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Here is a list of 15 films from Sundance that we are most excited about: 

Assassination Nation

Director: Sam Levinson
Screenwriter: Sam Levinson
Cast: Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Abra , Bill Skårsgard, Bella Thorne
Country: U.S.A.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Writer/director Sam Levinson returns to the Sundance Film Festival with an unflinching, unrelenting, undeniable picture of what it’s like to be alive and online this very second. Together with a talented cast, he’s created a wickedly fun and irrepressibly stylish exploration of the ugliest parts of human nature. The result is so insane that it feels prescient: a searing parable on the verge of becoming breaking news.

Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind

Director: Marina Zenovich
Country: U.S.A.  

Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

The source of Williams’s comedy was everyday life, and this documentary highlights both his ability to touch so many people and how he earned his place as one of the funniest actors of his generation. Hilarious outtakes from Mork & Mindy and Williams’s films illustrate his legendary spontaneity and seemingly effortless humor, but also that his line between stage and life looked, at times, to be perilously thin. Outlandish and unpredictable, Williams gave his all to famously energetic performances that seemed to defy physics. 




 

Queen of Fear

Director: Valeria Bertuccelli, Fabiana Tiscornia
Screenwriter: Valeria Bertuccelli
Cast: Valeria Bertuccelli, Diego Velázquez, Gabriel Eduardo “Puma” Goity, Darío Grandinetti
Country: Argentina/Denmark  

Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Steeped in subtle absurdist comedy and featuring a remarkable lead performance at its core, The Queen of Fear is unafraid to explore apprehension and theatricality, questioning what it means to unravel in a world that is so tightly wound. Veteran actress Valeria Bertuccelli stars, directs (alongside co-director Fabiana Tiscornia), and co-writes here, revealing herself to be a virtuoso storyteller capable of perfectly balancing the pathos and humor of this elegant and meditative story, which promises to charm and disconcerting in equal measure.

Juliet, Naked

Director: Jesse Peretz
Screenwriter: Tamara Jenkins, Jim Taylor, Phil Alden Robinson, Evgenia Peretz
Cast: Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Chris O’Dowd
Country: United Kingdom 

Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Adapted from the best-selling novel by Nick Hornby (An Education), Juliet, Nakedmarks the return to the Sundance Film Festival for director Jesse Peretz (Our Idiot Brother). Orchestrating the exceptional acting talents of Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, and Chris O’Dowd, Peretz hits all the right chords of humor and drama in bringing the beloved novel to life. Featuring remarkable insight about love and loneliness, and enlivened with a fantastic soundtrack that will have you humming as you leave the theater, Juliet, Naked is about the struggle to live up to one’s promise and serves as a humorous testament to the power of music to guide the heart.




Of Father and Sons

Director: Talal Derki
Country: Germany/Syria/Lebanon/Qatar 
Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

In this remote village in northern Syria, a landscape of bombed-out homes, abandoned tanks, and minefields becomes a playground for young boys taught to stone any girls who dare to show their faces in public. Schools have been decimated. Education consists of reciting the Koran and attending military training camp. Bedtime stories regale the glory of martyrdom. With unparalleled intimacy, Of Fathers and Sonscaptures that chilling moment when childhood dies and jihadism is born.

Lu OVer the Wall

Director: Masaaki Yuasa
Screenwriter: Reiko Yoshida, Masaaki Yuasa
Cast: Christine Marie Cabanos, Michael Sinterniklaas, Stephanie Sheh
Country: Japan
Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
 
Directed by acclaimed anime director Masaaki Yuasa, this entertaining and visually stunning film, with a foot-tapping soundtrack, explores how misunderstanding can lead to conflict and prejudice, and how these can be overcome by the power of friendship and family.




 

Don’t worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

Director: Gus Van Sant
Screenwriter: Gus Van Sant (screenplay), John Callahan (biography)
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black
Country: U.S.A. 
Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

The drawings of the real-life John Callahan delight in the macabre that he found in everyday life. Fellow Portlandian Gus Van Sant proves to be the perfect director to tell John’s story—with films like Drugstore Cowboy and My Own Private Idaho, Van Sant has an adept skill for creating dynamic outsiders. Featuring a shape-shifting lead performance by Joaquin Phoenix and outstanding support by Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, and Jack Black, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot finds beauty and comedy in the absurdity of human experience.

Wildlife

Director: Paul Dano
Screenwriter: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Ed Oxenbould, Bill Camp, Jake Gyllenhaal
Country: U.S.A.
Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
Actor Paul Dano makes an impressive debut as a filmmaker and—along with co-writer Zoe Kazan—elegantly adapts Richard Ford’s novel of the same name. Carey Mulligan delivers one of her finest performances as a complex woman whose self-determination and self-involvement disrupt the values and expectations of the 1960s nuclear family. With precise details and textures of its specific time and place, Wildlife commits to the viewpoint of a teenage boy observing the gradual dissolution of his parents’ marriage.




 

Eighth Grade

Director: Bo Burnham
Screenwriter: Bo Burnham
Cast: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton
Country: U.S.A.  
Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
 
Writer/director Bo Burnham, making his feature film debut, delivers a keenly observed and achingly funny portrait of the insecurities and absurdities of being 13 in a world where one’s private experience is lived publicly online. While Eighth Grade depicts the seeming impossibility of making it through middle school alive, it also celebrates the debut of its star, Elsie Fisher, who anchors the film with a dynamic portrayal that feels both incredibly specific and heartbreakingly universal.
 

I Think We’re Alone Now

Director: Reed Morano
Screenwriter: Mike Makowsky
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Elle Fanning
Country: U.S.A.
Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
 
From the outset, I Think We’re Alone Now departs from mainstream post-apocalyptic conventions, declining to elaborate on how the world ended. It doesn’t matter. Director Reed Morano (Handmaiden’s Tale) is more intrigued by who’s left—the psychologies of these unmoored characters, the idea of a recluse thrust into companionship. What does the end of the world mean to a guy who had nobody in his life? Impeccably crafted, full of humor and beautifully observed moments, and with a tinge of social satire, Morano’s understated sci-fi vision is a poignant contemplation of loneliness and human connection.




 

Damsel

Director: David Zellner, Nathan Zellner
Screenwriter: David Zellner, Nathan Zellner
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, David Zellner, Robert Forster, Nathan Zellner, Joe Billingiere
Country: U.S.A
Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
 
Damsel finds Sundance Film Festival stalwarts David and Nathan Zellner (Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter) reinventing a dusty genre and wearing many hats, several of which are quite silly. The brothers write, produce, and direct the film, while also starring alongside Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, and Robert Forster. The Zellners’ off-kilter enthusiasm must be infectious, as the whole cast joyfully embraces the loopy rhythms and bonkers logic of this unfamiliar frontier.
 

Leave No Trace

Director: Debra Granik
Screenwriter: Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini
Cast: Ben Foster, Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, Jeff Kober, Dale Dickey
Country: U.S.A.
Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
 
With Leave No Trace, Debra Granik proves once again that she is an extraordinary filmmaker and a beacon for actors. Ben Foster is exceptional as Will, and with Tom, Granik again displays her singular knack for finding a relatively unknown actress and entrusting her with the role of a lifetime. Granik did it with Winter’s Bone (her 2010 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winner), which starred a then-unknown Jennifer Lawrence. The similarly dazzling newcomer Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie is radiant as Tom, a girl coming of age in atypical circumstances.




 

Holiday

Director: Isabella Eklöf
Screenwriter: Isabella Eklöf, Johanne Algren
Cast: Victoria Carmen Sonne, Lai Yde, Thijs Römer
Country: Denmark/Netherlands/Sweden
Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
 
In a breakthrough performance, Victoria Carmen Sonne fully commits as Sascha, the complex young moll that eludes assumptions and expectations. First-time writer/director Isabella Eklöf has a dynamic visual touch and a flair for dark comedy. She creates a destabilizing discord as she elaborately fills the frame with colorful, seductive images while telling a disturbing, graphic tale of brutality and power. Holidayprovokes and challenges—and even implicates—the viewer in its unsettling reflection of our times.
 

Pity

Director: Babis Makridis
Screenwriter: Efthimis Filippou, Babis Makridis
Cast: Yannis Drakopoulos, Evi Saoulidou, Nota Tserniafski, Makis Papadimitriou, Georgina Chryskioti, Evdoxia Androulidaki
Country: Greece/Poland
Courtesy of IndieWire
 
A pitch-dark comedy that would be deeply disturbing if it weren’t so funny, Pity marks the second collaboration of director Babis Makridis (L) and co-writer Efthimis Filippou (DogtoothThe Lobster). Its heavily stylized humor and restrained aesthetic enable a revelatory deadpan performance from comedian Yannis Drakopoulos, his nameless Everyman narcissistically obsessing over the depths of his sorrow (shouldn’t his son play less cheerful piano melodies?) and how it compares to others’ (is it deeper than the woman wailing in the hospital waiting room?). Pity meets these questions with a wry smirk, and an intertitle helpfully reminds us, “It’s your own fault if people stop pitying you.”




 

Piercing

Director: Nicolas Pesce
Screenwriter: Nicolas Pesce
Cast: Christopher Abbott, Mia Wasikowska, Laia Costa, Marin Ireland, Maria Dizzia, Wendell Pierce
Country: U.S.A.  
Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
 
Based on the critically acclaimed cult novel by Ryū Murakami, director Nicolas Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother, 2016 Sundance Film Festival) blends psychological horror with comedy and stylish neo-noir, resulting in a sly take on the fantasy of escape and the hazards of modern romance.
 
 
 
 
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