The Sundance Film Festival is preparing a return to Park City and Salt Lake City venues in January after going online-only in 2021 — but don’t call it a comeback, organizers say.
“I’m resisting the ‘back’ word,” Tabitha Jackson, the festival’s director, told The Salt Lake Tribune this week. “Last year was a complete re-imagination, to go online. This year is another complete re-imagination, to have a festival which is both IRL and URL, both in-person and online.”
Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute announced Thursday the 82 feature films that will screen in venues — and on the festival’s online platform — from Jan. 20 to 30, 2022. Every title will be screened at the in-person venues, then debut online.
Anyone attending the festival in person — ticket-buyers, filmmakers, volunteers and staff — will be required to show proof that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Masks also will be required in all indoor venues and in line to get into screenings and events.
“It just seems like common sense,” said Jackson, who announced the policy this summer so attendees would have plenty of time to get their shots. “We wanted to make sure that we weren’t leaving a void of confusion or speculation. We haven’t had an adverse response to anything that we said, which has been wonderful.”
Jackson said that she and her staff have not felt panic over news of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus, “because we designed a festival with flexibility in mind — assuming that there was going to be the likelihood of something popping up as we hit winter.”
Sundance has hired its own epidemiologist and a COVID-19 compliance officer, Jackson said, and she is listening to the guidelines from public health officials. “We’ll be guided by the science,” she said.
COVID-19 doesn’t pop up much as a central topic of the films selected for the festival — compared to the 2021 festival, when the COVID-in-China documentary “In the Same Breath” and quarantine allegories like “The Pink Cloud” and “In the Earth” played.
“What we noticed this year was just how living through the past 20 months has really influenced the work of these artists,” said Kim Yutani, the festival’s program director. “We saw a lot of films you could see as being reactions to our times … really questioning the system, fighting the system, really calling into question institutions and corporations.”
Many of the films, Yutani said, “are looking for new forms, and finding new ways, of telling stories about racial injustice and misogyny.”
One of those forms, she said, is the horror genre. For example, two films in the U.S. Dramatic competition, “Master” and “Nanny,” incorporate supernatural themes in stories about racial inequality.
“There are so many ways where our everyday lives sometimes feel like a horror film,” Yutani said. “Horror as a lens just makes sense.”
Three films tackle a timely topic: The process of getting an abortion before it was legal. Two films — the documentary “The Janes” and the drama (in the Premieres section) “Call Jane,” starring Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver — recall an underground abortion referral service that ran in Chicago before the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. Another drama, “Happening” (in the Spotlight section), follows a college student in France in 1963, before abortion was legal there.
Not everything at Sundance is so serious. Among the documentaries are profiles of rapper Kanye West, singer Sinead O’Connor, Princess Diana, and TV pioneers Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. (That last one, “Lucy and Desi,” is the directing debut of another comedy icon, “Parks & Recreation” star Amy Poehler.)
Utah audiences will see something familiar in a documentary from Finland. “The Mission” follows four American teens as they arrive in Finland to serve their missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The 82 films chosen for the 2022 festival, running Jan. 20-30, are more than the 73 titles that played in the shortened, online-only festival in 2021. But it is far fewer than the 120 or so features that played in the years before the pandemic.
“By keeping the program tight, we’re best serving the films that we’re showing,” Yutani said.
Programmers also were not sure how many films would be submitted — because they didn’t how many filmmakers would have the wherewithal to make movies while the pandemic was still raging, Yutani said. Ultimately, Sundance programmers had to sift through 3,762 feature-length films, compared to 3,500 for the 2021 festival.
“We received more films than we did last year, and the quality was amazing,” Yutani said.
Ticket packages for Sundance — ranging from $300 to $750 for in-person screenings, and $50 or $100 for online only events — go on sale to Sundance Institute members on Wednesday, Dec. 15, and to the public starting Friday, Dec. 17, at festival.sundance.org. Individual tickets go on sale, for $20 each, starting Jan. 5 for members and Jan. 6 for everyone else.
Here are the 82 feature films that will screen at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival — along with the Indie Episodic and New Frontier titles. The festival’s short-film program, which were announced Friday, are included as well. (All titles are from the U.S., unless otherwise noted.)
U.S. Dramatic competition
“Alice” • Keke Palmer stars as a Black woman working as a slave on a plantation in 1800s Georgia — until she discovers that, just beyond the tree line, it’s actually 1973. Krystin Ver Linden wrote and directed this drama, inspired by true events. The cast includes Common, Jonny Lee Miller and Gaius Charles.
“blood” • A recent widow (Carla Juri) travels to Japan, finding solace with an old friend (Takashi Ueno) — as comfort turns to affection. Bradley Rust Gray wrote and directed the drama, which also stars Gustaf Skarsgård, Futaba Okazaki and Issey Ogata.
“Cha Cha Real Smooth” • Writer-director Cooper Raiff (whose college movie “S---house” was a breakout hit in 2020) plays a college graduate who works as a bar mitzvah party host, who starts up a relationship with a young mom (Dakota Johnson) and her teen daughter (Vanessa Burghardt). Also starring Evan Assante, Brad Garrett and Leslie Mann.
“Dual” • Karen Gillan (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) plays a woman who, after getting a terminal diagnosis, commissions a clone of herself to ease her friends’ and family’s loss — but when she recovers, her efforts to decommission her clone lead to a court-ordered duel to the death. Written and directed by Riley Stearns (“The Art of Self-Defense”), this comedy-drama also stars Aaron Paul and Beulah Koale.
“892″ • When a Marine war veteran’s disability check from the VA doesn’t show up — threatening to make him homeless and break his daughter’s heart — the man (John Boyega) enters a bank and says, “I’ve got a bomb.” Directed by Abi Damaris Corbin and written by Kwame Kwei-Armah, the drama also stars Michael Kenneth Williams (in his final role before his death last September), Nicole Beharie, Connie Britton, Olivia Washington and Selenis Leyva.
“Emergency” • When a group of partying Black and Latino college students find themselves in an unusual emergency, they debate the pros and cons of calling the cops. Directed by Carey Williams (“R#J,” SFF ‘21) and written by KD Davilla, the movie stars RJ Cyler, Donald Watkins, Sebastian Chacon and Sabrina Carpenter. (This movie is a “Day One” selection, screening on the festival’s opening night.)
“Master” • Three women try to find their place in an elite New England university that’s haunted by racism in increasingly supernatural fashion in this drama by writer-director Mariama Diallo (whose short “Hair Wolf” played Sundance in 2018). Starring Regina Hall, Zoe Renee, Talia Ryder, Talia Balsam and Amber Gray.
“Nanny” • Anna Diop (“Us”) plays Aisha, an undocumented nanny working for a rich New York couple. When she is getting ready for her son to join her from Senegal, her reality is invaded by a violent supernatural presence. Written and directed by Nikyatu Jusu, the film also stars Michelle Monaghan, Sinqua Walls, Morgan Spector, Rose Decker and Leslie Uggams.
“Palm Trees and Power Lines” • Lea (Lily McInerny), 17, runs into a Tom (Jonathan Tucker), a man twice her age, disrupting her aimless summer — but Tom is not all he seems. Jamie Dack wrote and directed this drama, which also stars Gretchen Mol.
“Watcher” • A woman (Maika Monroe) and her fiancé (Karl Glusman) move into a new apartment, but she gets the feeling an unseen person in a nearby building is watching her. Directed by Chloe Okuno and written by Zack Ford, this thriller also stars Burn Gorman and Ciubuciu Bogdan Alexandru.
U.S. Documentary competition
“Aftershock” • The maternal health crisis in the U.S. is the focus of directors Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee, centering on two bereaved fathers whose partners died from preventable childbirth complications.
“Descendant” • The Clotilda was the last ship carrying enslaved Africans to the U.S., landing in Alabama 40 years after the African slave trading was made a capital offense. The ship was burned and its history buried — but a century later, descendants of the Clotilda’s survivors try to reclaim their families’ story. Directed by Margaret Brown.
“The Exiles” • Directors Ben Klein and Violet Columbus (daughter of “Home Alone” director Chris Columbus) follow documentarian Christine Choy as she tracks down three exiled dissidents from the Tiananmen Square massacre, seeking closure on an abandoned film she started shooting in 1989.
“Fire of Love” • Scientists Katia and Maurice Krafft died doing the thing that brought them together: Exploring volcanoes. Director Sara Dosa takes the Kraffts’ amazing footage to explore the doomed love triangle between Katia, Maurice and volcanoes. (This movie is a “Day One” selection, screening on the festival’s opening night.)
“Free Choi Soo Lee” • In 1973, when Korean immigrant Choi Soo Lee was wrongly convicted for a gang murder in San Francisco’s Chinatown, Asian Americans united to get him freed. Directors Julie Ha and Eugene Yi examine the case, how the former street hustler became a symbol for a movement and how he self-destructed once he was out.
“I Didn’t See You There” • With a camera either mounted to his wheelchair or handheld, director Reid Davenport enters a circus tent that goes up outside his Oakland apartment, to explore freakdom, visibility and invisibility, and the question of individual agency.
“The Janes” • On Chicago’s South Side in 1972, police raided an apartment and arrested seven women — accused of being part of an underground network, called “Jane,” to help women seeking safe and affordable abortions in the days before Roe v. Wade. Directors Tia Lessin (who co-directed “Trouble the Water,” SFF ‘08 Grand Jury Prize winner) and Emma Pildes (a producer of “Jane Fonda in Five Acts,” SFF ‘18) tell the women’s stories.
“Jihad Rehab” • Director Meg Smaker’s documentary follows a group of Al-Qaeda members who are transferred from Guantanamo to a secretive rehabilitation center for Islamic extremists.
“TikTok, Boom.” • TikTok has become the world’s most downloaded app and is best known for people showing off their dance moves — so why is it the target of controversy? Director Shalini Kantayya (“Coded Bias,” SFF ‘20) talks to Gen-Z natives, journalists and experts to find the personal stories of this cultural phenomenon.
World Cinema Dramatic competition
“Brian and Charles” (United Kingdom) • When Brian (David Earl) goes into a deep depression one harsh winter, he does the normal thing: He builds Charles (Chris Hayward), a 7-foot cabbage-eating robot. Earl and Hayward wrote this mock-documentary, directed by Jim Archer, which the three expanded from a 2017 short. Also starring Louise Brealey (“Sherlock”), Jamie Michie, Lowri Izzard and Mari Izzard.
“The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future” (Chile / France / U.S. / Germany) • Cecilia (Leonor Varela) brings her children to her ailing father’s dairy farm in Chile — where she is reminded of her painful childhood by the appearance of her deceased mother and a chorus of the natural world. Written and directed by Francisca Alegria, the film also stars Mia Maestro, Alfredo Castro, Marcial Tagle, Enzo Ferrada and Luis Dubó.
“Dos Estaciones” (Mexico) • A businesswoman (Teresa Sánchez) fights to keep her tequila factory from financial ruin in Mexico’s Jalisco highlands, in this drama written and directed by Juan Pablo González. Also starring Tatín Vera, Rafaela Fuentes and Manuel García-Rulfo.
“Gentle” (Hungary) • Edina (Eszter Csonka) and her trainer, Adam (Gyögy Turós), have the same dream: To push Edina to win the world championship in bodybuilding. Along the way, Edina discovers an odd love that points out the difference between her dreams and her true self. Anna Eszter Menes and László Csuja wrote and directed this film, which also stars Csaba Krisztik.
“Girl Picture” (Finland) • Three teen girls (Aamu Milonoff, Eleonoora Kauhanen and Linnea Leino) have different experiences on consecutive Fridays: Two fall in love, while the other goes in search of pleasure. Alli Haapasalo directs this coming-of-age romance, written by Ilona Ahti and Daniela Hakulinen.
“Klondike” (Ukraine / Turkey) • A Ukrainian family experiences the horrors of the war between Russia and Ukraine — first as their village is captured by armed forces, and later when they are put at the center of an air crash catastrophe on July 17, 2014, the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Written and directed by Maryna Er Gorbach, the film stars Oxana Cherkashyna, Sergey Shadrin, Oleg Scherbina, Oleg Shevchuk, Artur Aramyan and Evgenij Efremov.
“Leonor Will Never Die” (Philippines) • When a retired filmmaker, Leonor (Sheila Francisco), falls into a coma from a TV falling on her head, she becomes the action hero in her own unfinished screenplay as fiction and reality blur. Written and directed by Martika Ramirez Escobar, the film also stars Bong Cabrera, Rocky Salumbides and Anthony Falcon.
“Marte Um” (“Mars One”) (Brazil) • In writer-director Gabriel Martins’ tale, a lower-middle-class Black family of four in Brazil tries to keep their dreams alive after the country elects a right-wing president. The cast includes Rejane Faria, Carlos Francisco, Camilla Souza and Cícero Lucas. (This movie is a “Day One” selection, screening on the festival’s opening night.)
“Utama” (Bolivia / Uruguay / France) • An elderly Quechua couple, Virginio (Jose Calcina) and Sina (Luisa Quispe), have lived the same routine for years in Bolivia’s highlands — but an uncommonly long drought makes them question whether they can survive against the environment and time. Written and directed by Alejandro Loayza Grisi, the film also stars Santos Choque.
“You Won’t Be Alone” (Australia) • A young witch in Macedonia in the 1800s accidentally kills a peasant, then takes her shape to experience life in someone else’s skin — setting off a desire to repeat the process in the bodies of others. Goran Stolevski wrote and directed this horror drama, with an international cast including Noomi Rapace (“Prometheus”), Anamaria Marinca (“4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”), Alice Englert (“Ratched”), Carloto Cotta, Félix Maritaud and Sara Klimoska.
World Cinema Documentary competition
“All That Breathes” (India / U.S. / U.K.) In director Shaunak Sen’s documentary, two brothers work to protect the black kite, a bird that is a casualty of turbulent times in Delhi, India.
“Calendar Girls” (Sweden) • Writer-directors Maria Loohufvud and Love Martinsen go to Florida, to profile the members of the Sunshine State’s most dedicated dance team for women over 60.
“A House Made of Splinters” (Denmark) • Director Simon Lereng Wilmont follows the daily routine of children and staff of a group home in eastern Ukraine, whose residents are children who have been removed from their homes while awaiting court custody decisions.
“Midwives” (Myanmar) • In a makeshift clinic in Myanmar, two midwives work side-by-side, in director Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing’s documentary.
“The Mission” (Finland) • Director Tania Anderson profiles four American teens, all leaving their homes to go to Finland, one of Europe’s more secular countries, to serve missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Nothing Compares” (Ireland / U.K.) • Director Kathryn Ferguson applies a contemporary feminist lens to the trailblazing career of musician Sinead O’Connor — focusing on the period from 1987 to 1993, during her rapid rise to fame and her exile from the mainstream.
“Sirens” (U.S. / Lebanon) • Writer-director Rita Baghdadi follows the musical exploits of Lilas and Shery, co-founders and guitarists of Beirut-based Slave to Sirens, the Middle East’s first all-female metal band.
“Tantura” (Israel) • Director Alon Schwarz, co-writing with Shaul Schwarz, examines one Palestinian village out of hundreds destroyed in the civil war that broke out when the state of Israel was established in 1948. (This movie is a “Day One” selection, screening on the festival’s opening night.)
“The Territory” (Brazil / Denmark / U.S.) • When a group of Brazilian farmers seizes a protected area of the Amazon rainforest, an Indigenous leader and his mentor fight back to defend the land and an uncontacted group living deep in the forest, in this documentary directed by Alex Pritz.
“We Met in Virtual Reality” (U.K.) • Writer-director Joe Hunting also filmed his documentary entirely within the app VRChat during the COVID-19 pandemic, capturing the excitement and surprising intimacy within online connection.
“The Cathedral” (Italy / U.S.) • Director-writer Ricky D’Ambrose follows a family’s rise and fall, seen over two decades through the eyes of an only child. The cast includes Brian d’Arcy James (“West Side Story”), Monica Barbaro, Mark Zeisler, Geraldine Singer and William Bednar-Carter.
“Every Day in Kaimukï” • A young Hawaiian man (Naz Kawakami) looks for meaning outside his small town, in this drama written by Kawakami and the film’s director, Alika Tengan. Also starring Rina White and Holden Mandrial-Santos.
“Framing Agnes” (Canada / U.S.) • In director Chase Joynt’s documentary, a cast of transgender actors use a talk show format to explore case files from a 1950s gender clinic.
“A Love Song” • A widow (Dale Dickey) and a widower (Wes Studi), once childhood sweethearts, share a night by a mountain lake in this love story written and directed by Max Walker-Silverman. Also starring Michelle Wilson, Benja K. Thomas, John Way and Marty Grace Dennis. (This movie is a “Day One” selection, screening on the festival’s opening night.)
“Mija” • Isabel Castro directs this documentary profile of Doris Muñoz, a music manager whose undocumented family relies on her ability to launch pop stars — a talent put to the test when she finds Jacks, another daughter of immigrants, for whom “making it” is a necessity.
“Riotsville, USA” • Using footage from media and government sources, director Sierra Pettengill profiles a fictional town built by the U.S. military — ground zero for the militarization of the police in response to uprisings of the late 1960s.
“Something in the Dirt” • The writing-directing team of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (“Synchronic,” “The Endless”) play neighbors who document the paranormal events around their L.A. apartment building — but as they go deeper down the rabbit hole, the consequences threaten their friendship and the city.
“Am I OK?” • Dakota Johnson and Sonoya Mizuno play best friends whose relationship fractures when one plans a move to London and the other reveals a long-buried secret. Lauren Pomerantz, a longtime writer for Ellen DeGeneres, wrote the screenplay for this comedy-drama, directed by Stephanie Allynne and Tis Notaro (who collaborated on Notaro’s series “One Mississippi”). The cast includes Jermaine Fowler, Kiersey Clemons, Molly Gordon and Sean Hayes.
“Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power” • Indie-film pioneer Nina Menkes (“Queen of Diamonds,” SFF ‘91) expands her 2018 talk “Sex & Power: The Visual Language of Cinema” into a documentary that compiles more than 175 movie clips to examine how shot design contributes to the real-world problems of sexual assault, sexual abuse and employment discrimination against women.
“Call Jane” • “Carol” screenwriter Phyllis Nagy makes her feature directing debut with this true-life drama set in 1968, following a Chicago woman (Elizabeth Banks) who receives a life-saving secret abortion and then takes part in the underground collective called “Jane” that works to give women access to safe, healthy abortions in the days before Roe v. Wade. (Yes, it’s the same topic as “The Janes,” in the U.S. Documentary competition.) Written by Hayley Schore and Roshan Sethi, the movie also stars Sigourney Weaver, Chris Messina, Kate Mara, Wunmi Mosaku and Cory Michael Smith.
“Downfall: The Case Against Boeing” • Documentarian Rory Kennedy (“Ghosts of Abu Ghraib,” SFF ‘07; “Ethel,” SFF ‘12) returns with this investigation of the two air crashes involving Boeing 737 Max jets, which killed 346 people and revealed a crumbling corporate culture that put profits ahead of safety.
“Emily the Criminal” • Aubrey Plaza stars in this crime comedy, as a woman who gets involved in a credit card scam, which pulls her deeper into L.A. criminal underground. John Patton Ford wrote and directed the film, which also stars Theo Rossi, Megalyn Echikunwoke and Gina Gershon.
“Final Cut” (France) • Michel Hazanavicius, who directed the Oscar-winning “The Artist,” wrote and directed this horror comedy, in which the crew of a low-budget zombie movie is attacked by, yup, real zombies. The cast includes Romain Duris, Bérénice Bejo, Grégory Gadebois, Finnegan Oldfield, Matilda Lutz and Raphaël Quenard.
“God’s Country” • Thandiwe Newton stars as a college professor who confronts two hunters on her property, touching off a battle of wills with disastrous consequences. Director Julian Higgins co-wrote the script with Shaye Ogbonna. The cast includes Jeremy Bobb, Joris Jarsky, Jefferson White, Kai Lennox and Tanaya Beatty.
“Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” (U.K.) • Emma Thompson plays a retired schoolteacher who makes a plan to find adventure and good sex — and the plan involves hiring a sex worker named Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack). Directed by Sophie Hyde (“52 Tuesdays,” SFF ‘13), written by Katy Brand.
“Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul” • Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown play the first lady and pastor of a Southern Baptist megachurch, trying to rebuild after a scandal, in first-time writer-director Adamma Ebo’s comedy.
“jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy” • Directors Clarence “Coodie” Simmons and Chike Ozah examine music legend Kanye West’s life and music in three acts, using never-before-seen footage.
“La Guerra Civil” (U.K.) • Actor and activist Eva Longoria Bastón makes her documentary directing debut, chronicling the boxing rivalry between Oscar De La Hoya and Julio César Chavez, beginning a cultural divide between Mexican nationals and Mexican-Americans. (This movie is a “Day One” selection, screening on the festival’s opening night.)
“Living” (U.K.) • Director Oliver Hermanus and screenwriter Kazuo Ishiguro (the novelist who wrote “The Remains of the Day”) tailor Akira Kurosawa’s classic “Ikiru” to 1952 London, following a civil servant (Bill Nighy) who learns he has a terminal illness and starts a quest to find meaning in his life. The cast includes Aimee Lou Wood, Alex Sharp and Tom Burke.
“Lucy and Desi” • “Parks & Recreation” star Amy Poehler makes her documentary directing debut, looking at television comedy pioneers Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, using interviews and archival material, some of it provided by Ball’s and Arnaz’s estate. (This movie will be the Salt Lake City opening-night film, on Jan. 21 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.)
“My Old School” (U.K.) • Director Jono McLeod tells the strange-but-true story of Brian MacKinnon, who in 1993 enrolled in a Scottish high school, saying he was 15 years old — when he was actually 30. Actor Alan Cumming appears in the film.
“The Princess” (U.K.) • Director Ed Perkins tells the story of Princess Diana, through archival footage from her time — looking at her life, her death and how she changed how the world looks at the monarchy. (This movie is a “Day One” selection, screening on the festival’s opening night.)
“Resurrection” • A single mother (Rebecca Hall) sees a dangerous man from her past, which threatens to upend her carefully constructed life, in this thriller written and directed by Andrew Semans. The cast includes Tim Roth, Grace Kaufman, Michael Esper and Angela Wong Carbone.
“2nd Chance” • Indie filmmaker Ramin Bahrani (“The White Tiger,” “99 Homes”) directs this documentary profile of Richard Davis, a bankrupt pizzeria owner who invented the modern-day bulletproof vest — and shot himself 192 times to prove it worked — in the story of a man’s rise and fall.
“Sharp Stick” • Lena Dunham wrote, directed and co-stars in this comedy, about a mother and two daughters on Hollywood’s fringes — and what happens with one daughter, at age 26, starts an affair with her older boss. The cast includes Kristine Froseth, Jon Bernthal, Scott Speedman, Taylour Paige and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
“To the End” • Director Rachel Lears, whose “Knock Down the House” (SFF ’19) introduced the world to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, follows four women of color upending the political status quo to fight for the Green New Deal.
“We Need to Talk About Cosby” • Comedian and CNN host W. Kamau Bell directed this documentary, which raises the age-old question about whether one can separate the art from the artist, using disgraced comic Bill Cosby as the focal point.
“When You Finish Saving the World” • Actor Jesse Eisenberg makes his feature writing and directing debut with this comedy-drama, about a mother (Julianne Moore) and her teen son (Finn Wolfhard), each looking to replace the other — with the mom trying to parent a teen at her shelter, and the son pursuing a brilliant young woman at school.
“Babysitter” (Canada) • A man (Patrick Hivon) tries to rid himself of sexism and misogyny, after a sexist joke goes viral and gets him fired. His efforts irritate his girlfriend (Monia Chokri, the film’s director), but the arrival of a mysterious and liberated babysitter (Nadia Tereszkiewcz) shake things up. Catherine Léger wrote the screenplay; the supporting cast includes Steve Laplante and Hubert Proulx.
“Fresh” • A young woman (Daisy Edgar-Jones) learns her new boyfriend (Sebastian Stan) has some “unusual appetites,” in this thriller directed by Mimi Cave and written by Lauryn Kahn. Also starring Jojo T. Gibbs, Charlotte Le Bon, Andrea Bang and Dayo Okeniyi. (This movie is a “Day One” selection, screening on the festival’s opening night.)
“Hatching” (Finland) • A young gymnast (Siiri Solalinna) finds an egg and takes care of it — with shocking results when it hatches. Directed by Hanna Bergholm and written by Ilja Rautsi, the horror thriller also stars Jani Volanen, Sophia Heikkilä, Saija Lentonen, Reino Nordin and Oiva Ollila.
“Meet Me in the Bathroom” (U.K.) • Based on Lizzy Goodman’s book, an oral history of New York’s music scene shortly after 9/11, this documentary tells of a new generation of artists — bands like The Strokes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsystem, Interpol and Vampire Weekend — that shook the world. Directed by Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace, who directed the LCD Soundsystem doc “Shut Up and Play the Hits” (SFF ‘12).
“Piggy” (Spain) • When the girls who tease Sara (Laura Galán) were kidnapped by a stranger, Sara faces a choice: Speak up and save the girls, or stay quiet to protect the man who spared her. Carlota Pereda directed and wrote this thriller.
“Speak No Evil” (Denmark) • A Danish family visits a Dutch family they met on holiday, but things turn sour when the Danes try to stay polite as unpleasant things happen. Director Christian Tafdrup co-wrote the screenplay with Mads Tafdrup. The cast includes Morten Burian, Sidsel Siem Koch, Fedja van Huêt, Karina Smulders, Liva Forsberg and Marius Damslev.
“After Yang” • In his follow-up to “Columbus” (SFF ‘17), writer-director Kogonada takes us to the near future, when a father (Colin Farrell) and daughter (Malek Emma Tjandrawidjaja) try to save the life of their robotic family member, Yang (Justin H. Min). The supporting cast includes Jodie Turner-Smith and Haley Lu Richardson. (This film has been named the winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Prize, given to a festival film that explores themes of science and technology.)
“Happening” (France) • A college student (Anamaria Vartolomei) in France, 1963, becomes pregnant — and resolves to get an abortion, even if it means risking prison. Director Audrey Diwan adapted Annie Ernaux’s novel with writer Alice Girard. The supporting cast includes Kacey Mottet-Klein, Luana Bajrami, Louise Chevillotte and Pio Marmai.
“Neptune Frost” (U.S. / Rwanda) • An intersex hacker and a coltan miner join a collective at a camp at an e-waste dump in Rwanda, where plans are afoot to overthrow the authoritarian regime in charge. Slam poet Saul Williams wrote the screenplay, and co-directed with Anisia Uzeyman. The cast includes Cheryl Isheja, Elvis Ngabo “Bobo”, Bertrand Ninteretse “Kaya Free”, Eliane Umuhire, Rebecca Muciyo and Trésor Niyongabo.
“Three Minutes - A Lengthening” (Netherlands) • Writer-director Bianca Stigter’s documentary examines three minutes of footage — the only moving images of the Jewish inhabitants of Nasielsk, a Polish town, before the Holocaust — to find historical and personal dimensions. Helena Bonham Carter narrates.
“The Worst Person in the World” (Norway) • Writer-director Joachim Trier’s romantic comedy-drama has wowed critics, serves as Norway’s entry for the Academy Awards, and earned a best-actress award at Cannes for its star, Renate Reinsve. She plays Julie, shown over four years struggling in her career and love life. Also starring Anders Danielsen Lie and Herbert Nordrum. (This movie is a “Day One” selection, screening on the festival’s opening night.)
“Maika” (Vietnam) • A meteor brings an alien girl, Maika, to Earth, searching for her lost friend. She receives help from Hung, an 8-year-old boy, and she helps him make friends and heal a broken heart. Written and directed by Ham Tran (“Journey From the Fall,” SFF ‘06), and adapted from a 1978 Czech TV series, the film stars Phu Truong, Diep Anh Tru, Tin Tin, Ngoc Tuong and Kim Nha.
“Summering” • Director James Ponsoldt (“Smashed,” SFF ‘12; “The Spectacular Now,” SFF ‘13), co-writing with Benjamin Percy, tells the story of four girls on the summer weekend just before entering middle school. The grown-ups in the cast include Lake Bell, Megan Mullally and Sarah Cooper.
“Last Flight Home” • Ondi Timoner, the only director to win Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize for documentaries twice (“Dig!” in 2004 and “We Live in Public” in 2009) returns for this portrait at her father, Eli, who died by suicide on March 3, 2021 at age 92. The family looks at Eli’s remarkable life, along with a shame he carried for 40 years. The screening will include an extended Q&A.
From the Collection
“Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.” • Writer-director Lesle Harris’ 1992 film follows Chantel Mitchell (Ariyan Johnson), a smart, confident, witty Brooklyn high school girl, determined to become a doctor and make it out of her neighborhood. The movie has been digitally restored for its 30th anniversary, with a new DCP created in collaboration with the Sundance Institute, the UCLA Film & Television Archive, and the Academy Film Archive branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Indie Episodic program
“Bring on the Dancing Horses” • Director-writer Michael Polish (“Twin Falls Idaho,” SFF ‘99) teams with his wife, Kate Bosworth, for this story of an assassin completing her list of targets to find her own form of justice. The supporting cast includes Jasper Polish, Lance Henriksen, Happy Anderson, DJ Qualls and Thomas Francis Murphy.
“Chiqui” • A couple emigrates from Colombia to the U.S. in 1987, to find a better life for their unborn son — but the American dream is harder to reach than they thought. Carlos Cardona is the writer-director; the cast includes Brigitte Silva, Sebastián Beltranini, Catherine French and Gregg Prosser.
“Culture Beat” • Calling itself “the love child of ‘Da Ali G Show’ and ‘Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,’” this show looks at high culture institution through its characters’ lowbrow lens. Directors Andre Hyland (“The 4th,” SFF ‘16) and Kitao Sakurai wrote with Eric Andre; Hyland is the show’s onscreen guide.
“The Dark Heart” (Sweden) • In a mythological landscape, a story of family feuds, inheritances and forbidden love plays out. Directed by Gustav Möller and written by Oskar Söderlund, the cast includes Aliette Opheim, Clara Christiansson Drake, Gustav Lindh and Peter Andersson.
“Instant Life” • This documentary series follows Yolanda Signorelli Von Braunhut, heir to her late husband Harold’s “Amazing Live Sea Monkeys” novelty, as she fights legal battles to fully win them back. Directed by Mark Becker and Aaron Schock.
“My Trip to Spain” • Writer-director Theda Hammel plays Alexis, a successful trans woman who’s heading to Spain for cosmetic surgery — a plan her old friend Charlie (John Early), who is housesitting for her, thinks is a bad idea. Also starring Gordon Landenberger.
New Frontier exhibits
The New Frontier program features virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed (XR) artworks that will be available in person at The Craft, 950 Iron Horse Drive, Park City, as well as on Sundance’s virtual platform, The Spaceship. Some ticketed performances will be shown at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., Park City, with simultaneous presentations on The Spaceship.
According to the Sundance Institute, the New Frontier works include:
“Atua” (New Zealand) • Lead artists: Tanu Gago, Jermaine Dean. Key collaborators: Kat Lintott, Carthew Neal, Nacoya Anderson. “Reimagining the realm of Pacific gods in this sculptural AR experience. Claiming space for gender diverse communities impacted by colonial contact, to see themselves reflected as vital to their cultural heritage and an intrinsic part of the cosmos.”
“Child of Empire” (U.K.) • Lead artists: Sparsh Ahuja, Erfan Saadati, Stephen Stephenson, Omi Zola Gupta. Key collaborators: Sam Dalyrmple, Saadia Gardezi, Jayosmita Ganguly. “Experience the largest forced migration in human history, the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan. Embody the childhood memories of two survivors, as they reflect on their journeys across a divided homeland.”
“Cosmogony” (Switzerland) • Lead artists: Gilles Jobin, Susana Panadés Diaz, Camilo de Martino, Tristan Siodlak. Key collaborator: Pierre-Igor Berthet. “A live digital performance in which 3 dancers are motion-captured in Geneva and projected remotely in real time.”
“Diagnosia” • Lead artists: Mengtai Zhang, Lemon Guo. Producers: Mengtai Zhang, Lemon Guo, Yue Huang. “In this VR experience, the director locks us inside his teenage memories of being incarcerated in a military-operated internet addiction camp in Beijing in 2007, where internet addiction and other youth issues were treated as severe mental disorders, and sometimes by violent means.”
“Flat Earth VR” (Brazil) • Lead artist: Lucas Rizzotto. “VR is known as the ultimate empathy machine that lets users experience others’ perspectives. But what happens when those perspectives are delusional? Experience the ultimate flat-earther fantasy: ascend into the stars and prove all globe-earthers wrong by taking photos of the planet as it truly is: flat like a pancake.”
“Gondwana” (Australia) • Lead artists: Ben Joseph Andrews, Emma Roberts. Key collaborators: Lachlan Sleight, Michelle Brown, The Convoy. “A durational VR experience that runs over 24 hours, and a constantly-evolving virtual ecosystem chronicling the possible futures of the world’s oldest tropical rainforest, the Daintree. Powered by climate data, each showing is unrepeatable and speculative, a meditation on time, change and loss in an irreplaceable landscape.”
“The Inside World” • Lead artists: Jennifer McCoy, Kevin McCoy. Key collaborators: Annie J. Howell, Peter Rostovsky. “The city of Las Vegas is now operated by artificial intelligence. Fourteen AI ‘Managers’ handle every sector of the city. The problem is, one of them is secretly human. Digital Art NFTs meet gameplay in this community driven mystery.”
“On the Morning You Wake (To the End of the World)” (U.K.) • Lead artists: Dr. Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio, Mike Brett, Steve Jamison, Arnaud Colinart, Pierre Zandrowicz. Key collaborators: Jo-Jo Ellison, Bobby Krlic. “On a regular Saturday morning in January 2018, as Hawaiian citizens went about their daily routines, the entire state population received an SMS from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, which read: ‘Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.’”
“Seven Grams” (France) • Lead Artist: Karim Ben Khelifa. Key collaborators: TT Hernandez, Quentin Noirfalisse. “An entirely new way for people to understand the human cost that went into producing their smartphones. This project brings the Democratic Republic of Congo’s tragic mining industry straight to the smartphone that its mineral resources helped make, via an app on both iOS and Android systems.”
“The State of Global Peace” • Lead artist: Daanish Masood Alavi. Key collaborators: Igal Nassima, Erica Newman. “The prime minister of a fictitious country – played by you – is about to deliver a speech at a virtual UN General Assembly in the near future. A group of students hijacks the security system and takes over the screens, asking to have a dialogue.”
“Suga’- A Live Virtual Dance Performance” • Lead artist: Valencia James. Key collaborators: Thomas Wester, Simon Boas. “An immersive experience that features live dance performance as volumetric video in social virtual reality space. The performance weaves together movement, family stories, and cultural heritage to imagine virtual environments as a site for healing and reclamation of spaces that were historically filled with pain and injustice.”
“Surrogate” • Lead artist: Lauren Lee McCarthy. Key collaborators: Dorothy R. Santos, David Leonard, Stefanie Tam. “How do we relate to the future while living in a world in crisis? Amidst climate change, inequity, and pandemic, it’s no longer possible to view ourselves as separate from past and future. How much control should we have over a birthing person’s body, and a life before it’s born?”
“They Dream in My Bones - Insemnopedy II” (France) • Lead artist: Faye Formisano. Key collaborators: Ludovic De Oliveira, Lilou-Magali Robert, Cindy Coutant. “Immersed on virtual veils, this VR360 experience tells the story of Roderick Norman, a researcher in onirogenetics, the science he founded, which makes it possible to extract dreams from an unidentified skeleton at the frontier of gender and the human.”
“32 Sounds” • Lead artist: Sam Green. “An immersive documentary and sensory film experience that explores the elemental phenomenon of sound and its power to bend time, cross borders, and profoundly shape our perception of the world around us. The film will be presented in its ‘live cinema’ form, featuring live music and live narration.” (This movie is a “Day One” selection, screening on the festival’s opening night, simultaneously at the Egyptian Theatre in Park City and on the festival’s virtual port, The Spaceship.)
“This Is Not A Ceremony” (Canada) • Lead artist: Ahnahktsipiitaa (Colin Van Loon). Key collaborators: Olivier Leroux, James Monkman, Jessica Dymond. “Darkly humorous and occasionally caustic, this cinematic VR experience offers insights into the struggles and conflicts of growing up an Indigenous man.”
Sundance programmers have chosen 59 short films that will screen in-person and on the festival’s online portal Jan. 20-30. The festival will also show, online, a “From the Collection” slate of 40 short films from past festivals — some from directors who have gone on to big things, such as Taika Waititi (“Jojo Rabbit,” “Thor: Ragnarok”) and Destin Daniel Cretton (“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”). Synopses provided by the Sundance Institute.
U.S. Live Action Shorts
“Appendage” • Director and screenwriter: Anna Zlokovic. “A young fashion designer must make the best of it when her anxiety and self-doubt physically manifest into something horrific.” Cast: Rachel Sennott, Eric Roberts.
“Champ” • Director and screenwriter: Hannah Peterson. “After basketball practice one night, Genevieve reveals a dark secret about their coach to her teammates. Wielding strategy and grit off the court, Genevieve works together with her teammates to find a way to retaliate.” Cast: Eva Noblezada, Lulu Davis, Iris Cook, Madison Holden.
“Chaperone” • Director and screenwriter: Sam Max. “An unnamed figure picks up a young man in his car. As the two drive together, and settle into an austere rental house in the country, the details of their arrangement become guttingly clear.” Cast: Zachary Quinto, Russell Kahn.
“Close Ties to Home Country” • Director and screenwriter: Akanksha Cruczynski. “Millennial immigrant Akanksha waits for her sister’s visit from India — they haven’t seen each other in nine years! Meanwhile, she’s dog-sitting the fancy Frenchie of Instagram influencers India and Harry, who themselves are on a trip to India’s namesake.” Cast: Akanksha Cruczynski, Bisou [Timothée], Cassie Kramer, Simon Hedger, Sophia Rafiqi.
“Daddy’s Girl” • Director and screenwriter: Lena Hudson. “A young woman’s charming but overbearing father helps her move out of her wealthy, older boyfriend’s apartment.” Cast: Tedra Millan, Peter Friedman. World Premiere.
“F^¢K ‘€M R!GHT B@¢K” • Director: Harris Doran; screenwriters: Harris Doran, Emmanuel ‘DDm’ Williams. “A queer, Black, aspiring Baltimore rapper must outwit his vengeful day-job boss in order to avoid getting fired after accidentally eating an edible.” Cast: Emmanuel ‘DDm’ Williams, Kara Young, Catherine Curtin.
“Hallelujah” • Director and screenwriter: Victor Gabriel. “In Compton, California, two brothers stuck in arrested development have to figure out how to handle their annoying, fried-chicken-hating, bookworm nephew, as he attempts to hang himself with a garden hose.” Cast: Bruce A. Lemon, Richard Nevels, Stephen Laroy Thomas, Mariah Pharms, Damon Rutledge, Maelina Gibson.
“Huella” • Director and screenwriter: Gabriela Ortega. “When the death of her grandmother unleashes a generational curse, a disenchanted flamenco dancer resigned to a desk job is forced to experience the five stages of grief through a visit from her female ancestors.” Cast: Shakira Barrera, Denise Blasor, Carla Valentine.
“If I Go Will They Miss Me” • Director and screenwriter: Walter Thompson-Hernández. “Lil’ Ant is obsessed with Pegasus, the Greek mythological character, since first learning about him at school in Watts, California. He begins to notice imaginary airplane people around his home, and yearns to fly with them.” Cast: Anthony Harris Jr.
“Starf---ers” • Director and screenwriter: Antonio Marziale. “An intimate evening between a film director and an escort is disrupted when a familiar face arrives.” Cast: Antonio Marziale, Cole Doman, Jonathan Slavin.
“Training Wheels” • Director and screenwriter: Alison Rich. “A socially inept woman rents one man to prepare for another.” Cast: Alison Rich, George Basil, Jack Cutmore-Scott, Zeke Nicholson, Kathy Yamamoto. (This film will be part of the short-film program screening on the festival’s “Day One” opening night.)
“While Mortals Sleep” • Director and screenwriter: Alex Fofonoff. “When a cold case novelist’s career implodes, she seeks refuge at her friend’s remote vacation home. Upon arrival, she encounters a strange couple who claim to be the caretakers. As tensions build, a dark secret begins to emerge.” Cast: Carie Kawa, Grace Morrison, Will Brill.
“Work” • Director and screenwriter: April Maxey. “Unable to move on from a breakup, Gabi, a queer Latina freelance editor, impulsively drops into an old job at an underground lap dance party, where she unexpectedly runs into a friend from her past.” Cast: Marisela Zumbado, Elaine Whae.
“You Go Girl!” • Director: Shariffa Ali; screenwriters: Shariffa Ali, Kamilah Long, Courtney Williams. “Audrey, a New York City comedian who can make a joke of any situation, faces a staggering challenge in the beautiful mountains of Oregon. Can this city woman overcome her fears and rise?” Cast: Tiffany Mann.
International Live-Action Shorts
“Breathe” (New Zealand) • Director and screenwriter: Stephen Kang. “At 12 years old, gifted Jaehee uses an unorthodox healing method that propels her into conflict with her overbearing father.” Cast: Gloria Zhang, CJ Hwang.
“Bump” (Canada) • Director and screenwriter: Maziyar Khatam. “A young man’s unwillingness to let go of a trivial encounter leads him to seek retribution.” Cast: Maziyar Khatam, Dylan Ray Hatton.
“Egúngún (Masquerade)” (Nigeria) • Director and screenwriter: Olive Nwosu. “In search of healing, a young woman returns home, to her birthplace: Lagos, Nigeria.” Cast: Sheila Chukwulozie, Teniola Aladese.
“The Headhunter’s Daughter” (Philippines) • Director and screenwriter: Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan. “Leaving her family behind, Lynn traverses the harrowing roads of the Cordilleran highlands to try her luck in the city as a country singer.” Cast: Ammin Acha-ur.
“Love Stories on the Move” (Romania) • Director and screenwriter: Carina Gabriela Dașoveanu. “Lili, a taxi driver, is trying to save her marriage with Dani, an amateur fisherman. Her fares expose Lili to several love stories really different from her own.” Cast: Ilinca Hărnuț, Andi Vasluianu.
“Maidenhood” (Mexico) • Director: Xochitl Enriquez Mendoza; screenwriters: Xochitl Enriquez Mendoza, Samuel Sánchez Tual. “Catalina submits to the tradition of her people to demonstrate her purity and worth as a woman to her beloved, but her body betrays her and she fails to demonstrate her chastity.” Cast: Emma Aquilar Malacara, Héctor Ortíz Valdovinos, Mayra Sérbulo, Maira Jiménez Desales.
“Makassar Is a City for Football Fans” (Indonesia / France) • Director and screenwriter: Khozy Rizal. “In a city where men have to go crazy about football, Akbar has to pretend to love the game in order to prevent rejection from his new college friends.” Cast: Sabri Sahafuddin, Muh. Saleh Hasanuddin, Atdriansyah Arismunandar. Winner of the Sundance Film Festival: Asia Short Film Competition. (This film will be part of the short-film program screening on the festival’s “Day One” opening night.)
“Motorcyclist’s Happiness Won’t Fit Into His Suit” (Mexico) • Director: Gabriel Herrera; screenwriters: Gabriel Herrera, Stefanie Reinhard. “There he sits, proudly on his beautiful motorbike, which he would never loan to anyone. He is certain that he alone can explore the jungle. A playful role-reversal reenactment, taking aim at the hubris of colonial conquerors.” Cast: David Illiescas, Ángel Morales.
“Orthodontics” (Islamic Republic of Iran) • Director and screenwriter: Mohammadreza Mayghani. “Teenage girl Amitis, who always has headgear as part of orthodontic treatment, suddenly does something strange to her friend, Sarah.” Cast: Maryam Hossieni, Yas Farkhondeh, Arezou Ali.
“Precious Hair & Beauty” (U.K.) • Director and screenwriter: John Ogunmuyiwa. “An ode to the mundanity and madness of the high street, told through the window of an African hair salon.” Cast: Tomi Ogunjobi, Adjani Salmon, Kemi Lofinmakin, Michael Akinsulire. (This film will be part of the short-film program screening on the festival’s “Day One” opening night.)
“Reckless” (Sweden) • Director and screenwriter: Pella Kågerman. “Stockholm, 2121: an underwater city is blasted into the bedrock. In a society on the verge of being crushed by mounting water pressure, Nikki’s highest wish is to get back together with her ex-boyfriend.” Cast: ElleKari Bergerud, Amed Bozan.
“The Right Words” (France) • Director and screenwriter: Adrian Moyse Dullin. “Kenza and her little brother Mahdi regularly humiliate one another on social media in cruel ways. As they travel by bus, Kenza puts her brother to the test: professing his love for Jada, the girl that he loves.” Cast: Yasser Osmani, Sanya Salhi, Aya Halal.
“Sandstorm (Mulaqat)” (Pakistan) • Director and screenwriter: Seemab Gul. “Zara, a teenage girl, shares a sensual dance video with her virtual boyfriend, who begins to blackmail her into meeting him in person. Will Zara give in to this stranger’s increasing demands or will she set herself free?” Cast: Parizae Fatima, Hamza Mushtaq.
“Shark” (Australia) • Director: Nash Edgerton; screenwriters: Nash Edgerton, David Michôd. “The continuing adventures of Jack, who loves to prank. But in his latest relationship he may have finally met his match.” Cast: Rose Byrne, Nash Edgerton. (This film will be part of the short-film program screening on the festival’s “Day One” opening night.)
“Tundra” (Cuba) • Director: José Luis Aparicio; screenwriter: Carlos Melian. “Walfrido dreams of the Red Woman, whose image persists and becomes an obsession. Something tells him she is near. Over the course of a day, Walfrido will follow her trail as he travels through the suburbs of an infested city.” Cast: Mario Guerra, Neysi Alpizar.
“Warsha” (France / Lebanon) • Director and screenwriter: Dania Bdeir. “A Syrian migrant working as a crane operator in Beirut volunteers to cover a shift on one of the most dangerous cranes, where he is able to find his freedom.” Cast: Khansa.
“A wild patience has taken me here” (Brazil) • Director and screenwriter: Érica Sarmet. “Tired of loneliness, a middle-aged motorcyclist goes to a lesbian party for the first time. There she meets four young queers who share their home and affections. An encounter of generations, a tribute to those who brought us here.” Cast: Zélia Duncan, Bruna Linzmeyer, Camila Rocha, Clarissa Ribeiro, Lorre Motta.
U.S. Nonfiction Shorts
“Chilly and Milly” • Director and screenwriter: William David Caballero. “Exploring the director’s father’s chronic health problems, as a diabetic with kidney failure, and his mother’s role as his eternal caretaker. A combination of 3D-modeled/composited characters, with cinema verité scenes from a documentary shot over 13 years ago.”
“Deerwoods Deathtrap” • Director: James P. Gannon. “Fifty years ago, Betty and Jack were hit by a train and survived. This is their story.” Subjects: Elizabeth Gannon, John W Gannon.
“Kicking the Clouds” • Director: Sky Hopinka. “An experimental documentary centered on a 50-year-old cassette tape of a Pechanga language lesson between the director’s grandmother and great-grandmother, and contextualized by an interview with his mother in his Pacific Northwest hometown.”
“Long Line of Ladies” • Directors: Rayka Zehtabchi, Shaandiin Tome. “A girl and her community prepare for her Ihuk, the once-dormant coming of age ceremony of the Karuk and Yurok tribes of Northern California.” (This film will be part of the short-film program screening on the festival’s “Day One” opening night.)
“The Martha Mitchell Effect” • Directors: Anne Alvergue, Debra McClutchy. “She was once as famous as Jackie O. And then she tried to take down a President. Martha Mitchell was the unlikeliest of whistleblowers: a Republican wife who was discredited by Nixon to keep her quiet. Until now.”
“The Panola Project” • Directors and screenwriters: Rachael DeCruz, Jeremy S. Levine. “Highlighting the heroic efforts of Dorothy Oliver to keep her small town of Panola, Alabama, safe from COVID-19. A chronicle of how an often-overlooked rural Black community came together in creative ways to survive.”
“Stranger Than Rotterdam with Sara Driver” • Directors: Lewie Kloster, Noah Kloster; screenwriter: Sara Driver. “In 1982, the completion of Jim Jarmusch’s sophomore film, ‘Stranger Than Paradise,’ hinged on producer Sara Driver’s willingness and ability to smuggle one of the world’s rarest and most controversial films across the Atlantic Ocean.” (This film will be part of the short-film program screening on the festival’s “Day One” opening night.)
“Sub Eleven Seconds” • “A rumination on time, loss, and hope, and a poetic imagining of the quest of Sha’Carri Richardson, a young track & field athlete, to achieve her dream of qualifying for the Olympic Games.”
“ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (Udeyonv) (What They’ve Been Taught)” • Director: Brit Hensel. “This film explores expressions of reciprocity in the Cherokee world, brought to life through a story told by an elder and first language speaker.”
“What Travelers Are Saying About Jornada del Muerto” • Director: Hope Tucker. “Visitors and residents of New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin, site of the first detonation of an atomic bomb, contribute to the production of public memory as they offer reckonings and advice about making ‘the journey of the dead.’”
“You’ve Never Been Completely Honest” • Director and screenwriter: Joey Izzo. “Through animation and reenactment, bringing to life Gene Church’s original, never-before-heard interview where he recounts harrowing physical torture and brainwashing he endured at a secretive 4-day business seminar in California, 1970.” Cast: Phil Burgers, Pat Healy, Max Baumgarten, Bill O’Neill, Ian Bratschie, Demorge Brown, Brian Lee Hughes.
International Nonfiction Shorts
“Displaced” (Kosovo) • Director and screenwriter: Samir Karahoda. “In postwar Kosovo, driven to keep their beloved sport table tennis alive, two local players wander from one obscure location to another carrying with them their club’s only possession: their tables.”
“Listen To the Beat of Our Images” (French Guiana / France) • Directors: Audrey Jean-Baptiste, Maxime Jean-Baptiste. “Sixty years ago, France decided to establish its space center in French Guiana. 600 Guianan people were expropriated to allow France to realize its dream of space conquest. This film gives a voice to a silenced population made invisible.”
“Prayers for Sweet Waters” (South Africa / U.K.) • Director: Elijah Ndoumbe. “Stories intersect across vivid realities and dreamscapes to submerge us into the worlds of three transgender sex workers living in Cape Town, South Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Lead artists: Flavirina Nana, Gulam Petersen, Wes Leal.
“$75,000″ (France / Mali) • Director and screenwriter: Moïse Togo. “Highlighting the biological aspect of albinism, a genetic and hereditary abnormality that affects not only pigmentation, but also and above all the physical and moral conditions of people with albinism.”
U.S. Animation Shorts
“the HORK” • Director: Nicole Stafford. “In an alternate dimension, the stoic god of Power-Unrecognized waits for unrelenting Greed to come and consume her power.”
“Meal on the Plate” (U.S. / China) • Director and screenwriter: Chenglin Xie. “You are what you eat. In a world where people start to look like the thing they eat most, you can take this quite literally. When a newcomer prefers different eating habits, the visible consequences turn the world upside down.”
“Soft Animals” (U.S. / U.K.) • Director: Renee Zhan. “Two ex-lovers cross paths in a train station. Their animal instincts take over as they reminisce.” Cast: Paul Panting, Joanna Ruiz.
“We Are Here” • Directors: Doménica Castro, Constanza Castro. “What is it like to walk this land in the shoes of an immigrant under 30? Reflections of the people that immigrated to the U.S. as children are a reminder to look beyond citizenship.” Cast: Dulce Valencia, Deron Ingraham, Valeria Marchesi.
International Animation Shorts
“Bestia” (Chile) • Director: Hugo Covarrubias; screenwriters: Martín Erazo, Hugo Covarrubias. “The life of a secret police agent during the Chilean military dictatorship. Her relationship with her dog, her body, her fears and frustrations all reveal grim fractures in her mind and in the country.”
“The Fourth Wall” (Islamic Republic of Iran) • Director and screenwriter: Mahboobeh Kalaee. “Home and family, relationships, desires, wishes: all captured in a kitchen. The stuttering boy is alone there, playing with his imagination.”
“Goodbye Jerome! (Au revoir Jérôme!)” (France) • Directors and screenwriters: Gabrielle Selnet, Adam Sillard, Chloé Farr. “Having just arrived in paradise, Jerome sets out to find his wife Maryline. In the course of his search, he sinks into a surreal and colorful world in which no one seems to be able to help him.” (This film will be part of the short-film program screening on the festival’s “Day One” opening night.)
“Night Bus” (Taiwan) • Director and screenwriter: Joe Hsieh. “On a late-night bus, a panicked scream shatters the night’s calm. A necklace is stolen, followed by a tragic and fatal road accident. The series of intriguing events that follows reveal love, hatred, and vengeance.” Cast: Shu Fang Chen, Ming Hsiu Tsai, Yu Fang Lee, Shing Ming Wang, Shang Sing Guo, Pi Li Yeh.
“Rendang of Death” (Indonesia) • Directors: Percolate Galactic, Andri “Yujin Sick”; screenwriter: Ryan S. Jackson. “In a quaint Padang restaurant, filled with people enjoying their lunch break, two bros put their friendship to the test when it turns out that only one plate remains of their favorite dish: The Rendang of Death.” Featuring: Alva “Dom” Delanova, Sandy Octavia G, Muhammad “Adjuy” Fajrur Rahmat, Unit Satuan Bengkel, Angelica Kosasih, PS Jati. Finalist in the Sundance Film Festival: Asia Short Film Competition.
“Socrates’ Adventures in the Under Ground” (Mexico) • Director and screenwriter. “A Marxist-Leninist-Maoist revision of the Allegory of the Cave, filled with talking animals who shall be late and bourgeois queens who would like to see you without head, exactly as Plato intended.”
“Swallow the Universe” (France) • Director and screenwriter: Nieto. “A blood-and-thunder saga of a young child lost in Manchuria’s deep jungles. His sudden presence creates complete anarchy in the fauna’s primitive world, until then perfectly organized.”
“Sweet Nothing” (Switzerland) • Directors and screenwriters: Joana Fischer, Marie-Christine Kenov. “Rosa is sunbathing in her garden while the gardener is working next door. She watches the gardener, increasingly intoxicated by the tender way he handles the flowers.” Voice Actors: Luana Brügger, Michael Lörli.
“Zoon” (Germany) • Director: Jonatan Schwenk; Screenwriters: Jonatan Schwenk, Merlin Flügel. “Residing in a dark swamp at the bottom of a nocturnal forest, a group of gleaming axolotls pursue lustful games. The creatures relish nuzzling one another and nibbling their companions’ limbs.”
From the Collection Shorts
“All Water Has a Perfect Memory” (U.S. / Mexico) • Director: Natalia Almada. “A poignant, experimental documentary that explores the effects of tragedy and remembrance on a bicultural family.” (SFF ‘02)
“Alone” • Director: Garrett Bradley (who later directed “Time,” SFF ‘20). “An investigation into the layers of mass incarceration and its shaping of the modern Black American family, seen through the eyes of a single mother in New Orleans, Louisiana.” (SFF ‘17, Short Film Jury Award: Nonfiction)
“Boneshaker” • Director: Nuotama Frances Bodomo. “Lost in America, an African family travels to a Louisiana church to find a cure for its problem child.” (SFF ‘13)
“Brotherhood” (Tunisia / U.S. / Canada / Qatar) • Director: Meryam Joobeur. “Tension rises between a hardened Tunisian shepherd and his son when the latter returns home after a long journey with a new wife.” (SFF ‘19)
“Bugcrush” • Director: Carter Smith. “A small-town high school loner’s fascination with a dangerously seductive new kid leads him into something much more sinister than he ever could have imagined.” (SFF ‘06, Jury Prize Short Filmmaking)
“The Burden” (Sweden) • Director: Niki Lindroth von Bahr. “In a dark musical enacted in a modern marketplace situated next to a large freeway, employees of various commercial venues deal with boredom and existential anxiety by performing cheerful musical turns. The apocalypse is a tempting liberator.” (SFF ‘18)
“Butter Lamp” (France / China) • Director: Hu Wei. “A photographer weaves unique links among nomadic families.” (SFF ‘14)
“Charlie and the Rabbit” • Directors: Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck, Robert Machoian. “Charlie, a four-year-old who loves Bugs Bunny, decides to hunt a rabbit of his own.” (SFF ‘10)
“Counterfeit Kunkoo” (India) • Director: Reema Sengupta. “Smita discovers a strange prerequisite to renting a home in middle-class Mumbai, a city that houses millions. She would make an ideal tenant, except for one glaring flaw — she is an Indian woman without a husband.” (SFF ‘18)
“Deer Flower” (U.S. / South Korea) • Director: Kangmin Kim. “Dujung, an elementary school student, goes to a farm in the suburbs with his parents. While his parents believe that the farm’s expensive and rare specialty will strengthen their son’s body, Dujung suffers side effects.” (SFF ‘16)
“Do No Harm” (Hong Kong) • Director: Roseanne Liang. “3 a.m. 1980s Hongjing. In an aging private hospital, a single-minded surgeon is forced to break her physician’s oath when violent gangsters storm in to stop a crucial operation.” (SFF ‘17)
“Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma” • Directors: Topaz Jones, rubberband. “The Black ABCs were born in 1970, when Black educators in Chicago developed alphabet flash cards to provide Black-centered teaching materials to the vastly white educational landscape. Fifty years later, 26 scenes provide an update to their meanings.” (SFF ‘21, Short Film Jury Award: Nonfiction)
“Family Remains” • Director: Tamara Jenkins (who later directed “Slums of Beverly Hills”). “A mother and daughter are marooned in a sleepy community 10 years after the disappearance of the girl’s father.” (SFF ‘94, Award for Excellence in Short Filmmaking)
“Fe26″ • Director: Kevin Jerome Everson. “Two gentlemen make a living hustling metal in Cleveland, Ohio.” (SFF ‘14)
“575 Castro St.” • Director: Jenni Olson. “Set to the original audio cassette recorded by Harvey Milk in November 1977 to be played ‘in the event of my death by assassination.’” (SFF ‘09)
“For Nonna Anna” (Canada) • Director: Luis De Filippis. “A trans girl caring for her Italian grandmother assumes that her nonna disapproves of her. Instead, she discovers a tender bond in their shared vulnerability.” (SFF ‘18, Short Film Special Jury Prize)
“Gesture Down (I Don’t Sing)” • Director: Cedar Sherbert. “A graceful and personal adaptation of the poem ‘Gesture Down to Guatemala’ by the late Native American writer James Welch.” (SFF ‘06)
“Greetings from Africa” • Director: Cheryl Dunye (who later directed “The Watermelon Woman”). “A candid view of the state of things in 1990s lesbian dating.” (SFF ‘95)
“Hold Up” • Director: Madeleine Olnek (who later directed “Wild Nights With Emily”). “A robber is after more than money at a convenience store holdup.” (SFF ‘06)
“Kitchen Sink” (New Zealand) • Director: Alison Maclean. “From the bowels of the kitchen sink comes a dark and tender love. A nightmare come true…” (SFF ‘91)
“La Corona (The Crown)” • Directors: Isabel Vega, Amanda Micheli. “Female murderers compete ferociously for a beauty pageant crown in prison.” (SFF ‘08, Honorable Mention Short Filmmaking)
“Las Palmas” (Sweden) • Director: Johannes Nyholm. “A middle-aged woman on a holiday in the sun tries to make new friends and have a good time.” (SFF ‘12)
“Mobilize” (Canada) • Caroline Monnet. “Guided expertly by those who live on the land and are driven by the pulse of the natural world, this story takes us on an exhilarating journey from the far north to the urban south.” (SFF ‘16)
“More Than Two Hours” (Iran) • Director: Ali Asgari. “A boy and girl wander the city at 3 a.m. looking for a hospital to cure the girl, but it’s much harder to find one than they thought.” (SFF ‘14)
“Primavera” (Mexico) • Director: Claudia Castillo. “Elba is an introverted and lonely teenager living with her mostly absent mother and her older sister, with whom she has an ambivalent relationship. When her sister decides to run away from home, Elba attends the goodbye party, resulting in an encounter that changes Elba’s outlook on life.” (SFF ‘14)
“Rejected” • Director: Don Hertzfeldt. “Twisted animated characters strive to survive in the family-friendly world of advertising.” (SFF ‘01)
“Shimásání” • Director: Blackhorse Lowe. “When Mary Jane finds a geography book that shows her an entirely new world, she must decide whether to maintain her traditional Navajo reservation lifestyle with her grandmother or go out into a larger world.” (SFF ‘10)
“Short Term 12″ • Director: Destin Daniel Cretton (”Just Mercy,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”). “A film about kids and the grown-ups who hit them.” SFF ‘09, Jury Prize Short Filmmaking.
“Sikumi” • Director: Andrew Okpeaha MacLean. “An Inuit hunter inadvertently becomes a witness to a murder.” (SFF ‘08, Jury Prize Short Filmmaking)
“Sister” (U.S. / China) • Director: Siqi Song. “A man thinks back to his childhood memories of growing up with an annoying little sister in China in the 1990s. What would his life have been like if things had gone differently?” (SFF ‘19)
“Solo un Cargador” (Peru) • Director: Juan Alejandro Ramírez. “A meticulously filmed documentary portrait of the hard life of the cargadores who trek through the mountains of Peru with baggage on their backs.” (SFF ‘05)
“Spider” (Australia) • Director: Nash Edgerton. “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.” (SFF ‘08, Honorable Mention Short Filmmaking. The new short “Shark,” listed above, is the third in a trilogy this film began.)
“The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal” • Director: Matt McCormick. “An experimental documentary that explores the artistic merits of graffiti clean-up programs.” (SFF ‘02)
“T” • Director: Keisha Rae Witherspoon. “A film crew follows three grieving participants of Miami’s annual ‘T Ball,’ where folks assemble to model RIP T-shirts and innovative costumes designed in honor of their dead.” (SFF ‘20)
“Tom Goes to the Bar” • Director: Dean Parisot (who later directed “GalaxyQuest” and “Bill & Ted Face the Music”). “Surrounded by wacky characters, Tom carries on a deadpan monologue while life in Pete’s Bar and Grill goes on around him.” (SFF ‘86)
“Trevor” • Director: Peggy Rajski. “A poignant and liberating look at a 13-year-old as he begins to discover his sexual identity.” (SFF ‘95, Honorable Mention Short Filmmaking. The film also helped launch The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people.)
“Two Cars, One Night” (New Zealand) • Director: Taika Waititi (“Jojo Rabbit,” “Thor: Ragnarok”). “A tale of first love. While waiting for their parents, two boys and a girl meet in the car park of a rural pub. What at first seems to be a relationship based on rivalry soon develops into a close friendship. We learn that love can be found in the most unlikely of places.” (SFF ‘04)
“Waves ‘98″ (Lebanon) • Director: Ely Dagher. “Disillusioned with his life in the suburbs of segregated Beirut, Omar makes a discovery that lures him into the depths of the city. He becomes immersed in a world that is so close yet so isolated from reality and finds himself struggling to retain his sense of home.” (SFF ‘16)
“Worst Enemy” • Director: Lake Bell. “A female misanthrope gets herself stuck in a full-body girdle.” (SFF ‘11)
“Your Dark Hair Ihsan” (U.S. / Morocco) • Director: Tala Hadid. “A man returns from Europe to his native city in northern Africa, where he remembers his childhood and the mother he lost as a boy.” (SFF ‘06)