Another year, another Sundance. This is my tenth(!) year attending the Sundance Film Festival and I get excited every single year. This is the greatest film festival when it comes to independent film. So many names have broken out of Sundance to direct Marvel movies and win Oscars. Every year we get a new crop of unique movies from up-and-coming filmmakers from around the world and this year’s crop is the most interesting in years. Here are my most anticipated movies of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
5 – THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS (Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw)
The Truffle Hunters takes a look at those who dig up and farm the prized white Alba truffle. Though the truffle is wanted by the wealthiest people in the world, those who are in charge of getting it are just a small group of old Italian villagers and their pet dogs. It sounds relatively simple and fun, but The Truffle Hunters takes a look at how these coveted truffles are hunted by these men and the high-pressured market for them. As one who is obsessed with The Food Network, I am excited to see what the filmmakers show us in terms of this crazy market for a truffle and how these Italian elders work.
4 – WENDY (Behn Zeitlin)
In 2012, Behn Zeitlin shook the cinematic world with Beasts of the Southern Wild, winning the U.S. Dramatic prize at Sundance and being nominated for four of Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actress for Quvenzhané Wallis, and Best Director for Zeitlin. Zeitlin has been quiet since his debut, but he’s back now and I could not be more excited. Based on J.M. Barrie’s novel, Wendy is a reimagining of the classic Peter Pan story, taking the focus and location and flipping it on its head. Zeitlin showed he was talented with Beasts and Wendy looks to solidify his voice as a director.
3 – POSSESSOR (Brandon Cronenberg)
When reading the program for this year’s Sundance Film Festival, two things stuck out when I was looking at Possessor. The first one was the the film is directed by Brandon Cronenberg, the son of David Cronenberg, the great auteur known for shaking his audiences mentally and viscerally. The second was that in the Sundance program, they called the film, “splendid mindfuck cinema”. I don’t know if those words have ever been used together before, but it works as an awesome pitch. Possessor sounds like a darker, twisted Inception, as a corporate agent uses brain-implant technology to inhabit other people’s bodies, driving them to commit assassinations for the benefit of the company, only to struggle with violent memories and urges. Starring Andrea Riseborough and Christopher Abbott, Possessor seems like a movie that is going to shock audiences to its core.
2 – WORTH (Sara Colangelo)
Worth stars Michael Keaton and Stanley Tucci and that’s all I needed to sell me on the movie. Keaton and Tucci could be in a movie painting a fence and I would pay the full price of admission for it. But the subject matter of the, in which a Congress-appointed attorney (Keaton) is put in charge of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund only to struggle with putting a price on a human life while locking horns with a man (Tucci) who’s wife died in the towers, gives these two spectacular actors some really meaty performances that could lead to awards consideration later in the year. Directed by Sara Colangelo, who’s last film, The Kindergarten Teacher, was one of the most buzzed movies of Sundance back in 2018 and looks to follow it up with an emotionally stirring look at the price of life.
1 – ZOLA (Janicza Bravo)
Based on the infamous 144-tweet posted by A’ziah King in October 2015, Zola is going to be the wildest ride of Sundance 2020. You can read the tweets here and if you do, you know the chaos that is in store. Zola looks at how two strippers meets at dinner and then go on a cross-country road trip that nobody will forget. The vibe of the tweets reminded me of Spring Breakers on steroids. Director Janicza Bravo teamed up with writer Jeremy O. Harris to brings us what is bound to relentless look at sex, drugs, money, greed, and violence. I am intrigued to see how Bravo shoots and constructs the film and believe that this is a movie that is going to blow everyone away and will be one of the most talked about movies at this year’s festival and maybe of 2020.
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