The Sundance Film Festival has kicked off for another year with an array of new films you’ll be wanting to keep on your radar. Championing independent cinema since the 70s, the festival is known for frequently uncovering cinematic gems; last year alone it discovered the jazz-drumming drama Whiplash and Richard Linklater’s 12-year project Boyhood.
While most of us won’t get to view the films until later in the year, now’s your chance to get across what’s coming up. Here’s a look at some of the highly-anticipated films from this year’s program:
A Walk in the Woods
In this moving yet playful road-trip comedy, Robert Redford plays an aging travel writer who sets out to hike the Appalachian Trail accompanied by his old pal, Steve (Nick Nolte) and wife, Cathy (Emma Thompson).
I Am Michael
James Franco to controversial films is like a moth to a flame. In one of the festival’s most provocative offerings, Franco portrays Michael Glatze – a gay activist who rejects his homosexuality in order to become a Christian pastor.
The Stanford Prison Experiment
Director Kyle Patrick Alvarez returns to Sundance with a tale based on the real-life research of Dr. Philip Zimbardo in the 1970s. It recounts the professor’s study on the psychology of imprisonment, which was tested on Ivy League undergraduates with disturbing results.
Last Days in the Desert
Rodrigo Garc√≠a’s thought provoking drama stars Ewan McGregor as Jesus, who – fatigued and hallucinating during his 40 days fasting in the desert – is met and tested by the Devil.
This moving and sweeping romance vividly depicts a rapidly progressing world. Set between 1950s Ireland and New York, it follows a young woman who is forced to make a heartbreaking choice between two men and two countries.
This intoxicating story of compulsive gambling follows gifted poker player Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) who bonds with Curtis (Ryan Reynolds), a charismatic young traveller. The pair gamble their way across the US to a legendary high-stakes game in New Orleans.
The Diary of a Teenage girl
Newcomer Bel Powley’s portrayal of a teenage girl who begins an affair with her mother’s boyfriend has cemented her as the breakout star of Sundance. Kristen Wiig plays her mother and Alexander Skarsgård plays her mother’s boyfriend. With that casting, we’re not complaining…
Z for Zachariah
Craig Zobel brings us another controversial film with a simple premise: in the wake of a disaster that wipes out most of civilization, two men and a young woman find themselves in an emotionally charged love triangle. The talented cast includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Margot Robbie and Chris Pine.
Bryan Buckley’s hilariously raunchy feature-film debut is comedy gold. It follows a foul-mouthed former gymnastic bronze medallist who finds her local celebrity status challenged when a young athlete’s star rises in town.
Intelligent and full of heart, this coming of age flick follows a high school geek from a tough LA neighbourhood whose world changes after he gets invited to an underground party.
The Sundance Film Festival runs from January 22 – February 1 in Park City, Utah. For more information visit their website.