Our annual guide to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City January 19–29, including competition and non-competition films and events.
U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION
U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Eliza Hittman)
An aimless teenager on the outer edges of Brooklyn struggles to escape his bleak home life and navigate questions of self-identity, as he balances his time between his delinquent friends, a potential new girlfriend, and older men he meets online.
Cast: Harris Dickinson, Madeline Weinstein, Kate Hodge, Neal Huff
Ingrid Goes West
U.S.A. (Director: Matt Spicer, Screenwriters: Matt Spicer, David Branson Smith)
A young woman becomes obsessed with an Instagram lifestyle blogger and moves to Los Angeles to try and befriend her in real life.
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr, Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen
U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Maggie Betts)
In the early ’60s, during the Vatican II era, a young woman training to become a nun struggles with issues of faith, sexuality and the changing church.
Cast: Margaret Qualley, Melissa Leo, Julianne Nicholson, Dianna Agron, Morgan Saylor
WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Germany (Director and screenwriter: Helene Hegemann)
Mifti, age 16, lives in Berlin with a cast of characters including her half-siblings; their rich, self-involved father; and her junkie friend Ophelia. As she mourns her recently deceased mother, she begins to develop an obsession with Alice, an enigmatic, and much older, white-collar criminal.
Cast: Jasna Fritzi Bauer, Arly Jover, Mavie Hörbiger, Laura Tonke, Hans Löw, Bernhard Schütz
Dominican Republic (Director and screenwriter: José María Cabral)
Julián finds love and a reason for living in the last place imaginable: the Dominican Republic’s Najayo Prison. His romance with fellow prisoner Yanelly must develop through sign language and without the knowledge of dozens of guards.
Cast: Jean Jean, Judith Rodriguez Perez, Ramón Emilio Candelario
God’s Own Country
U.K. (Director and screenwriter: Francis Lee)
Springtime in Yorkshire: isolated young sheep farmer Johnny Saxby numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker, employed for the lambing season, ignites an intense relationship that sets Johnny on a new path.
Cast: Josh O’Connor, Alec Secareanu, Ian Hart, Gemma Jones
Sueño en otro idioma (I Dream in Another Language)
Mexico (Director: Ernesto Contreras, Screenwriter: Carlos Contreras)
The last two speakers of a millennia-old language haven’t spoken in 50 years, when a young linguist tries to bring them together. Yet hidden in the past, in the heart of the jungle, lies a secret concerning the fate of the Zikril language.
Cast: Fernando Álvarez Rebeil, Eligio Meléndez, Manuel Poncelis, Fátima Molina, Juan Pablo de Santiago, Hoze Meléndez
South Africa (Director: John Trengove, Screenwriters: Trengove, Thando Mgqolozana, Malusi Bengu)
Xolani, a lonely factory worker, travels to the rural mountains with the men of his community to initiate a group of teenage boys into manhood. When a defiant initiate from the city discovers his best-kept secret, a forbidden love, Xolani’s entire existence begins to unravel.
Cast: Nakhane Touré, Bongile Mantsai, Niza Jay Ncoyini
U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
U.S.A. (Director: Peter Bratt)
Dolores Huerta bucks 1950s gender conventions by co-founding the country’s first farmworkers’ union. Wrestling with raising 11 children, gender bias, union defeat and victory, and nearly dying after a San Francisco Police beating, Dolores emerges with a vision that connects her newfound feminism with racial and class justice
INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS
Dawn of the Deaf
U.K. (Dir/SCREEN: Rob Savage)
When a strange sound wipes out the hearing population, a small group of deaf people must band together to survive.
Portugal (Dir/SCREEN: André Santos, Marco Leão)
Pedro gets home at dawn. Before the young boy falls asleep, his lonely mother drags him to the beach.
Bayard & Me
U.S.A. (Director: Matt Wolf)
Walter Naegle’s boyfriend, Bayard Rustin, was a famous civil rights activist 30 years Walter’s senior. In the 1980s, Bayard decided to adopt Walter for legal protection. This love story is about a time when gay marriage was inconceivable.
How’s your prostate?
France (Directors: Jeanne Paturle, Cécile Rousset, Screenwriters: Paturle, Rousset, Cécile Mille)
One friend tells the other about the very strange time when, beside a swimming pool, she learned about her father’s prostate, his erectile function and his nighttime fantasies.
Call Me by Your Name
Italy-France / Director: Luca Guadagnino, Screenwriters: James Ivory, Luca Guadagnino
The sensitive and cultivated Elio, only child of the American-Italian-French Perlman family, is facing another lazy summer at his parents’ villa in the beautiful and languid Italian countryside when Oliver, an academic who has come to help with Elio’s father’s research, arrives.
Cast: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, Victoire Du Bois.
This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous
Director: Barbara Kopple
Are there limits to your love for your family? One family’s acceptance is tested when a champion diver, destined for the Olympics, announces he’s transitioning into a woman — and invites his YouTube followers along for every moment. It’s a story about unconditional love and finding the courage to be yourself.
Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On
Director: Rashida Jones, “Women on Top,” Executive Producers: Rashida Jones, Ronna Gradus, Jill Bauer, Peter LoGreco
An extension of the feature documentary “Hot Girls Wanted,” which premiered at Sundance in 2015, this Netflix series tells personal stories about people whose lives are affected by the explosion of the Internet where pornography, dating apps and virtual relationships are all just a click away. The Festival will debut one episode of the series, followed by an extended Q&A with Rashida Jones.
Director: Anna Kerrigan, Creators: Josh Feldman, Shoshannah Stern
Best friends Kate and Michael, who are deaf, try their best to see their friendship through new changes in their lives, as Kate adjusts to being newly married and Michael attempts to get over his ex-boyfriend. The Festival will debut five episodes of this short-form episodic series.
Cast: Josh Feldman, Shoshannah Stern, Aaron Costa Ganis, Lucas Near-Verbrugghe, Darryl Stephens, Wilson Cruz.
U.S.A. (Creator: Marvin Lemus, Producers: Charles D. King, Aaliyah Williams, America Ferrera)
Seven characters deal with the effects of change in LA’s Boyle Heights. Bicultural millennials and old-school business owners hustle to create spaces that celebrate their Latino identities—even while faced with rent hikes, a housing crisis, and a steady stream of outsiders threatening to gentrify their barrio. The Festival will debut three episodes of this short- form episodic series.
Cast: Edsson Morales, Alicia Sixtos, Victoria Ortiz, Yareli Arizmendi, Salvador Velez Jr, Rafael Sigler.
I Love Dick
U.S.A. (Directors: Jill Soloway, Andrea Arnold, Kimberly Peirce, Executive Producers: Jill Soloway, Sarah Gubbins, Andrea Sperling, Victor Hsu)
Chris and Sylvere, a married couple in the intellectual community of Marfa, Texas, become obsessed with a charismatic artist named Dick. What follows is the unraveling of a marriage, the deification of a reluctant messiah and the awakening of the female gaze. The Festival will present the first three episodes of this Amazon original series, followed by an extended Q&A.
Cast: Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Hahn, Griffin Dunne, Roberta Colindrez, India Menuez, Phoebe Robinson.
If Not Love
U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Rosemarie Troche, Key Collaborator: Bruce Allan)
Full of self-loathing after a gay hookup, a conflicted Christian carries out a mass shooting. What if his partner had convinced him to face himself? Would it have changed the tragic course of history?
Cast: Zachary Booth, Mitchell Winter.
Directors: Mia Lidofsky, Celia Rowlson-Hall, Producers: Michael B. Clark, Alex Turtletaub, Jesse Peretz, Mia Lidofsky
Newly single and bisexual Isobel rents out her spare room in a last ditch effort to keep the home she loves. Along with her lesbian best friend, she navigates the most complicated time in her life — emotionally, sexually, and professionally — while sharing her home with a new stranger each episode. The Festival will debut the first three episodes of this short- form episodic series.
Cast: Zoë Chao, Meredith Hagner, Jemaine Clement, Breeda Wool, Matthew Oberg, Shiri Appleby.
Out of Exile: Daniel’s Story
U.S.A. (Artist: Nonny de la Peña)
In August 2014, Daniel Ashley Pierce’s family verbally and physically accosted him before kicking him out of the house because they disapproved of his sexuality. Built directly around audio Daniel recorded from that encounter, this project includes thoughts of hope and triumph from Daniel and three other LGBTQ youth.
Cast: Daniel Ashley Pierce, Kyle Wills, Julene Renee, Cyntia Domenzain, Angel VanStark, Phoebe VanCleefe
U.S.A. (Artist: Rosemarie Troche, Key Collaborator: Bruce Allan)
A conflicted Christian man carries out a mass shooting. In his past: a same-sex hookup and self-loathing. What if events had unfolded differently? What if his partner had convinced him to face himself? Could that simple act change the course of history?
Cast: Zachary Booth, Mitchell Winter.