Preview By Bears Fonte

Sundance arrives each year, kicking off the festival year and really, for people like me, the year. 2017 was rough in many ways, but one of the highlights for me personally was marching in the Women’s March on Main in Park City and the inspiring remarks from Jessica Williams. This year organizers have put together the ‘Respect Rally,’ January 20th at 10 AM. According to a quote from an insider to Deadline, “after Trump and then (Harvey) Weinstein, Sundance is an essential spotlight for promoting the issues that we took to the streets last year.”As the shadow of some further shithole remarks hangs over the country, I am hoping to reconnect with my liberal media tribe and get inspired by some truly original work.

This year’s festival includes a new Indie Episodic section as Sundance tries to catch up to the world in realizing that streaming is more than just Netflix. Once again, Netflix is expected to be the biggest buyer at the fest, having already secured the rights to Seeing AllRed, the Gloria Allred documentary back in November. But I have to say, of the six straight years of attending Sundance, this year’s program appears to be the best and most balance yet. Weather looks good and I’m ready to dive in so without further ado, here are my ten picks for Sundance 2018, and with a fantastic program, I have limited myself to one pick per section.

Believer
Section: Doc Premiere

Director: Don Argott

Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds and Neon Trees’ Tyler Glenn, a Mormon and an openly-gay former Mormon, start a festival to engender change in a church with an archaic stance on same-sex relationships (much like other religious institutions).

Why I trust it: Sundance has an interesting relationship with it home state so if they have selected this film, it is going to be one of the most talked about films by the locals.

The Catcher Was a Spy
Section: Premieres

Director: Ben Lewin
Cast: Paul Rudd, Mark Strong, Sienna Miller, Jeff Daniels, Guy Pearce, Paul Giamatti

The true story of major league catcher Moe Berg who becomes a spy for the US government during World War II.

Why I trust it: The really story is almost too good to be true, its amazing they haven’t made a movie about it yet.

GENESIS 2.0

Genesis 2.0
Section: World Cinema Documentary Competition

Director: Christian Frei, Maxim Arbugaev

The search for wooly mammoth remains brings to groups of people to the Siberian Islands, but are the fossils destined for sale and for Jurassic Park-style bio-engineering.

Why I trust it: Christian Frei won a Sundance directing award for his brilliant doc SPACE TOURISTS that contrasts millionaires paying their way into space with Kazakh scavengers collecting space waste fallen from the sky, so he’s been down this road before.

Holiday
Section: World Cinema Dramatic Competition

Director: Isabella Eklöf
Cast: Victoria Carmen Sonne, Lai Yde, Thijs Römer

While on a luxury vacation, the girlfriend of a gangster starts a dangerous romantic relationship with another man.

Why I trust it: First-time female writer/director, in addition to just wanting to support that, this feels like a story that would be told very differently through the male gaze.

Lords of Chaos
Section: Midnight

Director: Jonas Åkerlund
Cast: Rory Culkin, Emory Cohen, Sky Ferreira, Jack Kilmer, Valter Skarsgård

Mayhem, the most important of Norwegian black metal bands, whose story includes suicide, Satanism, murder and church burnings, finally gets the film they deserve.

Why I trust it: This director began his career as a drummer in Bathory, one of the other most important black metal bands.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Section: U.S. Dramatic Competition

Director: Desiree Akhavan
Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck, John Gallagher Jr., Jennifer Ehle

Chloë Grace Moretz plays the title character sent to conversion therapy after being caught with another girl in the back seat of a car on prom night.

Why I trust it: I’ve always like Moretz and Akhavan’s APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR was pretty good but mostly it’s the story under the shadow of our Vice President.

Night Comes On
Section: Next

Director: Jordana Spiro
Cast: Dominique Fishback, Tatum Hall, John Earl Jelks, Max Casella, James McDaniel

Fresh out of juve, Angel plans to hit reset on her and her sister’s life, by hunting down the man who killed her mother, who also happens to be her father

Why I trust it: I met filmmaker Spiro years ago when her short film SKIN played Sundance and SXSW and was blown away by her the depth of her characters.

The Price of Everything
Section: U.S. Documentary Competition

Director: Nathaniel Kahn

A never-before-seen peek into the world of big-money art sales and how becoming a commodity changes the art and the artist.

Why I trust it: With people like Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter, and Njideka Akunyili Crosby interviewed, this film has the potential to really change the way we look at art.

Sweet Country
Section: Spotlight

Director: Warwick Thornton
Cast: Bryan Brown, Sam Neill, Hamilton Morris, Ewen Leslie, Thomas M. Wright, Matt Day

In 1929, an Aboriginal man goes on the run after accidentally killing a bully.

Why I trust it: Well, it did win the Platform Prize at TIFF, the highest award given at that fest.

Wild Wild Country
Section: Special Events

Directors: Chapman Way, Maclain Way

388 minutes on the crazy, true story of the followers of guru Bhagwan Rajneesh and Rajneeshpuram, the $125 million, 64,000-acre utopia built in conservative Antelope, OR where thousands of homeless people were bussed in to sway county elections.

Why I trust it: I mean… have you ever heard of this?  Plus Duplass Bros exec producing for this new mini-doc series for Netflix.

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