As the industry’s mecca for fans of independent cinema, Sundance Film Festival is the annual amalgamation of actors, directors and press where many are granted with the opportunity to showcase their work and potentially sell distribution rights, aiming for a release during the rest of the year.
Sundance 2017 commenced on the 20th January and ran until 29th January, exhibiting a plethora of talent both recognisable and undiscovered. As last year’s festival delivered the likes of Sing Street and Oscar-nominated, Manchester by the Sea, the potential for new hits is high.
Impact Film presents 5 picks from this year’s pool of talent which, as I predict – based on the buzz and talk from the Twittersphere – may well be picking up their own collection of commendable hardware during next year’s award season.
The Big Sick
Sold to Amazon for a respectable $12 million, The Big Sick has been categorised as a romantic comedy, yet one that doesn’t shy away from addressing the weightier issues in life. Based on the early days of co-writer and star, Kumail Nanjiani’s relationship with his now-wife, Emily (played by Zoe Kazan), it tells the story of their struggle through Emily’s mysterious illness and the social consequences of being in an interracial partnership.
Described as maintaining Nanjiani’s dry sense of humour throughout, balancing the more sombre tones of its subject matter with an optimistic outlook, the film presents a display of emotional table tennis, adopting a back and forth pace that will keep you on your toes.
A Ghost Story
This year’s Sundance films seem to have elicited particularly strong emotional responses in the audiences lucky enough to attend the festival screenings, and A Ghost Story is no exception. A film that explores the pain of one of life’s most damaging events: the death of a loved one, A Ghost Story offers a poignant commentary on human existence and non-existence through the vision of writer/director David Lowery.
Filmed in secret, the movie features the likes of Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck (a ghost complete with an oddly comical white sheet). The film conjured up an air of anticipation around itself, one that was strong enough to convince entertainment company A24 to buy the rights of the film without having seen it at all.
Following his writing success on the films Sicario (2015) and Hell or High Water (2016), actor turned jack-of-all-trades Taylor Sheridan has dipped his toes into the pool of directing for the second time to produce Wyoming-based thriller, Wind River.
Exhibiting talent familiar to many Marvel fans, the film centres around Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen’s characters following the discovery of a body in the harsh weather conditions of Wind River Indian Reservation’s desolate wilderness. As a film that includes a rather violent flashback scene, it poses as one of the considerably grittier movies shown at Sundance this year, but not one to miss if you’re a fan of Sheridan’s previous work.
Call Me by Your Name
On a much lighter note, Call Me by Your Name celebrates the subtle beauty of a summer romance set to the backdrop of 1980s Italy. Mentioned by many attendees of the festival as one of their favourites, the film courageously explores the homosexual love affair between American-Italian boy, Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and his father’s intern, an American scholar named Oliver (Armie Hammer).
As the film was based on the novel of the same name by author André Aciman, the story may be familiar to many, yet Luca Guadagnino’s direction provides a fresh and fruitful perspective on the life changing potential of a seasonal fling.
Aptly showcasing an array of female talent, Mudbound premiered at Sundance on the same day that millions of women took to the streets to march around the world – including many of the festival’s attendees who gathered on Main Street in Park City, Utah, where the festival is held.
Providing a different kind of social commentary, Mudbound explores issues of race during WWII and seeks to unearth the emotional strain of battles fought both abroad and in America’s own back garden. Involving not only a female director (Dee Rees), but a female cinematographer, composer, editor and sound engineer, the film’s production is truly a collaborative effort, reflected in the fact that there isn’t really one main character within the film either. Having received a standing ovation at its premiere, this ensemble piece is one to keep an eye on over the next twelve months as it sets out to be a key contender in next year’s Oscar race.
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Media courtesy of Ideaman Studios, Apatow productions, Armory Films, Acacia Filmed Entertainment, Frenesy Film Company.