Here are the 118 titles selected to screen at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, running Jan. 23-Feb. 2 in Park City and at venues in Salt Lake City and the Sundance resort in Provo Canyon.Competition categories are followed by lower-budget Next films, premieres, offbeat Midnight selections, Spotlight favorites from the past year and kids’ movies.
U.S. Dramatic Competition
“Blast Beat” • When their family leaves Colombia for the United States in 1999, a metalhead science prodigy (Moises Arias, from “Five Feet Apart”) and his little brother (Mateo Arias) try to adapt to their new home. Director Esteban Arango co-wrote the script with Erick Castrillon. The cast includes Daniel Dae Kim, Kali Uchis, Diane Guerrero and Wilmer Valderrama.
“Charm City Kings” • 14-year-old Mouse (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) is eager to join an infamous group of Baltimore dirt-bike riders, but when their leader (played by the rapper Meek Mill) takes Mouse under his wing, the boy must choose between the lawful path or a road of fast money and violence. Also stars Will Catlett, Teyonah Parris, Donielle Tremaine Hansley and Kezii Curtis. Directed by Angel Manuel Soto with screenplay by Sherman Payne (“Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins shares story credit with two other writers), based on the documentary “12 O’Clock Boys.”
“Dinner in America” • A punk rocker on the lam (Kyle Gallner) and a young woman (Emily Skeggs) obsessed with his band end up on an epic journey through the dying suburbs of the Midwest, in this drama written and directed by Adam Rehmeier. Also starring Pat Healy, Griffin Gluck, Lea Thompson and Mary Jane Rajskub.
“The Evening Hour” • Director Braden King (“Here,” SFF ’11) and screenwriter Elizabeth Palmore adapt Carter Sickels’ novel, set in Appalachia. It centers on Cole Freeman (Philip Ettinger), who cares for the old and infirm while selling their leftover painkillers to local addicts — a situation upended when an old friend (Cosmo Jarvis) returns. The cast includes Stacy Martin, Michael Trotter, Kerry Bishé and Lili Taylor.
“Farewell Amor” • Walter (Ntare Guma Mbabo Mwine), an Angolan immigrant in the United States, has a strained reunion with his wife (Zainab Jah) and daughter (Jayme Lawson) after 17 years apart — but they discover a shared love of dance that may bridge the emotional gap. Written and directed by Ekwa Msangi; the cast includes Joie Lee, Marcus Scribner and Nana Mensah.
“The 40-Year-Old Version” • Director/writer Radha Blank stars in this comedy, as a struggling New York playwright who decides, at age 40, to reinvent herself as a rapper. Also stars Peter Kim and hip-hop star Oswin Benjamin. Screenwriter Lena Waithe (“Queen & Slim”) is among the producers.
“Minari” • A Korean American man (Steven Yeun) uproots his family to run a farm in rural Arkansas in the 1980s, in this drama written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung. Also starring Han Yeri, Youn Yuh Jung, Will Patton, Alan Kim and Noel Kate Cho.
“Miss Juneteenth” • Channing Godfrey Peoples directed and wrote this story of Turquoise (Nicole Beharie), a former beauty queen who gets her teen daughter (newcomer Alexis Chikaeze) ready for the Miss Juneteenth pageant — the same crown Turquoise once wore. Also starring Kendrick Sampson, Lori Hayes and Marcus Maudlin.
“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” • Autumn (Sidney Flanagan) and her cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder) travel from rural Pennsylvania to New York City when one of them is faced with an unintended pregnancy, in this drama written and directed by Eliza Hittman (“Beach Rats,” SFF ’17). Also starring Théodore Pellerin, Ryan Eggold and Sharon Van Etten.
“Nine Days” • Winston Duke (“Us”) stars as a man in an isolated house interviewing souls who are seeking the privilege to be born. Zazie Beets (“Deadpool 2”), Bill Skarsgård (“It”), Benedict Wong (“Doctor Strange”), Tony Hale (“Veep”) and David Rysdahl co-star. Writer-director Edson Oda developed the script at the Sundance Institute’s lab program, and filmed the movie in Utah. The movie also received a Dolby Institute fellowship.
“Palm Springs” • In this comedy, directed by Max Barbakow and written by Andy Siara, a carefree guy (Andy Samberg) and a reluctant maid of honor (Cristin Milioti) have a chance encounter — but things get complicated the next morning, when the two can’t escape the venue, themselves or each other. Also starring J.K. Simmons, Meredith Hagner, Camila Mendes and Peter Gallagher. Samberg and his Lonely Island bandmates, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, are among the producers.
“Save Yourselves!” • Earth is under attack, but a young Brooklyn couple (Sunita Mani and John Reynolds) didn’t hear about it — because they went upstate to disconnect from their phones and connect with each other. Alex Fischer and Eleanor Wilson wrote and directed this comedy, which co-stars Ben Sinclair, Johanna Day, John Early and Gary Clark.
“Shirley” • Elisabeth Moss plays the title role, novelist Shirley Jackson, who in 1964, with her professor husband, Stanley Hyman (Michael Stuhlbarg), welcomes a young couple (Odessa Young, Logan Lerman) into their home. But is the couple becoming psycho-drama fuel for Jackson’s next novel? Directed by Josephine Decker (“Madeline’s Madeline,” SFF ’18) and written by Sarah Gubbins (who created the 2016 series “I Love Dick,” SFF ’16), based on Susan Scarf Merrell’s novel.
“Sylvie’s Love” • Tessa Thompson (“Thor: Ragnarok”) stars as an aspiring TV producer who runs into an old flame, a musician (former NFL star Nnamdi Asomugha), in a romance written and directed by Eugene Ashe. Also starring Eva Longoria, Aja Naomi King, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Jemima Kirke.
“Wander Darkly” • New parents (Sienna Miller, Diego Luna) must navigate the aftermath of a devastating car crash, in this drama written and directed by Tara Miele. Also starring Beth Grant, Aimee Carrero, Tory Kittles and Vanessa Bayer.
“Zola” • Director Janicza Bravo (“Lemon,” SFF ’17), who co-wrote with Jeremy O. Harris, tells the story of a stripper (Taylor Paige) whose Twitter-described road trip to Florida with a new friend (Riley Keough) quickly goes to hell. Also starring Nicholas Braun and Colman Domingo.
THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE’S SUNDANCE PREVIEW
Sundance Film Festival director John Cooper and Salt Lake Tribune critic/reporter Sean P. Means will talk about the movies of the 2020 festival.
Where • Tower Theatre, 876 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City
When • Monday, Jan. 6, 2020, at 7 p.m.
Tickets • On sale Dec. 11 from the Salt Lake Film Society; $15 in advance, $20 on the day of the show
U.S. Documentary Competition
“Be Water” • (United States/United Kingdom) Bao Nguyen directs this profile of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, who left Hollywood in 1971 dejected, but returned to his parents’ homeland of Hong Kong and made four films that changed the movies forever. The documentary combines rare archival interviews with Lee’s loved ones and his own writings.
“Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets” • Directing brothers Bill and Turner Ross (“Western,” SFF ’15) tell the story of The Roaring 20s, a Las Vegas dive bar facing its last call.
“Boys State” • Directors Jesse Moss (“The Overnighters,” SFF ’14) and Amanda McBaine chronicle the efforts of a thousand Texas 17-year-old boys as they try to build a representative government from scratch.
“Code for Bias” • (United States/United Kingdom/China) What happened when Joy Buolamwini, a researcher at MIT’s Media Lab, discovered that facial recognition doesn’t see dark-skinned faces accurately — leading to Buolamwini pushing for legislation to battle bias in the algorithms on which everyone relies. Directed by Shalini Kantayya.
“The Cost of Silence” • Director Mark Manning (“The Road to Fallujah,” Slamdance ’09) profiles an oil-industry insider who exposes the details of the Deepwater Horizon spill, and the systemic corruption to keep victims of a public health disaster quiet — just as the Trump administration works to open the entire U.S. coastline to offshore drilling.
“Crip Camp” • A summer camp for disabled teens, just down the road from Woodstock, transforms young lives and sparks a movement in the early 1970s. Directed by Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht. (The movie is a Day One entry, screening on the festival’s opening night.)
“Dick Johnson Is Dead” • Director and veteran cinematographer Kirsten Johnson (“Cameraperson,” SFF ’16) relies on movie magic and her family’s dark humor to create a portrait of her father, age 86, that will keep him alive forever.
“Feels Good Man” • Arthur Jones directs this profile of artist Matt Furie, as he tries to reclaim the comic character he created, Pepe the Frog, from being a popular symbol of white nationalism.
“The Fight” • Deep inside the ACLU, as filmmakers follow the determined lawyers taking on the Trump administration’s assault on civil liberties. Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegman, the team behind “Weiner” (SFF ’16), team with Eli Despres to direct this documentary.
“Mucho Mucho Amor” • Directors Cristina Costantini (“Science Fair,” SFF ’18) and Kareem Tabsch profile Walter Mercado, who went from poverty in Puerto Rico to become a world-famous astrologer and gender-nonconforming star in a cape. (Mercado died Nov. 2, at the age of 87.)
“Spaceship Earth” • A look back at Biosphere 2, a 1991 experiment in which eight counterculture visionaries built a replica of Earth’s ecosystem and tried to live inside it, facing ecological problems and cult accusations. Directed by Matt Wolf.
“A Thousand Cuts” • (United States/Philippines) Director Ramona S. Diaz (“Imelda,” SFF ’04; “Motherland,” SFF ’17) continues her examination of life in the Philippines, this time digging into the authoritarian regime of President Rodrigo Duterte — seen through the work of embattled journalist Maria Ressa.
“Time” • Filmed over 20 years, director Garrett Bradley’s documentary profiles Fox Rich, trying to keep her family together while fighting for the release of her incarcerated husband.
“Us Kids” • Kim A. Snyder, who directed “Newtown” (SFF ’16), profiles another group of students forever altered by gun violence: The kids at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who sparked a youth movement to take back democracy.
“Welcome to Chechnya” • An investigation follows activists who confront a deadly anti-LGBTQ campaign in the repressive Russian republic. Directed by David France (“How to Survive a Plague,” SFF ’12; “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson,” SFF ’17). UPDATE, Dec. 12, 2019: HBO picked up North American TV and streaming rights, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“Whirlybird” • A profile of Zoey Tur, who revolutionized aerial journalism over Los Angeles with then-wife Marika in the 1980s and 1990s — including being the first to broadcast O.J. Simpson’s slow speed chase in 1994. Director Matt Yoka also details how Tur, whose daughter is MSNBC host Katy Tur, came out as transgender in 2013.
World Cinema Dramatic Competition
“Charter” • (Sweden) Alice (Ane Dahl Torp), separated from her kids and awaiting a custody verdict after a messy divorce, gets a middle-of-the-night call from her son. Alice then jumps into action, abducting her kids and taking them on a charter trip to the Canary Islands. Written and directed by Amanda Kernell (“Sami Blood,” SFF ’17), the movie also stars Troy Lundkvist, Tintin Poggats Sarri, Sverrir Gudnasson, Eva Melander and Siv Erixon.
“Cuties” • (France) 11-year-old Amy (Fathia Youssouf) meets a group of dancers, called “Cuties,” and becomes fascinated by their sensual moves as a way to escape her dysfunctional family. Written and directed by Maïmouna Doucouré, the movie also stars Médina El Aidi-Azouni, Esther Gohourou, Ilanah Cami-Goursolas, Myriam Hamma and Maïmouna Gueye. (The movie is a Day One entry, screening on the festival’s opening night.)
“Exil” • (Germany/Belgium/Kosovo) A chemical engineer (Misel Maticevic), far from home, plunges into an identity crisis when he’s bullied and discriminated against at work. Directed and written by Visar Morina, the movie also stars Sandra Hüller.
“High Tide” • (Argentina) In writer-director Verónica Chen’s drama, Laura (Gloria Carrá) seduces the contractor in charge of building her backyard barbecue shed — and then must deal with an increasingly invasive crew. Also starring Jorge Sesán, Cristian Salguero, Mariana Chaud, Camila Fabbri and Héctor Bordoni.
“Jumbo” • (France/Luxembourg/Belgium) Shy Jeanne (Noémie Merlant) works in an amusement park, where she’s fascinated with the carousels, when she meets the park’s new attraction. Written and directed by Zoé Wittock, the movie also stars Emmanuelle Bercot and Sam Louwyck.
“Luxor” • (Egypt/United Kingdom) Andrea Riseborough stars as Hana, a British aid worker who returns to Luxor, crossing paths with Sultan (Karim Saleh), an archaeologist and her onetime lover. Written and directed by Zeina Durra (“The Imperialists Are Still Alive!,” SFF ’10), the movie also stars Michael Landes, Sherine Reda, Salima Ikram and Shahira Fahmy.
“Possessor” • (Canada/United Kingdom) Andrea Riseborough, again, stars as Tasya Vox, an assassin who uses brain-implant technology to inhabit other people’s bodies to carry out killings — a plan that goes awry when she finds herself trapped in another man (Christopher Abbott) whose identity could obliterate her own. Brandon Cronenberg, son of legendary director David Cronenberg, directed and wrote this sci-fi thriller, which co-stars Rossif Sutherland, Tuppence Middleton, Sean Bean and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
“Sin Señas Particulares (Non-Distinguishing Features)” • (Mexico/Spain) A woman (Mercedes Hernández) looks for her son, who has gone missing, on her way to the U.S./Mexico border, and meets a man (David Illescas) recently deported from the United States and hoping to see his mother again. Director Fernanda Valadez co-wrote the script with Astrid Rondero. Also starring Juan Jesús Varela, Ana Laura Rodríguez, Laura Elena Ibarra and Xicoténcatl Ulloa.
“Summer White (Blanco de Verano)” • (Mexico) A teen (Adrián Rossi) grows jealous and increasingly violent when his mother (Sophie Alexander-Katz) gets a new boyfriend (Fabián Corres). Director Rodrigo Ruiz Patterson co-wrote the script with Raúl Sebastián Quintanilla.
“Surge” • (United Kingdom) Ben Whishaw stars as a man on “a bold and reckless journey of self-liberation,” starting by robbing a bank. Aneil Karia directed; Rupert Jones and Rita Kalnejais co-wrote the screenplay. Also starring Ellie Haddington, Ian Gelder and Jasmine Jobson.
“This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection” • (Lesotho/South Africa/Italy) An 80-year-old widow (Mary Twala Mhlongo), facing her village’s forced resettlement because of a reservoir’s rising waters, becomes a legend when she ignites the spirit of resilience in her community. Directed and written by Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, the movie also stars Jerry Mofokeng Wa Makheta, Makhoala Ndebele, Tseko Monaheng and Siphiwe Nzima.
“Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness” • (Iran/France/Germany/Switzerland) Maryam (Sadaf Asgari) is sentenced to death for accidentally killing her husband, and the only person who can save her is the man’s daughter, Mona (Behnaz Jafari), by forgiving Maryam on a live TV show. But things don’t go as planned, in this drama written and directed by Massoud Bakhshi. Also starring Babak Karim, Fereshteh Sadr Orafaee, Forough Ghajebeglou and Fereshteh Hosseini.
World Cinema Documentary Competition
“Acasa, My Home” • (Romania/Germany/Finland) Director Radu Ciorniciuc, who co-wrote with Lina Vdovii, follows a family who has lived for 20 years in the Bucharest Delta, an abandoned water reservoir where wildlife has developed in the shadow of the city. But when bulldozers destroy their home, the family must deal suddenly with city life.
“The Earth Is Blue as an Orange” • (Ukraine/Lithuania) Director Irina Tsilyk follows a single mom, Anna, and her four children as they cope with the daily trauma of living in a war zone in Donbas, Ukraine, by making a film together about life in surreal surroundings.
“Epicentro” • (Austrian/France/United States) Director-writer Hubert Sauper (“We Come as Friends,” SFF ’14) looks at Cuba, a time capsule of history since Christopher Columbus first landed there, which has become both romantic vision and cautionary tale.
“Influence” • (South Africa/Canada) Director-writers Diana Neill and Richard Poplak examine the “democracy industrial complex,” how communication has become weaponized worldwide, focusing on the notorious (and now defunct) public relations firm Bell Pottinger.
“Into the Deep” • (Denmark) Director Emma Sullivan focuses on the 2017 murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall by inventor Peter Madsen aboard his homemade submarine — seen through Madsen’s helpers, as they prepare to testify and deal with their own complicity.
“The Mole Agent” • (Chile) A family hires a private investigator to look into their mother’s treatment in a retirement home. The detective hires Sergio, an 83-year-old man, to become a resident in the home, and Sergio struggles to balance his assignment with his involvement in the other residents’ lives. Directed and written by Maite Alberdi.
“Once Upon a Time in Venezuela” • (Venezuela/United Kingdom/Brazil/Austria) The once-thriving fishing village of Congo Mirador, on Lake Maracaibo, is falling apart — a metaphor for Venezuela itself in director Anabel Rodriguez Rios’ documentary.
“The Painter and the Thief” • (Norway) When a drug addict steals an artist’s paintings, the artist responds by befriending him — and becoming his closest ally when he is hurt in a car crash and needs full-time care. But, as director Benjamin Ree’s synopsis says, “then the tables turn.”
“The Reason I Jump” • (United Kingdom) Director Jerry Rothwell (“How to Change the World,” SFF ’15) adapts Naoki Higashida’s book, following the lives of nonspeaking autistic people around the world.
“Saudi Runaway” • (Switzerland) Director-writer Susanne Regina Meures follows the plight of Amjad, a young Saudi woman who decides to escape when faced with an arranged marriage and a life without rights.
“Softie” • (Kenya) When photojournalist and activist Boniface Mwangi considers running for political office in Kenya, he faces a difficult decision: Choose his wife, Njeri, and their three young children, or choose his country. Sam Soko directed and wrote the film, which was supported by Sundance Institute’s Luminate Fund.
“The Truffle Hunters” • (Italy/United States/Greece) Old men and their dogs hunt in secret forests of northern Italy for the world’s most expensive ingredient: the white Alba truffle. Directed by Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw, who co-wrote “The Last Race” (SFF ’18), which Dweck directed.
“Beast Beast” • Writer-director Danny Madden weaves together the stories of three teens in a southern town, as they deal with identity, first love, petty crime and gun violence. The cast includes Shirley Chen, Will Madden, Jose Angeles, Courtney Dietz and Daniel Rashid.
“Black Bear” • Aubrey Plaza stars as a filmmaker who retreats to a remote lake house to reignite her creativity, but finds the woods summoning her inner demons as she encounters a young couple (Christopher Abbott and Sarah Gadon). Written and directed by Lawrence Michael Levine.
“I Carry You With Me” • (United States/Mexico) Documentarian Heidi Ewing, who co-directed “12th & Delaware” (SFF’ 10), “Detropia” (SFF ’12), and “Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You” (SFF ’16), makes her narrative debut with this decades-spanning love story about an aspiring chef (Armando Espitia) who leaves his boyfriend (Christian Vázquez) in Mexico to cross the border into the United States. Ewing co-wrote the script to this fact-based story with Alan Page Arriaga. Also starring Michelle Rodriguez, Ángeles Cruz, Arcelia Ramírez and Michelle González.
“The Killing of Two Lovers” • Robert Machoian, an associate professor of design at Brigham Young University who won a Sundance directing award for his 2019 short “The Minors,” wrote and directed this filmed-in-Utah drama that stars Clayne Crawford as a man trying to hold his family together while being separated from his wife (Sepideh Moafi) — and struggling with her new relationship. Also starring Chris Coy, Aver Pizzuto and the director’s children, Arri Graham and Ezra Graham.
“La Leyenda Negra” • A Salvadoran teen girl (Monica Betancourt) in Compton, on the verge of being listed as undocumented, risks her family, friendships and first love as she fights for her right to stay in America. Written and directed by Patricia Vidal Delgado, as her MFA project at UCLA. Also starring Kailei Lopez, Irlanda Moreno, Justin Avila, Sammy Flores and Juan Reynoso.
“The Mountains Are a Dream That Call to Me” • In writer-director Cedric Cheung-Lau’s drama, a Nepali man (Sanjay Lama Dong) is all set for a new life as a laborer in Dubai, until an Australian woman (Alice Cummins) causes him to look at his homeland in a new light.
“Omniboat: A Fast Boat Fantasia” • Fifteen writer-directors — including The Daniels (“Swiss Army Man,” SFF ’16), Hannah Fidell (“A Teacher,” SFF ’13; “The Long Dumb Road,” SFF ’18), Terence Nance (“An Oversimplification of Her Beauty,” SFF ’12), and Dylan Redford (grandson of Robert Redford) — collaborate on this film about a speedboat in Miami. The cast includes Mei Rodriguez, Finn Wolfhard, Casey Wilson, Adam Devine, Jessica Williams and Robert Redford. The other writer-directors are Alexa Lim Haas, Lucas Leyva, Olivia Lloyd, Jillian Mayer, The Meza Brothers, Brett Potter, Xander Robin, Julian Yuri Rodriguez and Celia Rowlson-Hall.
“Some Kind of Heaven” • Residents of America’s largest retirement community, The Villages in Florida, seek happiness and meaning behind the gates of their palm tree-lined fantasyland, in this documentary by Lance Oppenheim, a 2019 Sundance Ignite fellow.
“Spree” • A rideshare driver (Joe Keery) has a disturbing and deadly plan to go viral — and only a comedian (Sasheer Zamata) can stop the rampage, online and in real life. Director Eugene Kotlyarenko co-wrote the script with Gene McHugh. Also starring David Arquette, Kyle Mooney, Mischa Barton and Josh Ovalle.
“Summertime” • Nineteen members of the L.A. poets collective Get Lit wrote and perform this love letter to the City of Angels, capturing 25 lives colliding in the summer heat. Directed by Carlos Lopez Estrada (“Blindspotting,” SFF ’18), co-written by the poets and Dave Harris.(The movie is a Day One entry, screening on the festival’s opening night.)
“Downhill” • A family man (Will Ferrell) must confront his failings, and his feelings for his wife (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and kids, when an avalanche nearly hits them during a ski vacation, in this remake of the 2014 Swedish film “Force Majeure.” Also starring Zach Woods, Zoë Chao and Miranda Otto. The directing team of Jim Rash and Nat Faxon (“The Way, Way Back,” SFF ’13) co-wrote with Jesse Armstrong.
“Dream Horse” • (United Kingdom) Toni Collette plays a Welsh bartender and cleaner who buys a racehorse — and, with the support of her neighbors, trains the horse to challenge the racing elite for the national championship. Also starring Damien Lewis. Director Euros Lyn (a veteran of “Doctor Who” and “Torchwood”) and screenwriter Neil McKay retell this true story, first chronicled in the 2015 documentary “Dark Horse.”
“Falling” • (Canada/United Kingdom/Denmark) Actor Viggo Mortensen makes his writing and directing debut, with the story of a conservative 80-year-old farmer (Lance Henriksen) traveling to Los Angeles to stay with his gay son (played by Mortensen) and his family. Also starring Terry Chen, Sverrir Gudnason, Hannah Gross and Laura Linney. (This is the Closing Night film.)
“The Father” • (United Kingdom/France) Anthony Hopkins stars as an 80-year-old Londoner who refuses the nurses his daughter (Olivia Colman) sends to care for him — a situation that grows more urgent when she decides to move to Paris. Director Florian Zeller co-wrote this comedy-drama with Christopher Hampton.
“Four Good Days” • Glenn Close stars as a mother who tries to get her opioid-addicted daughter (Mila Kunis) clean for four days, so she can try a new drug to kick her habit for good. Director Rodrigo Garcia (“Nine Lives,” SFF ’05; “Mother and Child,” SFF ’10; “Last Days in the Desert,” SFF ’15) co-wrote with Eli Saslow. Also starring Stephen Root and Joshua Leonard.
“The Glorias” • Director Julie Taymor, co-writing with Sarah Ruhl, adapts Gloria Steinem’s memoir into a nontraditional biopic of the trailblazing women’s rights advocate. Lulu Wilson, Alicia Vikander and Julianne Moore play Steinem at different ages; the cast also includes Bette Midler, Janelle Monáe, Timothy Hutton and Lorraine Toussaint.
“Herself” • (Ireland/United Kingdom) Clare Dunne, who co-wrote with Malcolm Campbell, stars as a woman who decides to build a home, from scratch, for herself and her two daughters — drawing together a community to help. Phyllida Lloyd (“Mamma Mia!”) directs; the cast includes Harriet Walter and Conleth Hill (Lord Varys from “Game of Thrones”).
“Horse Girl” • Alison Brie stars as a socially awkward woman whose increasingly lucid dreams are trickling into her waking life. Brie co-wrote with the film’s director, Jeff Baena (“Life After Beth,” SFF ’14; “Joshy,” SFF ’16; “The Little Hours,” SFF ’17).
“Ironbark” • (United Kingdom) In this fact-based story, Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Greville Wynne, a British businessman who works with a Soviet officer (Merab Ninidze) to smuggle out the intelligence that defused the Cuban missile crisis. Also starring Rachel Brosnahan and Jessie Buckley. Directed by Dominic Cooke, written by Tom O’Connor.
“Kajillionaire” • Filmmaker Miranda July (“Me and You and Everyone We Know,” SFF ‘05; “The Future,” SFF ’11) returns with this tale of a grifter (Evan Rachel Wood) whose life is upended when her parents (Debra Winger and Richard Jenkins) invite a new player (Gina Rodriguez) into their next heist.
“The Last Shift” • Richard Jenkins stars as an aging fast-food worker who’s about to retire after 38 years — but on his last night, as he trains his replacement (Shane Paul McGhie), the weekend takes an unexpected turn. Written and directed by Andrew Cohn; also starring Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Birgundi Baker, Allison Tolman and Ed O’Neill.
“The Last Thing He Wanted” • Director Dee Rees (“Pariah,” SFF ’11; “Mudbound,” SFF ’17), with co-screenwriter Marco Vallalobos, adapts Joan Didion’s novel about a journalist (Anne Hathaway) who reluctantly fulfills an errand for her father (Willem Dafoe), and is thrust into the story she’s trying to break. Also starring Ben Affleck, Toby Jones and Rosie Perez.
“Lost Girls” • Liz Garbus (who has had six documentaries at Sundance, including “The Execution of Wanda Jean,” SFF ’02, and “What Happened, Miss Simone?”, SFF ’15) makes her narrative directing debut with this story, inspired by true events, of a woman (Amy Ryan) battling police indifference to find her missing daughter, and uncovering evidence of a dozen murdered sex workers. Screenwriter Michael Werwie adapts Robert Kolker’s book. The cast includes Thomasin McKenzie, Lola Kirke, Oona Laurence, Gabriel Byrne and Miriam Shor.
“The Nest” • (United Kingdom/Canada) In this drama by writer-director Sean Durkin (“Martha Marcy May Marlene,” SFF ’11), an entrepreneur (Jude Law) and his wife (Carrie Coon) move to England in the booming ‘80s, and must face some hard truths as things start to unravel. Also starring Charlie Shotwell and Oona Roche.
“Promising Young Woman” • Actor Emerald Fennell (who plays Camilla on “The Crown”) makes her directing and writing debut with this revenge thriller, starring Carey Mulligan as a medical school dropout with a double life. Also starring Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Connie Britton, Adam Brody and Jennifer Coolidge.
“Sergio” • Documentary filmmaker Greg Barker (“Manhunt: The Inside Story of the Hunt for Bin Laden,” SFF ’13) revisits the subject of his 2009 Sundance documentary: United Nations diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello (played by Wagner Moura), who risks his life on a mission in the chaos of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Screenplay by Craig Borten. The cast includes Ana de Armas, Garret Dillahunt, Will Dalton, Bradley Whitford and Brian F. O’Byrne.
“Tesla” • Sundace veteran Michael Almereyda (“Nadja,” SFF ’94; “Hamlet,” SFF ’00; “Experimenter,” SFF ’15; “Marjorie Prime,” SFF ’17) returns with this biographical drama of inventor Nikola Tesla (Ethan Hawke), as he worked to create a system of wireless energy. Kyle MacLachlan plays Thomas Edison; the cast also features Eve Hewson, Jim Gaffigan, Hannah Gross and Josh Hamilton. (This is the winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, given to a movie about science or technology.)
“Uncle Frank” • Director-writer Alan Ball (who wrote “American Beauty”) chronicles a road trip in 1973, with an 18-year-old (Sophie Lillis) and her uncle (Paul Bettany), from Manhattan to a South Carolina town for a funeral for the family patriarch — when they’re unexpectedly joined by Uncle Frank’s lover (Peter Maddissi). Steve Zahn, Judy Greer and Margo Martindale also star.
“Wendy” • Director Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild,” SFF ’12), co-writing with his sister Eliza, reimagines the “Peter Pan” story, focusing on Wendy’s fight to protect her siblings, her freedom and the spirit of youth from the perils of growing up. The cast of this ragtag drama includes Devin France, Yashua Mack, Gage Naquin, Gavin Naquin, Ahmad Cage and Krzysztof Meyn. The movie has received a Dolby Institute fellowship.
“Worth” • Michael Keaton plays Kenneth Feinberg, a D.C. lawyer appointed Special Master of the 9/11 Fund, battling cynicism, bureaucracy and politics as he grapples with the ultimate question: What is a life worth? Sara Colangelo (“Little Accidents,” SFF ’14; “The Kindergarten Teacher,” SFF ’18) directs this fact-based story, written by Max Borenstein. The cast includes Stanley Tucci, Amy Ryan, Tate Donovan, Talia Balsam and Laura Benanti.
“Aggie” • Filmmaker Catherine Gund profiles her mother, art collector and philanthropist Agnes Gund, who sold Roy Lichtenstein’s “Masterpiece” in 2017 for $165 million to start the Art for Justice Fund, to end mass incarceration.
“Assassins” • Director Ryan White (“The Case Against 8,” SFF ’14; “Ask Dr. Ruth,” SFF ’19) follows the trial of the two women accused of killing Kim Jong-nam, exiled half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, using nerve agent in the Kuala Lampur airport — but were they trained killers or unwitting pawns?
“Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen” • Director Sam Feder examines how Hollywood has shaped how Americans see transgender people, and how transgender people have been taught to feel about themselves. Among the interview subjects: Laverne Cox, Mj Rodriguez, Lilly Wachowski, Yance Ford, Chaz Bono and Jamie Clayton.
“The Dissident” • Director Bryan Fogel, who ticked off the Russians with the Oscar-winning doping documentary “Icarus” (SFF ’17), is back to anger the Saudis, as he digs into the disappearance of Saudi dissident and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who went into Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018 and was never seen again. Fogel and Mark Monroe co-wrote the film.
“Giving Voice” • Go inside the August Wilson Monologue Competition, in which thousands of high school students enter for a chance to perform on Broadway. Director James D. Stern follows students, looking at how Wilson’s plays speak to a new generation and inspire them to find their own voice.
“The Go-Go’s” • (United States/Ireland/Canada) The members of the L.A. ’80s band — the first all-female rock band who played their own instruments and wrote their own songs to have a No. 1 album — talk candidly about their fast rise to the top. Directed by Alison Ellwood (“History of The Eagles,” SFF ’13) interviews Charlotte Caffey, Belinda Carlisle, Gina Schock, Kathy Valentine and Jane Wiedlin, among others.
“Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren & Stimpy Story” • Filmmakers Ron Cicero and Kimo Easterwood look at the rise and fall of the groundbreaking Nickelodeon cartoon, and its controversial creator, John Kricfalusi.
“Okavango: River of Dreams (Directors Cut)” • (Botswana) The famed nature documentarians Dereck and Beverly Joubert create a love letter to one of the world’s greatest river systems, patterned after Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” exploring the layers of paradise, limbo and inferno.
“Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind” • Director Laurent Bouzereau examines the career and life of the actress Natalie Wood, guided by her daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner (one of the film’s producers), and others close to her. The documentary, bankrolled by HBO, aims to reclaim Wood’s legacy, overshadowed by her tragic death in 1981, at the age of 43.
“On the Record” • Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, who have exposed epidemics of sexual assault in the military (“The Invisible War,” SFF ’12) and college campuses (“The Hunting Ground,” SFF ’15), focus this time on the world of hip-hop music. Update: The title was announced Jan. 20.
“Rebuilding Paradise” • Director Ron Howard follows the residents of Paradise, Calif., in the year after the most destructive wildfire in state history laid ruin to the town.
“The Social Dilemma” • Director Jeff Orlowski (“Chasing Ice”, SFF ’12; “Chasing Coral,” SFF ’17) charts the environment in social media, interviewing insiders from Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to “reveal how these platforms are reprogramming civilization.” The actors Vincent Kartheiser (“Mad Men”), Skyler Gisondo (“Booksmart”) and Kara Hayward (“Moonlight Kingdom”) appear in the film.
“Taylor Swift: Miss Americana” • A raw portrait of pop icon Taylor Swift, as she embraces her status as a songwriter, as a performer, and as a woman deploying the full power of her voice. Directed by Lana Wilson (“After Tiller,” SFF ’13), backed by Netflix. (The movie is a Day One entry, screening on the festival’s opening night.)
“Vivos” • (Germany/Mexico) Dissident Chinese artist and filmmaker Ai Weiwei digs into the 2014 attack at Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in Mexico, which left six dead and 43 disappeared. The film follows the students’ families, in a struggle that has become a symbol of endemic violence in Mexican society.
“Amulet” • (United Kingdom) Actress Romola Garai makes her feature debut as writer and director with this horror movie, about a refugee ex-soldier (Alec Secareanu) who is allowed to live in a decaying house where a young woman (Carla Juri) and her dying mother (Imelda Staunton) live. But does something else live there as well?
“Bad Hair” • In this horror satire by writer-director Justin Simien (“Dear White People,” SFF ’14), it’s 1989 and an ambitious young woman (Ella Lorraine) watches her career in music television take off when she gets a new weave — but her hair may have a mind of its own. Also starring Vanessa Williams, Jay Pharoah, Lena Waithe, Blair Underwood and Laverne Cox. (The movie is a Day One entry, screening on the festival’s opening night.)
“His House” • (United Kingdom) A young refugee couple (Wunmi Mosaku, Sope Dirisu) escape war-torn South Sudan, but find life in their new home in an English town under threat by an evil under the surface. Matt Smith also stars in this thriller, written and directed by Remi Weekes.
“Impetigore” • (Indonesia) Maya (Tara Basro) is on the street in a big city, and thinks returning to her home village may net her an inheritance. But the villagers are waiting for her, thinking she has what they need to lift a curse. Written and directed by Joko Anwar, the horror/mystery also stars Marissa Anita, Christine Hakim, Ario Bayu and Asmara Abigail.
“The Night House” • A widow (Rebecca Hall) learns her late husband’s disturbing secrets, in a horror thriller directed by David Bruckner (“The Signal,” SFF ’07), and written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski. Also starring Sarah Goldberg, Stacy Martin, Evan Jonigkeit and Vondie Curtis-Hall.
“The Nowhere Inn” • Annie Clark, alias St. Vincent, and Carrie Brownstein (of the band Sleater-Kinney and TV’s “Portlandia”) wrote and star in this music-fueled drama. Clark plans to reveal the truth behind her musical persona in a documentary, but when she hires a friend to direct, the idea of reality and identity become distorted and bizarre. Directed by Bill Benz.
“Relic” • (Australia) When an elderly woman (Robyn Nevin) with dementia vanishes, her daughter (Emily Mortimer) and granddaughter (Bella Heathcote) arrive to look for her — but when she suddenly returns, the mystery only grows deeper. Director Natalie Erika James co-wrote with Christian White.
“Run Sweetheart Run” • A woman (Ella Balinska, from “Charlie’s Angels”) tries to get home after a blind date becomes violent, but the guy (Pilou Asbaek, from “Game of Thrones”) won’t stop the pursuit. Written and directed by Shana Feste (“The Greatest,” SFF ’09), the movie also stars Clark Gregg and Shohreh Aghdashloo.
“Scare Me” • Josh Ruben wrote and directed this horror story, about two strangers, Fred (played by Ruben) and Fanny (Aya Cash), telling scary stories during a power outage in a Catskills cabin — but the stories come to life, and Fred fears Fanny is the better storyteller. UPDATE, Dec. 16, 2019: The streaming service Shudder picked up streaming rights to this film in North America, the UK and Ireland, according to a company release.
“And Then We Danced” • (Sweden/Georgia/France) Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani) is a dancer in conservative Tbilisi, training with his partner Mary (Ana Javakhishvili), when a new male dancer (Bachi Valishvili) enters to become his rival and his desire. Written and directed by Levan Akin, the movie debuted at Cannes and is Sweden’s entry in the International Feature Film category for the Academy Awards.
“The Assistant” • Telluride audiences cheered Julia Garner’s lead performance in this drama, as Jane, an assistant to a high-powered executive (Matthew Macfadyen). The narrative debut of writer-director Kitty Green, whose documentary “Casting JonBenet” played Sundance in 2017. Also starring Makenzie Leigh, Kristine Froseth, Jon Orsini and Noah Robbins.
“The Climb” • A friendship between two guys endures over decades, even when Mike (Michael Covino) tells Kyle (Kyle Marvin) he slept with Kyle’s fiancee (Gayle Rankin). Covino directed, and co-wrote with Marvin, expanding a short film of the same name that played Sundance in 2018. The feature — which debuted at Cannes in May, and played Telluride in September — also stars Talia Balsam, George Wendt and Judith Godrèche.
“Collective” • (Romania/Luxembourg) Documentarian Alexander Nana follows investigative journalists as they uncover massive fraud in Romania’s health care system. The film screened at film festivals in Venice and Toronto in September, and makes its U.S. premiere at Sundance.
“Ema” • (Chile) Mariana Di Girolamo plays the title role, a reggaeton dancer who, after an adoption goes awry and upends her marriage to a choreographer (Gael Garcia Bernal), goes on a journey of personal liberation that’s literally on fire. The movie, which played at Venice and Toronto, is directed by Pablo Larraín (“Jackie”), written by Guillermo Calderón and Alejandro Moreno, and also stars Santiago Cabrera.
“La Llorona” • (Guatemala/France) Enrique (Julio Diaz), a retired Guatemala general acquitted of genocide against the Maya people, is haunted by his past victims, guided by a maid (Maria Mercedes Conroy) doling out vengeance. This politically spiced horror thriller, which screened in Venice and Toronto, is written and directed by Jayro Bustamante, and co-stars Sabrina De La Hoz, Margarita Kénefic, Juan Pablo Olyslager and Ayla-Elea Hurtado. UPDATE, Dec. 16, 2019: The streaming service Shudder picked up streaming rights to this film in North America, the UK and Ireland, according to a company release.
“The Perfect Candidate” • (Germany/Saudi Arabia) Haifaa al-Mansour, often billed as Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker, directs this drama about another trailblazer, a young doctor (Mila Al Zahrani) who becomes the first woman to run for office in her town. Al-Mansour wrote the screenplay with her American husband, Brad Niemann; the film also stars Dhay, Khalid Abdulrahim and Shafi Al Harthy. This is Saudi Arabia’s entry in the International Feature Film category for the Academy Awards, as was al-Mansour’s “Wadjda” in 2012. (The movie is a Day One entry, screening on the festival’s opening night.)
“Binti” • (Belgium) Binti (Bebel Tshiani Baloji) is a Congo-born 12-year-old in Belgium who dreams of being a vlogger like her idol, Tatyana Beloy (who appears as herself). Instead, she and her father (played by her real father, the Belgian rapper Baloji) must flee when police raid their home, seeking to deport them. Binti forms a plan with her friend, Elias (Mo Bakker), that will let them stay in the country, in writer-director Frederike Migom’s family drama, which also stars Joke Devynck, Caroline Stas and Noa Jacobs.
“Come Away” • (United Kingdom/United States) A prequel of sorts to both “Peter Pan” and “Alice in Wonderland” that imagines Peter (Jordan A. Nash) and Alice (Keira Chansa) as siblings working to rescue their parents after their brother dies in an accident — but being forced to choose between home and imagination. Directed by Brenda Chapman (who co-directed “Brave” and “The Prince of Egypt”) and written by Marissa Kate Goodhill, the fantasy stars Angelina Jolie, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Reece Yates and Michael Caine.
“Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made” • Hapless Timmy Failure (Winslow Fegley) and his partner, a 1,500-pound polar bear named Total, operate Total Failure Inc., a detective agency in Portland, Ore., in this adaptation of the children’s book series by Stephan Pastis (who also draws the “Pearls Before Swine” comic strip). The movie — which will stream starting Feb. 7 on Disney+ — is directed by Tom McCarthy (“Spotlight”), who co-wrote the script with Pastis. The cast includes Ophelia Lovibond, Wallace Shawn, Craig Robinson and Kyle Bornheimer.
From the Collection
“Born Into Brothels” • This 2004 documentary follows photographer Zana Briski, who co-directed with Ross Kauffman, as she ventures into Calcutta’s red-light district to teach the children of the sex workers who live there. By teaching photography, Briski helps the kids express themselves and describe their world — and, maybe, offer them an escape from a cycle of poverty and exploitation. The Oscar-winning documentary counts Utah Film Center founder Geralyn White Dreyfous as its executive producer.
“High Art” • This 1998 Sundance entry stars Radha Mitchell as a young magazine editor who meets a neighbor, Lucy (Ally Sheedy), an enigmatic photographer, and the two begin a tempestuous romance, interrupted by Lucy’s former flame, Greta (Patricia Clarkson). Directed and written by Lisa Cholodenko, who went on to direct “The Kids Are All Right” and the miniseries “Olive Kitteridge,” the movie also stars Tammy Grimes, Gabriel Mann and Bill Sage.