Offering a first look at the year ahead in independent film, culture and new ideas, The Sundance Institute announced the 65 films selected for the U.S. Competition, World Competition and out-of-competition NEXT category set to premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, January 21-31 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. Films that have premiered in these sections include Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station,Whiplash, Blackfish, The September Issue, The Cove, An Education, Animal Kingdom, Precious, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Obvious Child, Tangerine and Escape from Tomorrow.
Robert Redford, President and Founder of Sundance Institute, said, “From diverse backgrounds, places and perspectives, these independent artists are united by the power of their stories and vision. Their films will soon launch onto the global stage, beginning their journeys through our culture. A new year in independent film will start right here—on the mountain—in January.”
For the 2016 Festival, 120 feature-length films were selected, representing 37 countries and 48 first-time filmmakers, including 28 in competition. These films were selected from 12,793 submissions, including 4,081 feature-length films and 8,712 short films. Of the feature film submissions, 1,972 were from the U.S. and 2,109 were international. 98 feature films at the Festival will be world premieres. The Midnight films have been announced and more films will be announced soon; watch www.sundance.org/festival.
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, The Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and new media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling.
Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, said, “At a time when big-budget blockbusters and free online content are ubiquitous, independent filmmakers continue to be extraordinarily creative, artful and inventive. Our mission remains to amplify these voices from outside the mainstream at the Festival and, through our year-round filmmaker Labs, programs and events, to celebrate their truly independent passion and spirit.”
The Sundance Film Festival® has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Boyhood, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Twenty Feet from Stardom, Life Itself, The Cove, The End of the Tour, Blackfish, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Super Size Me, Dope, Little Miss Sunshine, sex, lies, and videotape, Reservoir Dogs, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, An Inconvenient Truth, Precious and Napoleon Dynamite. The New Frontier Initiative, celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2016, has showcased groundbreaking media works by artists and creative technologists including Chris Milk, Doug Aitken, Palmer Luckey, Klip Collective and Nonny de la Peña. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®.
The Festival is the centerpiece of the year-round public programs for the Institute, which also hosts 24 residency Labs for independent artists in theatre, film, new media and episodic content and grants more than $2.5 million to independent artists each year.
John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival, said, “Fueled by wild creativity, fresh perspectives and a deep understanding of the craft of storytelling, independent film is evolving. Our Festival continues to show that film has the power to inspire, challenge and surprise audiences in new ways.”
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 film.
As You Are / U.S.A. (Director: Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, Screenwriters: Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, Madison Harrison) — As You Are is the telling and retelling of a relationship between three teenagers as it traces the course of their friendship through a construction of disparate memories prompted by a police investigation. Cast: Owen Campbell, Charlie Heaton, Amandla Stenberg, John Scurti, Scott Cohen, Mary Stuart Masterson. World Premiere
The Birth of a Nation / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Nate Parker) — Set against the antebellum South, this story follows Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner, accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. After witnessing countless atrocities against fellow slaves, Nat devises a plan to lead his people to freedom. Cast: Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, Mark Boone Jr. World Premiere
Christine / U.S.A. (Director: Antonio Campos, Screenwriter: Craig Shilowich) — In 1974, a female TV news reporter aims for high standards in life and love in Sarasota, Florida. Missing her mark is not an option. This story is based on true events. Cast: Rebecca Hall, Michael C. Hall, Maria Dizzia, Tracy Letts, J. Smith-Cameron. World Premiere
Equity / U.S.A. (Director: Meera Menon, Screenwriter: Amy Fox) — A female investment banker, fighting to get a promotion at her competitive Wall Street firm, leads a controversial tech IPO in the post-financial-crisis world, where regulations are tight but pressure to bring in big money remains high. Cast: Anna Gunn, James Purefoy, Sarah Megan Thomas, Alysia Reiner. World Premiere
The Free World / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jason Lew) — Following his release from a brutal stretch in prison for crimes he didn’t commit, Mo is struggling to adapt to life on the outside. When his world collides with Doris, a mysterious woman with a violent past, he decides to risk his newfound freedom to keep her in his life. Cast: Boyd Holbrook, Elisabeth Moss, Octavia Spencer, Sung Kang, Waleed Zuaiter. World Premiere
Goat / U.S.A. (Director: Andrew Neel, Screenwriters: David Gordon Green, Andrew Neel, Michael Roberts) — Reeling from a terrifying assault, a 19-year-old boy pledges his brother’s fraternity in an attempt to prove his manhood. What happens there, in the name of “brotherhood,” tests both the boys and their relationship in brutal ways. Cast: Nick Jonas, Ben Schnetzer, Virginia Gardner, Danny Flaherty, Austin Lyon. World Premiere
The Intervention / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Clea DuVall) — A weekend getaway for four couples takes a sharp turn when one of the couples discovers the entire trip was orchestrated to host an intervention on their marriage. Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Cobie Smulders, Alia Shawkat, Clea DuVall, Natasha Lyonne, Ben Schwartz. World Premiere
Joshy / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jeff Baena) — Josh treats what would have been his bachelor party as an opportunity to reconnect with his friends. Cast: Thomas Middleditch, Adam Pally, Alex Ross Perry, Nick Kroll, Brett Gelman, Jenny Slate. World Premiere
Lovesong / U.S.A. (Director: So Yong Kim, Screenwriters: So Yong Kim, Bradley Rust Gray) — Neglected by her husband, Sarah embarks on an impromptu road trip with her young daughter and her best friend, Mindy. Along the way, the dynamic between the two friends intensifies before circumstances force them apart. Years later, Sarah attempts to rebuild their intimate connection in the days before Mindy’s wedding. Cast: Jena Malone, Riley Keough, Brooklyn Decker, Amy Seimetz, Ryan Eggold, Rosanna Arquette. World Premiere
Morris from America / U.S.A., Germany (Director and screenwriter: Chad Hartigan) — Thirteen-year-old Morris, a hip-hop loving American, moves to Heidelberg, Germany, with his father. In this completely foreign land, he falls in love with a local girl, befriends his German tutor-turned-confidant, and attempts to navigate the unique trials and tribulations of adolescence. Cast: Markees Christmas, Craig Robinson, Carla Juri, Lina Keller, Jakub Gierszał, Levin Henning. World Premiere
Other People / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Chris Kelly) — A struggling comedy writer, fresh from breaking up with his boyfriend, moves to Sacramento to help his sick mother. Living with his conservative father and younger sisters, David feels like a stranger in his childhood home. As his mother worsens, he tries to convince everyone (including himself) he’s “doing okay.” Cast: Jesse Plemons, Molly Shannon, Bradley Whitford, Maude Apatow, Zach Woods, June Squibb. World Premiere. DAY ONE FILM ****
Southside With You / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Richard Tanne) — Southside With You is a chronicle of the summer afternoon in 1989 when the future president of the United States of America, Barack Obama, wooed his future First Lady on an epic first date across Chicago’s South Side. Cast: Tika Sumpter, Parker Sawyers, Vanessa Bell Calloway. World Premiere
Spa Night / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Andrew Ahn) — A young Korean-American man works to reconcile his obligations to his struggling immigrant family with his burgeoning sexual desires in the underground world of gay hookups at Korean spas in Los Angeles. Cast: Joe Seo, Haerry Kim, Youn Ho Cho, Tae Song, Ho Young Chung, Linda Han. World Premiere****
Swiss Army Man / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Daniel Scheinert, Daniel Kwan) — Hank, a hopeless man stranded in the wild, discovers a mysterious dead body. Together the two embark on an epic journey to get home. As Hank realizes the body is the key to his survival, this once-suicidal man is forced to convince a dead body that life is worth living. Cast: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead. World Premiere Continue reading