Here are the titles most often mentioned by buyers and sellers as having the potential to shake up this virtual 2021 Sundance Film Festival marketplace. While you can say they are a bit light on starpower, Sundance success has never been defined by that. There are solid plot lines in numerous genres and the potential for magic to unfold on…the television sets of buyers and viewers.
EIGHT FOR SILVER – Director: Sean Ellis. Cast: Boyd Holbrook, Kelly Reilly, Alistair Petrie. In the late 1800s, a man arrives in a remote country village to investigate an attack by a wild animal but discovers a much deeper, sinister force that has both the manor and the townspeople in its grip. Section: Premiere. 1st Screening: Saturday, January 30, 6 PM PT
CODA – Director: Sian Heder. Cast: Emilia Jones, Eugenio Derbez, Marlee Matlin, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo. As a CODA – Child of Deaf Adults – Ruby is the only hearing person in her deaf family. When the family’s fishing business is threatened, Ruby finds herself torn between pursuing her love of music and her fear of abandoning her parents. Section: U.S. Drama Competition. 1st Screening: January 28, 4:45 PM PT
PASSING – Director: Rebecca Hall. Cast: Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, Andre Holland, Alexander Skarsgard. Two African-American women who can “pass” as white choose to live on opposite sides of the color line in 1929 New York in an exploration of racial and gender identity, performance, obsession and repression. Section: U.S. Drama Competition. 1st Screening: Saturday, January 30, 3 PM PT
HOMEROOM – Director: Peter Nicks. Following the class of 2020 at Oakland High School in a year marked by seismic change, exploring the emotional world of teenagers coming of age against the backdrop of a rapidly changing world. Section: U.S. Doc Competition. 1st Screening: Friday, January 29, 9 AM PT
I WAS A SIMPLE MAN – Director: Christopher Makoto Yogi. Cast: Steve Iwamoto, Constance Wu. As a family in Hawai’i faces the imminent death of their eldest, the ghosts of the past haunt the countryside. Section: U.S. Drama Competition. 1st Screening: Friday, January 29, noon PT
JOCKEY – Director: Clint Bentley. Cast: Clifton Collins Jr., Molly Parker, Moises Arias. Collins plays an aging jockey who is determined to win one last championship, but his dream is complicated when a young rookie shows up claiming to be his son. Section: U.S. Drama Competition. 1st Screening, Sunday, January 31, 3 PM PT
JOHN AND THE HOLE – Director: Pascual Sisto. Cast: Charlie Shotwell, Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Ehle, Taissa Farmiga. A nontraditional coming-of-age story set in the unsettling reality of John, a kid who holds his family captive in a hole in the ground. The film was accepted as a competition film at last Cannes, but is brand new after that festival canceled. Section: U.S. Drama Competition. 1st Screening: Friday, January 29, 3 PM PT
MASS – Director: Fran Kranz. Cast: Jason Isaacs, Ann Dowd, Martha Plimpton, Reed Birney. Years after a tragic shooting, the parents of both the victim and the perpetrator meet face-to-face. Section: Premiere. 1st Screening: Saturday, January 30, noon PT
MAYDAY – Director: Karen Cinorre. Cast: Grace Van Patten, Mia Goth, Havana Rose Liu. Ana is transported to a dreamlike and dangerous land where she joins an army of girls engaged in a never-ending war along a rugged coast. Though she finds strength in this exhilarating world, she comes to realize that she’s not the killer they want her to be. Section: U.S. Drama Competition. 1st Screening: Saturday, January 31, noon PT
THE SPARKS BROTHERS – Director: Edgar Wright. How can one rock band be successful, underrated, hugely influential, and criminally overlooked all at the same time? Take a musical odyssey through five weird and wonderful decades with brothers Ron & Russell Mael, celebrating the inspiring legacy of Sparks: your favorite band’s favorite band. The draw here is not only the subject matter, but its wildly creative filmmaker. Section: Premiere. 1st Screening: Saturday, January 30, 3 PM PT
SUMMER OF SOUL (…OR, WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED) – Director: Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. During the same summer as Woodstock, over 300,000 people attended the Harlem Cultural Festival, celebrating African American music and culture, and promoting Black pride and unity. The footage from the festival sat in a basement, unseen for over 50 years, keeping this incredible event in America’s history lost – until now. Section: U.S. Doc Competition. 1st Screening: Thursday, January 28, 7 PM PT
CRYPTOZOO – Director: Dash Shaw, Cast: Lake Belle, Michael Cera, Zoe Kazan. Acclaimed graphic novelist Shaw focuses on crypto-zookeepers who struggle to capture a Baku (a legendary dream-eating hybrid creature). They begin to wonder if they should display these rare beasts in the confines of a cryptozoo, or if these mythical creatures should remain hidden and unknown. Section: Next. 1st Screening: Friday, January 29, noon PT
ON THE COUNT OF THREE – Director: Jerrod Carmichael. Cast: Jerrod Carmichael, Christopher Abbot, Tiffany Haddish, J.B. Smoove. Two guns. Two best friends. And a pact to end their lives when the day is done. High wannasee for a serious vehicle from its director star, a very funny stand-up comedian. Section: U.S. Drama Competition. 1st Screening: Friday, January 29, 6 PM
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