Now we’re talking: Sundance Film Festival has officially unveiled its exceptional slate of premieres for its 2016 installment.
A few major highlights include exciting new documentaries by Spike Lee (Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall) and Werner Herzog (LO AND BEHOLD, Reveries of the Connected World), in addition to feature films by Todd Solandz (Wiener-Dog), Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women), and Asif Kapadia (Ali & Nino).
Plenty of big stars also return with much smaller films, specifically Paul Rudd (The Fundamentals of Caring), Michael Shannon (Frank & Lola), Kathy Bates (Complete Unknown), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic), Anna Kendrick (The Hollars), Danny Glover (Mr. Pig), and many, many more.
Other notables include a special premiere of Hulu’s 11.22.63, a new Frank Zappa documentary, and a handful of recent festival favorites including Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room and Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster.
Consult the full lineup below. In case you missed it, the festival also announced its competitive lineup and its signature Midnight series over the last two weeks. Start prepping, Sundance takes over Park City, Utah from January 21st to the 31st.
A showcase of world premieres of some of the most highly anticipated narrative films of the coming year.
Agnus Dei / France, Poland (Director: Anne Fontaine, Screenwriters: Sabrina N. Karine, Alice Vial, Pascal Bonitzer) — 1945 Poland: Mathilde, a young French doctor, is on a mission to help World War II survivors. When a nun seeks her assistance in helping several pregnant nuns in hiding, who are unable to reconcile their faith with their pregnancies, Mathilde becomes their only hope. Cast: Lou de Laâge, Agata Kulesza, Agata Buzek, Vincent Macaigne, Joanna Kulig, Katarzyna Dabrowska. World Premiere
Ali & Nino / United Kingdom (Director: Asif Kapadia, Screenwriter: Christopher Hampton) — Muslim prince Ali and Georgian aristocrat Nino have grown up in the Russian province of Azerbaijan. Their tragic love story sees the outbreak of the First World War and the world’s struggle for Baku’s oil. Ultimately they must choose to fight for their country’s independence or for each other. Cast: Adam Bakri, Maria Valverde, Mandy Patinkin, Connie Nielsen, Riccardo Scamarcio, Homayoun Ershadi. World Premiere
Captain Fantastic / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Matt Ross) — Deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and re-enter society, beginning a journey that challenges his idea of what it means to be a parent. Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Frank Langella, George MacKay, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn, Ann Dowd. World Premiere
Certain Women / U.S.A. (Director: Kelly Reichardt, Screenwriter: Kelly Reichardt based on stories by Maile Meloy) — The lives of three woman intersect in small-town America, where each is imperfectly blazing a trail. Cast: Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams, James Le Gros, Jared Harris, Lily Gladstone. World Premiere
Complete Unknown / U.S.A. (Director: Joshua Marston, Screenwriters: Joshua Marston, Julian Sheppard) — When Tom and his wife host a dinner party to celebrate his birthday, one of their friends brings a date named Alice. Tom is convinced he knows her, but she’s going by a different name and a different biography—and she’s not acknowledging that she knows him. Cast: Rachel Weisz, Michael Shannon, Kathy Bates, Danny Glover. World Premiere
Frank & Lola / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Matthew Ross) — A psychosexual noir love story—set in Las Vegas and Paris—about love, obsession, sex, betrayal, revenge and, ultimately, the search for redemption. Cast: Michael Shannon, Imogen Poots, Michael Nyqvist, Justin Long, Emmanuelle Devos, Rosanna Arquette. World Premiere
Sophie and the Rising Sun / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Maggie Greenwald) — In a small Southern town in the autumn of 1941, Sophie’s lonely life is transformed when an Asian man arrives under mysterious circumstances. Their love affair becomes the lightning rod for long-buried conflicts that erupt in bigotry and violence with the outbreak of World War ll. Cast: Julianne Nicholson, Margo Martindale, Lorraine Toussaint, Takashi Yamaguchi, Diane Ladd, Joel Murray. World Premiere. SALT LAKE CITY GALA FILM
Wiener-Dog / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: ) — This film tells several stories featuring people who find their life inspired or changed by one particular dachshund, who seems to be spreading comfort and joy. Cast: Greta Gerwig, Kieran Culkin, Danny DeVito, Ellen Burstyn, Julie Delpy, Zosia Mamet. World Premiere
Renowned filmmakers and films about far-reaching subjects comprise this section highlighting our ongoing commitment to documentaries.
Eat That Question—Frank Zappa in His Own Words / France, Germany (Director: Thorsten Schütte) — This entertaining encounter with the premier of sonic avant-garde is acidic, fun-poking, and full of rich and rare archival footage. This documentary bashes favorite Zappa targets and dashes a few myths about the man himself. World Premiere
Film Hawk / U.S.A. (Directors: JJ Garvine, Tai Parquet) — Trace Bob Hawk’s early years as the young gay child of a Methodist minister to his current career as a consultant on some of the most influential independent films of our time. World Premiere
LO AND BEHOLD, Reveries of the Connected World / U.S.A. (Director: Werner Herzog) — Does the internet dream of itself? Explore the horizons of the connected world. World Premiere
Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures / U.S.A. (Directors: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato) — This examination of Robert Mapplethorpe’s outrageous life is led by the artist himself, speaking with brutal honesty in a series of rediscovered interviews about his passions. Intimate revelations from friends, family, and lovers shed new light on this scandalous artist who ignited a culture war that still rages on. World Premiere
Maya Angelou And Still I Rise / U.S.A. (Directors: Bob Hercules, Rita Coburn Whack) — The remarkable story of Maya Angelou — iconic writer, poet, actress and activist whose life has intersected some of the most profound moments in recent American history. World Premiere
Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall / U.S.A. (Director: Spike Lee) — Catapulted by the success of his first major solo project, Off the Wall, Michael Jackson went from child star to King of Pop. This film explores the seminal album, with rare archival footage and interviews from those who were there and those whose lives its success and legacy impacted. World Premiere
Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You / U.S.A. (Directors: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady) — How did a poor Jewish kid from Connecticut bring us Archie Bunker and become one of the most successful television producers ever? Norman Lear brought provocative subjects like war, poverty, and prejudice into 120 million homes every week. He proved that social change was possible through an unlikely prism: laughter. World Premiere. DAY ONE FILM
Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper / U.S.A. (Director: Liz Garbus) — Gloria Vanderbilt and her son Anderson Cooper each tell the story of their past and present, their loves and losses, and reveal how some family stories have the tendency to repeat themselves in the most unexpected ways. World Premiere
Resilience / U.S.A. (Director: James Redford) — This film chronicles the birth of a new movement among pediatricians, therapists, educators, and communities using cutting-edge brain science to disrupt cycles of violence, addiction, and disease. These professionals help break the cycles of adversity by daring to talk about the effects of divorce, abuse, and neglect. World Premiere
Richard Linklater—dream is destiny / U.S.A. (Directors: Louis Black, Karen Bernstein) — This is an unconventional look at a fiercely independent style of filmmaking that arose in the 1990s from Austin, Texas, outside the studio system. The film blends rare archival footage with journals, exclusive interviews with Linklater on and off set, and clips from Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Boyhood, and more.World Premiere
Under the Gun / U.S.A. (Director: Stephanie Soechtig) — The Sandy Hook massacre was considered a watershed moment in the national debate on gun control, but the body count at the hands of gun violence has only increased. Through the lens of the victims’ families, as well as pro-gun advocates, we examine why our politicians have failed to act. World Premiere
Unlocking the Cage / U.S.A. (Directors: Chris Hegedus, Donn Alan Pennebaker) — Follow animal rights lawyer Steven Wise in his unprecedented challenge to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans. By filing the first lawsuit of its kind, Wise seeks to transform a chimpanzee from a “thing” with no rights to a “person” with basic legal protection. World Premiere
Regardless of where these films have played throughout the world, the Spotlight program is a tribute to the cinema we love.
Cemetery of Splendor / Thailand (Director and screenwriter: Apichatpong Weerasethakull) — A lonesome middle-aged housewife tends to a soldier with sleeping sickness and falls into a hallucination that triggers strange dreams, phantoms, and romance. Cast: Jenjira Pongpas, Banlop Lomnoi, Jarinpattra Rueangram.
Embrace of the Serpent / Colombia (Director: Ciro Guerra, Screenwriters: Ciro Guerra, Jacques Toulemonde Vidal) — This blistering, poetic story is inspired by the original journals of scientists Theodor Koch-Grünberg and Richard Evans Schultes, who meet lone survivor Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman. Over 40 years, they develop a friendship while traveling through the Colombian Amazon in search of the sacred, psychedelic yakruna plant. Cast: Jan Bijvoet, Brionne Davis, Antonio Bolivar, Nilbio Torres, Miguel Dionisio Ramos.
Green Room / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jeremy Saulnier) — This wickedly fun horror-thriller tells a story about the owner of a neo-Nazi club who squares off against an unsuspecting but resilient young punk band after they witness a horrific act of violence. Cast: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner, Patrick Stewart.
Land of Mine / Denmark (Director and screenwriter: Martin Zandvliet) — At the end of World War II, a group of young German POWs captured by the Danish army are forced to defuse and clear landmines from the Danish coastline with no training. Inspired by real events, the film exposes the untold story of one tragic moment in Denmark’s history. Cast: Roland Møller, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Louis Hofmann, Joel Basman, Emil Belton, Oskar Belton. U.S. Premiere
The Lobster / Ireland, United Kingdom, Greece, France (Director: Yorgos Lanthimos, Screenwriters: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou) — In a dystopian near future, single people are obliged to find a mate in 45 days or else be transformed into an animal of their choice and be released into the woods. Cast: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw, Léa Seydoux, John C. Reilly, Olivia Colman.
Maggie’s Plan / U.S.A. (Director: Rebecca Miller, Screenwriters: Rebecca Miller, based on a story by Karen Rinaldi) — A young woman’s determination to have a child catapults her into a nervy love triangle with a heart-throb academic and his eccentric critical-theorist wife. Cast: Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Travis Fimmel.
Miles Ahead / U.S.A. (Director: Don Cheadle, Screenwriters: Don Cheadle, Steven Baigelman) — Inspired by events in Miles Davis’s life, this is a wildly entertaining, impressionistic, no-holds-barred portrait of one of twentieth-century music’s creative geniuses. Cast: Don Cheadle, Ewan McGregor, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Lakeith Lee Stanfield, Michael Stuhlbarg.
Rams / Iceland (Director and screenwriter: Grímur Hákonarson) — In a remote Icelandic farming valley, two brothers who haven’t spoken in 40 years have to come together to save what’s dearest to them—their sheep. Cast: Sigurður Sigurjónsson, Theodór Júlíusson.
Viva / Ireland (Director: Paddy Breathnach, Screenwriter: Mark O’Halloran) — In contemporary Cuba, a father and son struggle to escape from each other’s expectations, duty, and the burden of past sins. Cast: Héctor Medina, Jorge Perugorría, Luis Alberto García.
This section of the Festival is especially for our youngest independent film fans. Programmed in cooperation with Utah Film Center which presents the annual Tumbleweeds Film Festival, Utah’s premiere film festival for children and youth.
The Eagle Huntress / U.S.A. (Director: Otto Bell) — Step aside, Daenerys and Katniss—Aisholpan is a real-life role model on an epic journey in a faraway world. Follow this 13-year-old nomadic Mongolian girl as she battles to become the first female to hunt with a golden eagle in 2,000 years of male-dominated history. World Premiere
Little Gangster / Netherlands (Director: Arne Toonen, Screenwriter: Lotte Tabbers) — Rik Boskamp wants a life where he’s not constantly bullied. When he and his family move, the people in their new town think his father is a Mafia boss, and everybody treats them with respect—until a bully from Rikkie’s past turns up. How long can he keep up his lie? Cast: Thor Braun, Henry Van Loon, Rene Van ‘T Hof, Meral Polat, Fedja Van Huêt, Maas Bronkhuyzen. North American Premiere
Snowtime! / Canada (Directors: Jean-François Pouliot, François Brisson, Screenwriters: Normand Canac-Marquis, Paul Risacher) — To amuse themselves during their winter break from school, the kids in a small village have a massive snowball fight. But what starts out as pure youthful fun and enthusiasm deteriorates into a more serious conflict as the children learn the role that love and friendship play in their lives. Cast: Sandra Oh, Ross Lynch, Angela Gallupo, Lucinda Davis, Don Shepherd, Sonja Ball. North American Premiere
One-of-a-kind moments highlighting new independent works that add to the unique Festival experience. An evolving section, this year includes episodic work, short films and live post-screening discussions.
11.22.63 / U.S.A. (Director: Kevin Macdonald, Screenwriter: Bridget Carpenter, Executive Producers: J.J. Abrams, Stephen King, Kevin Macdonald, Bridget Carpenter, Bryan Burk) — On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy was killed, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? Take a journey to find out in this genre-busting, epic new nine-hour event series. The Festival will debut the two-hour premiere of the series, followed by an extended Q&A. Cast: James Franco, Sarah Gadon, Daniel Webber, George MacKay, Josh Duhamel, Chris Cooper. World Premiere
Behind the Scenes of Anomalisa / U.S.A. (Directors: Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson, Screenwriter: Charlie Kaufman) — Michael Stone—husband, father and respected author—is crippled by the mundanity of his life. On a business trip, he checks into the Fregoli Hotel. He’s amazed to discover a possible escape from his desperation in an unassuming woman, who may or may not be the love of his life. The Festival will present a screening of the film followed by a Q&A with the creators. Separately, they will speak on a Festival panel explaining their creative process and how they brought their extraordinary film to life. Cast: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan, David Thewlis.
Chelsea Does / U.S.A. (Director: Eddie Schmidt) — This four-part documentary series features Chelsea Handler as she explores topics of personal and universal fascination: marriage, racism, Silicon Valley, and drugs. The Festival will premiere one installment of the series with clips from the other three installments, followed by an extended Q&A with Chelsea Handler, Director Eddie Schmidt, and Executive Producer Morgan Neville. World Premiere
The Girlfriend Experience / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Lodge Kerrigan, Amy Seimetz, Executive Producers: Steven Soderbergh, Philip Fleishman, Lodge Kerrigan, Amy Seimetz, Gary Marcus, Jeff Cuban) — Law student Christine Reade is introduced to the world of transactional relationships in this original anthology series. Providing “The Girlfriend Experience” (an emotional and sexual relationship offered at a high price) gives Christine a rush of control and intimacy, but she soon finds herself juggling two very different lives. The Festival will premiere four episodes of the series, followed by an extended Q&A. Cast: Riley Keough, Paul Sparks, Mary Lynn Rajskub, James Gilbert, Kate Lyn Sheil. World Premiere
The New Yorker Presents / U.S.A. (Executive Producers: Alex Gibney, Kahane Cooperman, Showrunner: Kahane Cooperman) — A groundbreaking new series that brings America’s most award-winning magazine, The New Yorker, to the screen with documentaries, short narrative films, comedy, poetry, animation, and cartoons from the hands of acclaimed filmmakers and artists. The Festival will premiere the first two episodes of the series, followed by an extended Q&A. World Premiere
O.J.: Made in America / U.S.A. (Director: Ezra Edelman) — This is the story of O.J. Simpson, one of the most polarizing people of the twentieth century, and the city in which he lived for much of his life, Los Angeles. The film explores Simpson’s rise and fall, centered around two of America’s greatest fixations—race and celebrity. The Festival will premiere the full 7.5-hour documentary, followed by an extended Q&A.World Premiere
The Skinny / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jessie Kahnweiler) — Follow feminist and wannabe YouTube star Jessie as she struggles to live, love, and get over her bulimia. The Festival will premiere six 10-minute episodes, followed by an extended Q&A with Kahnweiler. Cast: Jessie Kahnweiler, Illeana Douglas, Spencer Hill, Ryan Pinkston, Megan Ferguson, Sadie Calvano. World Premiere
United Shades of America / U.S.A. (Executive Producers: Jimmy Fox, W. Kamau Bell, Star Price) — Political comedian W. Kamau Bell explores the racial subcultures of America. In this original series premiere, he uses humor to challenge Klansmen looking to rebrand their message. The screening will include an extended Q&A.World Premiere