The 2021 Sundance Film Festival Movies We’re Most Excited to See
The Sundance Film Festival (Jan. 28 – Feb. 3) is the largest independent film festival in the United States—documentaries, dramas, short films, and standing ovations. Due to social complications (we don’t need to familiarize you with), Sundance will look a lot different this year. Like every other convention or entertainment gathering, Sundance will be a virtual event, giving the films even more room to breathe. There’s a lot of buzz surrounding filmmakers, new and old, going head-to-head in a battle of beautiful minds. Here are The 2021 Sundance Film Festival Movies We’re Most Excited to See.
Cover Photo: Patriot Pictures
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'In the Earth'
Ben Wheatley’s In the Earth takes place during a worldwide pandemic...it follows a scientist and a park scout on a supply run deep in the heart of darkness, its forest coming alive around them. This horror film stars Joel Fry, Ellora Torchia, Hayley Squires, and Reece Shearsmith.
Photo: Rook Films
'Misha and the Wolves'
Director Sam Hobkinson’s Misha and the Wolves is inspired by the true story of Misha Defonseca and her literary hoax, Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years, following a young Jewish girl who's adopted by a wolf pack while searching for her deported parents. The book became a best-seller and was made into a movie before being confirmed as pure fiction; a story its author claims "is not actual reality, but was my reality, my way of surviving" and that there were moments when she "found it difficult to differentiate between what was real and what was part of my imagination."
Photo: Take Five
Prano Bailey-Bond’s Censor is set to be Sundace’s edgiest, most shocking feature. The film follows a career film censor who discovers a horror movie with ties to her sister’s disappearance; unraveling the mystery behind the film in question blurs the lines of fiction and reality. Honoring video nasties, '80s horror, and gore, Censor is primed to be a cult classic. It stars Niamh Algar, Nicholas Burns, Vincent Franklin, Sophia La Porta, Adrian Schiller, and Michael Smiley.
Photo: Silver Salt Films
'How it Ends'
Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones’ (Sundance vets known for such films as Lola Versus and Band Aid) end-of-the-world drama follows a woman traversing LA (and an eccentric cast of characters) to attend one final party. Its cast includes Zoe Lister-Jones, Cailee Spaeny, Olivia Wilde, Fred Armisen, Helen Hunt, and Lamorne Morris.
Photo: Mister Lister Films
There hasn’t been a solid (modern) adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet since Leo rocked a Hawaiian T-shirt. That said, things are a lot different than they were in 1996; in the age of Twitter and Tiktok, Carey Williams is bringing us R#J—Romeo and Juliet have cell phones. With a diverse cast comprised of Cameron Engels, Francesca Noel, RJ Cyler, Siddiq Saunderson, and Diego Tinoco, R#J could make Shakespeare even more retro.
Photo: Interface Films
CODA (Child of Death Adults), Sian Heder’s film follows a young woman, Ruby, torn between musical aspirations and her deaf family’s struggling fishing business. It stars Emilia Jones, Eugenio Derbez, Troy Kotsur, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Daniel Durant, Marlee Matlin, and is already generating a lot of buzz as a moving contemplation of a child’s life in a deaf family.
Photo: Vendome Pictures
With a high demand for Native American representation in film, writer/director Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr. (Blood Quantum) is bringing Wild Indian to Sundance. Its premise focuses on a man who covers up his murder of a classmate and the years of fallout. Its cast includes rising-star Michael Greyeyes, Chaske Spencer, Jesse Eisenberg, Kate Bosworth, Claudia Lee, and Jenna Leigh Green.
Photo: Pureplay Entertainment
Dash Shaw’s (My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea) venture into that which is colorful and weird continues with the animated film Cryptozoo. The film’s plot follows a group of cryptozookeepers as they attempt to capture a legendary dream-eating Baku and then wonder if they should even show the creature in a zoo—somethings are better left to legend. The voice cast includes Lake Bell, Michael Cera, Angeliki Papoulia, Zoe Kazan, Peter Stormare, and Grace Zabriskie.
Photo: Fit Via Vi Film Productions
'On the Count of Three'
Jerrod Carmichael’s (creator/star of The Carmichael Show) directorial debut, On the Count of Three, focuses on two best friends and a suicide pact. While might sound particularly grim, the film is chock-full of comedic talent including Carmichael himself, Christopher Abbott, Tiffany Haddish, J.B. Smoove, Lavell Crawford, Henry Winkler. It’s also written by Ramy co-creators Ari Katcher, and Ryan Welch.
Photo: Valparaiso Pictures
No, this is not a Deion Sanders biopic. Director Jakub Piatek’s Prime Time is set in 1999 and soaked in the fear/anticipation of Y2K. Its plot follows a young man who hijacks a television station, armed with a gun and a message. In tumultuous and uncertain times, this movie has the potential to be one of the festival’s most relevant. It stars Bartosz Bielenia, Magdalena Popławska, Andrzej Kłak, Małgorzata Hajewska-Krzysztofik, Dobromir Dymecki, and Monika Frajczyk.
Photo: Watchout Studio
Rebecca Hall’s Passing is already being talked about like it’s a contender for the awards season. The film stars Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson as two African-American women who can pass as white in 1929 New York. It examines the powerful decisions they make in regards to race and identity as they gradually becoming more involved in each other's lives. Passing also stars André Holland, Alexander Skarsgård, and Bill Camp.
Photo: AUM Group
'Prisoners of Ghostland'
Sion Sono has been called"the most subversive filmmaker working in Japanese cinema today.” Nicholas Cage has been called...many things. The two are teaming up in Prisoners of the Ghostland, which is set to be Cage's wildest film yet. The American crime thriller follows Hero (Cage), a criminal tasked with recovering the governor’s daughter from a dark supernatural universe. It also stars Imogen Poots, Sofia Boutella, Ed Skrein, Bill Moseley, Young Dais, and Tak Sakaguchi.
Photo: XYZ Films
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