Every year, for two weeks in late January, thousands of people pour into picturesque Park City, Utah, for the annual Sundance Film Festival. Established in 1978, the fest started in Salt Lake City, then moved to Park City in 1981, apparently on the advice of Sydney Pollack, who suggested the film festival would be even better if it combined movies with skiing.
But the festival became really popular when Robert Redford was named chairman, and changed the name to “Sundance” after his iconic character in ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’. Now, Sundance is the largest independent film festival in the world, with 200 films chosen each year from thousands of entries to compete for prizes given by a jury of filmmakers and actors.
This year marks my third time at the festival, and to me it’s one of the most exciting parts of the year. The vibe is: Hollywood in the snow. Over the next few days Main Street will be bustling with stars promoting their new films, publicists hustling to get them to interviews, press trying to see 5 or 6 movies in a day and LA socialite types who just come to party.
Sundance is the first festival of the year where you can spot potential Oscar nominees for the following year… though the Oscar buzz is sometimes hard to sustain throughout the next 12 months. Last year Oscar nominees ‘Boyhood’ and ‘Whiplash’ both premiered here first.
Armed with my trusty AMCi cohort Amirose Eisenbach and a whole lot of snacks, this year I’m determined to see as many films as humanly possible. I’ll be delivering mini reviews right here, plus daily videos with Amirose on our AMC Independent YouTube channel.
So what am I most excited to watch? Well, here are the five films that, solely based on the director, cast and synopsis, I’m already buzzing about:
Digging for Fire:
Directed by Joe Swanberg (‘Drinking Buddies’) and starring a fantastic cast of Jake Johnson, Rosemarie Dewitt, Orlando Bloom, Brie Larson, Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick; the film is about a husband and wife and the crazy adventures they have over a weekend.
The End of the Tour:
Jason Segel plays author David Foster Wallace, being interviewed by reporter David Lipsky, played by Jesse Eisenberg. Directed by James Ponsoldt, who did ‘The Spectacular Now’.
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief:
This is a new documentary by director Alex Gibney, who was behind ‘Taxi to the Dark Side’, focusing on eight former members of the Church of Scientology. The movie promises a behind-the-scenes look at the famously secretive church - how they attract members and how they keep them.
By the two directors of ‘Half Nelson’ with Ryan Gosling. This one stars a different Ryan, Ryan Reynolds as a drifter who pairs up with a gifted poker player (Ben Mendelsohn) to gamble their way across the States to a high-stakes game in New Orleans.
Z for Zachariah:
Directed by Craig Zobel, who was behind ‘Compliance’, a film which was quite controversial at Sundance a few years ago. This one is based on a book by Robert C O’Brien, about two guys who might be the last men on earth, fighting for the affections of a woman in a post-apocalyptic world. Stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Chris Pine and Margot Robbie.
What are you interested in hearing about? Let us know in the comments below!
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