Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
by Indiewire
November 21, 2013 3:08 PM
  • |

Sundance Wishlist: 30 Films We Hope Will Head To Park City In 2014

Thanksgiving is the most anxious holiday for indie filmmakers, as the Sundance Film Festival begins making its calls with (hopefully) good news. The first round of programming announcements are expected following the four-day holiday weekend, with over 100 features expected over various sections of the January 2014 festival.

Ahead of those announcements, Indiewire is offering 30 films as a Sundance wish list (in honor of the festival's 30th anniversary). Basically, it's a wholly unscientific collection of films that might reasonably make the cut and/or we hope will make it to Park City.

Much more so than fellow festival powerhouses Cannes or Toronto, Sundance is a hard lineup to predict. Tiny films from up-and-coming directors often end up being the most talked-about films at the festival (few had heard of Ryan Coogler or David Lowery this time last year). Of course, some of the lineup will be comprised of more high-profile possibilities -- and it's all but certain that some of the festival's breakouts are not going to be on our list.

So with those caveats in mind, here are 30 titles to consider (in alphabetical order). And if you have a title to add, tell us in the comments.

"Animal Rescue"
Michael R. Roskam’s “Animal Rescue” is an obvious eyebrow raiser in relation to other entries on this list for the fact of a budget upwards of $10 million and a star-studded cast that includes the late James Gandolfini in his final film appearance. “Animal Rescue” tells the story of a Boston bartender played by Tom Hardy (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) who upon rescuing an abandoned pit bull finds himself face-to-face with the dog’s former owner and a lethal mafia conspiracy beyond anything he could have imagine. “Animal Rescue” will star Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini and Matthias Schoenaerts among others in a film that. for its cast and foundational material in crime novel veteran Dennis Lehane’s original story of the same name, is sure to catch a glimpse or two. 

"Animal Rescue"

"Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary"
2014 might be bringing us the action-packed, animated, eyeball-strainer that is "The Lego Movie," but we also want to catch this lower-key documentary about the beloved brick toy. Oscar-winner Daniel Junge ("Saving Face") and Oscar nominee Kief Davidson ("Open Heart") will make a huge shift form their more serious fare to bring us the history of the colorful little bricks. According to Deadline, the film will "unspool through the lens of culture, art, and education" and "will feature input from designers, fans, LEGO artists and kids who just like to play." 

"A Blind Eye"
As a cinematographer Kirsten Johnson has quickly made a name for herself with documentary hits from “The Invisible War” to “Darfur Now” to “The Oath.” "A Blind Eye" cannot but feel like that quintessentially perfect fulfillment of her journey in the form of a documentary on the nature and dynamics of cinematography and the things often missed from the behind the camera. Johnson’s film takes us through the daily toil of Kabul’s streets from the perspectives of Najeeb, a young one-eyed boy, and a teenage girl that struggles with measuring her desire to transcend boundaries from within a repressive society. While there has been no shortage of documentaries on Afghanistan, its wars as well as its civilians, a new film on cinematography in the context of urban war torn chaos certainly seems new and exciting.

Richard Linklater's "Before" trilogy has enthralled audiences for almost two decades, but it's not the only time-based narrative that the ambitious filmmaker has been guiding along. For years known only as "Linklater's 12 Year Project," the nearly completed "Boyhood" is said to have begun production in Houston in the summer of 2002 and completed shooting last month. The central drama involves a divorced couple (Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette) and their impact on their son (Ellar Salmon) as he grows from childhood to his teen years. The experimental production has largely been shrouded in secrecy as Linklater has returned to it each summer, but one can imagine based on the director's recent work that a thoughtful and tremulously innovative analysis of human development is in store.

"Cold In July"
With his post-apocalyptic vampire saga "Stake Land" and slick remake "We Are What We Are," Jim Mickle has steadily established himself as one of the most accomplished young horror directors working today, with a lyrical style that builds on the genre's more shocking ingredients. Mickle's latest adaptation, which draws from Joe Landshale's novel, co-stars Michael C. Hall and Sam Shepherd in a tense story involving a burglar shot dead by a homeowner in the process of the robbery, which spurs the late criminal's vengeful father to go after the offspring of his son's murderer. As usual for Mickle, the premise pits Biblical components with the prospects of a rough life-and-death showdown, suggesting the ideal material for a white-knuckle thriller.


  • Kristi Frazier | November 26, 2013 2:02 PMReply

    Check out the documentary Wrenched by female director, ML Lincoln.
    Its a very timely Doc that asks "How far do we go in defense of wilderness?" Compelling interviews with Doug Peacock, Dave Foreman, Robert Redford, Terry Tempest Williams...and many more who make up this unusual documentary's approach to radical activism.

  • Yance Ford | November 23, 2013 11:06 PMReply

    We are flattered to make your wish list (!) but Strong Island did not submit to the big dance. Here's wishing the best of luck to those who did! Keep an eye out for Rich Hill, Homestretch and An African Spring. In fact there are so many great docs in the pipeline this year it's hard to name them all!
    director, strong island

  • Alex | November 23, 2013 10:36 PMReply

    I think I would spaz out if Kill The Messenger went. Can't wait for that one. Laggies seems possible since Shelton's 3 previous films have been there.

    Hoping for The Last 5 Years, One Song, I origins, Filth, Under the Skin,Love is Strange, The Skeleton Twins, Before I Go To Sleep, Before I go To Sleep, Miss Julie, Lullaby, Curfew, Two Faces of January, A Most Wanted Man and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby.

    Man, so many great indie's coming out. Also, it would be amazing if somehow Foxcatcher was able to premiere there.

  • Jane | November 28, 2013 2:25 AM

    Kill the Messenger is very high on my wish list right now. The whole cast is amazing, in a non-flashy way. I love the fact that after working so well together ten years ago in 'Twelve and Holding', Renner's first big move with his new Hollywood status is to pull Cuesta out of TV and put him back in film making where he belongs.

  • Phil Parmet | November 23, 2013 4:42 AMReply

    Where are the women directors on this list. Sundance has become a starf@#kers festival where the pseudo indies with movie stars get their preview.

  • True Independent | November 22, 2013 3:04 PMReply

    Aldo, a truly independent film made with hard work and determination over money. It proves you don't need an inflated budget to tell an engaging story with unique characters.
    TEASER (vintage Italian style):

  • Clayton S. | November 22, 2013 12:22 PMReply

    This article is absurd. What Sundance needs to do is look at the indie filmmakers submitting their work and paying submission fees and program them! F*ck this star studded crap.

  • Nostalgia | November 22, 2013 11:53 AMReply

    I hope they go back to discovering new talent vs just advertising for big budgeted so called indie movies that we all forget right after watching...\ anyone remember black rock? Debs?

  • Rita | November 22, 2013 12:18 AMReply

    Who cares, its all studio umbrella fair filling those 20 spots for films produced for under 10million.

  • Clayton S. | November 22, 2013 12:24 PM

    Bob Hawk, she's talking about the fact that this list is pure and utter nonsense. It's star studded hubbub and not true indie filmmaking. Go back to the '90's way of programming and forget this jive!

  • bob hawk | November 22, 2013 4:42 AM

    Rita, your post makes no sense at all. Whatever are you talking about?

  • Josh Overbay | November 21, 2013 11:52 PMReply

    Go "As It Is in Heaven." A former Indiewire Project of the Day:

  • Bond | November 21, 2013 6:46 PMReply

    'Sand Castles' - U.S. Narrative Feature

  • Independent Watcher | November 21, 2013 5:48 PMReply

    The cast rolls of most of these films could easily have been associated to a studio film. I miss the Sundance that was a film festival where new directors and actors could be discovered.

  • bob hawk | November 22, 2013 4:48 AM

    Every year, Sundance offers a wildly diverse mix of directors and actors you've heard of and directors and actors you've never heard of. And there are many "name" actors who relish sinking their teeth into a good indie script.

  • Michelle | November 21, 2013 6:50 PM

    I worked on one of these films (one with some "names" in it) and I can definitely tell you it was far far far from a studio production. The cast chose to work on a small budget indie. It doesn't make that film any less credible as an indie, or a film that a studio would produce.

  • jimbo | November 21, 2013 6:16 PM

    but studios have distanced themselves from making any of these films. and cast doth not define studio films.

  • Leah | November 21, 2013 4:27 PMReply

    Again and again....every year ....they still believe they have a chance at the lottery.

  • GetaLife | November 21, 2013 5:58 PM

    Again and again...every year...they share their creative visions with people who are interested. Go suck lemons somewhere else, troll.

  • Kristian Berg | November 21, 2013 3:44 PMReply

    "Poustinia" from Bramble Films - U.S. Short Films

  • Kristian Berg | November 22, 2013 11:43 AM

    IndieWire mentions Poustinia a couple of times - won jury prize at Woodstock last month.

  • Ken Flott | November 21, 2013 3:06 PMReply

    "Nicky" from Door Eleven Productions dot com/watch?v=-vkeMjQh8XE