January 2019 - Cover Story: 2019 Sundance Film Festival


Every January, celebrities, filmmakers, directors, and fans make the trek to Park City, Utah, for one of the most prestigious film festivals in the United States. Sundance has become illustrious for storytellers to share their latest projects and audiences looking for a new perspective. This winter, New Mexico Entertainment will have the honor to cover the 34-year-old event that has launched many films to critical acclaim. As mentioned on their website, this annual program includes dramatic and documentary features and short films and series and episodic content. New Frontier showcases emerging media through multimedia installations, performances, and film. Along with daily filmmaker conversations, panel discussions, and live music events.

Chief Curator, Shari Frilot, of New Frontier, said “This year’s New Frontier is an explosion of experimentation, bearing a motherload of innovative custom tech that take us higher. Biodigital loops are terraforming and transmogrifying our world.The dynamics of biodigital looping - digital platforms that begin and end by connecting with a human being who connects to that same platform - are being taken on by this year’s artists with gusto, as they pull visceral focus on what it means to be human on this transforming terrain.”

112 feature films have been announced for this year’s festival. There was a groundbreaking 14,259 submissions entered from 152 countries. Robert Redford, President and Founder of Sundance Institute, said, “Society relies on storytellers. The choices they make, and the risks they take, define our collective experience. This year’s Festival is full of storytellers who offer challenges, questions and entertainment. In telling their stories, they make difficult decisions in the pursuit of truth and art; culture reaps the reward.”

The selected films represent 33 countries and 45 first-time filmmakers creating one of the most diverse events in the country. Announced by The Sundance Institute, 53% of the directors in this year’s U.S. Dramatic Competition are women; 41% are people of color; 18% identify as LGBTQIA+. 44% of the directors in this year’s U.S. Documentary Competition are women; 22% are people of color; 5% identify as LGBTQIA+. Of the 61 directors in all four competition categories, comprising 56 films, 42% are women, 39% are people of color, and 23% identify as LGBTQIA. 24 films announced today were supported by Sundance Institute in development, whether through direct granting or residency Labs. 102 of the Festival’s feature films, or 91% of the lineup announced today, will be world premieres.

Here is a few of the movies that we are excited to take a deeper look into:

BEFORE YOU KNOW IT

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.

Hannah Pearl Utt, Jen Tullock, Judith Light, Mandy Patinkin, Mike Colter, and Alec Baldwin.

CLEMENCY

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.

Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge, Richard Schiff, Wendell Pierce, Richard Gunn, Danielle Brooks.

THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO

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.

Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Rob Morgan, Tichina Arnold, Danny Glover.

THE MAGIC LIFE OF V

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.

AFTER THE WEDDING

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.

Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Billy Crudup, Abby Quinn

EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL AND VILE

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.

Zac Efron, Lily Collins, Haley Joel Osment, Kaya Scodelario, John Malkovich, Jim Parsons.

VELVET BUZZSAW

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.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, Zawe Ashton, Tom Sturridge, Natalia Dyer

TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM

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.

LITTLE MONSTERS

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.

Lupita Nyong’o, Alexander England, Josh Gad.

Find a full list of films at www.sundance.org.

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