Sundance Film Festival marquee

The Sundance Film Festival is back for its 40th year of bringing film arts and culture to Park City.

The Sundance Film Festival (formerly known as Utah/U.S. Film Festival) was founded in August 1978 by Robert Redford, Sterling Van Wagenen, John Earle and Cirina Hampton Catania “in an effort to attract more filmmakers to Utah” (Wikipedia.) The idea was to promote the industry of independent film while featuring exclusively American-made content. Since then, it has grown into a worldwide celebration of self-made film artists. This festival is not only an exploration of creative and new film endeavors but has become a launching pad for successful careers in the movie industry. Some of the most famous titles to come out of the festival include American Psycho (2000), Whiplash (2014), Reservoir Dogs (1992), Heathers (1989), Man on Wire (2008), Memento (2001), (500) Days of Summer (2009), A Streetcar Named Desire (1978) and The Usual Suspects (1995). Sundance is also responsible for initiating famous actors such as Jennifer Lawrence, Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Christian Bale, Hugh Grant and James Spader.

While the film festival itself only comes around once a year, the Sundance Institute provides workshops and panels for new filmmakers all year:

“Sundance Institute’s artist programs provide dynamic support at every step of the creative journey for individuals with distinct voices in film, theatre, film composing, episodic storytelling, and emerging platforms. Each program consists of Labs, Grants, Workshops and Ongoing Resources for artists to nurture their projects and sustain their careers. Through year-round activities, we provide the space for artists to create and share their stories with the world. Since our inception, the Institute’s programs have supported more than 5,000 artists and fostered a community for independent storytellers to learn, grow, connect, and give back,” (Sundance.)

This year’s festival will feature 110 films from 29 different countries, each competing in one of 14 categories including Premieres, Documentary Premieres, Indie Episodic, Shorts and Kids. These films were selected from over 13,000 submissions, and 100 of the feature films this year will be world premieres. Last year alone there were over 70,000 attendees at the festival.

While each film is certainly excellent in its own right, here are a few intriguing titles to watch out for.

American Animals (U.S.A.) directed and written by Bart Layton: “The unbelievable but mostly true story of four young men who mistake their lives for a movie and attempt one of the most audacious art heists in U.S. history.”

I Think We’re Alone Now (U.S.A.) directed by Reed Morano, written by Mike Makowsky: “The apocalypse proves a blessing in disguise for one lucky recluse – until a second survivor arrives with the threat of companionship.”

The Devil We Know (U.S.A.) directed by Stephanie Soechtig: “Unraveling one of the biggest environmental scandals of our time, a group of citizens in West Virginia take on a powerful corporation after they discover it has knowingly been dumping a toxic chemical — now found in the blood of 99.7% of Americans — into the local drinking water supply.”

The Guilty (Denmark) directed by Gustav Möller, written by Emil Nygaard Albertsen and Gustav Möller: “Alarm dispatcher Asger Holm answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman; after a sudden disconnection, the search for the woman and her kidnapper begins. With the phone as his only tool, Asger enters a race against time to solve a crime that is far bigger than he first thought.”

Arizona (U.S.A.) directed by Jonathan Watson, written by Luke Del Tredici: “Set in the midst of the 2009 housing crisis, this darkly comedic story follows Cassie Fowler, a single mom and struggling realtor whose life goes off the rails when she witnesses a murder.”

The Death of Stalin (France/U.K./Belgium) directed by Armando Iannucci, written by Armando Iannucci, David Schneider and Ian Martin: “The internal political landscape of 1950’s Soviet Russia through a darkly comic lens. In the days following Stalin’s collapse, his core ministers tussle for control; some want positive change, others have more sinister motives. Their one common trait? They’re all just desperately trying to remain alive.”

To check out the rest of the line-up and purchase your tickets, visit Tickets for the 2018 Sundance Film Festival will be available for purchase on Tuesday, Jan 16.


Haley Oliphant is the Digital Managing Editor for the Daily Utah Chronicle. When she's not studying English, she enjoys long walks on the beach, snarky commentary, and the oxford comma. @oliphant_haley


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