Since 1985, The annual Sundance Film Festival has launched hundreds of films into commercial distribution, with many going on to receive critical recognition and reach worldwide audiences. This week, Sundance returns once again to take over Park City, Utah, from January 22 – February 1st.
As one of the largest independent film festivals in America, the week-long event totals over 45,000 attendees — from studio heads to producers to critics and even to fans — who will all flock to catch the dozens of films that will carry us into 2015.
To celebrate the start of the festival, here’s a Top Ten list of films to look out for at this year’s Sundance…
Michael Fassbender (Shame) stars in this 19th-century period piece as a mysterious traveler who helps a young boy (Australia’s Kodi Smit-McPhee) search for the woman he loves across the wild American frontier. It’s a directorial debut for John Maclean, who shot the film across New Zealand and Scotland. Co-stars Aussie great Ben Mendelsohn (A Place Beyond the Pines).
With an expanded cast of comic heavyweights such as Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, and Jason Schwartzman, Patrick Brice’s The Overnight is set to be a Sundance favourite amongst comedy fans. The film captures the evening of a young Los Angeles couple, who get to know the parents of their son’s new friend.
Mia Hansen-Love’s new film Eden is an epic re-telling of the rise and fall of a French DJ during the 90s and the boom of EDM. The film handles the DJ’s drug-fuelled descent with sensitivity, and early reviews have praised this. It also features music from iconic French duo Daft Punk, who helped finance the movie.
David Robert Mitchell’s horror film plot is well under wraps at this year’s Sundance. All that can be revealed is that a high school student’s (The Guest’s Maika Monroe) seeming innocent sexual encounter triggers disturbing visions and the inescapable feeling that someone – or something – is watching her.
Comedy director Rick Alverson returns to Sundance this year with Entertainment, a movie starring and co-written by Gregg Turkington. He plays “The Comedian”, a struggling stand-up in search of his estranged daughter. A description like that usually flops, but with a script courtesy of Alverson, Turkington, and co-writer Tim Heidecker, ew can assume the journey will be a dark one.
UK filmmaker Rupert Goold is making the jump from the small screen to independent cinema with an A-list cast of budding Oscar nominees that includes James Franco, Jonah Hill, and Felicity Jones. True Story captures the chilling, real-life relationship between disgraced journalist Michael Finkel (Hill) and the FBI’s Most Wanted murderer Christian Longo (Franco).
Sleeping With Other People:
Leslye Headland’s latest film, Sleeping with Other People, finds her in comfortable territory thanks to a tangible rom-com premise featuring Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie as Jake and Lainey, former college lovers who reunite over a decade later in New York City, only to discover they’ve become serial cheaters.
Z for Zachariah:
Z for Zachariah is an adaptation of Robert C. O’Brien’s 1974 novel about a young woman who manages to survive some sort of population-killing catastrophe, only to find herself at the center of a love triangle with two men. As far as the trio know, they’re the last three human beings left on Earth. Stars trio is Margot Robbie, Chris Pine (Star Trek), and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Andrew Bujalski’s lastest film, Results, sounds a little high-concept for the lo-fi filmmaker, and covers the story of personal trainers (Cobie Smulders and Guy Pearce) who end up in a tentative, opposites-attract kind of situation. If any director working today is capable of mining true weirdness from a premise this simple on paper, Bujalski’s probably it.
The Stanford Prison Experiment:
Producer Brent Emery’s movie boasts a cast that includes Billy Crudup (Almost Famous), Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk about Kevin), Olivia Thirlby (Juno), and Nelsan Ellis (True Blood). The real-life experiment took place in the early ‘70s and was a study based in the psychology of imprisonment. Volunteer students were given the roles of guards or inmates, and what followed is fascinating to say the least.