After two years of virtual-only programming, to say organizers of the Sundance Film Festival are excited to get back to in-person screenings is an understatement.
They are, according to Joana Vicente, chief executive officer of the nonprofit Sundance Institute, “planning for a robust in-person festival.”
The institute on Wednesday announced the 2023 slate of feature films, 101 titles in all. In-person ticket packages and passes are still on sale, through Dec. 31, at festival.sundance.org/tickets. Online ticket packages and passes go on sale Dec. 13, and single film tickets go on sale Jan. 12.
The 2023 festival, set for Jan. 19-29 at venues in Park City and Salt Lake City, will be the first time since 2019 that the majority of Sundance events will be in-person. Many of the films will also be screened online, Jan. 24-29, so people across the country can see them.
Plans were in the works for in-person screenings at the 2022 festival, but those were canceled just two weeks before the festival was to start — because of a spike in COVID-19 cases nationwide.
In case there’s another sudden coronavirus surge, Vicente said, “of course we have to have a contingency plan. But I think the world has changed. It’s now a personal choice in terms of people taking the precautions that they need to take for their own health.”
Vicente is in charge of festival operations this year, after the departure in June of festival director Tabitha Jackson. Eugene Hernandez, co-founder of the film news outlet IndieWire and head of the New York Film Festival, joined Sundance as full-time festival director in November, but he won’t be putting his stamp on the event until 2024.
Describing the slate in just a few words is both difficult and easy, said senior programmer John Nein. He ultimately came up with six: “Diversity of form, genre and filmmakers.”
The films were chosen from 4,061 feature-film submissions, and the slate represents work from 23 countries. Of the 115 directors of the 101 feature films, 32 of them — 28% — are first-time filmmakers.
Of the 101 feature films, 53% were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as women. Another 5% were directed by filmmakers who identify as nonbinary; 45% were directed by someone who identify as a person of color; 20% of the films were made by filmmakers who identify as LGBTQ+; and 3% of the films were directed by someone who identifies as a person with a disability.
The 2023 slate is a good mix of known actors — including Phoebe Dynevor (”Bridgerton”), Alexander Skarsgard, Sarah Snook (”Succession”), Anne Hathaway, Adam Lambert, Penelope Cruz, and even an ocean documentary narrated by “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa — and new faces.
Personality-driven documentaries are prominent, with films about Indigo Girls, Michael J. Fox, Brooke Shields and Little Richard expected to draw attention.
Only one movie on the slate has a clear tie to Utah: The wonderfully titled “Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out,” in the Kids category. The family-friendly comedy was filmed in Utah, and its director, Jake Van Wagoner, is a veteran of BYUtv’s sketch comedy series “Studio C.”
For Kim Yutani, the festival’s director of programming, the Day One Features — a collection of 11 features and a shorts program — illustrates the festival’s range precisely.
“Each film represents a section of the entire festival in that first day,” Yutani said. She noted some of the titles: “Shayda” (in the World Cinema Dramatic competition) follows the story of an Iranian mother who finds refuge in an Australian women’s shelter, and “Little Richard: I Am Everything” (in the U.S. Documentary competition) profiles the flamboyant rock pioneer and dives into the Black and queer origins of rock ‘n’ roll.
“We’re a festival that really believes in every form of storytelling, having some way of being personally expressive,” Nein said, “whether it’s genre filmmaking, drawn from personal experience, [or] it’s science fiction.”
One theme Yutani noticed, she said, is the prevalence of complex characters across the board. “It’s really interesting to see so many characters that are almost like anti-heroes this year,” she said.
In Park City, opening night will be a bit different this year, with Sundance veteran and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” director Ryan Coogler being honored alongside others who have benefited from the Sundance support system at the “A Taste of Sundance” fundraiser.
“It will be a night of celebration of Sundance,” Vicente said. “[We’re] hoping to fundraise so we can support all of the amazing programs we do year-round.”
Festival attendees will notice some familiar venues — such as the MARC and the Temple Theatre in Park City — are out-of-service this year. On the other hand, the festival is expanding in Salt Lake City, with the addition of the nine-theater Megaplex at The Gateway downtown.
More information on in-person ticket packages, online ticket packages and single film tickets can be found on festival.sundance.org/tickets.
The festival is still looking for volunteer assistance in online and in-person roles, applications are open at sundance.org/festivals/sundance-film-festival/volunteer/.
The festival’s short-film selections will be announced Dec. 13.
Here is the slate of 110 films selected for the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, including the five new films and four “encore special screenings” announced Wednesday, Jan. 4. (All films were produced in the United States, unless otherwise noted.)
U.S. Dramatic Competition
“The Accidental Getaway Driver” • Three recently escaped convicts in Orange County, Calif., take an elderly Vietnamese cab driver hostage in this film, directed by Sing J. Lee, written by Lee and Christopher Chen, and based on a true story (written up in a 2017 GQ article). Starring Hiệp Trần Nghĩa, Dustin Nguyen, Dali Benssalah, Phi Vũ and Gabrielle Chan. (Available online.)
“All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt” • Writer-director Raven Jackson expands on her 2019 short, in a decades-spanning look at a woman’s life in Mississippi. The cast includes Charleen McClure, Moses Ingram, Kaylee Nicole Johnson, Reginald Helms Jr., Sheila Atim and Chris Chalk. (Available online.)
“Fair Play” • In writer-director Chloe Domont’s feature debut, a young couple (Alden Ehrenreich and Phoebe Dynevor) are pushed to the brink by an unexpected promotion at a cutthroat hedge fund. Also starring Eddie Marsan. (Available online.)
“Fancy Dance” • Erica Tremblay directed and co-wrote, with Miciana Alise, this story of a Native American hustler who kidnaps her niece — the daughter of her missing sister — from the child’s white grandparents, and heads out to the state powwow in hopes of keeping what’s left of her family intact. Starring Lily Gladstone, Isabel Deroy-Olson, Ryan Begay, Shea Whigham and Audrey Wasilewski. (Available online.)
“Magazine Dreams” • An amateur bodybuilder (Jonathan Majors) pushes himself to the brink, while struggling to find human connection, in this drama from writer-director Elijah Bynum. Also stars Haley Bennett, Taylour Paige, Mike O’Hearn, Harrison Page and Harriet Sansom Harris. (Available online.)
“Mutt” • Feña (Lio Mehiel), a trans man, encounters three people from his past on one hectic New York City day, in this drama by writer-director Vuk Lungulov-Klotz. Also starring Cole Doman, MiMi Ryder and Alejandro Goic. (Available online.)
“The Persian Version” • When the patriarch of a large Iranian American family has a heart transplant, his wife and their estranged daughter discover a family secret that sends both digging into the past — between America and Iran over decades — to learn they’re more alike than they know. Directed and written by Maryam Keshavarz, the movie stars Layla Mohammadi, Niousha Noor, Kamand Shafieisabet, Bella Warda, Bijan Daneshmand and Shervin Alenabi. (Available online.)
“Shortcomings” • Actor Randall Park (“Ant-Man and the Wasp,” “WandaVision”) makes his directing debut with this comedy-drama, following Ben (Justin H. Min), Miko (Ally Maki) and Alice (Sherry Cola) on a cross-country trip, in search of the ideal connection. Written by Adrian Tomine, the movie also stars Debby Ryan, Tavi Gevinson and Sonoya Mizuno. (Available online.)
“Sometimes I Think About Dying” • Daisy Ridley stars as Fran, who makes a connection with the new guy at work (Dave Merheje) — if only she can stay out of her own way with her thoughts on dying. Directed by Rachel Lambert, written by Kevin Armento, Stefanie Abel Horowitz and Katy Wright-Mead, the cast includes Parvesh Cheena, Marcia DeBonis, Meg Stalter and Brittany O’Grady. (Available online.) This is a Day One film.
“The Starling Girl” • Eliza Scanlen (“Little Women”) stars as Jem, a 17-year-old girl trying to find her place in a Christian fundamentalist community, which is upended when her magnetic youth paster, Owen (Lewis Pullman), returns to their church. Written and directed by Laurel Akira Parmet, the film also stars Jimmi Simpson, Wrenn Schmidt, Austin Abrams and Jessamine Burgum. (Available online.)
“Theater Camp” • Molly Gordon (“Shiva Baby”) and Ben Platt (“Dear Evan Hansen”) star in this comedy about a dilapidated theater camp in upstate New York, whose eccentric staff teams up with the comatose founder’s crypto-bro son to keep the place afloat. The cast includes Noah Galvin, Jimmy Tatro, Patti Harrison and Ayo Edebiri. Gordon and Nick Lieberman (who has directed most of Platt’s music videos) directed the film, and wrote it with Galvin and Platt. (Available online.)
“A Thousand and One” • In writer-director A.V. Rockwell’s crime story, Inez (Teyana Taylor) commits what she’s sure is her last, necessary crime: Kidnapping her 6-year-old son, Terry (Aaron Kingsley Adetola), from the foster care system — as they try to reclaim their sense of home, identity and stability in New York City. The cast includes Will Catlett, Josiah Cross and Aven Courtney. (Available online.)
U.S. Documentary Competition
“Aum: The Cult at the End of the World” • Directors Ben Braun and Chiaki Yanagimoto examine Aum Shinrikyo, the cult responsible for the a deadly nerve gas attack in the Tokyo subway on March 20, 1995 — in a documentary that involves the participation of some who lived through it. (Available online.)
“Bad Press” • Directors Rebecca Landsberry-Baker and Joe Peeler tell the story of a rogue reporter works to expose the corruption within the Muscogee Nation — which suddenly begins censoring its free press — in a historic battle whose ripples are felt across Indian country. (Available online.)
“Beyond Utopia” • The description from Sundance leaves a big mystery for director Madeleine Gavin’s documentary to reveal, as the filmmaker uses hidden cameras to capture “the perilous high-stakes journey as we embed with families attempting to escape oppression, ultimately revealing a world most of us have never seen.” (Available online.)
“The Disappearance of Shere Hite” • How did Shere Hite — whose 1976 best-seller “The Hite Report” compiled thousands of anonymous surveys for a shocking look at the female orgasm — disappear? Director Nicole Newnham, who co-directed “Crip Camp” (SFF ‘20), examines. (Available online.)
“Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project” • The poet Nikki Giovanni is profiled, talking about her life and times from the civil rights movement to Black Lives Matter, through intimate verité and archival footage, as well as visual depictions of her poetry. Directors Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson previously made “American Promise” (SFF ‘13). (Available online.)
“Going Varsity in Mariachi” • High school mariachi is competitive, nowhere more so than in the south Texas border areas — where the teen captains of Edinburg North High School, guided by coach Abel Acuña, work to create state champions out of inexperienced musicians on a tight budget. Directed by Alejandra Vasquez and Sam Osborn. (Available online.)
“Joonam” • Director Sierra Urich tells the complex story of her mother, who left Iran for America, and her grandmother, who stayed behind. (Available online.)
“Little Richard: I Am Everything” • An exuberant profile of Little Richard digs into the Black queer roots of rock ‘n’ roll, finally cutting through the whitewashed canon of American pop music. Directed by Lisa Cortés. (Available online.) This is a Day One film.
“Nam June Paik: Moon is the Oldest TV” • Director Amanda Kim profiles the artist Nam June Paik, who used technology as a canvas and predicted the fascist tendencies and intercultural understanding that would arise from today’s interconnected metaverse. (Available online.)
“A Still Small Voice” • Director Luke Lorentzen follows an aspiring hospital chaplain through a yearlong residency in spiritual care — where she learns that to tend to her patients, she must look deep within herself. (Available online.)
“The Stroll” • The history of New York’s Meatpacking District, told from the perspective of transgender sex workers who lived and worked there. Kristen Lovell, who walked “The Stroll” for a decade, and Zackary Drucker are the directors. (Available online.)
“Victim/Suspect” • Director Nancy Schwartzman follows investigative journalist Rae de Leon, who travels the country to examine a shocking pattern: Young women report their sexual assaults to the police, who arrest the women and charge them with filing a false report. (Available online.)
World Cinema Dramatic Competition
“Animalia” (France, Morocco, Qatar) • When aliens land in Morocco, a young pregnant woman finds emancipation, in a film by writer-director Sofia Alaoui, whose “So What If the Goats Die” won SFF’s Grand Jury Prize for shorts in 2020. (Available online.)
“Bad Behaviour” (New Zealand) • Actor Alice Englert directed, wrote and co-stars in this drama, playing the stuntwoman daughter of a former child star (Jennifer Connelly) who seeks enlightenment at a retreat led by a spiritual leader (Ben Whishaw). Also stars Ana Scotney, Dasha Nekrasova and Marlon Williams. (Available online.)
“Girl” (United Kingdom) • In writer-director Adura Onashile’s drama, the relationship between an 11-year-old girl and her mother is tested by the hostile outside world. The cast includes Déborah Lukumuena, Danny Sapani, Le’Shantey Bonsu and Liana Turner. (Available online.)
“Heroic” (Mexico, Sweden) • Luis, an 18-year-old with Indigenous roots, aims to ensure a better future by entering the rigid and brutal Heroic Military College, which will try to turn him into the perfect soldier. Written and directed by David Zonana, the movie stars Santiago Sandoval Carbajal, Fernando Cuautle, Mónica del Carmen, Esteban Caicedo, Carlos Gerardo García and Isabel Yudice. (Available online.)
“Mamacruz” (Spain) • A religious grandmother (Kiti Mánver), with help from her newly emigrated daughter, goes onto the internet for the first time — and faces a dilemma when she encounters porn. Director Patricia Ortega co-wrote this comedy-drama with José Ortuño.
“Mami Wata” (Nigeria) • Two sisters (Evelyne Ily and Uzoamaka Aniunoh) have to fight to save their village — and restore the glory of the titular mermaid goddess — when outside forces intrude, in writer-director C.J. “Fiery” Obasi’s thriller. Also starring Kelechi Udegbe, Emeka Amakeze, Rita Edochie and Tough Bone. (Available online.)
“La Pecera” (Puerto Rico, Spain) • With her cancer spreading, Noella returns to her native Vieques, Puerto Rico, reuniting with her family — who are still dealing with the consequences of the U.S. Navy’s 60 years of military practices there. Written and directed by Glorimar Marrero Sánchez, the film stars Isel Rodríguez, Modesto Lacén, Magali Carrasquillo, Maximiliano Rivas, Anamín Santiago and Idenisse Salamán. (Available online.)
“Scrapper” (United Kingdom) Writer-director Charlotte Regan’s comedy-drama centers on Georgie (Lola Campbell), a 12-year-old living alone in a magic-filled London flat, until her estranged father (Harris Dickinson) shows up with a dose of reality. Also starring Alin Uzun, Ambreen Razia, Olivia Brady and Aylin Tezel. (Available online.)
“Shayda” (Australia) • An Iranian mother, Shayda, finds refuge with her 6-year-old daughter in an Australian women’s shelter over Persian New Year, taking comfort in rituals and new beginnings — until Shayda’s estranged husband shows up. Written and directed by Noora Niasari, the movie stars Zar Amir Ebrahimi, Osamah Sami, Leah Purcell, Jillian Nguyen, Mojean Aria and Selina Zahednia. (Available online.) This is a Day One film.
“Slow” (Lithuania, Spain, Sweden) Marija Kavtaradze wrote this romantic trama, about a dancer (Greta Grinevičiūtė) and a sign language interpreter (Kęstutis Cicėnas) tentatively beginning a relationship. (Available online.)
“Sorcery” (Chile, Mexico, Germany) • Set in the late 1800s on the remote island of Chiloé, off the coast of Chile, Rosa (Valentina Véliz) — an Indigenous girl working with her father on a farm — wants justice for the foreman who turns on her father, seeking help from the king from a powerful group of sorcerers. Directed by Christopher Murray, written by Murray and Pablo Paredes, the movie also stars Daniel Antivilo, Sebastian Hulk and Daniel Muñoz. (Available online.)
“When It Melts” (Belgium) • Eva (Charlotte De Bruyne) returns to her childhood village in the winter, years after a sweltering summer, with a block of ice in her car — confronting her past and facing her tormentors. Director Veerle Baetens co-wrote with Maarten Loix. Rosa Merchant plays Eva as a young girl. (Available online.)
World Cinema Documentary Competition
“Against the Tide” (India) • Two Indigenous fishermen, driven to desperation by a dying sea, find their friendship fracturing as they take different paths to provide for their families, in director Sarvnik Kaur’s documentary. (Available online.)
“The Eternal Memory” (Chile) • Director Maite Alberdi follows up her Oscar-nominated “The Mole Agent” (SFF ‘20) with this story of Augusto and Paulina, who have been together for 25 years. Augusto was diagnosed eight years ago with Alzheimer’s, and both fear the day that he no longer recognizes her. (Available online.)
“Fantastic Machine” (Sweden, Denmark) • With 45 billion cameras around the world (including, probably, one in your pocket), director and sociologists Axel Danielson and Maximilien Van Aertryck explore our obsession with the camera’s image, and the social consequences. (Available online.)
“5 Seasons of Revolution” (Germany, Syria, Netherlands, Norway) • The director, going by the single name Lina, tells her own story — that of an aspiring video journalist who starts capturing what’s happening around her. Because she lives in Damascus, Syria, that means she soon becomes a war reporter. (Available online.)
“Iron Butterflies” (Ukraine, Germany) • Director Roman Liubyi takes on the job of investigating the 2014 downing of flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, implicating the nation responsible for a still-unpunished war crime.
“Is There Anybody Out There?” (United Kingdom) • Director Ella Glendining, who gets around in a wheelchair, goes searching for people with the rare disability she has — and explores what it takes to love oneself fiercely, in the face of rampant ableism. (Available online.)
“The Longest Goodbye” (Israel, Canada) Director Ido Mizrahy follows a NASA psychologist trying to find the solution to one of the hardest challenges astronauts will face on the way to Mars: Social isolation. (Available online.) This is a Day One film.
“Milisuthando” (South Africa) • Writer-director Milisuthando Bongela — part of the generation that grew up during apartheid in South Africa but didn’t know it until it was over — looks at past, present and future in this chronicle of love, intimacy, race and belonging. (Available online.)
“Pianoforte” (Poland) • Director Jakub Piątek goes behind the scenes at the International Chopin Piano Competition, a chance of a lifetime for young pianists. (Available online.)
“Smoke Sauna Sisterhood” (Estonia, France, Iceland) • Women enter the darkness of a smoke sauna — part of the culture of southeast Estonia — to share their deepest secrets, dispensing with shame and regaining their strength through a communal experience. Directed by Anna Hints. (Available online.)
“20 Days in Mariupol” (Ukraine) • A team of Ukrainian journalists, trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol as the Russian invasion begins, try to continue their work documenting the war’s atrocities. Directed by Mstyslav Chernov. (Available online.)
“Twice Colonized” (Greenland, Denmark, Canada) • After the sudden death of her son, renowned Inuit lawyer Aaju Peter begins a journey to reclaim her language and culture, after a lifetime of whitewashing and forced assimilation. Directed by Lin Alluna. (Available online.)
“Bravo, Burkina!” • Walé Oyéjidé wrote and directed this tale of a Burkinabé boy’s many travels — first from his village to Italy, then through time to regain what he’s lost. The cast includes Alain Tiendrebeogo, Mousty Mbaye, Noel Minougou, Aissata Deme, Afissatou Coulibaly. (Available online.)
“Divinity” • In writer-director Eddie Alcazar’s thriller, two mysterious brothers abduct a mogul seeking immorality — while a seductive woman sends them on a journey of self-discovery. The cast includes Stephen Dorff, Moises Arias, Jason Genao, Karrueche Tran, Bella Thorne and Scott Bakula. (Available online.)
“Fremont” • Anaita Wali Zada plays Donya, a former translator for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, now working in a fortune cookie factory in San Francisco — who has a revelation, and decides to send a special message in a cookie. Director Babak Jalali co-wrote the film with Caroline Cavalli. The cast includes Jeremy Allen White and Gregg Turkington. (Available online.)
“Kim’s Video” • Filmmakers David Redmon and Ashley Sabin attempt to solve a mystery in this documentary: What happened to the legendary New York City video store Kim’s Video — and how did its 55,000 movies end up in Sicily? (Available online.) This is a Day One film.
“King Coal” • Is coal still king? Maybe not economically, but culturally it still is in Appalachia — as director Elaine McMillion Sheldon, a coal miner’s daughter herself, uses this documentary to look at how coal permeates the daily rituals of the region. (Available online.)
“Kokomo City” • Four Black transgender sex workers look at the divide between themselves and the Black community, confronting issues they have long avoided, in this documentary directed by D. Smith.
“To Live and Die and Live” • Writer-director Qasim Basir (“A Boy. A Girl. A Dream.”, SFF ‘18) returns with a story about Muhammad (Amin Joseph), who returns home to Detroit to settle his late stepfather’s accounts, while also struggling with addiction and depression. Also starring Skye P. Marshall, Omari Hardwick, Cory Hardrict, Dana Gourrier, Maryam Basir. (Available online.)
“The Tuba Thieves” • Writer-director Alison O’Daniel uses re-enactments of real events to mirror the experience of being hard of hearing — while recounting how tubas were stolen from L.A. high schools from 2011 to 2013 — in a documentary examining what it means to listen.
“Young. Wild. Free.” • Brandon (Algee Smith), a high school senior, is having enough problems with the responsibilities of his life, when the girl of his dreams robs him at gunpoint, in this drama directed by Thembi L. Banks and written by Juel Taylor and Tony Rettenmaier. The cast includes Sanaa Lathan, Sierra Capri and Mike Epps. (Available online.)
“birth/rebirth” • A single mom and a childless morgue technician reanimate a dead little girl, in this horror movie directed by Laura Moss and written by Moss and Brendan J. O’Brien. The cast includes Marin Ireland, Judy Reyes, A.J. Lister and Breeda Wool. This is a Day One film.
“In My Mother’s Skin” (Philippines) • A girl stranded in the Philippines during World War II tries to protect her dying mother — which is complicated when she mistakenly trusts a beguiling flesh-eating fairy. Written and directed by Kenneth Dagatan, the movie stars Beauty Gonzalez, Felicity Kyle Napuli, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, James Mavie Estrella and Angeli Bayani. (Available online.)
“Infinity Pool” (Canada) • Writer-director Brandon Cronenberg (“Possessor,” SFF ‘20) returns with this horror-mystery, with Alexander Skarsgård and Cleopatra Coleman as a couple on vacation at an all-inclusive beach resort — until a fatality exposes a subculture of hedonistic tourism, reckless violence and surreal horrors. Also starring Mia Goth.
“My Animal” (Canada) • In this thriller, Heather (Bobbi Salvör Menuez), an outcast goalie in a small northern town, falls for new kid Jonny (Amandla Stenberg), a figure skater — but Heather’s desires clash with her darkest secret. Directed by Jacqueline Castel and written by Jae Matthews, the movie also stars Stephen McHattie, Heidi von Palleske, Cory Lipman and Joe Apollonio.
“Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls” • In writer-director Andrew Bowser’s horror-comedy, Onyx (played by Bowser) joins a group of fellow occultists to attend a ritual at the mansion of their idol, Bartok the Great. Also starring Olivia Taylor Dudley, Jeffrey Combs, Ralph Ineson, Rivkah Reyes and T.C. Carson. (Available online.)
“Polite Society” (United Kingdom) • Nida Manzoor wrote and directed this action comedy, in which aspiring martial artist Ria Khan enlists her friends to pull off a wedding heist to save her older sister, Lena, from impending marriage. The movie stars Priya Kansara, Ritu Arya, Nimra Bucha, Akshay Khanna, Seraphina Beh and Ella Bruccoleri.
“Run Rabbit Run” (Australia) • “Succession’s” Sarah Snook plays a fertility doctor who must figure out her young daughter’s strange behavior, challenging her own beliefs and confronting a ghost from her past. Daina Reid directed and Hannah Kent wrote this horror-thriller, which also stars Lily LaTorre, Damon Herriman and Greta Scacchi. (Available online.) This is a Day One film.
“Talk to Me” (Australia) • A group of friends use an ancient embalmed hand to conjure spirits, and get hooked on the experience — until one of them, oops, opens the door to the spirit world. Danny Philippou wrote and directed this horror thriller, which stars Sophie Wilde, Miranda Otto, Alexandra Jensen, Joe Bird, Zoe Terakes and Otis Dhanji.
“Cassandro” • Gael García Bernal plays Saúl Armendáriz, a gay amateur wrestler from El Paso, who becomes a star when he creates the character Cassandro, “The Liberace of Lucha Libre,” upending the macho wrestling world and his own life. Director Roger Ross Williams (“God Loves Uganda,” SFF ‘13; “Life, Animated,” SFF ‘16) makes his narrative feature debut, co-writing with David Teague and Julián Herbert. The cast includes Roberta Colindrez, Perla De La Rosa, Joaquín Cosío and Raúl Castillo.
“Cat Person” (France, United States) • Emilia Jones (“CODA,” SFF ‘20) stars in this thriller as Margot, a college student working in a movie theater — which is where she meets Robert (Nicholas Braun), a 33-year-old man. The two carry on conversations via text, as their perceptions of each other collide and things get out of control. Director Susanna Fogel and screenwriter Michelle Ashford adapted Kristen Roupenian’s short story from The New Yorker. The cast includes Geraldine Viswanathan, Hope Davis, Fred Melamed and Isabella Rossellini. (Available online.)
“Deep Rising” • Jason Momoa narrates this documentary, directed by Matthieu Rytz (“Anote’s Ark,” SFF ‘18), about the planet’s last untouched wilderness, the deep ocean — and the threat posed by a secretive organization that is about to allow extraction of seabed metals to fight the world’s energy crisis.
“The Deepest Breath” (United Kingdom, Ireland) • Two people — a champion freediver and an expert safety diver — are both headed to the top of the risky world of freediving, in writer-director Laura McGann’s documentary.
“Drift” (France, United Kingdom, Greece) • Cynthia Erivo stars as Jacqueline, who left her war-torn country for a Greek island, where she meets a rootless tour guide (Alia Shawkat) and the two find the resilience to forge ahead. Anthony Chen directed, and Suzanne Farrell and Alexander Maksik wrote this drama, which also stars Ibrahima Ba, Honor Swinton Byrne, Zainab Jah and Suzy Bemba.
“Earth Mama” • Writer-director Savanah Leaf’s drama stars Tia Nomore as a pregnant single mother with two children in foster care who embraces her Bay Area community in an effort to reclaim her family. The cast includes Erika Alexander, Doechii, Sharon Duncan Brewster, Dominic Fike and Bokeem Woodbine.
“Eileen” • In this adaptation of Ottessa Moshfegh’s novel, a secretary (Thomasin McKenzie) becomes fascinated by a counselor (Anne Hathaway) at the Massachusetts prison where they work, circa 1964 — where things take a dark turn. William Oldroyd (“Lady Macbeth,” SFF ‘17) directs from a script by Luke Goebel and Moshfegh. Also starring Shea Whigham, Marin Ireland and Owen Teague.
“Fairyland” • The relationship of a father (Scoot McNairy) and a daughter (Emilia Jones) in San Francisco in the 1970s and ‘80s evolves through bohemian decadence through the AIDS crisis, in writer-director Andrew Dunham’s adaptation of Alysia Abbott’s best-seller “Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father.” Also starring Cody Fern, Adam Lambert and Maria Bakalova.
“Flora and Son” (United States, Ireland) • Writer-director John Carney, who made the music-based movies “Once” and “Sing Street,” centers this story around Flora (Eve Hewson, aka Bono’s daughter), a single mom at war with her teen son, Max (Orén Kinlan) — and how Flora attempts to thwart Max’s petty thievery by giving him a guitar she salvaged from the trash. The film also stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jack Reynor.
“Food and Country” • Director Laura Gabbert (“City of Gold,” SFF ‘15) follows food critic Ruth Reichl as she crosses political and social divides to examine America’s broken food system — with policies that produce cheap food and hobbles independent farmers, ranchers and chefs. (Available online.)
“Invisible Beauty” • Bethann Hardison and Frédéric Tcheng direct this self-portrait of Hardison, looking back at her life as a fashion revolutionary — a pioneering Black model, modeling agent and activist.
“It’s Only Life After All” • Alexandria Bombach (“On Her Shoulders,” SFF ‘18) directs this documentary about Amy Ray and Emily Saliers — the queer friends known collectively as the folk-rock duo Indigo Girls — through 40 years of home movies, plus film archives and current verité footage. This is a Day One film.
“Jamojaya” • A fast-rising rapper fires his manager — who is also his father — in this drama, directed by Justin Chon (“Ms. Purple,” SFF ‘19) and written by Chon and Maegan Houang. The movie stars Brian Imanuel, Yayu A.W. Unru, Kate Lyn Sheil, Henry Ian Cusick and Anthony Kiedis. (Available online.)
“Judy Blume Forever” • Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok direct this documentary about Judy Blume, the pioneering young-adult author who sometimes wrote honestly and frankly about puberty and sex — sparking battles over book banning and censorship.
“Landscape With Invisible Hand” • Writer-director Cory Finley (“Thoroughbreds,” SFF ‘17) adapts M.T. Anderson’s science-fiction novel, about aliens who take over Earth’s economy, and two teens who devise a plan to save their family. The cast includes Tiffany Haddish, Asante Blackk, Kylie Rogers, Josh Hamilton, Michael Gandolfini and William Jackson Harper.
“A Little Prayer” • David Straithairn stars in this drama, as a man trying to protect his daughter-in-law (Jane Levy) when he learns his son (Will Pullen) is having an affair. Written and directed by Angus MacLachlan, the movie also stars Celia Weston, Anna Camp and Dascha Polanco. (Available online.)
“Murder in Big Horn” • The deaths of a group of Native American women in rural Montana draws the attention of Native families, journalists and local law enforcement, revealing a violent crisis nearly 200 years in the making. This documentary is directed by Razelle Benally, who is Oglala Lakota and Diné, and Matthew Galkin. (Available online.)
“Passages” (France) • Sundance regular Ira Sachs (“The Delta,” SFF ‘96; “Forty Shades of Blue,” SFF ‘05; “Keep the Lights On,” SFF ‘12; “Love Is Strange,” SFF ‘14; “Little Men,” SFF ‘16) directs this drama about two men (Franz Rogowski and Ben Whishaw) who have been together for 15 years — and what happens when one of them has an affair with a woman (Adèle Exarchopoulos). Written by Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias.
“Past Lives” • Nora and Hae Sung are best friends in childhood, until Nora’s family emigrates from South Korea. Twenty years later, the two (played by Greta Lee and Teo Yoo) meet again over one fateful week in New York. John Magaro also stars in this drama, written and directed by Celine Song.
“Plan C” • Director Tracy Dros Tragos (“Rich Hill,” SFF ‘14) examines a grassroots group that’s mounting a quiet fight to expand access to abortion pills across the United States after the fall of Roe v. Wade.
“The Pod Generation” (Belgium, France, United Kingdom) • A New York couple (Emilia Clarke, Chiwetel Ejiofor) begin a wild ride to parenthood, thanks to a tech giant’s new product: A detachable artificial womb. Sophie Barthes (“Cold Souls,” SFF ‘19) wrote and directed this science-fiction comedy, which also stars Rosalie Craig, Vinette Robinson and Jean-Marc Barr. This is a Day One film, and the winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Prize (given to a film with a theme of science or technology).
“Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields” • The actor, model and icon Brooke Shields is profiled in this documentary, from her sexualized teen years to her gaining her agency as an adult. The documentary is directed by Lana Wilson, whose Taylor Swift documentary “Miss Americana” premiered at Sundance in 2020.
“Radical” • In a violent Mexican border town, a frustrated teacher (Eugenio Derbez) tries a radical approach to cutting through his students apathy — unlocking their curiosity, potential and, perhaps, their genius. Christopher Zalla (“Blood of My Blood,” SFF ‘07) directed and wrote this drama, based on a true story. The cast includes Daniel Haddad, Jenifer Trejo, Mia Fernanda Solis and Danilo Guardiola. This is a Day One film.
“Rotting in the Sun” • A meta-mystery, about the disappearance of filmmaker Sebastian Silva (who directed the film) in Mexico City — and the search by social-media celebrity Jordan Firstman (who plays himself), who suspects the cleaning lady (Catalina Saavedra) in Silva’s building. Silva (“The Maid,” SFF ‘09; “Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus,” SFF ‘13; “Tyrel,” SFF ‘18) co-wrote with Pedro Peirano.
“Rye Lane” (United Kingdom) • In a single day in South London, two people in their 20s (David Jonsson, Vivian Oparah) have to deal with their nightmare exes. Directed by Rayne Allen-Miller, written by Nathan Bryon and Tom Melia.
“Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie” • The actor and icon Michael J. Fox, whose life took a hard turn when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, is profiled in this documentary, directed by Davis Guggenheim (“An Inconvenient Truth,” SFF ‘06; “It Might Get Loud,” SFF ‘09; “Waiting for Superman,” SFF ‘10).
“You Hurt My Feelings” • Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars in the latest from writer-director Nicole Holofcener (“Walking and Talking,” SFF ‘96; “Lovely & Amazing,” SFF ‘01; “Friends With Money,” SFF ‘06; “Please Give,” SFF ‘10), as a novelist whose long marriage is upended when she overhears her husband giving his honest opinion on her latest book. Also starring Tobias Menzies, Michaela Watkins, Owen Teague and Arian Moayed.
“Stephen Curry: Underrated” • How did Stephen Curry go from being an undersized college player to a four-time NBA champion? The answer is revealed through cinematic video, archival footage and interviews in this documentary for A24 and Apple TV+. Director Peter Nicks has documented other Oakland institutions, including the city’s police (“The Force,” SFF ‘17) and schools (“Homeroom,” SFF ‘21).
New Frontier Films
“A Common Sequence” • In this documentary, directors Mary Helena Clark and Mike Gibisser examine the links between an endangered salamander, mass-produced apples, and the evolving fields of genomics and learning. (Available online.)
“Gush” • Native American artist Fox Maxy wrote and directed this look at male and female power within an apocalyptic world. The cast includes Michel Sayegh, Ruth Fish, Sergio Mejia, Littlebear Sanchez, No’aash Iswut Peltier and Suavitel Paper. (Available online.)
“Last Things” (United States, Portugal) • In writer-director Deborah Stratman’s documentary, evolution and extinction are looked at from the point of view of rocks. (Available online.)
“The Eight Mountains” (Italy, Belgium) • Two friends (Luca Marinelli, Alessandro Borghi) measure their relationship by Italian mountain village where one was raised and the other spent their summers, in this adaptation of Paolo Cognetti’s novel. Written and directed by Felix van Groeningen (“Belgica,” SFF ‘16) and Charlotte Vandermeersch, the cast includes Filippo Timi and Elena Lietti. (Available online.)
“L’Immensità” (Italy) • Penelope Cruz stars in this drama, as a mother whose family has relocated to Rome, where she sees a city changing but with expectations about family, desire and gender staying rigidly in place. Directed by Emanuele Crialese, who co-wrote with Francesca Manieri and Vittorio Moroni. The cast includes Vincenzo Amato, Luana Giuliani, Patrizio Francioni, Maria Chiara Gorett and Penelope Nieto Conti. (Available online.) This is a Day One film.
“Joyland” (Pakistan) • The youngest son of a traditional Pakistani family secretly becomes a backup dancer in a Bollywood-style burlesque theater, and falls for the ambitious trans woman who runs the show. Saim Sadiq wrote and directed the drama, which stars Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gilani, Sania Saeed and Salmaan Peerzada. (Available online.)
“Other People’s Children” (France) • Rachel (Virginie Efria), a childless 40-year-old high school teacher, falls in love with Ali (Roschdy Zem), and becomes quite attached to Ali’s 4-year-old daughter, Leila (Callie Ferreira-Goncalves), in this drama written and directed by Rebecca Zlotowski. Also starring Chiara Mastroianni, Yamée Couture and Michel Zlotowski. (Available online.)
“Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis)” (United Kingdom) • This documentary, by director Anton Corbijn and writer Trish D. Chetty, take a look inside the studio that created some of the most famous album covers of all time — including Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” and Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy.” (Available online.)
“Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out” • A strong contender for the best title of Sundance 2023, this filmed-in-Utah comedy-drama centers on Itsy (Emma Tremblay), a new girl in a small town who applies her journalistic skills to her new neighbor Calvin (Jacob Buster), who is convinced his parents were abducted by aliens. Directed by Jake Van Wagoner (a frequent director on BYUtv’s “Studio C”) and written by Austin Everett, the movie also stars Will Forte, Elizabeth Mitchell, Kenneth Cummins and Matt Biedel. (Available online.)
“The Amazing Maurice” (Germany, United Kingdom) • Based on Terry Pratchett’s novel “The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents,” this animated tale follows a streetwise cat (voiced by Hugh Laurie) and his rat gang, who have devised the perfect money-making scheme. Directed by Toby Genkel and written by Terry Rossio, the voice cast includes Emilia Clarke, Himesh Patel and Gemma Arterton. (Available online.)
“Blueback” (Australia) • A woman (Mia Wasikowska) tries to protect an ocean fish species on the Australian coast, she enlists her activist mom (Radha Mitchell), in this drama written and directed by Robert Connolly, based on Tim Winton’s novella. The cast includes Eric Bana, Ilsa Fogg, Liz Alexander and Ariel Donoghue. This is the Salt Lake City opening-night gala film.
From the Collection
“The Doom Generation” • Director Gregg Araki’s landmark 1995 drama, following two teens (James Duval and Rose McGowan) who pick up a drifter (Johnathon Schaech), and embark on a cross-country journey fueled by sex, violence and mini-marts. The restored cut will be the first time audiences have seen Araki’s original version since its 1995 festival circuit run.
“Slam” • The 1998 winner of Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic films, “Slam” focuses on a young Black performance poet (Saul Williams), put in a D.C. prison for a minor marijuana offense, but who finds redemption behind bars through his poems. Directed by Mark Levin.
Encore Special Screenings
“CODA” • Writer-director Sian Heder’s drama, about a hearing teen (Emilia Jones) in a deaf family. The movie won a record four awards at Sundance 2021, including the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award in the U.S. Dramatic competition, and went on to win three Oscars, including Best Picture — the first time a Sundance premiere has won the Academy’s biggest award.
“Klondike” (Ukraine, Turkey) • Last year’s Directing Award winner in the World Cinema Dramatic competition, this drama depicts a Ukrainian family living on the Ukraine-Russia border at the start of Russia’s 2014 invasion, and culminating in an air crash of Malaysia Airlines flight 17.
“Navalny” • Director Daniel Roher’s documentary profiles Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, capturing in real time the investigation that links Vladimir Putin’s government to Navalny’s near-fatal poisoning. The documentary, a surprise late addition to the 2022 Sundance lineup, won the Festival Favorite prize and the Audience Award in the U.S. Documentary competition. It’s shortlisted for this year’s Oscar in the Documentary Feature category.
“Summer of Soul (… Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” • Musician and producer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson made his directing debut with this documentary, which highlighted footage of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, a series of concerts with such headliners as Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, Mavis Staples, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and many more. The movie won the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Documentary competition at Sundance 2021, and the Oscar last year for Documentary Feature.
“Chanshi” (Israel) • Aleeza Chanowitz created and stars in this series, playing a woman in a Jewish-Orthodox family in Brooklyn, who uses a friend’s wedding in Israel as a pretext to escape her conservative bubble and her fiancé. The series also stars Henry Winkler, Caroline Aaron, Tomer Machloof, Marnina Schon, Lee Bader. The episodes are directed by Mickey Triest and Aaron Geva. (Available online.)
“The Night Logan Woke Up” (Canada, France) • Director Xavier Dolan co-stars in this miniseries, which focuses on an unspeakable event in a Quebec town in 1991, and what happens 30 years later when the family at the center deals with the long-buried secret. Also starring Patrick Hivon, Eric Bruneau, Julie Le Breton, Magalie Lépine-Blondeau, Anne Dorval. (Available online.)
“Poacher” (India, United States) • Director-producer Richie Mehta (who created the Netflix series “Delhi Crime”) is behind this series, inspired by true events, about the effort to track down the biggest elephant ivory poachers in India’s history. The cast is led by Nimisha Sajayan, Roshan Mathew and Dibyendu Bhattacharya. (Available online.)
“Willie Nelson and Family” • Billed as the first authorized video profile of country legend Willie Nelson, this docu-series is directed by Thom Zimny (known for his film work with Bruce Springsteen) and Oren Moverman (“The Messenger,” SFF ‘09; “Love & Mercy”). (Two of the series’ five episodes will be available online.)
Synopses provided by Sundance Institute.
U.S. Fiction Short Films
“The Dalles” • Written and directed by Angalis Field. “Cam is used to seeing the same customers while working at his family’s cherry stand. After a handsome cyclist passes through and asks for directions to a local cruising site, Cam takes it as an invitation to follow him.” Cast: Joshuah Melnick, August Ackley. (Available online.)
“The Family Circus” • Written and directed by Andrew Fitzgerald. (A Vietnamese-American family’s plan to cover up a drunk driving accident begins to unravel when their emotional baggage spills out in front of the police.) Cast: Elyse Dinh, Michael Ironside, Scott Subiono, Michael Nguyen Manceau, Blake Dang, Christian Seavey. (Available online.)
“A Folded Ocean” • Written and directed by Ben Brewer. “A couple get lost in each other.” Cast: Anabelle LeMieux, John Giacobbe. (Available online.)
“Headdress” • Written and directed by Taietsarón:sere ‘Tai’ Leclaire. “When a queer Native is confronted by a non-Native wearing a ceremonial headdress at a music festival, he retreats into his mind to find the perfect response from various versions of his own identity.” Cast: Taietsarón:sere ‘Tai’ Leclaire, Sean Reidy, Rachel McKay Steele, Sami Griffith, Austin Pohlen. (Available online.)
“Help Me Understand” • Written and directed by Aemilia Scott; Paul Feig (director of “Bridesmaids” and “Ghostbusters”) is one of the producers. “Six women come to a consensus.” Cast: Dana Powell, Dierdre Friel, Rachael Harris, Nicole Michelle Haskins, Kate Flannery, Ken Marino. (Available online.)
“I Am Home” • Written and directed by Kymon Greyhorse. “As time goes on and the world around us shifts, we adapt and change. Although we might look different, deep down we are still the same. We are made from Mother Earth – mud, wood, love, and patience”. Cast: Tiara Folsom. (Available online.)
“I Have No Tears, and I Must Cry” • Written and directed by Luis Fernando Puente. “Maria Luisa is ready to escape immigration limbo, but when her green card interview takes an unexpected turn, she faces the anxiety of losing the life she had planned.: Cast: Alejandra Herrera, Enoc Oteo, Cherie Julander. (Available online.)
“In the Flesh” • Written and directed by Daphne Gardner. “Tracey is just trying to [pleasure herself] with her bathtub faucet like normal when some old memories dredge themselves up, the pipes explode with dirty water, and she starts leaking black goo.” Cast: Edy Modica, Mo Stark, Rob Malone. (Available online.)
“Mirror Party” • Directed by Bridey Elliott (“Clara’s Ghost,” SFF ‘18); written by Angela Trimbur. “Two friends role-play a breakup conversation.” Cast: Angela Trimbur, Bridey Elliott, Billy Scafuri. (Available online.)
“Nocturnal Burger” (India, United States) • Written and directed by Reema Maya. “Somewhere between fantasy, trauma, paranoia, precaution, and the promise of a burger, a night gets catapulted into an investigation of child abuse at a dysfunctional police station in Mumbai.” Cast: Bebo Madiwal, Millo Sunka, Trupti Khamkar, Shrikant Mohan Yadav, Somnath Mandal, Pushpendra Singh. (Available online.)
“Ourika!” • Written and directed by Xenia Matthews. “The long-dead Ourika, a Senegalese girl enslaved by a French aristocrat, is awoken in the eerie space between life and death, between body and soul, where she finds her way back to life and into liberation.” Cast: Evesha Harry, Joilet Harris-Lawton, Lynn-Catherine Daniels. (Available online.)
“Power Signal” • Directed by Oscar Boyson; written by Boyson and Erin DeWitt. “While trying to navigate a city that won’t provide him a bathroom, a delivery worker discovers an unearthly presence infecting women all over New York.” Cast: Babs Olusanmokun, Will Brill, Brooke Bloom, Angela Sarafyan, Tennessee King, Muhamed Gueye. (Available online.)
“Rest Stop” • Written and directed by Crystal Kayiza. “On a bus ride from New York to Oklahoma, Meyi, a young Ugandan-American girl, realizes her place in the world through her mother’s ambitious effort to reunite their family.” Cast: Leeanna E. Tushabe, Alicia Basiima, Khalid Semakula, Robert Wanyama, Margaret Bisase, Olivia Nantongo. (Available online.)
“Ricky” • Written and directed by Rashad Frett. “An ex-offender struggling with new freedom pursues redemption at all costs when given a job from his neighbor.” Cast: Parish Bradley, Maliq Johnson, Simbi Kali, Karen Chilton, Reese Antoinette, Shanice Marcia. (Available online.”
“Sunflower Siege Engine” • Written and directed by Sky Hopinka. “Movements of resistance are collapsed and woven together, from reflections of one’s own body in the world today, to documentation of Alcatraz, the reclamation of Cahokia, and the repatriation of the ancestors.” (Available online.)
“Take Me Home” • Written and directed by Liz Sargent. “After their mother’s death, a cognitively disabled woman and her estranged sister must learn to communicate in order to move forward.” Cast: Anna Sargent, Jeena Yi, Joan Sargent. (Available online.)
“Tender” • Written and directed by Samm Hodges. “A missing wallet threatens to destroy a teenager’s life.” Cast: Will Brill, Louisa Krause, Alexander Hubble, Daina Griffith. (Available online.)
“Troy” • Directed by Mike Donahue; written Jen Silverman. “Troy has loud sex. Troy has loud sex 24/7. Troy shares a wall with Thea and Charlie. Troy is ruining their lives. … Or is he saving them?” Cast: Adina Verson, Michael Braun, Florian Klein, Dylan Baker, Dana Delany. (Available online.)
“The Vacation” • Written and directed by Jarreau Carrillo. “A Black man attempts to take a vacation.” Cast: Drew Harris, Jarreau Carrillo, Ohene Cornelius, Trae Harris. (Available online.)
“Walk of Shame” • Written and directed by Dane Ray. “A mourning widow suspects a stranger in town is wearing her late husband’s Army jacket. She cautiously stalks the man into the night in an attempt to find closure.” Cast: Shannon Plumb, Chris Thomas. (Available online.)
“We Were Meant To” • Directed by Tari Wariebi; written by Wariebi and Christina K. Licud. “In a world where Black men have wings and their first flight is a rite of passage, Akil must defy fears, insecurities, and societal barriers while discovering his perfect launch into manhood.” Cast: Tim Johnson Jr., Amin Joseph, Karimah Westbrook, Jordan-Amanda Hall, Skye Barrett, Luke Tennie. (Available online.)
“Weapons and Their Names” • Written and directed by Melina Valdez. “Unable to process her grief after the death of her stepfather, a teenage girl escapes reality by shooting guns in the woods.” Cast: Cecilia Rene, Greta Hicks, Greg Poppa, Lilia Karst, Maxwell Fox. (Available online.)
“When You Left Me On That Boulevard” • Written and directed by Kayla Abuda Galang. “Teenager Ly and her cousins get high before a boisterous family Thanksgiving at their auntie’s house in southeast San Diego in 2006.” Cast: Kailyn Dulay, Melissa Arcaya, Elle Rodriguez, Whitney Agustin, Gina May Gimongala, Allan Wayne Anderson. (Available online.)
International Fiction Short Films
“AirHostess-737″ (Greece) • Directed by Thanasis Neofotistos; written by Neofotistos and Grigoris Skarakis. “An air hostess collapses on flight, convinced that her problem is her new braces. However, her colleagues know the plane is carrying her mother’s dead body to her hometown.” Cast: Lena Papaligoura, Konstantina Koutsonasiou, Haris Alexiou. (Available online.)
“AliEN0089″ (Chile) • Written and directed by Valeria Hofmann. “While a gamer uploads a testimonial video to denounce the harassment she suffers in a video game, a stranger enters her home and hacks her computer, blurring the boundaries between the real and virtual worlds.” Cast: Mariana di Girolamo.
“Azheh” (Iran) • Written and directed by Hadi Rezayati Charan. “A boy lives in a border village with Azheh. After Azheh’s death, the boy tries to fulfill her will to be buried in his homeland.” Cast: Pakray Khoshdel, Arshiya Zeinali, Alireza Dashtiyari. (Available online.)
“Baba” (Canada) • Directed by Anya Chirkova and Meran Ismailsoy; written by Maziyar Khatam. “A middle-aged Iranian man makes a desperate bid to keep his apartment as his relationship with his son unravels.” Cast: Amir Zavosh, Maziyar Khatam, James Choy, Sina Djamshidiat. (Available online.)
“Claudio’s Song” (United Kingdom) • Directed by Andreas Nilsson; written by David Kolbusz. “A young man faces the wrath of criminals targeting people who are famous on the internet. Things take an unexpected turn when their scheme fails.” Cast: Zaza Chanturia, Georgiy Palovotskiy, Alex Avakumov, Nina Naboka, Didier Mallet. (Available online.)
“Evacuation of Mama Emola” (Indonesia) • Directed by Anggun Priambodo; written by Prima Rusdi. “An incarcerated man is allowed a temporary release with a woman prison officer to evacuate his mother — who is trapped in a village during an earthquake that might lead to a tsunami — bringing them to an unexpectedly exciting experience. Cast: Ricky Malau, Siti Fauziah.
“Hawaiki” (New Zealand) • Written and directed by Nova Paul. “At the edge of the playground close to the forest, the children of Okiwi School made a refuge they call Hawaiki. Hawaiki has spiritual and metaphysical connections for Māori as the children create a space for their self-determination.” (Available online.)
“It’s Raining Frogs Outside” (Philippines) • Written and directed by Maria Estela Paiso. “A girl’s childhood home attempts to destroy her, using her own personal history, but she resists.” Cast: Alyana Cabral. (Available online.)
“The Kidnapping of the Bride” (Germany) • Written and directed by Sophia Mocorrea. “Luisa from Argentina and Fred from Germany are confronted with their social roles at their wedding. The German tradition of kidnapping the bride shakes the couple’s equality. There is no room for love in this role-play of marriage.” Cast: Rai Todoroff, David Bruning, Tatiana Saphir, Anne Kulbatzki, Michaela Winterstein, Niels Bormann. (Available online.)
“Mulika” (The Democratic Republic of Congo) • Written and directed by Maisha Maene. “An ‘afronaut’ emerges from the wreckage of his spaceship in the volcanic crater of Mount Nyiragongo. As he encounters the people of present-day Goma in the city, he begins to understand how to change the future for his people.” Cast: Sefu Weber-Kal, Faustin Biyoga, Ibrahim Twaha, Sarah Bahati. (Available online.)
“The Newt Congress” (Switzerland, Germany) • Written and directed by Matthias Sahli and Immanuel Esser, adapted from the novel “War With the Newts” by Karel Čapek. “The Newt Congress takes place at a conference building surrounded by nature where participants have come together to optimize the exploitation of giant talking newts” Cast: Ursula Bienz, Tobias Bienz, Wiebke Mollenhauer. (Available online.)
“Pro Pool” (Canada) • Written and directed by Alec Pronovost. “Newly graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history and civilization, Charles-Olivier struggles to find a job in his field and must rely on a clerk position in a pool shop. Feeling down, he navigates his gig as best he can.” Cast: Louis Carrière, Alexis Martin, Sylvie de Morais, Sébastien Rajotte, Oussama Fares, Louis Girard-Bock. (Available online.)
“Sèt Lam” (France, Réunion) • Written and directed by Vincent Fontano. “In an insular city, a young girl is paralyzed by the fear of her loved ones disappearing. Her grandmother tells her the tale of Edwardo, the first one of his kind to have fought death.” Cast: Françoise Guimbert, Nicolas Moucazambo, Nadjani Bullin, Sihame Saïd Ouma. (Available online.)
“A Short Story” (China) • Directed by Bi Gan; written by Bi Gan and Xiao Hui Zhai. “An anthropomorphic feline wanders across empty cities and exurban spaces of contemporary China. Black Cat is on a quest to answer a single question: What is the most precious thing in the world?” Cast: Zhuo Tan, Yong Zhong Cheng, Guo Hua Chen, Li Run Xie, Li Zhou Xie.
“Simo” (Canada) • Written and directed by Aziz Zoromba. “In order to prove his popularity to his older brother, Simo sneakily infiltrates his brother’s gaming channel and uses a suspicious object to help increase the viewers. His actions have the effect of a bomb on the whole family.” Cast: Basel El Rayes, Seif El Rayes, Aladeen Tawfeek. (Available online.)
“Sweatshop Girl” (Mexico) • Directed by Selma Cervantes; written by Cervantes and Indra Villaseñor Amador. “Inés works as a seamstress in a sweatshop where pregnancy tests are periodically administered. When she becomes pregnant, she is sure that her condition will get her fired. She does everything she can to keep it a secret.” Cast: Yalitza Aparicio Martínez, Mariana Villegas, Juan Pablo De Santiago, Amorita Rasgado, Juan Carlos Medellín. (Available online.)
“Thriving: A Dissociated Reverie” (Canada) • Directed by Nicole Bazuin; written by Bazuin, Andrea Werhun and Kitoko Mai. “A surrealist exploration of dissociative identity disorder (DID) based on the lived experience of a Black, nonbinary, disabled artist and former sex worker.” Cast: Kitoko Mai, Dustin Hickey, Myfanwy Charlesworth, Morgan Bargent, Grace McDonald, Andrea Werhun. (Available online.)
“Unborn Biru” (Norway) • Written and directed by Inga Elin Marakatt. “A pregnant widow steals silver from a dead body in order to survive and feed her daughter. But the silver is cursed and has consequences for all of them, including the unborn.” Cast: Maret Sofia Jannok, Katja Omma Simma. (Available online.)
“White Ant” (United Kingdom, India) • Written and directed by Shalini Adnani. “A man is summoned from Mumbai to his village to deal with a termite infestation threatening to destroy his childhood home.” Cast: Denzil Smith, Harish Kesariya, Pushpa Madam Singh Chauhan, Sushannt Sapare. (Available online.)
Animation Short Films
“BurgerWorld” • Written and directed by Maddie Brewer. “Two coworkers at a derelict fast food franchise accidentally discover a yonic meat portal to another realm — a ‘burger’ world, wherein they’re the only ones who can liberate an oppressed vegetable populace from the all-controlling hand of big meat.” Cast: Maddie Brewer. (Available online.)
“By Water” • Directed by Iyabo Kwayana. “An unlikely hero’s journey into his own memories becomes a vehicle for reconciliation and healing for himself and his sibling.” (Available online.)
“Christopher at Sea” (France, United States, United Kingdom) • Directed by Tom CJ Brown; written by Brown and Laure Desmazières. “Christopher embarks on a transatlantic voyage as a passenger on a cargo ship. His hopes of finding out what lures so many men to sea sets him on a journey into solitude, fantasy and obsession.” Cast: Jocelyn Si, Andrew Isar, Florian DesBiendras. (Available online.)
“The Flying Sailor” (Canada) • Directed by Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis. “Two ships collide in a harbor, an explosion shatters a city, and a sailor is blasted skyward, where he soars high above the mayhem and toward the great unknown.” (Available online.)
“fur” • Written and directed by Zhen Li. “A crush gone moldy…” (Available online.)
“Garrano” (Portugal, Lithuania) • Written and directed by Vasco Sá and David Doutel. “A Garrano horse is forced to pull a heavy load under a blazing sun. A young boy named Joel discovers a man who is about to set a forest on fire.” (Available online.)
“In the Big Yard Inside the Teeny-Weeny Pocket” (Japan) • Written and directed by Yoko Yuki. “When it shrinks, it expands. It floats and it sinks. It separates but connects. When I think I’m watching them, they’re actually watching me.” Cast: honninman. (Available online.)
“Inglorious Liaisons” (France, Belgium). Written and directed by Chloe Alliez and Violette Delvoye. “On the night of a big party for Lucie, Maya, and their friends, Jimmy has also come. Everyone knows he is here for Maya, but does she have the same feelings for Jimmy?” Cast: Evmorfia Spanoudis, Hélène Bolenge Boteku. (Available online.)
“Oxytocin” • Written and directed by Jeron Braxton. “Cash for organs and anything for love.” Cast: Jeron Braxton. (Available online.)
“Pipes” (Switzerland) • Directed by Kilian Feusi, Jessica Meier and Sujanth Ravichandran. “Bob is a plumber hired to fix a broken pipe. He lands, to his surprise, in a gay fetish club.” Cast: Tom von Arx, Dave Striegel. (Available online.)
“The Sea on the Day When the Magic Returns” (South Korea) • Written an ddirected by Jiwon Han. “Sejin once had the power to have anything she wanted just by thinking about it. Now she has lost her magic. Hours before her interview to be a tourist interpreter, Sejin heads to the weary sea to save her father.” Cast: Hyunmin Joo, Yeonju Lim, Keum-san Kwon. (Available online.)
“Well Wishes My Love, Your Love” (Sweden, Malaysia) • Directed by Gabriel Gabriel Garble. “Newly orphaned and freshly wounded from a loss, a boy lends his companion a prosthetic arm for the day. The companion records the limb being exposed to textures and materials. What will become of the limb and the video recordings?” Cast: Gabriel Gabriel Garble. (Available online.)
Nonfiction Short Films
“Bigger on the Inside” • Written and directed by Angelo Madsen Minax. “Through snowy stargazing, flirting with guys on dating apps, taking ketamine (or not), and watching YouTube lecture videos, outer and inner space collapse – to draw a warped cartography of desire and distance.” (Available online.)
“Call Me Mommy” (Ireland) • Directed by Tara O’Callaghan. “Uncovering the multifaceted life of Sinead, a middle-aged single mother and online sex worker.” (Available online.)
“Kylie” • Written and directed by Sterling Hampton. “A young Black ballerina expresses her passion and pain as a dancer in the ballet community while performing in the inner-city neighborhoods of Los Angeles.” (Available online.)
“Life Without Dreams” • Written and directed by Jessica Bardsley. “Set in the outer space of consciousness, where the surfaces of far-out planetary bodies form the terrain for an exploration of 24/7 capitalism, insomnia, and the disappearance of darkness.” (Available online.)
“Liturgy of anti-tank obstacles” (United States, Ukraine) • Written and directed by Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk. “In western Ukraine, sculptors who used to make religious statues are retraining for different skills. They now build anti-tank obstacles to help fend off the Russian invasion. (Available online.)
“Margie Soudek’s Salt and Pepper Shakers” • Written and directed by Meredith Moore. “An artist and visual effects instructor connects with her aging grandmother, Margie, through collecting, art-making, and obsessing as a way to enhance reality.” (Available online.)
“Parker” • Directed by Sharon Liese and Catherine Hoffman. “Three generations of a Kansas City family are finally unified when they do something that countless other Black Americans could not — choose their own last name.” (Available online.)
“Shirampari: Legacies of the River” (Peru) • Written and directed by Lucía Flórez. “In one of the most remote places in the Peruvian Amazon, an Ashéninka boy must overcome his fears and catch a giant catfish using only a hook to begin his adult journey.” (Available online.)
“Under G-d” • Directed by Paula Eiselt (“Aftershock,” SFF ‘22). “The Dobbs U.S. Supreme Court decision sparked a national Jewish response. Inspired by the lived experiences of Jewish women, lawsuits are currently being launched by rabbis, Jewish organizations, and interfaith leaders to challenge the overturning of Roe v. Wade.”
“Will You Look At Me” (China) • Written and directed by Shuli Huang. “As a young Chinese filmmaker returns to his hometown in search of himself, a long-overdue conversation with his mother drives them into a quest for acceptance and love.” (Available online.)