Sundance Programming Director Trevor Groth offers film festival highlights |

Sundance Programming Director Trevor Groth offers film festival highlights

Victoria Carmen Sonne appears in Holiday by Isabella Eklf, an official selection of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | Photo by Jonas Lodahl.

In advance of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Programming Director Trevor Groth offered a preview of some highlights.

Which film will be most talked about?

U.S. Dramatic Competition

Groth: “It has a real vibrant energy to it. It’s both funny and heavy and stylish and there is great music in it, all of the unique qualities of ‘Blindspotting’ are going to make people talk a lot about it during the festival, for sure.”

Which film is the funniest?

“A Futile and Stupid Gesture”

Groth: “The film I probably laughed the most at throughout would be ‘A Futile and Stupid Gesture’ which is the National Lampoon story directed by David Wain who did ‘Wet Hot American Summer.’ I thought the one-liners were so rapid fire and so funny and there was great casting.”

Which will be the toughest to watch?

“The Tale”
U.S. Dramatic Competition

Groth: “I will say two. ‘The Tale’ is a very personal act of a young woman coming of age where she had something traumatic happen and her adult self is looking back at that time in her life. There are some scenes that are tough to watch, but all for a very important purpose.”

World Dramatic Competition

Groth: “Then there is another film, ‘Holiday,’ that is very provocative, very challenging. It is also incredibly well made, which is why it’s in the festival, but is definitely going to spark a lot of conversation in the audience and the Q&As are going to be interesting.”

Which is the most avant-garde, technically or artistically?

“Sorry to Bother You”
World Dramatic Competition

Groth: “In a way, there is a film called ‘Sorry to Bother You’ that is a comedy, a satire about racial identity in the age we live in, but it is set in sort of a fantastic world. It reminds me of the kind of film that Michel Gondry (‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’) or Charlie Kaufman (‘Anomalisa’) might make. It’s really smart and really funny but really out there in storytelling.”


Groth: “In the film, ‘Search,’ throughout the entire film the audience is watching a computer screen and everything that comes up on that is how you get all the information. It’s a thriller where you see FaceTime conversations, Google searches and emails.  It’s a really smart and stylish approach to what a film can be.”

“306 Hollywood”

Groth: “‘306 Hollywood’ is a documentary made by two siblings who basically tell their grandmother’s story by coming into her home after she has passed away and excavating it and bringing her story to light. It’s really special.”

Which is the most timely politically?

“Seeing Allred”
U.S. Documentary

Groth: “There are a lot, but I’d go to the documentary about Gloria Allred who is one of the nation’s most famous women’s rights attorneys. ‘Seeing Allred’ really stands out because the headlines are so dominated by sexual assault and sexual misconduct in the workplace and she’s been fighting that fight for years.”

Are there some performances that stand out?

Groth: “The program is really notable this year for performances by actresses both known and unknown. I could list so many but some extraordinary performances worth mentioning include: Carey Mulligan (‘Wildlife’), Laura Dern (‘The Tale’), Andrea Riceborough (‘Nancy’) Maggie Gyllenhaal (‘The Kindergarten Teacher’), Chloë Sevigny (‘Lizzie’), Keira Knightley (‘Colette’) to name a few of the known actresses. I would also add some newcomers: Elsie Fisher (‘Eighth Grade’) and Thomasin Harcourt-McKenzie (‘Leave No Trace’).

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