Preview By Bears Fonte
Sundance arrives each year, kicking off the festival year and really, for people like me, the year. 2017 was rough in many ways, but one of the highlights for me personally was marching in the Women’s March on Main in Park City and the inspiring remarks from Jessica Williams. This year organizers have put together the ‘Respect Rally,’ January 20th at 10 AM. According to a quote from an insider to Deadline, “after Trump and then (Harvey) Weinstein, Sundance is an essential spotlight for promoting the issues that we took to the streets last year.”As the shadow of some further shithole remarks hangs over the country, I am hoping to reconnect with my liberal media tribe and get inspired by some truly original work.
This year’s festival includes a new Indie Episodic section as Sundance tries to catch up to the world in realizing that streaming is more than just Netflix. Once again, Netflix is expected to be the biggest buyer at the fest, having already secured the rights to Seeing AllRed, the Gloria Allred documentary back in November. But I have to say, of the six straight years of attending Sundance, this year’s program appears to be the best and most balance yet. Weather looks good and I’m ready to dive in so without further ado, here are my ten picks for Sundance 2018, and with a fantastic program, I have limited myself to one pick per section.
Director: Don Argott
Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds and Neon Trees’ Tyler Glenn, a Mormon and an openly-gay former Mormon, start a festival to engender change in a church with an archaic stance on same-sex relationships (much like other religious institutions).
Why I trust it: Sundance has an interesting relationship with it home state so if they have selected this film, it is going to be one of the most talked about films by the locals.
Director: Ben Lewin
Cast: Paul Rudd, Mark Strong, Sienna Miller, Jeff Daniels, Guy Pearce, Paul Giamatti
The true story of major league catcher Moe Berg who becomes a spy for the US government during World War II.
Why I trust it: The really story is almost too good to be true, its amazing they haven’t made a movie about it yet.
Section: World Cinema Documentary Competition
Director: Christian Frei, Maxim Arbugaev
The search for wooly mammoth remains brings to groups of people to the Siberian Islands, but are the fossils destined for sale and for Jurassic Park-style bio-engineering.
Why I trust it: Christian Frei won a Sundance directing award for his brilliant doc SPACE TOURISTS that contrasts millionaires paying their way into space with Kazakh scavengers collecting space waste fallen from the sky, so he’s been down this road before.
Director: Isabella Eklöf
Cast: Victoria Carmen Sonne, Lai Yde, Thijs Römer
While on a luxury vacation, the girlfriend of a gangster starts a dangerous romantic relationship with another man.
Why I trust it: First-time female writer/director, in addition to just wanting to support that, this feels like a story that would be told very differently through the male gaze.
Director: Jonas Åkerlund
Cast: Rory Culkin, Emory Cohen, Sky Ferreira, Jack Kilmer, Valter Skarsgård
Mayhem, the most important of Norwegian black metal bands, whose story includes suicide, Satanism, murder and church burnings, finally gets the film they deserve.
Why I trust it: This director began his career as a drummer in Bathory, one of the other most important black metal bands.
Director: Desiree Akhavan
Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck, John Gallagher Jr., Jennifer Ehle
Chloë Grace Moretz plays the title character sent to conversion therapy after being caught with another girl in the back seat of a car on prom night.
Why I trust it: I’ve always like Moretz and Akhavan’s APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR was pretty good but mostly it’s the story under the shadow of our Vice President.
Director: Jordana Spiro
Cast: Dominique Fishback, Tatum Hall, John Earl Jelks, Max Casella, James McDaniel
Fresh out of juve, Angel plans to hit reset on her and her sister’s life, by hunting down the man who killed her mother, who also happens to be her father
Why I trust it: I met filmmaker Spiro years ago when her short film SKIN played Sundance and SXSW and was blown away by her the depth of her characters.
Director: Nathaniel Kahn
A never-before-seen peek into the world of big-money art sales and how becoming a commodity changes the art and the artist.
Why I trust it: With people like Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter, and Njideka Akunyili Crosby interviewed, this film has the potential to really change the way we look at art.
Director: Warwick Thornton
Cast: Bryan Brown, Sam Neill, Hamilton Morris, Ewen Leslie, Thomas M. Wright, Matt Day
In 1929, an Aboriginal man goes on the run after accidentally killing a bully.
Why I trust it: Well, it did win the Platform Prize at TIFF, the highest award given at that fest.
Directors: Chapman Way, Maclain Way
388 minutes on the crazy, true story of the followers of guru Bhagwan Rajneesh and Rajneeshpuram, the $125 million, 64,000-acre utopia built in conservative Antelope, OR where thousands of homeless people were bussed in to sway county elections.
Why I trust it: I mean… have you ever heard of this? Plus Duplass Bros exec producing for this new mini-doc series for Netflix.