It’s not even December, and the Sundance Film Festival has announced more or less its entire feature film lineup, unveiling 112 films to be screened in Park City, Utah, over the course of the event, which runs from Jan. 23 – Feb. 2, 2019.
Last year, the Venice Film Festival invited just one woman director to screen her film in competition. Cannes carved out room for three. Sundance once again puts these male-dominated showcases to shame, unveiling a competition slate that is 53% female — nine of the 17 directors eligible for the festival’s top prize are women.
Examining the lineup as a whole, 45 of the 112 features accepted to Sundance were directed by one or more women, 40 were directed by a filmmaker of color, and 15 by people who identify as LGBTQIA. That’s just one of the many ways in which North America’s leading independent film festival continues to lead the charge when it comes to the inclusion and encouragement of underrepresented voices.
“We’re always going for parity, but because of the way we program, we’re looking for the films before we are who made them, so that kind of comes in the fine-tuning of the program, and it’s always amazing when it comes out that way,” said Kim Yutani, who was promoted to director of programming for this edition (following Trevor Groth’s exit). “This year, it was completely organic. Different people are telling stories, and I think that is indicative of the time we are living in right now.”
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When asked why Sundance fares so much better than Venice in this regard, festival director John Cooper jokes, “You would have to ask Venice,” explaining that auteur-driven festivals (those who program films by more established directorial voices) reflect the historic barriers to entry for women. “At Sundance, we are all about discovery. The Venice competition rarely [includes] first-time filmmakers, so with that alone, you’re getting into different percentages as you go back in years.”
Worth noting: The lone woman director in Venice’s competition was Australian helmer Jennifer Kent, whose debut feature, “The Babadook,” premiered at Sundance in 2014. Her new movie, “The Nightingale,” will have its North American premiere in Sundance’s Spotlight section. More significant still, 45 of the features screening in Park City were made by first-time directors. “There’s more new faces,” Cooper said, predicting, “I think it’s going to be vital to the culture and more exhilarating in the discovery.”
In order to make sense of those figures, Sundance also shares the statistics behind the films that were submitted (whereas Toronto, which boasted 35% women directors in 2018, does not divulge information on the films it rejects). Sundance received a record high number of submissions this year: 4,018 feature-length films, among an overall pool of 14,259, which includes shorts, episodic, and less-traditional work. Among the features received, the majority (2,251) were international, 35% were directed by one or more women, 45% directed by filmmakers of color, and 13% by people who identify as LGBTQIA — indicating that the selections reflect the distribution of filmmakers submitting fairly closely, with a slightly higher percentage of women accepted.
One thing the numbers don’t tell — and which audiences, critics and the industry will have to discover for themselves when they see the lineup in January — is the more nuanced sense of how this year’s stories differ from those Sundance has spotlighted before. According to Yutani, that’s the direct result of changes to the programming team, with the goal being to assemble “a team of people who have different perspectives,” she said. “We all have different things that we gravitate to or look for in films, and that’s what brings our program to a really interesting place. If you go down each of the sections, there are so many different kinds of voices, and that reflects who is choosing the films.”
In the U.S. dramatic competition, audiences will find women directors telling men’s stories — as in Alma Har’el’s “Honey Boy,” being Shia LaBeouf’s unclear-how-autobiographical tale of a child actor’s strained relationship with his father (a role Shia plays himself) — and male directors telling female stories, such as body image dramedy “Brittany Runs a Marathon” or “Gook” director Justin Chon’s second feature, “Ms. Purple.”
Many of the competition stories feature non-white protagonists, from modern-day Richard Wright adaptation “Native Son” to Julius Onah’s “Luce,” about a white couple who adopt a former African child soldier. “Blockers” scene-stealer Geraldine Viswanathan stars in Minhal Baig’s Muslim-American coming-of-ager “Hala,” while mixed-race newcomer Rhianne Barreto carries Pippa Bianco’s topical “Share,” one of three A24 releases in competition, this one about a cheerleader troubled by a video that goes viral after a party where she blacked out.
According to Cooper, the common thread in this year’s lineup is “the whole notion of empowerment, of rising to the challenge, and the role truth plays in that.” Although most of this year’s selections aren’t overtly political — apart from such clear exceptions as Petra Costa’s untitled Brazilian impeachment doc, Matt Tyrnauer’s “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” and grassroots election doc “Knock Down the House” — Cooper identified a recurring theme of overcoming disenfranchisement and outsiders/immigrants finding their voices. “I think maybe that’s a reaction to the time we live in, a time when you feel a little powerless or overburdened by what going on in the world,” he said.
One other trend that Yutani wanted to accentuate was the payoff to a slow-but-steady effort to attract strong international films for the festival’s global competition categories — something Yutani described as a personal goal since she started as a features programmer at Sundance 10 years ago. “We’ve really achieved something special this year,” she said. “It’s a combination of filmmakers who are known on the international film festival circuit, people like Joanna Hogg and Gabriel Mascaro and Johannes Nyholm, but also films that are pure discovery, like our Day One film, ‘The Last Tree.’”
So, while quality is any festival’s first concern, to some extent, inclusion is a deliberate initiative at Sundance. That’s especially true at the level of the nonprofit Sundance Institute, which operates the festival, and whose year-round programs — filmmaker labs, fellowships, and mentorship programs — are designed to encourage female, youth, and Native storytellers.
Still, when it comes to selecting films to screen in Park City, the festival has a different challenge from studios, producers, and the parties that greenlight movies in the first place: “We only show the films that were made,” Cooper said. “We’re not making films or telling people how to put together their teams.” And if there appear to be a disproportionate number of HBO- or Netflix-produced films in this year’s lineup — a by-now-standard criticism — Cooper explained that it’s essentially a testament to those companies’ policies of supporting visionary films from diverse voices. “We’re curators. We help films find audiences, but we’re only as good as what is submitted,” he said.
The full lineup:
U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION
The 16 films in this section are all world premieres.
Before You Know It (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.
Big Time Adolescence (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.
Brittany Runs A Marathon (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.
Clemency (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.
The Farewell (U.S.-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.
Hala (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.
Honey Boy (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.
Imaginary Order (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.
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (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.
Luce (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.
Ms. Purple (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.
Native Son (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. DAY ONE
Share (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.
The Sound of Silence (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.
Them That Follow (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.
To The Stars (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.
U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
The 16 films in this section are all world premieres.
Always in Season (Director: Jacqueline Olive) — When 17-year-old Lennon Lacy is found hanging from a swing set in rural North Carolina in 2014, his mother’s search for justice and reconciliation begins as the trauma of more than a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present.
American Factory (Directors: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, Producers: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, Jeff Reichert, Julie Parker Benello) — In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring two thousand blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America .
Apollo 11 (Director: Todd Douglas Miller, Producers: Todd Douglas Miller, Thomas Petersen, Evan Krauss) — A purely archival reconstruction of humanity’s first trip to another world, featuring never-before-seen 70mm footage and never-before-heard audio from the mission.
Bedlam (Director: Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, Producers: Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, Peter Miller) — A psychiatrist makes rounds in ERs, jails, and homeless camps to tell the intimate stories behind one of the greatest social crises of our time. A personal and intense journey into the world of the seriously mentally ill.
David Crosby: Remember My Name (Director: A.J. Eaton, Producers: Cameron Crowe, Michele Farinola, Greg Mariotti) — You thought you knew him. Meet David Crosby now in this portrait of a man with everything but an easy retirement on his mind. With unflinching honesty, self-examination, regret, fear, exuberance and an unshakable belief in family and the transformative nature of music, Crosby shares his often challenging journey.
Hail Satan (Director: Penny Lane, Producer: Gabriel Sedgwick) — A look at the intersection of religion and activism, tracing the rise of The Satanic Temple: only six years old and already one of the most controversial religious movements in American history. The Temple is calling for a Satanic revolution to save the nation’s soul. But are they for real?
Jawline (Director: Liza Mandelup, Producers: Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche, Hannah Reyer) — The film follows 16-year-old Austyn Tester, a rising star in the live-broadcast ecosystem who built his following on wide-eyed optimism and teen girl lust, as he tries to escape a dead-end life in rural Tennessee.
Knock Down the House (Director: Rachel Lears, Producers: Sarah Olson, Robin Blotnick, Rachel Lears) — A young bartender in the Bronx, a coal miner’s daughter in West Virginia, a grieving mother in Nevada and a registered nurse in Missouri build a movement of insurgent candidates challenging powerful incumbents in Congress. One of their races will become the most shocking political upset in recent American history. Cast: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Midnight Family (Mexico-U.S. – Director: Luke Lorentzen, Producers: Kellen Quinn, Daniela Alatorre, Elena Fortes) — In Mexico City’s wealthiest neighborhoods, the Ochoa family runs a private ambulance, competing with other for-profit EMTs for patients in need of urgent help. As they try to make a living in this cutthroat industry, they struggle to keep their financial needs from compromising the people in their care.
Mike Wallace Is Here (Director: Avi Belkin, Producers: Rafael Marmor, John Battsek, Peggy Drexler, Avi Belkin, Christopher Leggett) — For over half a century, 60 Minutes’ fearsome newsman Mike Wallace went head-to-head with the world’s most influential figures. Relying exclusively on archival footage, the film interrogates the interrogator, tracking Mike’s storied career and troubled personal life while unpacking how broadcast journalism evolved to today’s precarious tipping point.
Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements (Director: Irene Taylor Brodsky, Producers: Irene Taylor Brodsky, Tahria Sheather) — A deeply personal portrait of three lives, and the discoveries that lie beyond loss: a deaf boy growing up, his deaf grandfather growing old, and Beethoven the year he was blindsided by deafness and wrote his iconic sonata.
One Child Nation (China-U.S. – Directors: Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, Producers: Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, Julie Goldman, Christoph Jörg, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn) — After becoming a mother, a filmmaker uncovers the untold history of China’s one-child policy and the generations of parents and children forever shaped by this social experiment.
Pahokee (Directors: Ivete Lucas, Patrick Bresnan, Producers: Ivete Lucas, Patrick Bresnan, Maida Lynn) — In a small agricultural town in the Florida Everglades, hopes for the future are concentrated on the youth. Four teens face heartbreak and celebrate in the rituals of an extraordinary senior year.
Tigerland (Director: Ross Kauffman, Producers: Fisher Stevens, Xan Parker, Zara Duffy) — 50 years ago, a young forest officer in India rallied the world to save tigers from extinction. Today, the creed is carried on in Far East Russia by the guardians of the last Siberian tigers, who risk everything to save the species.
Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary (Director and screenwriter: Ben Berman, Producers: Miranda Bailey, Ben Berman, Russell Groves, Amanda Marshall, Jacob Perlin) — What begins as a documentary following the final tour of a dying magician — “The Amazing Johnathan” — becomes an unexpected and increasingly bizarre journey as the filmmaker struggles to separate truth from illusion. Cast: Johnathan Szeles.
Where’s My Roy Cohn? (Director: Matt Tyrnauer, Producers: Matt Tyrnauer , Corey Reeser, Marie Brenner, Andrea Lewis) — Roy Cohn personified the dark arts of American politics, turning empty vessels into dangerous demagogues – from Joseph McCarthy to his final project, Donald J. Trump. This thriller-like exposé connects the dots, revealing how a deeply troubled master manipulator shaped our current American nightmare.
WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION
The 12 films in this section are world premieres unless otherwise specified.
Dirty God (Netherlands-U.K.-Belgium-Ireland – Director: Sacha Polak, Screenwriters: Sacha Polak, Susanne Farrell, Producers: Marleen Slot, Michael Elliott) — Jade is a young mother in the prime of her life when an acid attack leaves her severely burned. While her face has been reconstructed, her beauty is lost beneath the scars. Descending a self-destructive path with relationships crumbling, Jade must take drastic action to reclaim her life. Cast: Vicky Knight, Katherine Kelly, Eliza Brady-Girard, Rebecca Stone, Bluey Robinson, Dana Marienci. International Premiere
Divine Love (Brazil-Uruguay-Denmark-Norway – Director: Gabriel Mascaro, Screenwriters: Gabriel Mascaro, Rachel Daisy Ellis, Esdras Bezerra, Producer: Rachel Daisy Ellis) — Brazil, 2027 . A deeply religious woman uses her position in a notary’s office to advance her mission to save struggling couples from divorce. Whilst waiting for a sign in recognition of her efforts, she’s confronted with a crisis in her own marriage that ultimately brings her closer to God. Cast: Dira Praes, Julio Machado, Emilio de Melo, Teca Pereira, Mariana Nunes, Thalita Carauta.
Dolce Fine Giornata (Poland – Director: Jacek Borcuch, Screenwriters: Jacek Borcuch, Szczepan Twardoch, Producer: Marta Habior) — In Tuscany, Maria’s stable family life begins to erode as her relationship with a young immigrant develops against a backdrop of terrorism and eroding democracy. Cast: Krystyna Janda, Katarzyna Smutniak, Vincent Riotta, Antonio Catania, Lorenzo de Moor, Robin Renucci.
Judy & Punch (Australia – Director and screenwriter: Mirrah Foulkes, Producers: Michele Bennett, Nash Edgerton, Danny Gabai) — In the anarchic town of Seaside, nowhere near the sea, puppeteers Judy and Punch are trying to resurrect their marionette show. The show is a hit due to Judy’s superior puppeteering but Punch’s driving ambition and penchant for whisky lead to a inevitable tragedy that Judy must avenge. Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Damon Herriman, Tom Budge, Benedict Hardie, Lucy Velik, Terry Norris.
Koko-di Koko-da (Sweden-Denmark – Director and screenwriter: Johannes Nyholm, Producer: Johannes Nyholm) — As a couple goes on a trip to find their way back to each other, a sideshow artist and his shady entourage emerge from the woods, terrorizing them, luring them deeper and deeper into a maelstrom of psychological terror and humiliating slapstick. Cast: Leif Edlund, Ylva Gallon, Peter Belli, Katarina Jacobson.
The Last Tree (U.K. – Director and screenwriter: Shola Amoo, Producers: Lee Thomas, Myf Hopkins) — Femi is a British boy of Nigerian heritage who, after a happy childhood in rural Lincolnshire, moves to inner London to live with his mum. Struggling with the unfamiliar culture and values of his new environment, teenage Femi has to figure out which path to adulthood he wants to take. Cast: Sam Adewunmi, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Tai Golding.
Monos (Colombia-Argentina-Netherlands-Germany-Sweden-Uruguay – Director: Alejandro Landes, Screenwriters: Alejandro Landes, Alexis Dos Santos, Producers: Alejandro Landes, Fernando Epstein, Santiago Zapata, Cristina Landes) — On a faraway mountaintop, eight kids with guns watch over a hostage and a conscripted milk cow. Cast: Julianne Nicholson, Moisés Arias, Sofia Buenaventura, Deibi Rueda, Karen Quintero, Laura Castrillón.
Queen of Hearts (Denmark – Director: May el-Toukhy, Screenwriters: Maren Louise Käehne, May el-Toukhy, Producers: Caroline Blanco, René Ezra) — A woman jeopardizes both her career and her family when she seduces her teenage stepson and is forced to make an irreversible decision with fatal consequences. Cast: Trine Dyrholm, Gustav Lindh, Magnus Krepper.
The Sharks (Uruguay-Argentina-Spain – Director and screenwriter: Lucía Garibaldi, Producers: Pancho Magnou Arnábal, Isabel García) — While a rumor about the presence of sharks in a small beach town distracts residents, 14-year-old Rosina begins to feel an instinct to shorten the distance between her body and Joselo’s. Cast: Romina Bentancur, Federico Morosini, Fabián Arenillas, Valeria Lois, Antonella Aquistapache.
The Souvenir (United Kingdom – Director and screenwriter: Joanna Hogg, Producers: Luke Schiller, Joanna Hogg) — A quiet film student begins finding her voice as an artist while navigating a turbulent courtship with a charismatic but untrustworthy man. She defies her protective mother and concerned friends as she slips deeper and deeper into an intense, emotionally fraught relationship which comes dangerously close to destroying her dreams. Cast: Honor Swinton Byrne, Tom Burke, Tilda Swinton.
This Is Not Berlin (Mexico – Director: Hari Sama, Screenwriters: Rodrigo Ordóñez, Hari Sama, Max Zunino, Producers: Ale García, Antonio Urdapilleta, Hari Sama, Verónica Valadez P.) — 1986, Mexico City. Seventeen-year-old Carlos doesn’t fit in anywhere, not in his family nor with the friends he has chosen in school. But everything changes when he is invited to a mythical nightclub where he discovers the underground nightlife scene: punk, sexual liberty and drugs. Cast: Xabiani Ponce de León, José Antonio Toledano, Ximena Romo, Mauro Sánchez Navarro, Klaudia García, Marina de Tavira.
We Are Little Zombies (Japan – Director and screenwriter: Makoto Nagahisa, Producers: Shinichi Takahashi, Tahei Tamanishi, Haruki Yokoyama, Haruhiko Hasegawa) — Their parents are dead. They should be sad, but they can’t cry. So they form a kick-ass band. This is the story of four 13-year-olds in search of their emotions. Cast: Keita Ninomiya, Satoshi Mizuno, Mondo Okumura, Sena Nakajima.
WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
The 12 films in this section are world premieres unless otherwise specified.
Advocate (Israel-Canada-Switzerland – Directors: Rachel Leah Jones, Philippe Bellaïche , Producers: Philippe Bellaïche , Rachel Leah Jones, Paul Cadieux, Joelle Bertossa) Lea Tsemel defends Palestinians: from feminists to fundamentalists, from non-violent demonstrators to armed militants. As a Jewish-Israeli lawyer who has represented political prisoners for nearly 50 years, Tsemel, in her tireless quest for justice, pushes the praxis of a human rights defender to its limits.
Cold Case Hammarskjold (Denmark (Director: Mads Brügger, Producers: Peter Engel, Andreas Rocksén, Bjarte M. Tveit) — Danish director Mads Brügger and Swedish private investigator Göran Bjorkdahl are trying to solve the mysterious death of Dag Hammarskjold. As their investigation closes in, they discover a crime far worse than killing the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The Disappearance of My Mother (Italy – Director and screenwriter: Beniamino Barrese, Producer: Filippo Macelloni) — An aging fashion model strives to escape the world of images and disappear for good, but her son’s determination to make a final film about her sparks an unexpected collaboration and confrontation with the camera’s gaze.
Gaza (Ireland – Directors: Garry Keane, Andrew McConnell, Producers: Brendan J. Byrne, Garry Keane, Andrew McConnell, Paul Cadieux) — Gaza brings us into a unique place beyond the reach of television news reports to reveal a world rich with eloquent and resilient characters, offering us a cinematic and enriching portrait of a people attempting to lead meaningful lives against the rubble of perennial conflict.
Honeyland (Macedonia – Directors: Ljubomir Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska, Producer: Atanas Georgiev) — When nomadic beekeepers break Honeyland’s basic rule (take half of the honey, but leave half to the bees), the last female beehunter in Europe must save the bees and restore natural balance.
Lapü (Colombia – Directors: Juan Pablo Polanco, César Alejandro Jaimes, Screenwriters: Juan Pablo Polanco, César Alejandro Jaimes, María Canela Reyes, Producer: Julián David Quintero) — In the middle of the Guajira Desert, Doris, a young Wayuu woman, exhumes her cousin’s remains in order to meet her for the last time. Through a sensory journey this ritual leads her to confront death and blend the world of the dreams with the world of the living. Cast: Doris González Jusayú, Carmen González Jusayú.
The Magic Life of V (Finland-Denmark-Bulgaria – Director: Tonislav Hristov, Screenwriters: Tonislav Hristov, Kaarle Aho, Producers: Kaarle Aho, Kai Nordberg) — Haunted by childhood traumas, Veera is trying to become more independent through live roleplaying. As she guides herself and her mentally-challenged brother through worlds of multiple roles and identities, witches and wizards, she finds the courage to face the demons of her own past and her abusive father’s legacy.
Midnight Traveler (U.S.-Qatar-U.K.-Canada – Director: Hassan Fazili, Screenwriter: Emelie Mahdavian, Producers: Emelie Mahdavian, Su Kim) — When the Taliban puts a bounty on Afghan director Hassan Fazili’s head, he is forced to flee with his wife and two young daughters. Capturing their uncertain journey, Fazili shows firsthand the dangers facing refugees seeking asylum and the love shared between a family on the run.
Sea of Shadows (Austria – Director: Richard Ladkani, Producers: Walter Koehler, Wolfgang Knoepfler) —The vaquita, the world’s smallest whale, is near extinction as its habitat is destroyed by Mexican cartels and Chinese mafia, who harvest the swim bladder of the totoaba fish, the “cocaine of the sea.” Environmental activists, Mexican navy and undercover investigators are fighting back against this illegal multimillion-dollar business.
Shooting the Mafia (Ireland – Director: Kim Longinotto, Producer: Niamh Fagan) — Sicilian Letizia Battaglia began a lifelong battle with the Mafia when she first pointed her camera at a brutally slain victim. Documenting the Cosa Nostra’s barbaric rule, she bore unflinching witness to their crimes. Her photographs, art, and bravery helped to bring an end to a shocking reign of slaughter.
Stieg Larsson – The Man Who Played With Fire (Sweden – Director and screenwriter: Henrik Georgsson, Producers: Mattias Nohrborg, Fredrik Heinig) — A documentary about the Millennium-trilogy author Stieg Larsson and his pioneering work of fighting right wing extremists and neo-Nazis, an obsession with fatal consequences. (International Premiere)
Untitled Brazil Documentary (Brazil – Director and screenwriter: Petra Costa, Producers: Joanna Natasegara, Shane Boris, Tiago Pavan) — A cautionary tale for these times of democracy in crisis – the personal and political fuse to explore one of the most dramatic periods in Brazilian history. With unprecedented access to Presidents Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva, we witness their rise and fall and the tragically polarized nation that remains.
The 10 films in this section are all world premieres.
Adam (Director: Rhys Ernst, Screenwriter: Ariel Schrag, Producers: Howard Gertler, James Schamus) — Awkward teenager Adam arrives to spend his final high school summer with his older sister, who has thrown herself into New York City’s lesbian and trans activist scene. Over the summer, Adam and those around him experience love, friendship, and attendant hard truths in this coming-of-age comedy. Cast: Nicholas Alexander, India Menuez, Leo Sheng, Chloe Levine, Margaret Qualley.
The Death of Dick Long (Director: Daniel Scheinert, Screenwriter: Billy Chew, Producers: Jonathan Wang, Daniel Scheinert) — Dick died last night, and Zeke and Earl don’t want anybody finding out how. That’s too bad though, cause news travels fast in small-town Alabama. Cast: Michael Abbott Jr., Virginia Newcomb, Andre Hyland, Sarah Baker, Jess Weixler.
Give Me Liberty (Director: Kirill Mikhanovsky, Screenwriters: Alice Austen, Kirill Mikhanovsky, Producers: Alice Austen, George Rush, Walter S. Hall, Michael Manasseri, Sergey Shtern, Val Abel) — When a riot breaks out in Milwaukee, America’s most segregated city, medical transport driver Vic is torn between his promise to get a group of elderly Russians to a funeral and his desire to help Tracy, a young black woman with ALS. Cast: Lauren “Lolo” Spencer, Chris Galust, Maksim Stoyanov, Darya Ekamasova.
The Infiltrators (Directors: Alex Rivera, Cristina Ibarra, Screenwriters: Alex Rivera, Aldo Velasco, Producers: Cristina Ibarra, Alex Rivera, Darren Dean) — A rag-tag group of undocumented youth – Dreamers – deliberately get detained by Border Patrol in order to infiltrate a shadowy, for-profit detention center. Cast: Maynor Alvarado, Manuel Uriza, Chelsea Rendon, Juan Gabriel Pareja, Vik Sahay.
Light From Light (Director and screenwriter: Paul Harrill, Producers: James M. Johnston, Kelly Williams, Toby Halbrooks, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Headington, Theresa Page) — Shelia, a single mom and sometime paranormal investigator, is enlisted to investigate a possible “haunting” at a widower’s farmhouse in East Tennessee. Cast: Marin Ireland, Jim Gaffigan, Josh Wiggins, Atheena Frizzell, David Cale.
Paradise Hills (Spain-U.S. – Director: Alice Waddington, Screenwriters: Nacho Vigalondo, Brian DeLeeuw, Producers: Adrian Guerra, Núria Valls) — A young woman is sent to Paradise Hills to be reformed, only to learn that the high-class facility’s beautiful facade hides a sinister secret. Cast: Emma Roberts, Danielle Macdonald, Awkwafina, Eiza González, Milla Jovovich, Jeremy Irvine.
Premature (Director: Rashaad Ernesto Green, Screenwriters: Rashaad Ernesto Green, Zora Howard, Producers: Joy Ganes, Rashaad Ernesto Green, Darren Dean) — The summer before she leaves for college, Ayanna meets handsome and mysterious outsider Isaiah; her entire world is turned upside down as she navigates the demanding terrain of young love against a changing Harlem landscape. Cast: Zora Howard, Joshua Boone, Michelle Wilson, Alexis Marie Wint, Imani Lewis, Tashiana Washington.
Selah and the Spades (Director and screenwriter: Tayarisha Poe, Producers: Lauren McBride, Lucas Joaquin, Drew Houpt, Tayarisha Poe, Jill Ahrens) — Five factions run the underground life of the prestigious Haldwell boarding school. At the head of the most powerful faction – The Spades – sits Selah Summers. By turns charming and callous, she chooses whom to keep close and whom to cut loose, walking the fine line between being feared and loved. Cast: Lovie Simone, Celeste O’Connor, Jharrel Jerome, Gina Torres, Jesse Williams.
Sister Aimee (Directors and screenwriters: Samantha Buck, Marie Schlingmann, Producers: Bettina Barrow, David Hartstein, Katherine Harper) — In 1926 America’s most famous evangelist is a woman. And she’s looking for a way out. Fed up with her own success, she gets swept up in her lover’s daydreams about Mexico and finds herself on a wild road trip towards the border. Based on true events. Mostly made up. Cast: Anna Margaret Hollyman, Michael Mosley, Andrea Suarez Paz, Julie White, Macon Blair, Amy Hargreaves.
The Wolf Hour (Director and screenwriter: Alistair Banks Griffin, Producers: Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Bailey Conway Anglewicz, Bradley Pilz) — Once a known counterculture figure, June E. Leigh now lives in self-imposed exile in her South Bronx apartment during the incendiary ’77 Summer of Sam. When an unseen tormentor begins exploiting June’s weaknesses, her insular universe begins to unravel. Cast: Naomi Watts, Emory Cohen, Jennifer Ehle, Kelvin Harrison Jr.
The 18 films in this section are all world premieres.
After The Wedding (Director and screenwriter: Bart Freundlich, Producers: Joel B. Michaels, Harry Finkel) — Seeking funds for her orphanage in India, Isabelle travels to New York to meet Theresa, a wealthy benefactor. An invitation to attend a wedding ignites a series of events in which the past collides with the present while mysteries unravel. Based on the Academy Award-nominated film by Susanne Bier. Cast: Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Billy Crudup, Abby Quinn. DAY ONE
Animals (U.K.-Ireland-Australia – Director: Sophie Hyde, Screenwriter: Emma Jane Unsworth, Producers: Sarah Brocklehurst, Rebecca Summerton, Cormac Fox, Sophie Hyde) — After a decade of partying, Laura and Tyler’s friendship is strained by Laura’s new love and her focus on her novel. A snapshot of a modern woman with competing desires, at once a celebration of female friendship and an examination of the choices we make when facing a crossroads. Cast: Holliday Grainger, Alia Shawkat.
Blinded by the Light (U.K. – Director: Gurinder Chadha, Screenwriters: Sarfraz Manzoor, Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges, Producers: Gurinder Chadha, Jane Barclay, Jamal Daniel) — In 1987 during the austere days of Thatcher’s Britain, a teenager learns to live life, understand his family and find his own voice through the music of Bruce Springsteen. Cast: Viveik Kalra, Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon, Kulvinder Ghir, Nell Williams, Aaron Phagura.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (United Kingdom – Director and screenwriter: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Producers: Andrea Calderwood, Gail Egan) — Against all the odds, a thirteen year old boy in Malawi invents an unconventional way to save his family and village from famine. Based on the true story of William Kamkwamba. Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Maxwell Simba, Lily Banda, Noma Dumezweni, Aissa Maiga, Joseph Marcell.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (Director: Joe Berlinger, Screenwriter: Michael Werwie, Producers: Michael Costigan, Nicolas Chartier, Ara Keshishian, Michael Simkin) — A chronicle of the crimes of Ted Bundy from the perspective of Liz, his longtime girlfriend, who refused to believe the truth about him for years. Cast: Zac Efron, Lily Collins, Haley Joel Osment, Kaya Scodelario, John Malkovich, Jim Parsons.
I Am Mother (Australia – Director: Grant Sputore, Screenwriter: Michael Lloyd Green, Producers: Timothy White, Kelvin Munro) — In the wake of humanity’s extinction, a teenage girl is raised by a robot designed to repopulate the earth. But their unique bond is threatened when an inexplicable stranger arrives with alarming news. Cast: Clara Rugaard, Rose Byrne, Hilary Swank.
Late Night (Director: Nisha Ganatra, Screenwriter: Mindy Kaling, Producers: Ben Browning, Howard Klein, Jillian Apfelbaum, Mindy Kaling) — Legendary late-night talk show host’s world is turned upside down when she hires her only female staff writer. Originally intended to smooth over diversity concerns, her decision has unexpectedly hilarious consequences as the two women separated by culture and generation are united by their love of a biting punchline. Cast: Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling, John Lithgow, Paul Walter Hauser, Reid Scott, Amy Ryan.
The Mustang (Director: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, Screenwriters: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, Mona Fastvold, Brock Norman Brock, Producer: Alain Goldman) — While participating in a rehabilitation program training wild mustangs, a convict at first struggles to connect with the horses and his fellow inmates, but learns to confront his violent past as he soothes an especially feisty horse. Cast: Matthias Schoenaerts, Connie Britton, Bruce Dern, Jason Mitchell, Gideon Adlon, Josh Stewart.
Official Secrets (U.S.-U.K. – Director: Gavin Hood, Screenwriters: Sara Bernstein, Gregory Bernstein, Gavin Hood, Producers: Ged Doherty, Elizabeth Fowler, Melissa Shiyu Zuo) — The true story of British Intelligence whistleblower Katharine Gun, who prior to the 2003 Iraq invasion leaked a top-secret NSA memo exposing a joint US-UK illegal spying operation against members of the UN Security Council. The memo proposed blackmailing member states into voting for war. Cast: Keira Knightley, Matt Smith, Ralph Feinnes, Matthew Goode, Rhys Ifans.
Photograph (India – Director and screenwriter: Ritesh Batra, Producers: Neil Kopp, Vincent Savino, Anish Savjani) — Two lives intersect in Mumbai and go along together. A struggling street photographer, pressured to marry by his grandmother, convinces a shy stranger to pose as his fiancée. The pair develops a connection that transforms them in ways that they could not expect. Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqi, Sanya Malhotra.
Relive (Director: Jacob Estes, Screenwriters: Jacob Estes, Drew Daywalt, Producers: Jason Blum, Bobby Cohen) — After a man’s family dies in what appears to be a murder, he gets a phone call from one of the dead, his niece. He’s not sure if she’s a ghost or if he’s going mad — but as it turns out, he’s not. Instead, her calls help him rewrite history. Cast: David Oyelowo, Storm Reid, Mykelti Williamson, Alfred Molina, Brian Tyree Henry.
The Report (Director and screenwriter: Scott Z. Burns, Producers: Steven Soderbergh, Jennifer Fox, Scott Z. Burns, Danny Gabai, Eddy Moretti ) — The story of Daniel Jones, lead investigator for the US Senate’s sweeping study into the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, which was found to be brutal, immoral and ineffective. With the truth at stake, Jones battled tirelessly to make public what many in power sought to keep hidden. Cast: Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm, Ted Levine, Maura Tierney, Michael C. Hall.
Sonja – The White Swan (Norway – Director: Anne Sewitsky, Screenwriters: Mette Marit Bølstad, Andreas Markusson, Producers: Cornelia Boysen, Synnøve Hørsdal) — The true story of one of the world’s greatest athletes and the inventor of modern figure skating, who took Hollywood by storm in the 1930s, sacrificing everything to stay in the spotlight. Cast: Ine Marie Wilmann, Valene Kane, Eldar Skar, Anders Mordal, Pål Sverre Hagen, Aiden McArdle. International Premiere
The Sunlit Night (Germany-Norway – Director: David Wnendt, Screenwriter: Rebecca Dinerstein, Producers: Michael Clark, Alex Turtletaub, Gabrielle Nadig, Fabian Gasmia, Ruben Thorkildsen, Jenny Slate) — Between New York City and the far north of Norway, an American painter and a Russian émigré find each other in the Arctic circle. Together under a sun that never sets, they discover a future and family that they didn’t know they had. Cast: Jenny Slate, Zach Galifianakis, Alex Sharp, Gillian Anderson, Fridjov Sáheim, David Paymer.
The Tomorrow Man (Director and screenwriter: Noble Jones, Producers: Luke Rivett, Nicolaas Bertelsen, James Schamus, Tony Lipp) — Ed Hemsler spends his life preparing for a disaster that may never come. Ronnie Meisner spends her life shopping for things she may never use. In a small town somewhere in America, these two people will try to find love while trying not to get lost in each other’s stuff. Cast: John Lithgow, Blythe Danner, Derek Cecil, Katie Aselton, Sophie Thatcher, Eve Harlow.
Top End Wedding (Australia – Director: Wayne Blair, Screenwriters: Joshua Tyler, Miranda Tapsell, Producers: Rosemary Blight, Kylie du Fresne, Kate Croser) — Lauren and Ned are engaged, they are in love, and they have just ten days to find Lauren’s mother who has gone AWOL somewhere in the remote far north of Australia, reunite her parents and pull off their dream wedding. Cast: Miranda Tapsell, Gwilym Lee, Kerry Fox, Huw Higginson, Ursula Yovich, Shari Sebbens.
Troupe Zero (Director: Bert & Bertie, Screenwriter: Lucy Alibar, Producers: Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch, Alex Siskin, Viola Davis) — In rural 1977 Georgia, a misfit girl dreams of life in outer space. When a national competition offers her a chance at her dream, to be recorded on NASA’s Golden Record, she recruits a makeshift troupe of Birdie Scouts, forging friendships that last a lifetime and beyond. Cast: Viola Davis, McKenna Grace, Jim Gaffigan, Mike Epps, Charlie Shotwell, Allison Janney.
Velvet Buzzsaw (Director and screenwriter: Dan Gilroy, Producer: Jennifer Fox) — A thriller set in the contemporary art world scene of Los Angeles, where big money artists and mega-collectors pay a high price when art collides with commerce. Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, Zawe Ashton, Tom Sturridge, Natalia Dyer, Billy Magnussen.
The 12 films in this section are all world premieres.
Ask Dr. Ruth (Director: Ryan White, Producers: Rafael Marmor, Ryan White, Jessica Hargrave, Christopher Leggett ) — A documentary portrait chronicling the incredible life of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a Holocaust survivor who became America’s most famous sex therapist. As her 90th birthday approaches, Dr. Ruth revisits her painful past and her career at the forefront of the sexual revolution.
Halston (Director and screenwriter: Frédéric Tcheng, Producers: Roland Ballester, Frédéric Tcheng, Stephanie Levy, Paul Dallas) — From Iowa to Studio 54, this investigation into the rags-to-riches story of America’s first superstar designer uncovers the cautionary tale of an artist who sold his name to Wall Street.
Love, Antosha (Director: Garret Price, Producers: Adam Gibbs, Drake Doremus) — A portrait of the extraordinary life and career of actor Anton Yelchin.
Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love (Director: Nick Broomfield, Producers: Marc Hoeferlin, Shani Hinton, Kyle Gibbon) — A story of enduring love between Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian muse Marianne Ihlen. The film follows their relationship from the early days in Greece, a time of ‘free love’ and open marriage, to how their love evolved when Leonard became a successful musician.
Merata: How Mum Decolonised The Screen (New Zealand – Director and screenwriter: Heperi MIta, Producer: Chelsea Winstanley) — An intimate portrayal of pioneering filmmaker Merata Mita, told through the eyes of her children. Using hours of archive footage, some never before seen, her youngest child discovers the filmmaker he never knew and shares with the world the mother he lost. (International Premiere)
Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (U.S.-U.K. – Director: Stanley Nelson, Producers: Nicole London, Stanley Nelson) — A visionary, innovator, and originator who defied categorization and embodied the word cool: a foray into the life and career of musical and cultural icon Miles Davis.
Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins (Director: Janice Engel, Screenwriters: Janice Engel, Monique Zavistovski , Producers: James Egan, Janice Engel, Carlisle Vandervoort) — Molly Ivins was six feet of flame-haired Texas trouble, a prescient political journalist, best-selling author and Bill of Rights warrior. She took no prisoners, leaving both sides of the aisle laughing and craving more of her razor-sharp wit. It’s time to Raise Hell like Molly!
The Great Hack (Directors: Karim Amer, Jehane Noujaim, Screenwriters: Karim Amer, Erin Barnett, Pedro Kos, Producers: Karim Amer, Geralyn Dreyfous, Judy Korin) — Data, arguably the world’s most valuable asset, is being weaponized to wage cultural and political wars. The dark world of data exploitation is uncovered through the unpredictable personal journeys of players on different sides of the explosive Cambridge Analytica/Facebook data story.
The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (Director: Alex Gibney, Producers: Jessie Deeter, Erin Edeiken, Alex Gibney) — With a magical new invention that promised to revolutionize blood testing, Elizabeth Holmes became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, heralded as the next Steve Jobs. Then, overnight, her $10-billion-dollar company dissolved. The rise and fall of Theranos is a window into the psychology of fraud.
Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (Director: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Producers: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Johanna Giebelhaus, Chad Thompson, Tommy Walker) — This artful and intimate meditation on the legendary storyteller examines her life, her works and the powerful themes she has confronted throughout her literary career. Toni Morrison leads an assembly of her peers, critics and colleagues on an exploration of race, history, America and the human condition.
Untouchable (Director: Ursula Macfarlane, Producers: Simon Chinn, Jonathan Chinn, Poppy Dixon) — The inside story of the rise and fall of Harvey Weinstein reveals how, over decades, he acquires and protects his power even as scandal threatens to engulf him. Former colleagues and accusers detail the method and consequences of his alleged abuse, hoping for justice and to inspire change .
Words from a Bear (Director: Jeffrey Palmer, Producer: Jeffrey Palmer) — A visual journey into the mind and soul of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Navarro Scott Momaday, relating each written line to his unique Native American experience representing ancestry, place, and oral history.
The seven films in this section are all world premieres unless otherwise specified.
Greener Grass (Directors and screenwriters: Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe, Producer: Natalie Metzger) — A deliciously twisted comedy set in a demented, timeless suburbia where every adult wears braces on their straight teeth, couples coordinate meticulously pressed outfits, and coveted family members are swapped in more ways than one in this competition for acceptance. Cast: Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe, Beck Bennett, Neil Casey, Mary Holland, D’Arcy Carden.
Little Monsters (Australia – Director and screenwriter: Abe Forsythe, Producers: Jodi Matterson, Bruna Papandrea, Steve Hutensky, Keith Calder, Jessica Calder) — A film dedicated to all the kindergarten teachers who motivate children to learn, instill them with confidence and stop them from being devoured by zombies. Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Alexander England, Josh Gad.
Memory – The Origins of Alien (Director: Alexandre O. Philippe, Screenwriter: Alexandre O. Philippe, Producer: Kerry Deignan Roy) — The untold origin story behind Ridley Scott’s Alien – rooted in Greek and Egyptian mythologies, underground comics, the art of Francis Bacon, and the dark visions of Dan O’Bannon and H.R. Giger. A contemplation on the symbiotic collaborative process of moviemaking, the power of myth, and our collective unconscious.
Mope (Director: Lucas Heyne, Screenwriters: Lucas Heyne, Zack Newkirk, Producers: Kelly Hayes, Brian Cooper, Kern Saxton, Danny Roth) — Two ‘mopes’ – the lowest-level male performers in the porn industry – set their sights on an impossible dream: stardom. Cast: Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Kelly Sry, Brian Huskey, Max Adler, David Arquette, Tonya Cornelisse.
Sweetheart (Director: JD Dillard, Screenwriters: JD Dillard, Alex Theurer, Alex Hyner, Producers: Jason Blum, JD Dillard, Alex Theurer, Alex Hyner, Bill Karesh) — Jenn has washed ashore a small tropical island and it doesn’t take her long to realize she’s completely alone. She must spend her days not only surviving the elements, but must also fend off the malevolent force that comes out each night. Cast: Kiersey Clemons, Emory Cohen, Hanna Mangan Lawrence, Andrew Crawford.
The Hole in the Ground (Ireland – Director: Lee Cronin, Screenwriters: Lee Cronin, Stephen Shields, Producers: John Keville, Conor Barry) — One night, Sarah’s young son disappears into the woods behind their rural home. When he returns, he looks the same, but his behavior grows increasingly disturbing. Soon, Sarah realizes that the boy who returned may not be her son at all… Cast: Seána Kerslake, James Cosmo, Kati Outinen, Simone Kirby, Steve Wall, James Quinn Markey.
The Lodge (U.S.-U.K. – Directors: Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala, Screenwriters: Sergio Casci, Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala, Producers: Simon Oakes, Aliza James, Aaron Ryder) — In this psychologically chilling slow burn, a young woman and her reticent new stepchildren find themselves isolated in the family’s remote winter cabin, locked away to dredge up the mysteries of her dark past and the losses that seem to haunt them all. Cast: Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell, Lia McHugh, Alicia Silverstone, Richard Armitage.
This section represents a collection of half a dozen films that have already premiered at other festivals.
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (Canada – Directors: Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, Edward Burtynsky, Screenwriter: Jennifer Baichwal, Producer: Nicholas de Pencier) — From concrete seawalls in China that cover 60% of the mainland coast to the biggest terrestrial machines ever built in Germany, to psychedelic potash mines in Russia’s Ural Mountains, to conservation sanctuaries in Kenya, the filmmakers have traversed the globe to document the evidence and experience of human planetary domination. (International Premiere)
Birds of Passage (Colombia –Directors: Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra, Screenwriters: Maria Camila Arias, Jacques Toulemonde, Producers: Katrin Pors, Cristina Gallego) — In 1970s Colombia, Rapayet is a man torn between the desire to be powerful and his duty to uphold his culture’s values. His indigenous tribe, the Wayúu, ignores ancient omens and enters the drug trafficking business — where honor is the highest currency and debts are paid with blood. Cast: Carmina Martinez, Jose Acosta, Natalia Reyes. (Utah Premiere)
Maiden (U.K. – Director and screenwriter: Alex Holmes, Producers: Victoria Gregory, Alex Holmes) — The incredible, against-all-odds story of sailor Tracy Edwards, who skippered the first all-female international crew in the 1989 Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race. (U.S. Premiere)
The Biggest Little Farm (Director: John Chester, Screenwriters: Mark Monroe, John Chester, Producers: Sandra Keats, John Chester) — Two dreamers and a dog embark on an odyssey to bring harmony to their lives and the land. As their plan to create perfect harmony takes a series of wild turns, they will have to reach a far greater understanding of the intricacies and wisdom of nature, and life itself. (Utah Premiere)
The Mountain (Director: Rick Alverson, Screenwriters: Rick Alverson, Colm O’Leary, Dustin Defa, Producers: Ryan Zacarias, Sara Murphy, Eddy Moretti, Alison Carter) — 1950s America. Since his mother‘s confinement to an institution, Andy has lived in the shadow of his stoic father. A family acquaintance, Dr. Wallace Fiennes, employs the introverted young man as a photographer to document an asylum tour advocating for his increasingly controversial lobotomy procedure. Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Tye Sheridan, Udo Kier, Denis Lavant, Hannah Gross. (U.S. Premiere)
The Nightingale (Australia (Director and screenwriter: Jennifer Kent, Producers: Kristina Ceyton, Bruna Papandrea, Steve Hutenski, Jennifer Kent) — 1825. Clare, a young Irish convictwoman, chases a British officer through the Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of Aboriginal tracker Billy, who is marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past. Cast: Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Baykali Ganambarr, Damon Herriman, Harry Greenwood, Ewen Leslie. (North American Premiere)
The films in this section are selected with younger audiences in mind, only one of which is a world premiere.
Abe (Brazil – Director: Fernando Grostein Andrade, Screenwriters: Lameece Issaq, Jacob Kader, Producers: Carlos Eduardo Ciampolini, Noberto Pinheiro Jr., Caio Gullane, Fabiano Gullane) — The Israeli-Jewish side of his family calls him Avram. The Palestinian-Muslim side Ibrahim. His first-generation American agnostic lawyer parents call him Abraham. But the 12-year-old kid from Brooklyn who loves food and cooking, prefers, well, Abe. Just Abe. Cast: Noah Schnapp, Seu Jorge Mário da Silva, Mark Margolis, Dagmara Dominczyk, Arian Moayed, Tom Mardirosian.
The Elephant Queen (U.K.-Kenya – Directors: Victoria Stone, Mark Deeble, Screenwriter: Mark Deeble, Producers: Victoria Stone, Lucinda Englehart) — Athena is a mother who will do everything in her power to protect her herd when they are forced to leave their waterhole and embark on an epic journey across the African savannah in a tale of love, loss and coming home. (U.S. Premiere)
The Witch Hunters (Serbia-Macedonia – Director: Rasko Miljkovic, Screenwriters: Marko Manojlovic, Milos Kreckovic, Producer: Jovana Karaulic) — 10-year-old Jovan is often escaping reality to immerse himself into a fantasy world. It all changes when he befriends his new classmate Milica and the adventure to hunt her ‘witch’ stepmother starts. Cast: Mihajlo Milavic, Silma Mahmuti. (U.S. Premiere)
(Pictured: “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile”)