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Sundance 2017 Gets Episodic With Special Events Lineup, Featuring Jill Soloway and Rashida Jones

"I Love Dick" and "Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On" are just two of the highlights from this year's Special Events lineup.

I Love Dick Amazon Kevin Bacon

Amazon Studios

The Sundance Film Festival continues to embrace the diversity of great content being made today, with a full roster of special events programming that features established festival favorites like Jill Soloway, Rashida Jones and Gina Prince-Bythewood.

READ MORE: Sundance 2017 Announces New Frontier Lineup, Including 22 VR Experiences and 11 New Installations

Making its world premiere at the fest is “I Love Dick,” Soloway’s Amazon comedy featuring Kevin Bacon as the titular Dick, a “charismatic artist” who upends the marriage of Kathryn Hanh and Griffith Dunne. In addition, the Netflix documentary “Hot Girls Wanted” gets a sequel directed by Rashida Jones; “Turned On” explores “the intersection of sex and technology,” per the official release.

Broadcast networks find themselves surprisingly well-represented in the line-up, with the ABC comedy “Downward Dog” (featuring Allison Tolman as a young woman with a special relationship with her dog) as well as the Fox limited series “Shots Fired,” which chronicles the aftermath of racially-charged shootings in a North Carolina town.

Check out the full array of programming, including independent pilots and a special selection of documentaries from Cuba, below. Also check out the film premieres and spotlight entries announced today.

Special Events

One-of-a-kind moments highlighting new independent works that add to the unique Festival experience. An evolving section, this year includes episodic work, short films and live post-screening discussions.

“Downward Dog” / U.S.A. (Showrunners: Kat Likkel, John Hoberg, Creators: Michael Killen, Samm Hodges) — The story of a struggling millennial, Nan, as observed from the point of view of her lonely and philosophical dog, Martin. The Festival will premiere the first four episodes of the series, followed by an extended Q&A with the cast, creators and showrunners. Cast: Allison Tolman, Samm Hodges, Lucas Neff, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Barry Rothbart. World Premiere

“The History of Comedy” / U.S.A. (Executive Producers: Mark Herzog, Christopher G. Cowen, Sean Hayes, Todd Milliner) — Utilizing archival footage punctuated by contemporary interviews with comedy legends and scholars, this is the history of not only what makes us laugh, but how comedy has affected the social and political landscape throughout history. The Festival will premiere two episodes of this docuseries, Spark of Madness and Going Blue, followed by an extended Q&A. World Premiere

“I Love Dick” / U.S.A. (Directors: Jill Soloway, Andrea Arnold, Kimberly Peirce, Executive Producers: Jill Soloway, Sarah Gubbins, Andrea Sperling, Victor Hsu) — Chris and Sylvere, a married couple in the intellectual community of Marfa, Texas, become obsessed with a charismatic artist named Dick. What follows is the unraveling of a marriage, the deification of a reluctant messiah and the awakening of the female gaze. The Festival will present the first three episodes of this Amazon original series, followed by an extended Q&A. Cast: Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Hahn, Griffin Dunne, Roberta Colindrez, India Menuez, Phoebe Robinson. World Premiere

“RISE” / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Michelle Latimer) — This vibrant and immersive documentary series explores the front lines of indigenous resistance. Episodes Apache Stronghold, Sacred Water and Red Power examine factors that threaten indigenous liberation in the 21st century. A series of contrasts, this series is both a condemnation of colonialism and a celebration of indigenous peoples. Continuing Sundance Institute’s ongoing commitment to presenting bold stories from within the Native American and Indigenous communities, we are proud to debut three episodes: Apache Stronghold, Sacred Water and Red Power, followed by an extended Q&A. World Premiere.

“Shots Fired” / U.S.A. (Executive Producers: Gina Prince-Bythewood, Reggie Rock Bythewood, Brian Grazer, Francie Calfo) — After racially-charged shootings in a North Carolina town, an investigator digs into the cases alongside a special prosecutor. Together they seek justice while navigating the ensuing media attention and public unrest threatening the divided town. The Festival will premiere two episodes of this 10-hour series, followed by an extended Q&A. Cast: Sanaa Lathan, Stephan James, Helen Hunt, Richard Dreyfuss, Stephen Moyer, Mack Wilds. World Premiere

“TIME: The Kalief Browder Story” / U.S.A. (Director: Jenner Furst, Executive Producers: Jenner Furst, Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, Harvey Weinstein, David C. Glasser, Nick Sandow, Julia Willoughby Nason, Michael Gasparro) — After his arrest at age 16, Kalief Browder fought the system and prevailed, despite unthinkable circumstances. He became an American hero. The Festival will debut the first two episodes of this in-depth, humanizing look at a broken justice system, followed by an extended Q&A. World Premiere

Docuseries Showcase

The Festival is proud to debut individual episodes from two exciting new Netflix docuseries, featuring an extended Q&A with directors Morgan Neville and Rashida Jones.

“Abstract: The Art of Design” / U.S.A. (Director and executive producer: Morgan Neville) — A look beyond blueprints and computers into the art and science of design, showcasing great designers from every discipline whose work shapes our world. The Festival will debut one episode of the series, followed by an extended Q&A with Director and Executive Producer Morgan Neville. Cast: Christoph Niemann. World Premiere

“Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On” / U.S.A. (Director: Rashida Jones, “Women on Top,” Executive Producers: Rashida Jones, Ronna Gradus, Jill Bauer, Peter LoGreco) — “Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On” tells personal stories about people whose lives are affected by the
explosion of the Internet where pornography, dating apps and virtual relationships are all just a click away. The series explores the intersection of sex and technology telling stories of intimacy, connection, disconnection, self-promotion, race and gender politics. How is establishing sexual relationships through screens now rewiring us in fundamental ways? Produced by Rashida Jones, Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus, the series is an extension of the feature documentary “Hot Girls Wanted,” which premiered at Sundance in 2015. The Festival will debut one episode of the series, followed by an extended Q&A with Director and Executive Producer Rashida Jones. World Premiere

Independent Pilot Showcase

We are proud to present the world premieres of these outstanding pilot presentations, highlighting the best in episodic series work from the independent community

“Playdates” / U.S.A. (Writers: Giles Andrew, Dan Marshall, Creators: Giles Andrew, Dan Marshall, Alex Bourne) — Uprooted from their Midwestern life, Bennett, a new stay-at-home dad, and Julie, a working mom, are forced to take their kids on playdates inside the elitist parenting culture of Silicon Beach. Cast: Paul Scheer, Carla Gallo, Miles Fisher, Craig Frank, Gemma Brooke Allen, Landon Gordon. World Premiere

“Shit Kids” / U.S.A. (Director and creator: Kyle Dunnigan) — The daughter of an earth-shatteringly boring couple, along with the son of an equally humdrum set of parents, have decided to plot their parents’ murders. Cast: Kyle Dunnigan, Kevin Berntson, Candace Brown, Margee Magee, Grace van Dien, Doug Noble. World Premiere

“When The Street Lights Go On” / U.S.A. (Director: Brett Morgen, Screenwriters: Eddie O’Keefe, Chris Hutton) — The residents of a small town grapple with the ruthless killing of a young girl and a teacher. Cast: Max Burkholder, Odessa Young, Adam Long, Ben Winchell, Kelli Mayo, Graham Beckel. World Premiere

Made in Cuba

We are proud to present these three cinematic and affecting Cuban short documentaries, reflecting Sundance Institute’s longstanding commitment to international artists. These films were guided by the Institute’s Documentary Film Program in collaboration with La Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV (EICTV) and The Guardian Multimedia Program.

“Connection (Conectifai)” / Cuba (Director: Horizoe Garcia Miranda) — ETECSA—Cuba’s only telephone company—installed Wi-Fi routers in 18 public parks in 2016. For many Cubans, this meant being able to go online for the first time. This film shows us how Cubans of all ages initially explore social media, online dating and more. U.S. Premiere

“Great (Muy Bien)” / Cuba (Director: Sheyla Pool Pástor) — The United States restored diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2015, making it no longer unrealistic for Cubans to dream of one day living and working abroad. Cubans of all ages and diverse aspirations enroll at the makeshift Big Ben English school in Havana. U.S. Premiere

“House for Sale (Casa en Venta)” / Cuba (Director: Emanuel Giraldo Betancur) — After more than 50 years, the ban on individuals in Cuba selling their houses was lifted in 2011. Three Cubans invite us into their homes—full of memories, souvenirs and family members—to hear their “sales pitch.” U.S. Premiere

Midnight Episodic Showcase

For the after-dark crowd, we present the world premieres of two thrilling new episodic additions to our Midnight lineup: “Pineapple,” from Adaptive Studios, and “Snatchers,” from Stage 13, followed by an extended Q&A with the creators of both series.

“Pineapple” / U.S.A. (Director and writer: Arkasha Stevenson) — When a miner’s daughter is assaulted in the local coal mine, she utters only one word, leaving the town’s sheriff baffled. The event quickly spirals out of control, impacting the entire town. The Festival will premiere three short-form episodes of this uniquely cinematic drama series. Cast: Tyler Vickers, Kel Owens, Ron Gilbert, Gloria Vonn, Lucille Sharp, Brooklyn Robinson. World Premiere

“Snatchers” / U.S.A. (Directors: Stephen Cedars, Benji Kleiman, Screenwriters: Scott Yacyshyn, Benji Kleiman, Stephen Cedars) — After status-obsessed teen Sara has sex for the first time, she wakes up the next day nine months pregnant—with an alien. Turning to her nerdy ex-bestie, Hayley (the only person she can trust without ruining her reputation), they strive to put an end to all the carnage. The Festival will premiere eight short-form episodes of this otherworldly horror-comedy series. Cast: Mari Nepi, Gabrielle Elyse, Austin Fryberger, J.J. Nolan, Nick Gomez, Rich Fulcher. World Premiere

Short-Form Episodic Series

A celebration of the evolving landscape of content consumption, we present these short-form episodic series as new voices in the medium, defying broadcast boilerplates with a redefinition of traditional episodic conventions.

“The Chances” / U.S.A. (Director: Anna Kerrigan, Creators: Josh Feldman, Shoshannah Stern) — Best friends Kate and Michael, who are deaf, try their best to see their friendship through new changes in their lives, as Kate adjusts to being newly married and Michael attempts to get over his ex-boyfriend. The Festival will debut five episodes of this short-form episodic series. Cast: Josh Feldman, Shoshannah Stern, Aaron Costa Ganis, Lucas Near-Verbrugghe, Darryl Stephens, Wilson Cruz. World Premiere

“Gente-fied” / U.S.A. (Creator: Marvin Lemus, Executive Producers: Charles D. King, Aaliyah Williams, America Ferrera) — Seven characters deal with the effects of change in LA’s Boyle Heights. Bicultural millennials and old-school business owners hustle to create spaces that celebrate their Latino identities— even while faced with rent hikes, a housing crisis, and a steady stream of outsiders threatening to gentrify their barrio. The Festival will debut three episodes of this short- form episodic series. Cast: Edsson Morales, Alicia Sixtos, Victoria Ortiz, Yareli Arizmendi, Salvador Velez Jr, Rafael Sigler. World Premiere

“Strangers” / U.S.A. (Director: Mia Lidofsky, Executive Producers: Michael B. Clark, Alex Turtletaub, Jesse Peretz, Mia Lidofsky) — Isobel decides to rent out her spare bedroom in order to generate much-needed extra income after a messy and painful breakup. With the help of her best friend, she navigates the most emotionally, sexually and professionally complicated time of her life, while hosting a constant stream of new guests. The Festival will debut the first three episodes of this short-form episodic series. Cast: Zoë Chao, Meredith Hagner, Jemaine Clement, Breeda Wool, Matthew Oberg, Shiri Appleby. World Premiere

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