Did I mention I was going to Sundance this year! That’s right! I did! It’s been on my bucket list, and this year I decided would be the perfect time to go. I just graduated, my birthday is coming up, and I am about to embark on an new adventure in my life. What a great way to begin 2017 and my 24th year of life!

I’ve compiled a list of some of my must-see movies for the week. There are so many movies I want to see but I don’t have enough time (and money) to see them all. So many different films piqued my interest from documentaries to shorts to premieres, it was hard to make up my mind. I’m really excited because this will be my first festival experience as a patron and not a worker- which means I can truly enjoy the entire experience. A lot of these films will be unveiled to the public for the first time, so there are no trailers or reviews out yet. I have to go with blind faith and my knowledge of the filmmakers and actors. I hope what I am going to see lives up to the hype! I haven’t had a chance to purchase my tickets yet, but hopefully I will get in to all or most of these!

In an interesting time in America’s history, I am excited to see the trends in films for the coming years. With Donald Trump’s inauguration occurring on the opening weekend of Sundance, I can sense a heavy political atmosphere is going to be present at the festival this year. Some of the films I have listed, which are a small sampling- reflect subject matter heavily centered around politics, technology, religion, and sexuality. And awesomely enough, there is a very diverse lineup. I am going to try and see movies beyond this list, but here are my top 15:

*Photo stills and summaries courtesy of SUNDANCE.ORG*

Ingrid Goes West (Matt Spicer)- US DRAMATIC

“Ingrid is an unstable young woman with a checkered past of obsessive behavior. She secretly moves to Los Angeles to get close to Taylor Sloane—an Instagram “lifestyle guru” with a fabulous artist boyfriend, a camera-ready terrier, and an array of new products and brands to promote to her followers. After Ingrid adopts a Taylor-made identity for herself, her machinations to prove she’s BFF material for her Insta idol are underway—that is, until she meets Taylor’s obnoxious brother Nicky, who threatens to tear down her façade.”

The Little Hours (Jeff Baena)- MIDNIGHT

“Medieval nuns Alessandra (Alison Brie), Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza), and Ginevra (Kate Micucci) lead a simple life in their convent. Their days are spent chafing at monastic routine, spying on one another, and berating the estate’s day laborer. After a particularly vicious insult session drives the peasant away, Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly) brings on new hired hand Massetto (Dave Franco), a virile young servant forced into hiding by his angry lord. Introduced to the sisters as a deaf-mute to discourage temptation, Massetto struggles to maintain his cover as the repressed nunnery erupts in a whirlwind of pansexual horniness, substance abuse, and wicked revelry.”

Landline (Jillian Robespierre)- US DRAMATIC

“The Manhattan of 1995: a land without cell phones, but abundant in CD listening stations, bar smoke, and family dysfunction. Enter the Jacobs. Eldest daughter Dana’s looming marriage to straight-laced Ben prompts a willful dive into her wild side, while her younger sister, Ali, is still in high school but leads a covert life of sex, drugs, and clubbing. After discovering love letters penned by their father, the sisters try to expose his apparent affair while keeping it from their all-too-composed mother.”

Novitiate (Maggie Betts)- US DRAMATIC

“Spanning the early 1950s through the mid-’60s, this coming-of-age story is about a young girl’s first love. In this case, her first love is God. Raised by a deeply caring, non-religious mother, Cathleen is drawn to the heady mysticism of the lives of Catholic nuns and their undying romantic devotion to their chosen husband, Jesus Christ. She enrolls in a training program with The Sisters of Blessed Rose, a cloistered convent. As Cathleen progresses from the postulant to the novitiate levels of her tutelage, her faith is challenged by the harsh, often inhumane realities of being a nun, just as Pope John XXIII’s announcement of the Second Vatican Council threatens to alter the course of nuns’ lives forever.”

My Happy Family (Nana Ekvtimishvili & Simon Gross)- WORLD DRAMA

“As family and friends gather in a Tbilisi apartment to celebrate her 52nd birthday, Manana calmly packs a suitcase and, to her guests’ bewilderment, announces she’s leaving. A literature professor and wife of 30 years, she’s shared a three-bedroom flat with her husband, Soso; her parents; two grown children; and son-in-law. And she’s had enough. Moving to a new apartment, she starts afresh, and has never been happier. Attempting to avoid the family drama that follows her, she nonetheless forms a surprising new attachment to a man she meets in secret—Soso.”

Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower (Joe Piscatella)- WORLD DOC

“Joshua Wong is not your typical Hong Kong college student. Inside the bespectacled, unassuming teenager simmers a fierce political activist whose question for his compatriots is simple: Why should China decide our values? Armed with a political philosophy of Scholarism and enormous cojones, Wong is so deeply committed to his convictions that he’s willing to go up against anyone, including the Chinese regime, to fight for them.”

Tokyo Idols (Kiyoko Miyake)- WORLD DOC

“Meet Ri Ri: a bona fide Tokyo Idol who takes us on her journey toward fame. Now meet her “brothers”: a group of adult male superfans who devote their lives to following her—in the virtual world and in real life. Once considered to be on the fringes of society, the brothers who gave up salaried jobs to pursue an interest in female idol culture have since become mainstream via the internet, illuminating the growing disconnect between men and women in hypermodern societies.”

Winnie (Pascale Lamche)- WORLD DOC

“Supremely controversial, Winnie Mandela has been labeled a woman condemned for her radical role in the liberation of her South African people under apartheid. While her husband, Nelson Mandela, remained securely jailed for 27 years, Winnie brushed the patriarchy aside to fight on the front line and take uncompromising steps to inspire an uprising. While Nelson was remembered as a hero, Winnie was demonized in the global media.”

Before I Fall (Ry Russo-Young)- PREMIERES

“Sam is one lucky teenager. She’s beautiful, rich, and popular, with the hottest boyfriend and the most loyal friends. But she and her posse can be cruel and heartless; since elementary school they’ve relentlessly bullied one of their classmates. On Friday, February 12th, driving home from a party, Sam is in a dramatic car crash. She should be dead, but wakes the next morning to find the date hasn’t changed. In a Groundhog Day–like time loop, Sam must unravel the mystery of why the last day of her life keeps repeating again and again. Along the way she realizes that every little deed has a consequence, and every action can change another person’s future.”

The Incredible Jessica James (Jim Strouse)- PREMIERES

“Jessica James (Jessica Williams), an aspiring playwright in New York City, is trying hard to get over a recent breakup with her boyfriend. She sees light at the end of the tunnel when she meets Boone (Chris O’Dowd), who’s also recovering from a recent break-up. Together, they figure out a way to make it through the tough times, while also realizing they like each other—a lot.”

Manifesto (Julian Rosefeldt)- PREMIERES

“Tour-de-force: a term so overused that we need an undeniable acting performance to renew its meaning for cinema. Cate Blanchett has just given us one, going all-out in Manifesto. Already respected as one of the best actresses in film, Blanchett raises the bar even higher by playing 13 different roles in Manifesto, embodying some of the most influential and emotional artist manifestos in history.”

Deidra & Laney Rob a Train (Sydney Freeland)- NEXT

“Deidra Tanner is a whip-smart high school senior who sells answers to chemistry tests to save up for college, all the while helping her mother raise her stubborn little sister, Laney, and her brother, Jet. It’s more than your average teenager can handle, but Deidra runs a tight ship—that is, until Mom blows a mental gasket at her retail job and throws a high-end TV on the pavement. When Deidra realizes that jail time is ironically proving to be a healthy and therapeutic break from single parent life for her mom, her life is derailed. When she conjures up the will to face her new circumstances, Deidra focuses her talents on the train tracks in her own backyard.”

L.A. Times (Michelle Morgan)- NEXT

“Annette might be judgmental, critical, and a total perfectionist—but only of the most charming variety. When she suddenly perceives that her relationship with her boyfriend, Elliot, is inferior to all the happy coupledom she sees among her friends, she decides they need to break up. Launched into the LA dating scene, where film industry jobs, old school bars, and elitist consumerism are the norm, Annette begins to realize that maybe meeting some cool new guy isn’t going to lead her to personal fulfillment. When unsettling revelations about her friends and their “ideal” relationships surface, Annette is further forced to reexamine her theories.”

Colossal (Nacho Vigalondo)- SPOTLIGHT

“Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is a hard partying New York scene girl who is thrust into crisis when her boyfriend, Tim (Dan Stevens), grows sick of her antics and kicks her out of their apartment. With no other options, she moves back to her hometown and quickly regresses, drinking every night until last call and accepting a job at a bar owned by her childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). One day she wakes up and blurrily finds out that Seoul was terrorized by a giant creature the night before. Eventually, Gloria begins to suspect her own drunken actions are bizarrely connected to the monster rampaging in South Korea.”

Kuso (Steven Ellison)- MIDNIGHT

“Broadcasted through a makeshift network of discarded televisions, this story is tangled up in the aftermath of Los Angeles’s worst earthquake nightmare. Travel between screens and aftershocks into the twisted lives of the survived.”

During the festival, I will be posting reviews for the movies I do get to see (and movies I am permitted to write about)! I hope you enjoy them!




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