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Local Sundance Film Festival

Queer Guide to Sundance Film Festival

Written by Staff

For the 2019 Festival, 112 feature-length films have been selected, representing 33 countries and 45 first-time filmmakers. And here is our annual queer guide to the Sundance Film Festival — hosting screenings in Park City, Salt Lake City, and at Sundance Mountain Resort, from January 24–February 3, 2019.

U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION

Presenting the world premieres of 16 narrative feature films, the Dramatic Competition offers Festivalgoers a first look at groundbreaking new voices in American independent film. Fifty-three percent of the directors in this year’s U.S. Dramatic Competition are women; 41 percent are people of color; 18 percent identify as LGBT.

Honey Boy / U.S.A. (Director: Alma Har’el, Screenwriter: Shia LaBeouf, Producers: Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Anita Gou, Christopher Leggett, Alma Har’el) — A child TV star and his ex-rodeo clown father face their stormy past through time and cinema. Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe. World Premiere

Luce / U.S.A. (Director: Julius Onah, Screenwriters: JC Lee, Julius Onah, Producers: John Baker, Julius Onah, Andrew Yang) — A married couple is forced to reckon with their idealized image of their son, adopted from war-torn Eritrea, after an alarming discovery by a devoted high school teacher threatens his status as an all-star student. Cast: Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Tim Roth, Norbert Leo Butz. World Premiere

To The Stars / U.S.A. (Director: Martha Stephens, Screenwriter: Shannon Bradley-Colleary, Producers: Kristin Mann, Laura D. Smith, Erik Rommesmo) — Under small-town scrutiny, a withdrawn farmer’s daughter forges an intimate friendship with a worldly but reckless new girl in 1960s Oklahoma. Cast: Kara Hayward, Liana Liberato, Jordana Spiro, Shea Whigham, Malin Akerman, Tony Hale. World Premiere

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

Stieg Larsson – The Man Who Played With Fire / Sweden (Director and screenwriter: Henrik Georgsson, Producers: Mattias Nohrborg, Fredrik Heinig) — A documentary about the Millennium-trilogy author Stieg Larsson and his pioneering work of fighting right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis, an obsession with fatal consequences. International Premiere

NEXT

Pure, bold works distinguished by an innovative, forward-thinking approach to storytelling populate this program. Digital technology paired with unfettered creativity promises that the films in this section will shape a “greater” next wave in American cinema.

Paradise Hills / Spain, U.S.A. (Director: Alice Waddington, Screenwriters: Nacho Vigalondo, Brian DeLeeuw, Producers: Adrian Guerra, Núria Valls) — A young woman is sent to Paradise Hills to be reformed, only to learn that the high-class facility’s beautiful facade hides a sinister secret. Cast: Emma Roberts, Danielle Macdonald, Awkwafina, Eiza González, Milla Jovovich, Jeremy Irvine. World Premiere

The Death of Dick Long / U.S.A. (Director: Daniel Scheinert, Screenwriter: Billy Chew, Producers: Jonathan Wang, Daniel Scheinert) — Dick died last night, and Zeke and Earl don’t want anybody finding out how. That’s too bad though, cause news travels fast in small-town Alabama. Cast: Michael Abbott Jr., Virginia Newcomb, Andre Hyland, Sarah Baker, Jess Weixler. World Premiere

Adam / U.S.A. (Director: Rhys Ernst, Screenwriter: Ariel Schrag, Producers: Howard Gertler, James Schamus) — Awkward teenager Adam arrives to spend his final high school summer with his older sister, who has thrown herself into New York City’s lesbian and trans activist scene. Over the summer, Adam and those around him experience love, friendship, and attendant hard truths in this coming-of-age comedy. Cast: Nicholas Alexander, India Menuez, Leo Sheng, Chloe Levine, Margaret Qualley. World Premiere

PREMIERES

A showcase of world premieres of some of the most highly anticipated narrative films of the coming year.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile / U.S.A. (Director: Joe Berlinger, Screenwriter: Michael Werwie, Producers: Michael Costigan, Nicolas Chartier, Ara Keshishian, Michael Simkin) — 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. Cast: Zac Efron, Lily Collins, Haley Joel Osment, Kaya Scodelario, John Malkovich, Jim Parsons. World Premiere

Animals / United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia (Director: Sophie Hyde, Screenwriter: Emma Jane Unsworth, Producers: Sarah Brocklehurst, Rebecca Summerton, Cormac Fox, Sophie Hyde) — After a decade of partying, Laura and Tyler’s friendship is strained by Laura’s new love and her focus on her novel. A snapshot of a modern woman with competing desires, at once a celebration of female friendship and an examination of the choices we make when facing a crossroads.Cast: Holliday Grainger, Alia Shawkat. World Premiere

The Sunlit Night / Germany, Norway (Director: David Wnendt, Screenwriter: Rebecca Dinerstein, Producers: Michael Clark, Alex Turtletaub, Gabrielle Nadig, Fabian Gasmia, Ruben Thorkildsen, Jenny Slate) — Between New York City and the far north of Norway, an American painter and a Russian émigré find each other in the Arctic circle. Together under a sun that never sets, they discover a future and family that they didn’t know they had. Cast: Jenny Slate, Zach Galifianakis, Alex Sharp, Gillian Anderson, Fridjov Sáheim, David Paymer. World Premiere

After The Wedding / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Bart Freundlich, Producers: Joel B. Michaels, Harry Finkel) — 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. Cast: Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Billy Crudup, Abby Quinn. World Premiere. DAY ONE

DOCUMENTARY PREMIERES

Renowned filmmakers and films about far-reaching subjects comprise this section highlighting our ongoing commitment to documentaries.

Halston / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Frédéric Tcheng, Producers: Roland Ballester, Frédéric Tcheng, Stephanie Levy, Paul Dallas) — From Iowa to Studio 54, this investigation into the rags-to-riches story of America’s first superstar designer uncovers the cautionary tale of an artist who sold his name to Wall Street. World Premiere

Love, Antosha / U.S.A. (Director: Garret Price, Producers: Adam Gibbs, Drake Doremus) — A portrait of the extraordinary life and career of actor Anton Yelchin. World Premiere

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am / U.S.A. (Director: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Producers: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Johanna Giebelhaus, Chad Thompson, Tommy Walker) — 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. World Premiere

U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

Where’s My Roy Cohn? / U.S.A. (Director: Matt Tyrnauer, Producers: Matt Tyrnauer, Corey Reeser, Marie Brenner, Andrea Lewis) — Roy Cohn personified the dark arts of American politics, turning empty vessels into dangerous demagogues — from Joseph McCarthy to his final project, Donald J. Trump. This thriller-like exposé connects the dots, revealing how a deeply troubled master manipulator shaped our current American nightmare. World Premiere

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION

Divine Love / Brazil, Uruguay, Denmark, Norway (Director: Gabriel Mascaro, Screenwriters: Gabriel Mascaro, Rachel Daisy Ellis, Esdras Bezerra, Producer: Rachel Daisy Ellis) — Brazil, 2027. A deeply religious woman uses her position in a notary’s office to advance her mission to save struggling couples from divorce. Whilst waiting for a sign in recognition of her efforts, she’s confronted with a crisis in her own marriage that ultimately brings her closer to God. Cast: Dira Praes, Julio Machado, Emilio de Melo, Teca Pereira, Mariana Nunes, Thalita Carauta. World Premiere

This is not Berlin / Mexico (Director: Hari Sama, Screenwriters: Rodrigo Ordóñez, Hari Sama, Max Zunino, Producers: Ale García, Antonio Urdapilleta, Hari Sama, Verónica Valadez P.) — 1986, Mexico City. Seventeen-year-old Carlos doesn’t fit in anywhere, not in his family nor with the friends he has chosen in school. But everything changes when he is invited to a mythical nightclub where he discovers the underground nightlife scene: punk, sexual liberty, and drugs. Cast: Xabiani Ponce de León, José Antonio Toledano, Ximena Romo, Mauro Sánchez Navarro, Klaudia García, Marina de Tavira. World Premiere

INDIE EPISODIC

A dedicated showcase for emerging creators of independently produced episodic content for broadcast, web, and streaming platforms.

Bootstrapped / U.S.A. (Creator: Danielle Uhlarik, Director: Stephanie Laing) — Best friends Madeline and Aimee are underdog entrepreneurs who launch a fashion and tech startup out of a garage in their hometown of Kansas City. The duo’s overly positive attitude convinces two other coders to join them on their broke-ass entrepreneurial journey to make BitchThatWouldLookBetterOnMe.com a household name. Cast: Danielle Uhalrik, Maribeth Monroe, Sam Richardson, Kezii Curtis, Nancy Lenehan, Erika Alexander. World Premiere

Girls Weekend / U.S.A. (Director: Kyra Sedgwick, Creator: Ali Liebegott) — When a queer daughter returns home to Las Vegas for a “girls weekend” with her estranged homophobic sister and people-pleasing mother, her gun-toting dad lets it slip that her mother’s cancer is back with a vengeance, forcing her to decide whether or not she can rejoin her family. Cast: Ali Liebegott, Linda Lavin, Amy Landecker, Ken Jenkins. World Premiere

The Dress Up Gang / United States (Creators: Robb Boardman, Cory Loykasek, Donny Divanian, Executive Producers: Dave Kneebone, Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim) — Donny, a responsible adult with the innocence and outlook of a child, relies on guidance and life advice from his friend Cory, the dad-like thirtysomething who has been crashing on his couch for quite some time. Cast: Donny Divanian, Cory Loykasek, Frankie Quinones, Andie MacDowell, Christian Duguay, Brent Weinbach. World Premiere

Work In Progress / U.S.A. (Creators and screenwriters: Abby McEnany, Tim Mason) — After her therapist dies mid-session and she begins to date a trans man, Abby is forced to re-evaluate her life choices, her dating options and whether or not to confront the woman responsible for ‘ruining her life’: SNL’s Julia Sweeney. Cast: Abby McEnany, Theo Germaine, Karin Anglin, Celeste Pechous, Julia Sweeney, Alison Gates. World Premiere

SPECIAL EVENTS

Now Apocalypse / U.S.A. (Director: Gregg Araki, Executive Producers: Gregg Araki, Gregory Jacobs, Steven Soderbergh) — Ulysses and his friends are trying to navigate Los Angeles, as they pursue love, sex and fame. Between dating app adventures, Ulysses grows increasingly troubled as foreboding dreams make him paranoid — or maybe he’s just smoking too much weed. Cast: Avan Jogia, Kelli Berglund, Beau Mirchoff, Roxane Mesquida. World Premiere

U.S. NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS

Fran This Summer / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Mary Evangelista) — Teenage lovebirds Fran and Angie spend the summer at home while Fran begins their transition. They must face who and what they mean to each other when they visit the beach, their love on display for all to see.

Lavender / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Matthew Puccini) — A young gay man grows increasingly entangled in the marriage of an older couple. World PremiereDAY ONE

INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS

Desires of the flesh / Brazil (Director and screenwriter: Rafaela Camelo) — Blessed be the Sunday, that it is the day to see Giovana. International Premiere

Docking / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Trevor Anderson) — Trevor reflects on his fear of dating. World Premiere

END / Cuba (Director: Yimit Ramírez, Screenwriters: Yimit Ramírez, Tatiana Monge) — Juan is dead. Surprisingly, he is given an opportunity: to relive a moment of his past life, but it will not be an ordinary moment. World Premiere

Kado (A Gift) / Indonesia (Director and screenwriter: Aditya Ahmad) — Isfi can wear her comfortable pants among her male friends, but has to wear hijab to be accepted at Nita’s house. With two days until Nita’s birthday, all Isfi wants is to prepare the best gift in Nita’s room. U.S. Premiere

NEW FRONTIER

Exhibitions

The (ART) oF BE(i)NG / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: JB Ghuman, Jr., Producer: JB Ghuman, Jr.) — A visual-sonic journey meant to expand one’s consciousness and emotional capacity through hand-crafted art and multi-dimensional storytelling. Cast: Maraqueen Reznor, Jake Shears, iRAWniQ, JB Ghuman Jr., Mayhem Miller, Hillary Tuck.

Two Black Lights and One Red / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Victor Morales, Billy Burns, Jason Batcheller, Key Collaborators: Kevin Cunningham, Skye Morse-Hodgson, Andreea Mincic, Yasmin Santana, Marcelo Añez) — Presented on a 3-D immersive interactive projection stage, this biodigital play is set in a visually charged universe of decadence inspired by Francisco Goya’s Los Caprichos paintings. Featuring live actors and digital avatars, the story is about the last day of a blind poet, Max Starpower. Cast: Christine Schisano, Modesto Flako Jimenez, Nikki Calonge.

Exhibitions

Belle of the Ball / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Ro Haber, Silas Howard, Pussykrew, Twiggy Pucci Garcon, Key Collaborators: Renaldo Maurice, Kya Azeen Mizrahi, Rouge, Saschka Unseld, Jennifer Tiexiera, Jenna Velez) — A VR journey into a futuristic reimagined utopia of queer + trans family and dance made in collaboration with members of New York’s ballroom scene. Cast: Renaldo Maurice Tisci, Kya Azeen Mizrahi, Rouge, Jack Mizrahi, Sinia Reed, Jonovia Chase.

Runnin’ / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Reggie Watts, Kiira Benzing, Key Collaborators: John Tejada, Amy O’Neal, Ani Taj, Adam Rogers) — This interactive dance experience takes the player on a journey of musical expression. Play along with the music in an intimate neighborhood record store and be transported to a retro-future dance party. Show off your moves on the dance floor alongside a troupe of dancers. Cast: Reggie Watts, John Tejada, Amy O’Neal, Ani Taj, Kate Berlant, Ben Schwartz.

Photo still: Animals

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