- Romy Kraus
#Sundance2023: Sundance Film Festival Announces Lineup of 99 Feature Films
All Eyes Are On Independents
Sundance Institute announced the comprehensive slate of independent films selected across the feature film categories for the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. The 2023 Festival will take place January 19–29, 2023, in person in Park City, Salt Lake City, and the Sundance Resort, along with a selection of films available online across the country January 24–29, 2023. Festivalgoers will once again return to theaters to discover this upcoming year’s most impactful independent stories. In-Person Ticket Packages are currently on sale through December 16, Online Ticket Packages go on sale December 13 at 10 a.m. MT, and single film tickets go on sale January 12 at 10 a.m. MT.
Setting the scene, Day One Features will open the Festival in Park City: 11 features, plus a Shorts program, will illustrate the scope of Festival work across genre and form. Day One Features are birth/rebirth, L’Immensità, It’s Only Life After All, Kim’s Video, Little Richard: I Am Everything, The Longest Goodbye, The Pod Generation, Radical, Shayda, Sometimes I Think About Dying, and Run Rabbit Run. In addition, on January 19, the Institute will host the inaugural Opening Night: A Taste of Sundance presented by IMDbPro. The celebration will kick off the Festival welcoming everyone back together again while raising funds for the Institute’s critical year-round artist support. The evening will honor Ryan Coogler, Nikyatu Jusu, W. Kamau Bell, and more whose journeys have been connected to Sundance throughout the years. In addition, in-person attendees will get to experience a robust offering of talks and events during the Festival, with more details to be announced.
Films will become available online during the second half of the Festival — beginning January 24 — and will include all Competition titles (U.S. Dramatic, U.S. Documentary, World Cinema Dramatic, World Cinema Documentary, and NEXT), as well as exciting work across other sections of the feature film program, Indie Episodic Program, and Shorts Program. Audiences can enjoy the selection of films exclusively on the Sundance Film Festival online platform — those that will be available online are noted below. The online offering reinforces the Institute’s commitment to accessibility by allowing audiences coast to coast to take part in the discovery of captivating stories. The Shorts and Indie Episodic lineups for the 2023 Sundance Film Festival will be announced on December 13.
“Maintaining an essential place for artists to express themselves, take risks, and for visionary stories to endure and entertain is distinctly Sundance,” said Robert Redford, Sundance Institute Founder and President. “The Festival continues to foster these values and connections through independent storytelling. We are honored to share the compelling selection of work at this year’s Festival from distinct perspectives and unique voices.”
“As a program of the Sundance Institute, the Festival provides a place for artists globally to connect with audiences around a shared and inclusive experience of discovery,” said Joana Vicente, Sundance Institute CEO. “These filmmakers reflect the world around us through bold and thrilling storytelling. It is critical for the arts to foster dialogue, especially during unprecedented times — these stories are needed to provoke discussion, share diverse viewpoints, and challenge us. We are delighted to welcome this group of passionate artists to the Festival and look forward to celebrating the films together with audiences.”
“The program for this year’s Festival reiterates the relevancy of trailblazing work serving as an irreplaceable source for original stories that resonate and fuel creativity and dialogue,” said Kim Yutani, Sundance Film Festival Director of Programming. “In so many ways this year’s slate reflects the voices of communities around the world who are speaking out with urgency and finally being heard. Across our program, impactful storytelling by fearless artists continues to provide space for the community to come together to be entertained, challenged, and inspired.”
The 2023 Sundance Film Festival’s Salt Lake City Opening Night Gala Film is Blueback, premiering at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center on January 20. The upcoming Festival will expand its presence in Salt Lake City, providing more places to take part in the thrilling experience, including at The Megaplex Theatres at The Gateway.
Also announced today, The Pod Generation, screening in the Premieres section, has been named the winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, an annual award given to an artist with the most outstanding depiction of science and technology in a feature film.
The slate announced to date includes SLAM and The Doom Generation, which are featured in the From the Collection section bringing archival screenings back into focus as part of the Festival.
The Sundance Film Festival is an artist program of the Sundance Institute. Proceeds earned through Festival ticket sales go to uplifting and developing emerging artists on a year-round basis through focused labs, direct grants, fellowships, residencies, and more.
The full slate of works announced today, along with the From the Collection films previously announced, includes 101 feature-length films representing 23 countries. The 2023 program is made up of 32 of 115 (28%) feature film directors who are first-time feature filmmakers, and 17 of the feature films and projects announced today were supported by Sundance Institute in development through direct granting or residency labs.
World premieres make up 93, or 94%, of the Festival’s 99 feature films announced today.
These films were selected from 15,855 submissions, including 4,061 feature-length films. Of the 4,061 feature film submissions, 1,662 were from the U.S., and 2,399 were international. Director demographics are available in an editor’s note below.
U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION Presenting 12 world premieres of fiction feature films, the Dramatic Competition offers audiences a first look at groundbreaking new voices in American independent film. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include Nanny, CODA, Passing, Minari, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, The Farewell, Clemency, Eighth Grade, and Sorry to Bother You.
The Accidental Getaway Driver / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Sing J. Lee, Screenwriter: Christopher Chen, Producers: Kimberly Steward, Basil Iwanyk, Andy Sorgie, Brendon Boyea, Joseph Hiếu) — During a routine pickup, an elderly Vietnamese cab driver is taken hostage at gunpoint by three recently escaped Orange County convicts. Based on a true story. Cast: Hiệp Trần Nghĩa, Dustin Nguyen, Dali Benssalah, Phi Vũ, Gabrielle Chan. World Premiere. Available online.
All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Raven Jackson, Producers: Maria Altamirano, Barry Jenkins, Adele Romanski, Mark Ceryak) – A decades-spanning exploration of a woman’s life in Mississippi and an ode to the generations of people, places, and ineffable moments that shape us. Cast: Charleen McClure, Moses Ingram, Kaylee Nicole Johnson, Reginald Helms Jr., Sheila Atim, Chris Chalk. World Premiere. Available online.
Fair Play / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Chloe Domont, Producers: Leopold Hughes, Ben LeClair, Tim White, Trevor White, Allan Mandelbaum) — An unexpected promotion at a cutthroat hedge fund pushes a young couple’s relationship to the brink, threatening to unravel far more than their recent engagement. Cast: Phoebe Dynevor, Alden Ehrenreich, Eddie Marsan. World Premiere. Available online.
Fancy Dance / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Erica Tremblay, Screenwriter: Miciana Alise, Producers: Deidre Backs, Heather Rae, Nina Yang Bongiovi, Tommy Oliver) — Following her sister’s disappearance, a Native American hustler kidnaps her niece from the child’s white grandparents and sets out for the state powwow in hopes of keeping what is left of their family intact. Cast: Lily Gladstone, Isabel Deroy-Olson, Ryan Begay, Shea Whigham, Audrey Wasilewski. World Premiere. Available online.
Magazine Dreams / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Elijah Bynum, Producers: Jennifer Fox, Dan Gilroy, Jeffrey Soros, Simon Horsman) — An amateur bodybuilder struggles to find human connection as his relentless drive for recognition pushes him to the brink. Cast: Jonathan Majors, Haley Bennett, Taylour Paige, Mike O’Hearn, Harrison Page, Harriet Sansom Harris. World Premiere. Available online.
Mutt / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, Producers: Alexander Stegmaier, Stephen Scott Scarpulla, Jennifer Kuczaj, Joel Michaely) — Over the course of a single hectic day in New York City, three people from Feña’s past are thrust back into his life. Having lost touch since transitioning from female to male, he navigates the new dynamics of old relationships while tackling the day-to-day challenges of living life in between. Cast: Lío Mehiel, Cole Doman, MiMi Ryder, Alejandro Goic. World Premiere. Available online.
The Persian Version / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Maryam Keshavarz, Producers: Anne Carey, Ben Howe, Luca Borghese, Peter Block, Corey Nelson) — When a large Iranian-American family gathers for the patriarch’s heart transplant, a family secret is uncovered that catapults the estranged mother and daughter into an exploration of the past. Toggling between the United States and Iran over decades, mother and daughter discover they are more alike than they know. Cast: Layla Mohammadi, Niousha Noor, Kamand Shafieisabet, Bella Warda, Bijan Daneshmand, Shervin Alenabi. World Premiere. Available online.
Shortcomings / U.S.A. (Director: Randall Park, Screenwriter: Adrian Tomine, Producers: Margot Hand, Randall Park, Hieu Ho, Jennifer Berman, Howard Cohen, Eric d’Arbeloff) — Following Ben, Miko, and Alice as they navigate a range of interpersonal relationships and traverse the country in search of the ideal connection. Cast: Justin H. Min, Sherry Cola, Ally Maki, Debby Ryan, Tavi Gevinson, Sonoya Mizuno. World Premiere. Available online.
Sometimes I Think About Dying / U.S.A. (Director: Rachel Lambert, Screenwriters: Kevin Armento, Stefanie Abel Horowitz, Katy Wright-Mead, Producers: Alex Saks, Daisy Ridley, Dori Rath, Lauren Beveridge, Brett Beveridge) — Fran likes to think about dying. It brings sensation to her quiet life. When she makes the new guy at work laugh, it leads to more: a date, a slice of pie, a conversation, a spark. The only thing standing in their way is Fran herself. Cast: Daisy Ridley, Dave Merheje, Parvesh Cheena, Marcia DeBonis, Meg Stalter, Brittany O’Grady. World Premiere. Available online.
The Starling Girl / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Laurel Akira Parmet, Producers: Kevin Rowe, Kara Durrett) — Seventeen-year-old Jem Starling struggles with her place within her Christian fundamentalist community, but everything changes when her magnetic youth pastor Owen returns to their church. Cast: Eliza Scanlen, Lewis Pullman, Jimmi Simpson, Wrenn Schmidt, Austin Abrams, Jessamine Burgum. World Premiere. Available online.
Theater Camp / U.S.A. (Directors and Screenwriters: Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman, Screenwriters: Noah Galvin, Ben Platt, Producers: Erik Feig, Samie Kim Falvey, Julia Hammer, Ryan Heller, Will Ferrell, Jessica Elbaum) — When the beloved founder of a run-down theater camp in upstate New York falls into a coma, the eccentric staff must band together with the founder’s crypto-bro son to keep the camp afloat. Cast: Molly Gordon, Ben Platt, Noah Galvin, Jimmy Tatro, Patti Harrison, Ayo Edebiri. World Premiere. Available online.
A Thousand and One / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: A.V. Rockwell, Producers: Eddie Vaisman, Julia Lebedev, Lena Waithe, Rishi Rajani, Brad Weston) — Convinced it’s one last, necessary crime on the path to redemption, unapologetic and free-spirited Inez kidnaps 6-year-old Terry from the foster care system. Holding on to their secret and each other, mother and son set out to reclaim their sense of home, identity, and stability in New York City. Cast: Teyana Taylor, Will Catlett, Josiah Cross, Aven Courtney, Aaron Kingsley Adetola. World Premiere. Available online.
U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION World-premiere American documentaries that illuminate the ideas, people, and events that shape the present day. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include Fire of Love, Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Boys State, Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, APOLLO 11, Knock Down the House, One Child Nation, American Factory, Three Identical Strangers, and On Her Shoulders.
AUM: The Cult at the End of the World / U.S.A. (Directors and Producers: Ben Braun, Chiaki Yanagimoto, Producers: Dan Braun, Josh Braun, Rick Brookwell) — On the morning of March 20, 1995, a deadly nerve gas attack in the Tokyo subway sent the nation and its people into chaos. This exploration of Aum Shinrikyo, the cult responsible for the attack, involves the participation of those who lived through the horror as it unfolded. World Premiere. Available online.
Bad Press / U.S.A (Directors: Rebecca Landsberry-Baker, Joe Peeler, Producers: Conrad Beilharz, Garrett F. Baker, Tyler Graim) — When the Muscogee Nation suddenly begins censoring its free press, a rogue reporter fights to expose her government’s corruption in a historic battle that will have ramifications for all of Indian country. World Premiere. Available online.
The Disappearance of Shere Hite / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Nicole Newnham, Producers: Molly O’Brien, R.J. Cutler, Elise Pearlstein, Kimberley Ferdinando, Trevor Smith) — Shere Hite’s 1976 bestselling book, The Hite Report, liberated the female orgasm by revealing the most private experiences of thousands of anonymous survey respondents. Her findings rocked the American establishment and presaged current conversations about gender, sexuality, and bodily autonomy. So how did Shere Hite disappear? World Premiere. Available online.
Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project / U.S.A. (Directors and Producers: Joe Brewster, Michèle Stephenson, Producer: Tommy Oliver) — Intimate vérité, archival footage, and visually innovative treatments of poetry take us on a journey through the dreamscape of legendary poet Nikki Giovanni as she reflects on her life and legacy. World Premiere. Available online.
Going Varsity in Mariachi / U.S.A. (Directors: Alejandra Vasquez, Sam Osborn, Producers: James Lawler, Luis A. Miranda, Jr., Julia Pontecorvo) — In the competitive world of high school mariachi, the musicians from the South Texas borderlands reign supreme. Under the guidance of coach Abel Acuña, the teenage captains of Edinburg North High School’s acclaimed team must turn a shoestring budget and diverse crew of inexperienced musicians into state champions. World Premiere. Available online.
Joonam / U.S.A. (Director: Sierra Urich, Producer: Keith Wilson) — Spurred by a provocative family memory and a lifetime of separation from the country her mother left behind, a young filmmaker delves into her mother and grandmother’s complicated pasts and her own fractured Iranian identity. World Premiere. Available online.
Little Richard: I Am Everything / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Lisa Cortés, Producers: Robert Friedman, Liz Yale Marsh, Caryn Capotosto) — This celebration of Little Richard reveals the Black queer origins of rock ’n’ roll, finally exploding the whitewashed canon of American pop music. Through archival and performance footage, the revolutionary icon’s life unspools with all of its switchbacks and contradictions. World Premiere. Available online. DAY ONE
Nam June Paik: Moon is the Oldest TV / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Amanda Kim, Pro