Sundance 2015 U.S. Competition films announced
Park City, UT — Sundance Institute announced today the films selected for the U.S. and World Cinema Dramatic and Documentary Competitions and the out-of-competition NEXT section of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, January 22 to February 1 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. The Festival is the centerpiece of the year-round public programs for the Institute, which also hosts 24 residency labs and grants more than $2.5 million to independent artists each year.
Robert Redford, President & Founder of Sundance Institute, said, "The work of independent artists inevitably reflects the state of our culture and the times in which we live. Their stories are often irreverent, challenging, compelling and unexpected, and not only possess the power to move and hopefully inspire audiences, but also to speak to our shared humanity."
Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, said, "Independent artists are embracing diverse forms of storytelling – from feature film to New Frontier to episodic content. In response to their risk-taking spirit, we continue to evolve our Festival and other programs to seek out the best ways to support original and inventive storytellers."
John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival, said, "The selections for our 2015 Festival will take audiences on a wild ride of emotional extremes. With approaches ranging from comedic to dramatic, genre to documentary, experimental to short, independent filmmakers are bravely illuminating new opportunities for understanding and empathy."
For the 2015 Festival, 118 feature-length films were selected, representing 29 countries and 45 first-time filmmakers, including 19 in competition. These films were selected from 12,166 submissions, including 4,105 feature-length films and 8,061 short films. Of the feature film submissions, 2,016 were from the U.S. and 2,089 were international. 103 feature films at the Festival will be world premieres.
In addition to those announced today, the Festival presents feature-length films in the Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, New Frontier, Sundance Kids, Premieres and Documentary Premieres sections. Those announcements, as well as selections for the Short Film section, a new Special Events section and offscreen programming, are forthcoming.
This year on Day One, January 22, 2015, the Festival will feature one of each type of film shown at the Festival: a U.S. documentary, U.S. dramatic, international documentary and international dramatic, as well as one shorts program.
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.
Advantageous / U.S.A. (Director: Jennifer Phang, Screenwriters: Jacqueline Kim, Jennifer Phang)
In a near-future city where soaring opulence overshadows economic hardship, Gwen and her daughter, Jules, do all they can to hold on to their joy, despite the instability surfacing in their world. Cast: Jacqueline Kim, James Urbaniak, Freya Adams, Ken Jeong, Jennifer Ehle, Samantha Kim.
The Bronze / U.S.A. (Director: Bryan Buckley, Screenwriters: Melissa Rauch, Winston Rauch)
In 2004, Hope Ann Greggory became an American hero after winning the bronze medal for the women’s gymnastics team. Today, she’s still living in her small hometown, washed-up and embittered. Stuck in the past, Hope must reassess her life when a promising young gymnast threatens her local celebrity status. Cast: Melissa Rauch, Gary Cole, Thomas Middleditch, Sebastian Stan, Haley Lu Richardson, Cecily Strong. DAY ONE FILM
The D Train / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Jarrad Paul, Andrew Mogel)
With his 20th reunion looming, Dan can’t shake his high school insecurities. In a misguided mission to prove he’s changed, Dan rekindles a friendship with the popular guy from his class and is left scrambling to protect more than just his reputation when a wild night takes an unexpected turn. Cast: Jack Black, James Marsden, Kathryn Hahn, Jeffrey Tambor, Mike White, Kyle Bornheimer.
The Diary of a Teenage Girl / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Marielle Heller)
Minnie Goetze is a 15-year-old aspiring comic-book artist, coming of age in the haze of the 1970s in San Francisco. Insatiably curious about the world around her, Minnie is a pretty typical teenage girl. Oh, except that she’s sleeping with her mother’s boyfriend. Cast: Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgård, Christopher Meloni, Kristen Wiig.
Dope / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Rick Famuyiwa)
Malcolm is carefully surviving life in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles while juggling college applications, academic interviews, and the SAT. A chance invitation to an underground party leads him into an adventure that could allow him to go from being a geek, to being dope, to ultimately being himself. Cast: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Blake Anderson, Zoë Kravitz, A$AP Rocky.
I Smile Back / U.S.A. (Director: Adam Salky, Screenwriters: Amy Koppelman, Paige Dylan)
All is not right in suburbia. Laney Brooks, a wife and mother on the edge, has stopped taking her meds, substituting recreational drugs and the wrong men. With the destruction of her family looming, Laney makes a last, desperate attempt at redemption. Cast: Sarah Silverman, Josh Charles, Thomas Sadoski, Mia Barron, Terry Kinney, Chris Sarandon.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl / U.S.A. (Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Screenwriter: Jesse Andrews)
Greg is coasting through senior year of high school as anonymously as possible, avoiding social interactions like the plague while secretly making spirited, bizarre films with Earl, his only friend. But both his anonymity and friendship threaten to unravel when his mother forces him to befriend a classmate with leukemia. Cast: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon.
The Overnight / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Patrick Brice)
Alex, Emily, and their son, RJ, are new to Los Angeles. A chance meeting at the park introduces them to the mysterious Kurt, Charlotte, and Max. A family "playdate" becomes increasingly interesting as the night goes on. Cast: Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, Judith Godrèche.
People, Places, Things / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: James C. Strouse)
Will Henry is a newly single graphic novelist balancing being a parent to his young twin daughters and teaching a classroom full of college students, all the while trying to navigate the rich complexities of new love and letting go of the woman who left him. Cast: Jemaine Clement, Regina Hall, Stephanie Allynne, Jessica Williams, Gia Gadsby, Aundrea Gadsby.
Results / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Andrew Bujalski)
Two mismatched personal trainers’ lives are upended by the actions of a new, wealthy client. Cast: Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders, Kevin Corrigan, Giovanni Ribisi, Anthony Michael Hall, Brooklyn Decker.
Songs My Brothers Taught Me / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Chloé Zhao)
This complex portrait of modern-day life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation explores the bond between a brother and his younger sister, who find themselves on separate paths to rediscovering the meaning of home. Cast: John Reddy, Jashaun St. John, Irene Bedard, Taysha Fuller, Travis Lone Hill, Eléonore Hendricks.
The Stanford Prison Experiment / U.S.A. (Director: Kyle Patrick Alvarez, Screenwriter: Tim Talbott)
This film is based on the actual events that took place in 1971 when Stanford professor Dr. Philip Zimbardo created what became one of the most shocking and famous social experiments of all time. Cast: Billy Crudup, Ezra Miller, Michael Angarano, Tye Sheridan, Johnny Simmons, Olivia Thirlby.
Stockholm, Pennsylvania / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Nikole Beckwith)
A young woman is returned home to her biological parents after living with her abductor for 17 years. Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Cynthia Nixon, Jason Isaacs, David Warshofsky.
Unexpected / U.S.A. (Director: Kris Swanberg, Screenwriters: Kris Swanberg, Megan Mercier)
When Samantha Abbott begins her final semester teaching science at a Chicago high school, she faces some unexpected news: she’s pregnant. Soon after, Samantha learns that one of her favorite students, Jasmine, has landed in a similar situation. Unexpected follows the two women as they embark on an unlikely friendship. Cast: Cobie Smulders, Anders Holm, Gail Bean, Elizabeth McGovern.
The Witch / U.S.A., Canada (Director and screenwriter: Robert Eggers)
New England in the 1630s: William and Katherine lead a devout Christian life with five children, homesteading on the edge of an impassable wilderness. When their newborn son vanishes and crops fail, the family turns on one another. Beyond their worst fears, a supernatural evil lurks in the nearby wood. Cast: Anya Taylor Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Lucas Dawson, Ellie Grainger.
Z for Zachariah / U.S.A. (Director: Craig Zobel, Screenwriter: Nissar Modi)
In a post-apocalyptic world, a young woman who believes she is the last human on Earth meets a dying scientist searching for survivors. Their relationship becomes tenuous when another survivor appears. As the two men compete for the woman’s affection, their primal urges begin to reveal their true nature. Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Margot Robbie, Chris Pine.
U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Sixteen world-premiere American documentaries that illuminate the ideas, people, and events that shape the present day.
3½ MINUTES / U.S.A. (Director: Marc Silver)
On November 23, 2012, unarmed 17-year-old Jordan Russell Davis was shot at a Jacksonville gas station by Michael David Dunn. 3½ MINUTES explores the aftermath of Jordan’s tragic death, the latent and often unseen effects of racism, and the contradictions of the American criminal justice system.
Being Evel / U.S.A. (Director: Daniel Junge)
An unprecedented, candid portrait of American icon Robert "Evel" Knievel and his legacy.
Best of Enemies / U.S.A. (Directors: Morgan Neville, Robert Gordon)
Best of Enemies is a behind-the-scenes account of the explosive 1968 televised debates between the liberal Gore Vidal and the conservative William F. Buckley Jr., and their rancorous disagreements about politics, God, and sex.
Call Me Lucky / U.S.A. (Director: Bobcat Goldthwait)
Barry Crimmins was a volatile but brilliant bar comic who became an honored peace activist and influential political satirist. Famous comedians and others build a picture of a man who underwent an incredible transformation.
Cartel Land / U.S.A., Mexico (Director: Matthew Heineman)
In this classic Western set in the 21st century, vigilantes on both sides of the border fight the vicious Mexican drug cartels. With unprecedented access, this character-driven film provokes deep questions about lawlessness, the breakdown of order, and whether citizens should fight violence with violence.
City of Gold / U.S.A. (Director: Laura Gabbert)
Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Jonathan Gold casts his light upon a vibrant and growing cultural movement in which he plays the dual roles of high-low priest and culinary geographer of his beloved Los Angeles.
Finders Keepers / U.S.A. (Directors: Bryan Carberry, Clay Tweel)
Recovering addict and amputee John Wood finds himself in a stranger-than-fiction battle to reclaim his mummified leg from Southern entrepreneur Shannon Whisnant, who found it in a grill he bought at an auction and believes it to therefore be his rightful property.
Hot Girls Wanted / U.S.A. (Directors: Jill Bauer, Ronna Gradus)
Hot Girls Wanted is a first-ever look at the realities inside the world of the amateur porn industry and the steady stream of 18- and 19-year-old girls entering into it.
How to Dance in Ohio / U.S.A. (Director: Alexandra Shiva)
In Columbus, Ohio, a group of teenagers and young adults on the autism spectrum prepare for an iconic American rite of passage — a spring formal. They spend 12 weeks practicing their social skills at a local nightclub in preparation for the dance.
Larry Kramer in Love and Anger / U.S.A. (Director: Jean Carlomusto)
Author, activist, and playwright Larry Kramer is one of the most important and controversial figures in contemporary gay America, a political firebrand who gave voice to the outrage and grief that inspired gay men and lesbians to fight for their lives. At 78, this complicated man still commands our attention.
Meru / U.S.A. (Directors: Jimmy Chin, E. Chai Vasarhelyi)
Three elite mountain climbers sacrifice everything but their friendship as they struggle through heartbreaking loss and nature’s harshest elements to attempt the never-before-completed Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru, the most coveted first ascent in the dangerous game of Himalayan big wall climbing.
Racing Extinction / U.S.A. (Director: Louie Psihoyos)
Academy Award-winner Louie Psihoyos (The Cove) assembles a unique team to show the world never-before-seen images that expose issues surrounding endangered species and mass extinction. Whether infiltrating notorious black markets or exploring humans’ effect on the environment, Racing Extinction will change the way you see the world.
(T)ERROR / U.S.A. (Directors: Lyric R. Cabral, David Felix Sutcliffe)
(T)ERROR is the first film to document on camera a covert counterterrorism sting as it unfolds. Through the perspective of *******, a 63-year-old Black revolutionary turned FBI informant, viewers are given an unprecedented glimpse of the government’s counterterrorism tactics, and the murky justifications behind them.
Welcome to Leith / U.S.A. (Directors: Michael Beach Nichols, Christopher K. Walker)
A white supremacist attempts to take over a small town in North Dakota.
Western / U.S.A., Mexico (Directors: Bill Ross, Turner Ross)
For generations, all that distinguished Eagle Pass, Texas, from Piedras Negras, Mexico, was the Rio Grande. But when darkness descends upon these harmonious border towns, a cowboy and lawman face a new reality that threatens their way of life. Western portrays timeless American figures in the grip of unforgiving change.
The Wolfpack / U.S.A. (Director: Crystal Moselle)
Six bright teenage brothers have spent their entire lives locked away from society in a Manhattan housing project. All they know of the outside is gleaned from the movies they watch obsessively (and recreate meticulously). Yet as adolescence looms, they dream of escape, ever more urgently, into the beckoning world.
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