Sundance Film Festival: A Look at the 2018 Film Slate

The Sundance Film Festival kicks off today in Park City, Utah.

Launching in 1981 as a way to foster up and coming independent filmmakers, Sundance has grown into one of the largest and best-known festivals in the world Each year, thousands descend upon this tiny skiing hamlet, ready to showcase their work for movie fans, press, and potential distributors.

This year’s festival received 13,468 film submissions ranging from features to documentaries to narrative stories. Of those, here are some of the statistics for the 2018 official selections:

191 FEATURE AND SHORT FILM SELECTIONS

  • 122 Feature-length films
  • 69 Short films
  • 29 Countries represented in feature film
  • 25 Countries represented in short film
  • 108 World Premieres in feature film
  • 30 World Premieres in short film
  • 53 First-time feature filmmakers
  • 30 First-time feature filmmakers in competition
  • 45 Features directed by women, 37% total
  • 35 Shorts directed by women, 51% total
  • 80 of all short and feature films were directed by women, 42% total
  • 40% of all short and feature filmmakers are women

Some films will premiere over the next ten days in preparation of releases. They already have distributors and are looking for positive buzz before hitting a theater near you. A few of those include “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot,” “You Were Never Really Here,” and “The Rider.”

Many more, though, are hoping to find deals in the mountains. Here is a look at several of the films debuting at Sundance and hoping to be the next “The Big Sick.”

Making their premieres in Utah are several films that have already shown up on some “Most Anticipated” lists for 2018. Films such as “A Futile and Stupid Gesture” about the early days of National Lampoon. Robert Pattinson and Mia Wasikowska team up with the Zellner brothers for “Damsel,” a western about looking for love in the Old West. Gus Van Sant’s newest film, “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot” will be in theaters later this year, but not before showing off Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, and Jonah Hill at the Eccles. And Hilary Swank, Michael Shannon, and Blythe Danner come together for the Alzheimer’s drama, “What They Had.”

The US Dramatic Competition includes “BLAZE,” written and directed by Ethan Hawke. The film is the story of “outlaw country” songwriter Blaze Foley. Garrett Hedlund, Tom Wilkinson, and Forrest Whitaker star in “Burden,” about a young man in South Carolina who must escape his roots in the KKK. Chloe Sevigny is Lizzie Borden in the latest thriller about the infamous murders in “Lizzie,” which also stars Kristen Stewart. John David Washington, Anthony Ramos, and Rob Morgan star in “Monsters and Men,” about the aftermath of a police shooting in Brooklyn. And Chloe Grace Moretz stars as a girl who is shipped to a conversion therapy program after exhibiting same-sex attraction in “The Miseducation of Cameron Post.”

On the World Dramatic Competition side, Iceland brings “Breathe Normally,” about a young border patrol agent faced with a dilemma when someone uses a suspicious passport to enter the country. “Pity” is a dark comedy from Greece about a man whose wife is in a coma. While everyone around showers him with pity, he manages to find joy and laughter. There is also “The Guilty,” a Danish thriller about a police officer demoted to desk duty who must find a way to save a kidnapped woman while he is unable to leave the building.

Paul Dano, WildlifeA few actors are making their feature film debuts as directors. Paul Dano debuts with “Wildlife,” which he co-wrote with Zoe Kazan. That film stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan in a story about the aftermath of an affair. Idris Elba directs “Yardie,” about a shooting outside a club in Kingston, Jamaica in 1973.

Sixteen US documentaries will screen including “The Devil We Know,” about the introduction of toxic chemicals into everyday household products. And “The Sentence” shows life for a family who struggles when a woman leaves behind her three children to serve a 15-year prison sentence for something her ex-boyfriend did.

There are so many films screening over these ten days, it is impossible to discuss them all. And it is always a mystery which film will be the Next Big Thing. But here at Awards Circuit, we will be sure to bring you all the latest news, reviews, and information coming out of Park City.

The full festival program is viewable here. The festival runs from January 18-28.

Are there any films you’re looking forward to hearing about from Sundance? Comment below and share your thoughts!