Courtesy of the Sundance Institute
After going distant for 2 years for COVID precautions, the Sundance Film Festival finally made its grand return in person this month. Yes, some movies were still available for online viewing, but critics, film buffs, studio execs, directors, actors, and more gathered once more in Park City, Utah, for a packed week of panels, parties, and in fact, big premiere screenings. This 12 months, the festival featured a robust lineup of over 120 independent movies from worldwide talent. With stories starting from tested family bonds to existential dread, to looking for liberation, to messy romantic relationships (and so many bodily fluids!), Sundance delivered one more solid collection of movies.
Below are just a few favorites screened on the festival. Keep a watch out for these titles once they finally get their public release.
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It’s medically unimaginable to not enjoy yourself in Nida Manzoor’s motion comedy, Polite Society. The film follows Ria Khan (Priya Kansara), a London teen slash martial-art-stunt-trainee attempting to save lots of her sister (Ritu Arya) from becoming a trophy wife to some wealthy hotshot. While the film does playfully veer into sci-fi territory, it doesn’t fail to inject all of the fuzzy warmth you’d expect from a robust sisterly bond. It also includes one of the vital fun and melodramatic dance numbers, which is certain to be a crowd-pleaser. Kansara owns her role as Ria, and we stay up for what she does next. Polite Society will likely be released in theaters on April 7.
In case your partner lied about liking your work, what would you do? Break up? Divorce? In You Hurt My Feelings, a author finds out how her husband really feels about her book…and all goes downhill from there. Nicole Holofcener’s sharp pen tackles the grey area of white lies in committed relationships, even when it hurts. It even makes you wonder how much we protect other people’s feelings without their consent. The world Holofcener creates with the assistance of the sensible Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tobias Menzies feels lived in, observed, and warm. The supporting solid can be a knockout. The film’s insight into human behavior and relationships is sure to be a conversation starter.
Teyana Taylor gives top-of-the-line—if not the perfect—performance in A Thousand and One, a heartbreaking look into gentrification, tough love, generational poverty, and trauma. Taylor commands the screen as a mother who kidnaps her son from foster care and raises him through the years against the backdrop of a changing Latest York City. Josiah Cross, who plays her son as a youngster, can be one to observe. Together with her feature debut, director A.V. Rockwell seamlessly delivers a strong gut-punching look into ’90s and ’00s Harlem that feels raw yet tender with none gimmicks. The third act completely turns the film on its head, leaving you floored. A Thousand and One won the Grand Jury Prize for the U.S. Dramatic competition—it’s so rightfully deserved. This one opens in theaters on March 31.
Get your tissue box ready. Noora Niasari writes a love letter to Iranian women with Shayda—a touching tale based on the director’s personal experiences about an Iranian woman living in Australia, attempting to divorce her abusive husband while keeping her daughter secure. Even though it’s Niasari’s directorial debut, there’s nothing novice to her expertly crafted storytelling. It’s heart-wrenching, riveting, and at times, even healthful. Holy Spider’s Zar Amir Ebrahimi is a force on this one (anyone surprised?) and her connection to her on-screen daughter, played by Selina Zahednia, transcends the screen. The film won the Audience Award within the World Cinema Dramatic competition.
All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt
All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt looks like a poetic experience. The outdoor soundscapes and textures teleport you to Mississippi. Raven Jackson deserves all of the directing awards for her stunning debut depicting the slices of lifetime of Black women within the South. Although the dialogue does take a backseat, the visuals say enough, moving the viewer through pain, loss, love, growth, and community. Jackson’s artistry of the mundane, accompanied by Joni Fray’s breathtaking cinematography, is price admiring and remembering for years to come back. Get able to be spellbound by one of the vital underrated movies on the festival.
It’s a mistake to sleep on foreign movies at Sundance; they all the time find yourself being a festival highlight. Slow—a Lithuanian drama depicting a relationship between an asexual man and a non-asexual woman—isn’t any exception. It explores the role of intimacy in asexuality without dehumanizing its protagonists, who’re at the guts of Marija Kavtaradze’s sophomore film. Slow will move and charm you, from the chemistry to the choreography and the gorgeous landscapes until the very end. In fact, Kavtaradze won a directing award within the World Cinema Dramatic category.
The male ego is so fragile! Quickly snatched by Netflix for a humble $20 million bucks, Fair Play was one of the vital raved-about movies on the festival (for a great reason). It’s a dark and twisted (and at times, chillingly relatable) drama a few man’s spiral after his fiancee is promoted at their severely competitive hedge fund firm. Alden Ehrenreich and Phoebe Dynevor’s striking performances hit all of the notes portraying a brutal and fraught relationship that ought to have ended years ago. Chloe Dumont is a hell of a director. With a 3rd act that doesn’t skip a beat, prepare for high-stress levels. Even though it’s been acquired by a streaming service, Fair Play may do wonders with a theatrical release.
Triangle of Messiness? The horniest film of the festival has to go to Passages. Love Triangles! Affairs! Jealousy! It’s all the pieces you’d expect from a European film that doesn’t overstay its welcome. Ira Sachs returns to Sundance with 90 minutes of unhinged characters weaving through complex relationships with themselves and one another. Its intricate and earnest script, delivered by a superb solid, looks into the domino effect of a narcissist’s indulgence. It’s a trainwreck that holds your attention until the very last scene. Passages is a successful queer film price watching, and it’s been acquired by Mubi.
This intimate and deeply personal documentary from first-time director Milisuthando Bongela needs more buzz. Milisuthando is an archival five-part and first-person interrogation of South African apartheid and race. Bongela walks us through her upbringing within the Xhosa community within the Transkei through lyrical reflection, uncovering the role our ancestors play in shaping the longer term. To be invited into this piece of uncovered history is a privilege. Milisuthando is stuffed with brilliance, thought, and heart. Bongela is one to maintain in your radar.
The most effective option to recover from someone is to get under…Anyway, Rye Lane shows that rom-coms are still very much alive. Two 20-something Londoners learn to open their hearts again after being shattered by pricks who didn’t deserve them. It has all of the ingredients for a satisfying watch—infectious on-screen chemistry, a virtually perfect British cameo, and a killer rating. Raine Allen-Miller’s directing is sharp, assured, and dynamic—you’d never realize it’s her feature debut (!). This film proves that investing in fresh talent is all the time a great idea. After its public release, David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah should be booked and busy.
Celine Song hive get up. Past Lives is the superbly layered tackle the “right person, flawed time” trope, and it floored the festival. It’s already being in comparison with Linklater’s Before trilogy, but this romantic drama stands by itself. Song’s directorial debut accurately depicts longing for somebody you barely know across three moments in time. Greta Lee and Teo Yoo don’t miss a beat of their excellent and electric performances. It aches to observe Past Lives unfold, but there’s a reason why this film received a double-standing ovation. This is definitely one in every of A24’s biggest wins of the 12 months to this point. If there’s a movie to obsessively await and underline as one to observe, it’s this one.
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