, Rabbit Hole Bourbon & Rye, Stanley, University of Utah Health, White Claw Hard Seltzer; Media Sponsors – IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, NPR, Variety, Vulture, 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. festival.sundance.org

Sundance Institute
As a champion and curator of independent stories, the nonprofit Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists across storytelling 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 a global cohort of working 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 and showcased such projects as Summer of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), CODA, Flee, Passing, 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. JoinSundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

# # #

EDITOR NOTE: DIRECTOR DEMOGRAPHICS
The data we are sharing reflects the information provided directly by the artists. Some artists chose not to self-identify in all data areas.

U.S. COMPETITION:
Dramatic: 61% or 8 of the 13 directors in this year’s U.S. Dramatic Competition identify as women; 61% or 8 of the 13 identify as people of color; 23% or 3 of the 13 identify as LGBTQ+.
Documentary: 63% or 10 of the 16 directors in this year’s U.S. Documentary Competition identify as women; 63% or 10 of the 16 identify as people of color; 13% or 2 of the 16 identify as LGBTQ+; 6% or 1 of the 16 identify as a person with a disability.

WORLD COMPETITION:
Dramatic: 58% or 7 of the 12 directors in the World Dramatic Competition identify as women; 50% or 6 of the 12 identify as people of color; 25% or 3 out of 12 directors identify as LGBTQ+.
Documentary: 46% or 6 of the 13 directors in the World Documentary Competition identify as women; 38% or 5 of the 13 as people of color; 23% or 3 of the 13 identify as LGBTQ+; 8% or 1 of the 13 identify as a person with a disability.

FEATURE FILM SUBMISSIONS: Of the 4,061 feature film submissions, 1,662 were from the U.S. and 2,399 were international; 1,105 (27%) were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as women; 91 (2%) were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as nonbinary individuals; 1,676 (41%) were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as people of color; 547 (13%) were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as LGBTQ+.

ALL FEATURES: Of the 101 feature films announced so far, 54 (53%) were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as women; 5 (5%) were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as nonbinary individuals; 46 (45%) were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as people of color; 20 (20%) by one or more filmmakers who identify as LGBTQ+; 3 (3%) by one or more filmmakers who identifies as a person with a disability.


 

Review: ‘Something In The Dirt’ is the latest mindf*ck from the filmmaking team Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson.

SOMETHING IN THE DIRT

I’ve been waving my arms and shouting their names from the rooftops for years, pushing their films on fellow indie genre fans. Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson are unquestionably one of the most intriguing filmmaking teams. It is impossible to predict their endgame. They thrive on the unexpected. Their latest film killing it on the festival circuit, SOMETHING IN THE DIRT, is no exception. Welcome to one of the weirdest head trips in cinematic history.

Levi and John form a fast friendship when a strange occurrence in their LA apartment building inspires them to make a documentary. Walking a fine line of admiration and distrust, the two get deeper into the mystery and the lies they tell one another.

Benson and Moorhead’s use of science is a running theme in their films. It is always clever. In SOMETHING IN THE DIRT, history and math (specifically the Pythagorean theory) are quite literally written on the walls. The quick-take editing holds your attention like a vice with a mix of home videos, documentary-style sit-down interviews, visuals of whatever topic Levi and John reference, and handheld cinematography allow the audience to teeter on the edge of doc and sci-fi narrative. This is what Benson and Moorhead do; keep you on your toes from start to finish.

The sound editing is a character. Audiences might suddenly find themselves imitating Levi’s stillness and neck craning to get the full effect. Justin Benson wrote the script, while Moorhead tackles the eclectic cinematography. Directing side by side, Benson and Moorhead share a chemistry that is something of the gods. They cannot escape likeability. The dialogue sounds so natural it could be improvised around the main outline. I constantly smirked as they effortlessly bounced between science, humor, casual conspiracy theories, and the idea that nothing is a coincidence. A meta film within a film, SOMETHING IN THE DIRT is here to mess you up and keep you guessing. I need to watch it again. I need to.


SOMETHING IN THE DIRT
The Fifth Mind-Melting Feature from Filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (THE ENDLESS, “Moon Knight”) 
Opens in Theaters November 4 via XYZ

Review: ‘PIGGY’ tests morality with bloody brilliant performances and writing.

PIGGY


Morally ambiguous and brilliant, PIGGY has been making the festival rounds this year to much acclaim. Writer-director Carlota Pereda uses the backdrop of teenage bullying and dials it up to the nth degree with murder, mayhem, and lies.

The script is relentlessly chilling. Because the audience has more information than anyone else, it feels as though the characters are sitting ducks. We are right alongside Sara as she witnesses her tormentors thrown into the back of a serial killer’s van. She says nothing, both out of fear and perhaps relief. Those that have ever been on the receiving end of horrible words and despicable actions will undoubtedly wince throughout the film.

PIGGY also speaks to the weight of parental support. We find Sara’s mother to be a nagging, uncaring shrew, while her father pays attention to her with genuine love. Her woes are exacerbated by her parents owning the local butcher shop, leading vile peers to dub her “Piggy.” One of the girls, Claudia, has a deeper connection to Sara based on her delay tactics in teasing and a matching bracelet with Sara.

The stakes in the film get higher and higher as the police, the chatty locals, and Sara’s conscience drives her to the breaking point. But that’s not all that weighs on Sara’s mind. PIGGY keeps you on your toes, constantly challenging your morality. Lead actress Laura Galán gives a star-making performance. You can see the wheels turning in each deliberate beat. Raw and thoroughly vulnerable, it is one hell of a turn. PIGGY had my heart in my throat from start to finish. Audiences are in for some hard questions and emotional torture.


Release Dates: 
October 7, 2022 (Exclusively in Alamo Drafthouse Theaters)
October 14, 2022 (Theatrical/VOD)

Directed by Carlota Pereda
Cast: Laura Galán, Richard Holmes, Carmen Machi, Irene Ferreiro, Camille Aguilar, Claudia Salas, Pilar Castro
Runtime: 90 mins
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Distributor: Magnet Releasing


Review:’Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul’ is In Theaters and streaming only on Peacock now!

HONK FOR JESUS. SAVE YOUR SOUL.

To overcome a scandal, a viral pastor and his wife hire an up-and-coming festival filmmaker to revamp their image with a cinema verité documentary. Their goal is to refill their megachurch with its previous 25000 parishioners. But, it quickly becomes evident that Lee-Curtis and Trinitie are out of touch with reality. Based on writer-director-producer Adamma Ebo’s short film of the same name, Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. is gloriously biting satire to the nth degree.

As revelations of the allegations against Lee-Curtis come to light, the complex nature of the story gets stickier. The dialogue is laugh-out-loud hilarious. Ebo makes full use of righteous indignation to excuse/cover sins. The script mirrors real life so accurately it is shocking. The hidden shame, faux outrage, and especially the hypocrisy, every character in Honk For Jesus is lying to themselves.

Regina Hall plays Trinitie Childs. Doing her best dutiful wife with a plastered smile, Hall is perfection. Each beat jumps off the screen. But there are cracks beneath the surface, waiting for the precise moment to break free. Sterling K. Brown as Lee-Curtis Childs is an explosive ball of energy. It’s a powerful and physical performance. Brown’s relentless commitment to the absurd makes this film as intriguing as it is funny. The chemistry between Hall and Brown is spectacular. It is an equal partnership of fierceness. The support they give to one another in every scene is palpable.

Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. is a fight for the Childs’ last remaining shred of dignity. The balance of over-the-top farce and deep-seated issues creates a hell of a story. Blind faith is a dangerous thing. Adamma Ebo knows it, and so too shall audiences.


Written and Directed by Adamma Ebo

Produced by Adanne Ebo, Daniel Kaluuya, Rowan Riley, Amandla Crichlow, Jesse Burgum, Matthew Cooper

Starring Regina Hall, Sterling K. Brown


For more coverage of Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul from AWFJ members, click here!

Review: Based on a harrowing true story, ‘Breaking’ showcases John Boyega in an award-worthy performance.

BREAKING

*A version of this review originally appeared on AWFJ.org. To see more of their coverage of Breaking click here!*


Director Abi Damaris Corbin brings to life the true story of Brian Brown-Easley. John Boyega plays the real-life ex-Marine who, in a last-ditch effort to get the money the VA owes him, threatens to blow up a Wells Fargo with two female managers inside with him. Breaking is an intense thriller that keeps your heart in your throat from beginning to end. It is one of the most extraordinary stories of principle I’ve ever seen.

Performances across the board are magnificent. The women in the film elevate the complexities. Connie Britton is Lisa Larson, a news producer with whom Easley speaks in great detail. Like all of her roles, she is a solid addition to the cast. Olivia Washington plays Cassandra Easley, Brian’s ex-wife. A woman in an unthinkable crisis attempting to protect their daughter, Kiah, Washington is fantastic.

Selenis Leyva plays bank teller Rosa Diaz. She is the audience. Her fear is palpable. Coming from her role on Orange is the New Black, Leyva swaps prison sass for an entirely different brand of vulnerability. Nicole Beharie is a grounding force in Breaking. Her calm strength reminds you to take a breath between scenes. Her arc is breathtaking.

In one of his final roles, Michael Kenneth Williams plays Sargent Eli Bernard, the police negotiator. Williams’ relatable nature is of utmost importance. His chemistry with Boyega is imperative.

John Boyega presents the audience with a masterclass of human desperation. Each beat screams off the screen, even in his silence. This man has clear signs of PTSD, but his sincerity and circumstance have you rooting for him. The emotional nuance blew me away as Boyega is simultaneously patient and commanding. This performance deserves every award possible. You cannot ignore it.

Abi Damaris Corbin and cowriter Kwame Kwei-Armah understood the stakes in telling this story with urgency and respect. The social commentary about this country’s despicable treatment of our veterans could not be louder. Breaking is a story of one man’s dignity, but it is also an undeniable megaphone for tens of thousands of men and women being placed on the back burner every day. The system is disgraceful. Shockingly, these incidents aren’t more frequent.

Equally as relevant is that this story did not need to play out this way. Beharie’s character speaks directly to this issue, asking Easley how long she has to keep her son away from the news stories. Suspects of color are never treated the same way as white individuals. Breaking is yet another glaring example of racism. The final minutes of the film will rattle your soul.


In Theaters August 26th, 2022

 

HBO Original review: Heed the warning and relive the trauma as never before seen footage in Ed Perkins’ stunning doc ‘THE PRINCESS’ flags the danger of history repeating itself.

‘The HBO Original documentary film THE PRINCESS is an intimate and immersive look at the life of Princess Diana, directed by Academy Award® nominee Ed Perkins (“Black Sheep” “Tell Me Who I Am”) and produced by Lightbox, Academy Award®-winning Simon Chinn (“Man on Wire” “Searching for Sugar Man”) and Emmy®-winning Jonathan Chinn (“LA92” HBO’s “Tina”). The film debuts on SATURDAY, AUGUST 13 (8:00-9:50 p.m. ET/PT) on HBO, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of Princess Diana’s tragic death, and will be available to stream on HBO Max. THE PRINCESS had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. HBO Documentary Films presents THE PRINCESS, in association with SKY, produced by Lightbox. Directed by Ed Perkins; produced by Simon Chinn and Jonathan Chinn; editors, Jinx Godfrey and Daniel Lapira; co-producer, Vanessa Tovell. For HBO: coordinating producer, Anna Klein; executive producers, Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller.


The precise moment I realized what was happening in the opening footage of The Princess, my blood ran cold. The tragedy of Diana, Princess of Wales is something I’ve always held close to my heart. I remember the morning of her death like it was yesterday. My mother entered my bedroom, speechless, holding up the headline on the front page. I had Princess Diana paper dolls as a child. The booklet contained a replica of the crown she wore at her wedding. I mourned her like so many across the globe, understanding her cultural impact even more as my father and I watched her funeral live. I’d never seen him weep before that day. 

The film chronicles Diana’s life in the media from the days before her engagement until her horrific death. There are no talking heads, no overarching narration, simply thousands of hours of archival footage edited together with care and great intention. Studying the body language of Diana, Charles, and the royal family is fascinating. The commentary comes in the form of media voiceovers that are equally adoring and scathing. Feeling as if we know Diana and understanding the revelations that have since come to light, I was seething as I witnessed the treatment of an uncaring husband and the fickle media. 

The score is breathtaking. The editing is an award-worthy triumph. Watching the downward spiral of a young woman thrown to the wolves is daunting. I found myself shaking my head, filled with sadness and anger at those who failed spectacularly to protect her. And therein lies the double-edged sword of this film. Our obsession with a woman so special and fascinating makes us accomplices. The Princess is a cautionary tale as relevant today as it was then. Maybe more so. Harry and Meghan deserve more respect than we ever showed his mother and equal parts adoration for the change they are trying desperately to implement in a family stuck in the dark ages. We, the audience and fellow human beings, must remind ourselves to take a step back and let them live their lives in peace. 

HBO ORIGINAL DOCUMENTARY THE PRINCESS 
Debuting SATURDAY on HBO & HBO Max (8:00-9:50 p.m. ET/PT)

Review: Rebecca Hall stars in ‘Resurrection,’ a terrifying portrait of trauma and control.

RESURRECTION

Written and directed by Andrew Semans, Resurrection is the story of one woman’s decades-long torment. When a man from Maggie’s past appears, her perfectly buttoned-up life turns upside down. Maggie’s hyper-structured existence hides severe unresolved trauma. Resurrection is a sick and twisted story of psychological damage and revenge.

Grace Kaufman is Abbie. As a college student, she possesses a casual abandon to her behavior. Her age-appropriate nonchalance is perfectly balanced with Hall’s ever-evolving intensity. Tim Roth is a master manipulator as David. He’s downright frightening. His backstory as a groomer is beyond upsetting. Roth gives off a slimy aura that makes the viewer’s full body cringe. Rebecca Hall‘s performance is immaculate. Hall’s idiosyncrasies are impeccable. Anyone familiar with PTSD will recognize the guarded physicality, the body at attention in a millisecond, and the sudden, sharp tone change in the voice. Panic attacks are all-consuming, and Hall lives inside them throughout the film. But it is her confessional monologue that will split your soul in two. It’s simultaneously heart-wrenching and matter-of-fact.

The heightened sound editing chills the senses. It’s a palpable stress-inducing choice that accosts the audience. You’ll have to remember to breathe while watching Resurrection. Andrew Semans‘ writing astounds me. He understands the fear and gaslighting so many women live with daily, then takes it to the nth degree. It’s also about telling your story. Resurrection is relentlessly terrifying and grossly relevant. Believe women.


RESURRECTION will be released by IFC Films in theaters on July 29th and on Demand on August 5th.  Shudder will be the exclusive streaming home in November 2022.

Screenwriter and director Andrew Semans’ jaw-dropping sophomore feature, RESURRECTION had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Margaret (Rebecca Hall) leads a successful and orderly life, perfectly balancing the demands of her busy career and single parenthood to her fiercely independent daughter Abbie. Everything is under control. But that careful balance is upended when an unwelcome shadow from her past, David (Tim Roth) returns, carrying with him the horrors of Margaret’s past. Battling her rising fear, Margaret must confront the monster she’s evaded for two decades who has come to conclude their unfinished business.


 

Review: ‘Marevelous and The Black Hole’ is a family film with heart and pizzazz.

MARVELOUS AND THE BLACK HOLE

A teenage delinquent (Miya Cech, ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE) befriends a surly magician (Rhea Perlman, “Cheers,” MATILDA) who helps her navigate her inner demons and dysfunctional family with sleight of hand magic. A coming-of-age comedy that touches on unlikely friendships, grief, and finding hope in the darkest moments.


After losing her mother, Sammy lashes out physically and emotionally. When her dad forces her to take a business class in summer school, she encounters a magician by happenstance. Under the guise of a final project, Sammy trades anger for magic. 

The score heightens the film’s charm. Cartoon animation and black & white fantasy sequences create playful transitions whenever Sammy feels rage. The costumes are meaningful. Sammy is in black the entire film, while Margot dons lush colors adorned with embroidery or applique. 

Rhea Perlman plays Margot, AKA The Marvelous. Perlman’s cheery disposition is a brilliant foil for Miya Cech‘s Sammy. She brings a motherly quality that Sammy so desperately needs. Cech is outstanding. She possesses a fierce attitude that’s relatable. Cech levels up the typical teenage angst with grounded sass and genuine vulnerability underneath. Together, their chemistry is like a warm hug. If I’m being honest, I would gladly watch an entire series about these two characters.

Marvelous and The Black Hole is nothing short of darling. This family-friendly flick is about navigating grief. Writer-director Kate Tsang gives audiences a sweet ode to storytelling and healing. 


MARVELOUS AND THE BLACK HOLE
Opens in Select Theaters on April 22, 2022


Written + Directed by: Kate Tsang
Produced by: Carolyn Mao
Co-Producers: Allison Avery Jordan, Christa Boarini
Director of Photography: Nanu Segal, BSC
Production Designer: Yong Ok Lee
Edited by: Cyndi Trissel, Ryan Denmark
Costume Designer: Amanda Bujak

TRT: 81 minutes


 

SXSW 2022 review from Unseen Films: ‘CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH’

CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH

My feeling toward Cooper Raiff’s CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH is summed up by the warning one learns very early when going to or following the news out of film festivals, which is beware anything anyone tells you because it is invariably wrong. More times than not writers, myself included, are caught up in the moment and something you see produces a reaction that over-sells the film. Such is the case with CHA CHA, a film many of my friends oversold when it played at Sundance.

Director Cooper Raiff plays a young man, just out of college who is stuck working at Meat Stick and acting as a guy who can get people to have a good time at various parties. He meets Dakota Johnson and her daughter at one and is smitten. They bond despite her having a fiance in Barcelona. What will happen?

How you feel about the film will be determined by how you feel about Raiff as a leading man and his technique behind the camera. Looking like a younger David Tennant but with 50% less charm and zero weight, Raiff wanders through the film in a part that makes him seem like a gee-whiz sweet guy that everyone likes. Gosh darn it, why can’t he get his life together. Its a saccharine part of the sort that only exists in “you can’t be serious” romantic comedies. This results in moments that had they been played by any other actor or written by any other writer might have seemed remotely real instead of artificial.

And it’s a shame because Dakota Johnson and Vanessa Burghardt as her daughter are magnificent. They take roles that shouldn’t work as written and turn them into something special. They are what make the film work as well as it does.

Yes, despite my bitching the film works as disposable romance. But it should have been better. It also should have had a different ending which seems to be there just to give the proceedings weight. Forgive me, while it may be slightly logical, Johnson is engaged after all, it feels out of place. Yes I know it’s the result of the film being from Raiff’s character’s POV, but it seems wrong and out of left field like many serious works of literature that go serious in the final pages/minutes. But what annoys me is the whole thing outside of Johnson and Burghardt are not far removed from a sitcom so it didn’t have to end real. (Yes know it’s foreshadowed in conversations but it still seems wrong to me)

Worth a look for Dakota Johnson fans or those who want to have their socks knocked off by newcomer Vanessa Burghardt. Everyone else you’re on your own.


To see more #SXSW22 coverage from Steve, head over to Unseen Films


CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH will make its global premiere on Apple TV+ later this year.


Netflix documentary review: ‘DOWNFALL: The Case Against Boeing’- Shareholders over safety.

DOWNFALL: The Case Against Boeing

A searing investigation of a once-iconic company and its tragic failures, DOWNFALL: The Case Against Boeing exposes how Wall Street’s influence and Boeing’s crumbling internal culture resulted in two historic plane crashes, 346 fatalities, and a shocking cover-up. Directed and produced by Rory Kennedy. Produced and co-written by Mark Bailey. Executive produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.


In 2012, I became friends with a couple who were both mechanical engineers at Boeing. I recall a conversation in which they nonchalantly explained that the only thing holding a Boeing aircraft together were some bolts, and the likelihood that a crash didn’t occur more often was surprising. Everyone in the room immediately hushed, and I think they got the hint that we were terrified by those statements, especially considering a vast number of our spouses traveled on a plane twice a week. In the new Netflix documentary DOWNFALL: The Case Against Boeing, I came to realize just how haunting these seemingly off-the-cuff comments would become. 

After 346 people died on Lion Air Flight 610 on October 29, 2018, the ensuing blame game began. Their PR coming from Boeing was suspect. Then a second crash months later with Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10, 2019. Wall Street Journal writer Andy Pasztor started digging into the facts. What the hell is an MCAS? What did they know and when? Could these tragedies have been prevented?

The film uses heart-wrenching footage of recovered luggage and personal items, like small children’s shoes. Recreations show the viewer precisely what occurred based on the black box’s digital information. The film puts faces to those on board the two flights. We hear from family members about who they were. They each recall how they found out their loved ones had been on those planes. We see internal memos and hear from, you guessed it, former employees. It’s nothing less than stunning. 

I sat shocked while watching this film and having heard the same concerns from former employees’ mouths… six years prior. Boeing makes its morals very clear. Speed over safety. Profit over people. When you see and hear about these shortcuts, you will gasp. DOWNFALL: The Case Against Boeing is now streaming on Netflix. I highly encourage you to watch and ask yourself, “Should I trust a company like this?”