As a Sundance Film Festival veteran, director Ry Russo-Young wondered whether "Before I Fall," which is based on a popular young-adult novel, was a good fit.

"I'm glad that they saw it did belong," Russo-Young said in a phone interview. She was at Sundance in 2009 with "You Won't Miss Me" and in 2012 with "Nobody Walks," which won a special jury prize.

"Before I Fall," which already has a distribution deal and is scheduled to open in theaters nationwide in March, tells the story of the beautiful and popular Samantha (Zoey Deutsch), who is killed in a car crash while riding home with her popular friends.

Then she wakes up the next day, and the next, and the next, with the chance to do things over.

"It's about who you want to be before you die, which are really fascinating questions that we should all be asking ourselves at any age," said Russo-Young, 35. "The movie really speaks to dark, angsty teenage questions, but it also speaks to larger themes, like what is it to live your life honestly and truthfully."

It's the kind of movie that will appeal to the young-adult set, a group that Sundance wants to court.

From movies to special programs such as Ignite, Sundance attempts to attract the filmmakers and audiences of tomorrow, said senior programmer Charlie Reff.

"[Festival director John] Cooper has a real kind of passion for doing youth-based programming and getting youth excited about film and filmmaking," Reff said.

Along with "Before I Fall," Reff pointed to a couple of other titles at this year's festival that might appeal to young adults: the documentary "Chasing Coral," which features a young scientist who is "very smart and incredibly passionate" about environmental issues and coral; and "Give Me Future," about the youth culture of Cuba as told through the visit of electronic dance music group Major Lazer in 2016.

Russo-Young said that what makes the story of "Before I Fall" so appealing to teens is that it incorporates lots of dark stuff kids are dealing with: mean girls, cliques, bullies and their own mortality. Author Lauren Oliver was so adept at "balancing plot and emotional storytelling" that the storyline hews very close to the book.

"There are lines taken straight from the book itself. It's a testimony to how strong the book was," she said.

But adults will enjoy the movie, too, she said.

"George Carlin said, 'At 68, I'm every age I ever was.' All adults have been teenagers and we remember that time, and there is part of us that is still this person."

Screening at Sundance

"Before I Fall" (Premieres) screens two more times before the festival ends Sunday: Friday, 6 p.m., at Sundance Mountain Resort; and Saturday, 10 p.m., at Holiday Village Cinema 4 in Park City.

This image released by the Sundance Institute shows, from left, Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Medalion Rahimi and Cynthy Wu in a scene from,
This image released by the Sundance Institute shows, from left, Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Medalion Rahimi and Cynthy Wu in a scene from, "Before I Fall," a film by Ry Russo-Young. The film is an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. (Sundance Institute via AP)
This image released by the Sundance Institute shows Halston Sage, left, and Zoey Deutch in a scene from
This image released by the Sundance Institute shows Halston Sage, left, and Zoey Deutch in a scene from "Before I Fall," a film by Ry Russo-Young. The film is an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. (Sundance Institute via AP)
Actress Elena Kampouris poses for a portrait to promote the film,
Actress Elena Kampouris poses for a portrait to promote the film, "Before I Fall", at the Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
Actress Cynthy Wu poses for a portrait to promote the film,
Actress Cynthy Wu poses for a portrait to promote the film, "Before I Fall", at the Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
Actress Zoey Deutch poses for a portrait to promote the film,
Actress Zoey Deutch poses for a portrait to promote the film, "Before I Fall", at the Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
Actor Logan Miller poses for a portrait to promote the film,
Actor Logan Miller poses for a portrait to promote the film, "Before I Fall", at the Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
Actress Medalion Rahimi poses for a portrait to promote the film,
Actress Medalion Rahimi poses for a portrait to promote the film, "Before I Fall", at the Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
Actress Zoey Deutch poses for a portrait to promote the film,
Actress Zoey Deutch poses for a portrait to promote the film, "Before I Fall", at the Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
Actress Jennifer Beals poses for a portrait to promote the film,
Actress Jennifer Beals poses for a portrait to promote the film, "Before I Fall", at the Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
Actress Zoey Deutch, left, and director Ry Russo-Young, right, pose at the premiere of
Actress Zoey Deutch, left, and director Ry Russo-Young, right, pose at the premiere of "Before I Fall" during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)
Director Ry Russo-Young poses at the premiere of
Director Ry Russo-Young poses at the premiere of "Before I Fall" during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)
Actress Zoey Deutch, left, and director Ry Russo-Young, right, pose at the premiere of
Actress Zoey Deutch, left, and director Ry Russo-Young, right, pose at the premiere of "Before I Fall" during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)
Director Ry Russo-Young, left, and actress Zoey Deutch, right, pose at the premiere of
Director Ry Russo-Young, left, and actress Zoey Deutch, right, pose at the premiere of "Before I Fall" during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)
Actress Zoey Deutch poses at the premiere of
Actress Zoey Deutch poses at the premiere of "Before I Fall" during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)
Director Ry Russo-Young, third right, poses with cast members Elena Kampouris, left, Zoey Deutch, second left, and Cynthy Wu, right, at the premiere of
Director Ry Russo-Young, third right, poses with cast members Elena Kampouris, left, Zoey Deutch, second left, and Cynthy Wu, right, at the premiere of "Before I Fall" during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)
Actress Jennifer Beals shows a sign safety pinned on the back of her jacket protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline as she poses at the premiere of
Actress Jennifer Beals shows a sign safety pinned on the back of her jacket protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline as she poses at the premiere of "Before I Fall" during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)
Actress Jennifer Beals shows a sign safety pinned on the back of her jacket protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline as she poses at the premiere of
Actress Jennifer Beals shows a sign safety pinned on the back of her jacket protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline as she poses at the premiere of "Before I Fall" during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)
Actress Zoey Deutch, left, and director Ry Russo-Young, right, pose at the premiere of
Actress Zoey Deutch, left, and director Ry Russo-Young, right, pose at the premiere of "Before I Fall" during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)