Sundance changes lives. The largest independent film festival in the U.S., the yearly gathering founded by Robert Redford curates a thrilling mix of brand-new directors hoping to make a splash, established talent hoping to make a change, and seasoned veterans hoping to extend their relevance. Past offerings that broke through include Reservoir Dogs, Napoleon Dynamite, You Can Count On Me, Little Miss Sunshine, and Memento, while just last year’s festival saw the premieres of Get Out, The Big Sick, and Wind River. Now that the 2018 edition has officially kicked off, here are some of the many features and documentaries you’ll probably be hearing about long after the festival ends.
Director and screenwriter: Bart Layton.
Cast: Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Udo Kier.
A mostly true story about four young men who think they’re in a movie and attempt one of the most audacious art heists in U.S. history.
Director: Carlos Lopez Estrada.
Screenwriters: Rafael Casal, Daveed Diggs.
Cast: Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar.
Not quite a musical, this smart comedy about race relations set in Oakland does have characters break out into hip-hop singsong on occasion.
Director and screenwriter: Bo Burnham
Cast: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton.
It’s the last week of middle school for 13-year-old Kayla and she has to deal with a lot of complicated life stuff before she begins high school.
I Think We’re Alone Now
Director: Reed Morano.
Screenwriter: Mike Makowsky.
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Elle Fanning.
Hot off her turn helping develop The Handmaid’s Tale for Hulu, Reed Morano’s new film is about a man content with surviving the apocalypse alone, only to find a second survivor.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Director: Desiree Akhavan.
Screenwriters: Desiree Akhavan, Cecilia Frugiuele.
Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck, John Gallagher Jr.
Based on Emily Danforth’s novel, Miseducation is about a girl who is forced into a gay conversion therapy after being caught having sex with the prom queen. Although the film is set in 1993, the subject is timely considering the views of a certain vice president.
Sorry to Bother You
Director and screenwriter: Boots Riley.
Cast: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Steven Yeun, Jermaine Fowler, Armie Hammer.
The mastermind behind rap group The Coup, Boots Riley’s filmmaking debut takes place in a dystopian future where a black telemarketer discovers a magical key to professional success.
Director and screenwriter: Jennifer Fox.
Cast: Laura Dern, Isabel Nelisse, Jason Ritter, Ellen Burstyn, Common.
Based on the filmmaker’s own story, The Tale is about how we tend to remember our own histories–sexual and otherwise–differently than how they may have actually happened.
Director: Paul Dano.
Screenwriters: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan.
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Ed Oxenbould, Bill Camp, Jake Gyllenhaal.
Based on the novel by Richard Ford, this film offers a portrait of a family in crisis in 1960 Montana.
Crime + Punishment
Director: Stephen Maing.
The story of a brave group of black and Latino whistleblower cops and one unrelenting private investigator who risk everything to expose illegal quota practices and their impact on young minorities.
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Director: RaMell Ross.
Screenwriter: Maya Krinsky.
This film is described by Sundance as “An exploration of coming-of-age in the Black Belt of the American South, using stereotypical imagery to fill in the landscape between iconic representations of black men and encouraging a new way of looking, while resistance to narrative suspends conclusive imagining – allowing the viewer to complete the film.”
MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A.
Director: Stephen Loveridge
An intimate portrait of the Sri Lankan musician and Super Bowl middle finger-flicker, using personal footage that goes back decades.
Director and screenwriter: Bridey Elliott.
Cast: Paula Niedert Elliott, Chris Elliott, Abby Elliott, Bridey Elliott, Haley Joel Osment, Isidora Goreshter.
It’s a family affair for Bridey Elliott, daughter of Chris and sister of Abby. The comedian’s feature filmmaking debut is set over a single evening at the home of a self-absorbed showbiz family, and as the title implies, a ghost is involved.
Director: Aneesh Chaganty.
Screenwriters: Aneesh Chaganty, Sev Ohanian.
Cast: John Cho, Debra Messing.
This thriller unfolds entirely on computer screens, and centers on a man searching for his missing 16-year old daughter.
A Kid Like Jake
Director: Silas Howard.
Screenwriter: Daniel Pearle.
Cast: Claire Danes, Jim Parsons, Octavia Spencer, Priyanka Chopra, Amy Landecker.
Friction increases between a married couple who suspects their young son may be LGBT and has different thoughts on how to handle it.
Director: Brad Anderson.
Screenwriter: Tony Gilroy.
Cast: Jon Hamm, Rosamund Pike, Shea Whigham, Dean Norris.
A U.S. diplomat flees Lebanon in 1972 after a tragic incident at his home. Ten years later, he is called back to war-torn Beirut by CIA operatives to negotiate for the life of a friend he left behind.
The Catcher Was a Spy
Director: Ben Lewin.
Screenwriter: Robert Rodat.
Cast: Paul Rudd, Mark Strong, Sienna Miller, Jeff Daniels, Guy Pearce, Paul Giamatti.
The true story of Moe Berg, a professional baseball player and attorney who spoke nine languages, who also happened to be a top-secret spy for the OSS.
Director: Joshua Marston.
Screenwriter: Marcus Hinchey.
Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Glover, Jason Segel, Lakeith Stanfield.
A famous pastor has a crisis of faith and finds himself branded a heretic.
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot
Director and screenwriter: Gus Van Sant.
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black.
Based on the true story of John Callahan, a cartoonist with a drinking problem, who finds a new way to approach life after ending up in a wheelchair after a drunken car crash.
Futile and Stupid Gesture
Director: David Wain.
Screenwriters: John Aboud, Michael Colton.
Cast: Will Forte, Martin Mull, Domhnall Gleeson, Matt Walsh, Joel McHale, Emmy Rossum.
The story of National Lampoon, the 70’s comedy counter-culture, and especially Doug Kenney, the comedy genius at the center of it all.
Director: Claire McCarthy.
Screenwriter: Semi Chellas.
Cast: Daisy Ridley, Naomi Watts, Clive Owen, George MacKay, Tom Felton.
Hamlet through the prism of female empowerment. ‘Nuff said.
Half The Picture
Director: Amy Adrion.
Hollywood women directors talk about their art, lives, and careers in this timely documentary.
King In The Wilderness
Director: Peter Kunhardt.
A portrait of the last years of Martin Luther King Jr’s life.
Directors: Betsy West, Julie Cohen.
An in-depth look at the iconic Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Director: Jonathan Watson.
Screenwriter: Luke Del Tredici.
Cast: Danny McBride, Rosemarie DeWitt, Luke Wilson, Kaitlin Olson.
A single mom’s life goes off the rails after she witnesses a murder.
The Death of Stalin
Director: Armando Iannucci.
Screenwriters: Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin.
Cast: Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, Andrea Riseborough, Jason Isaacs.
The creator of Veep and The Thick of It sets his sights on the internal political landscape of 1950’s Soviet Russia.