Book those tickets to Salt Lake City, cinephile friends, because the official Sundance Film Festival 2019 lineup has arrived. It’s a big one, boasting 112 feature films total (two more than last year!) from 33 different countries, 45 of these entries coming from first-time filmmakers. These movies will be screened in Park City, Salt Lake City and at the Sundance Mountain Resort from January 24 to February 3, 2019.
As always, Sundance’s list is as varied as it as extensive, but immediate highlights include the world premiere of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, director Joe Berlinger‘s Ted Bundy movie starring Zac Efron as the infamous serial killer. Other notable names popping up throughout the entries are Adam Driver, Jake Gyllenhaal, Olivia Colman, Toni Collette, Rose Byrne, Emma Thompson, Jenny Slate, and many more. As a New Jersey native, I’m especially hyped on my first browse to see Gurinder Chadha‘s Blinded By the Light, the Bend It Like Beckham director’s story of a British teenager in 1987 finding himself through the music of Bruce Springsteen.
U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Presenting the world premieres of 16 narrative feature films, the Dramatic Competition offers Festivalgoers a first look at groundbreaking new voices in American independent countries. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include Wildlife, Eighth Grade, Sorry to Bother You, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, and Swiss Army Man.
Before You Know It / U.S.A. (Director: Hannah Pearl Utt, Screenwriters: Hannah Pearl Utt, Jen Tullock, Producers: Mallory Schwartz, Josh Hetzler, James Brown) — A long-kept family secret thrusts codependent, thirty-something sisters Rachel and Jackie Gurner into a literal soap opera. A journey that proves that you really can come of age, at any age. Cast: Hannah Pearl Utt, Jen Tullock, Judith Light, Mandy Patinkin, Mike Colter, Alec Baldwin. World Premiere
Big Time Adolescence / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jason Orley, Producers: Jeremy Garelick, Mickey Liddell, Pete Shiliamon, Mason Novick, Will Phelps) — A suburban teenager comes of age under the destructive guidance of his best friend, a charismatic college dropout. Cast: Pete Davidson, Griffin Gluck, Jon Cryer, Sydney Sweeney, Emily Arlook, Colson Baker. World Premiere
Brittany Runs A Marathon / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Paul Downs Colaizzo, Producers: Matthew Plouffe, Tobey Maguire, Margot Hand) — A woman living in New York takes control of her life – one city block at a time. Cast: Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lil Rel Howery, Micah Stock, Alice Lee. World Premiere
Clemency / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Chinonye Chukwu, Producers: Bronwyn Cornelius, Julian Cautherley, Peter Wong, Timur Bekbosunov) — Years of carrying out death row executions have taken a toll on prison warden Bernadine Williams. As she prepares to execute another inmate, Bernadine must confront the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill. Cast: Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge, Richard Schiff, Wendell Pierce, Richard Gunn, Danielle Brooks. World Premiere
The Farewell / U.S.A.,China (Director and screenwriter: Lulu Wang, Producers: Daniele Melia, Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub, Chris Weitz, Andrew Miano, Anita Gou) — A headstrong Chinese-American woman returns to China when her beloved grandmother is given a terminal diagnosis. Billi struggles with her family’s decision to keep grandma in the dark about her own illness as they all stage an impromptu wedding to see grandma one last time. Cast: Awkwafina, Tzi Ma, Diana Lin, Zhao Shuzhen, Lu Hong, Jiang Yongbo. World Premiere
Hala / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Minhal Baig, Producers: Clarence Hammond, Jamal Watson, Minhal Baig) — Muslim teenager Hala copes with the unraveling of her family as she comes into her own. Cast: Geraldine Viswanathan, Jack Kilmer, Gabriel Luna, Purbi Joshi, Azad Khan, Anna Chlumsky. World Premiere
Honey Boy / U.S.A. (Director: Alma Har’el, Screenwriter: Shia LaBeouf, Producers: Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Anita Gou, Christopher Leggett, Alma Har’el) — A child TV star and his ex-rodeo clown father face their stormy past through time and cinema. Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe. World Premiere
Imaginary Order / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Debra Eisenstadt, Producers: Debra Eisenstadt, Cosmos Kiindarius) — The sexual, psychological and moral unraveling of an obsessive-compulsive suburban mom. Cast: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Christine Woods, Max Burkholder, Steve Little, Catherine Curtin, Kate Alberts. World Premiere
The Last Black Man in San Francisco / U.S.A. (Director: Joe Talbot, Screenwriters: Joe Talbot, Rob Richert, Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christina Oh, Khaliah Neal, Joe Talbot) — Jimmie Fails dreams of reclaiming the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. Joined on his quest by his best friend Mont, Jimmie searches for belonging in a rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind. Cast: Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Rob Morgan, Tichina Arnold, Danny Glover. World Premiere
Luce / U.S.A. (Director: Julius Onah, Screenwriters: JC Lee, Julius Onah, Producers: John Baker, Julius Onah, Andrew Yang) — A married couple is forced to reckon with their idealized image of their son, adopted from war-torn Eritrea, after an alarming discovery by a devoted high school teacher threatens his status as an all-star student. Cast: Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Tim Roth, Norbert Leo Butz. World Premiere
Ms. Purple / U.S.A. (Director: Justin Chon, Screenwriters: Justin Chon, Chris Dinh, Producer: Alex Chi, Justin Chon) — Kasie, stuck in LA’s Koreatown, works as a karaoke hostess getting paid for her companionship by drunken men. When her dad’s hospice nurse quits she reconnects with her estranged brother, Carey, forcing them to enter a period of intense self-reflection as their single father who raised them nears death. Cast: Tiffany Chu, Teddy Lee, Octavio Pizano, James Kang. World Premiere
Native Son / U.S.A. (Director: Rashid Johnson, Screenwriter: Suzan-Lori Parks, Producers: Matthew Perniciaro, Michael Sherman) — In this modern reimagining of Richard Wright’s seminal novel, a young African-American man named Bigger Thomas takes a job working for a highly influential Chicago family, a decision that will change the course of his life forever. Cast: Ashton Sanders, Margaret Qualley, Nick Robinson, KiKi Layne, Bill Camp, Sanaa Lathan. World Premiere. DAY ONE
Share / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Pippa Bianco, Producers: Carly Hugo, Tyler Byrne, Matt Parker) — After discovering a disturbing video from a night she doesn’t remember, sixteen-year-old Mandy must try to figure out what happened and how to navigate the escalating fallout. Cast: Rhianne Barreto, Charlie Plummer, Poorna Jagannathan, J.C. MacKenzie, Nick Galitzine, Lovie Simone. World Premiere
The Sound of Silence / U.S.A. (Director: Michael Tyburski, Screenwriters: Ben Nabors, Michael Tyburski, Producers: Ben Nabors, Michael Prall, Tariq Merhab, Charlie Scully, Mandy Tagger Brockey, Adi Ezroni) — A successful “house tuner” in New York City, who calibrates the sound in people’s homes in order to adjust their moods, meets a client with a problem he can’t solve. Cast: Peter Sarsgaard, Rashida Jones, Tony Revolori, Austin Pendleton. World Premiere
Them That Follow / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Britt Poulton, Dan Madison Savage, Producers: Bradley Gallo, Michael Helfant, Gerard Butler, Alan Siegel, Danielle Robinson) — Inside a snake-handling church deep in Appalachia, a forbidden relationship forces a pastor’s daughter to confront her community’s deadly tradition. Cast: Olivia Colman, Kaitlyn Dever, Alice Englert, Jim Gaffigan, Walton Goggins, Thomas Mann. World Premiere
To The Stars / U.S.A. (Director: Martha Stephens, Screenwriter: Shannon Bradley-Colleary, Producers: Kristin Mann, Laura D. Smith, Erik Rommesmo) — Under small town scrutiny, a withdrawn farmer’s daughter forges an intimate friendship with a worldly but reckless new girl in 1960s Oklahoma. Cast: Kara Hayward, Liana Liberato, Jordana Spiro, Shea Whigham, Malin Akerman, Tony Hale. World Premiere