The full 2015 Sundance Film Festival program has been revealed, including the films in its Premieres and Documentary Premieres sections, as well as the selections for a new Special Events section and participants for two panels. The festival runs January 22 to February 1, 2015.
This year, the selections are heading toward comedy, intensity and romance, according to the programmers. Buyers will be hovering over many of these premieres which will be unveiled for the first time in hopes of finding a theatrical home. There were so many hot acquisitions titles that the programmers were forced to push the premieres well into Tuesday.
Titles with buzz include Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s “Mississippi Grind,” James Ponsoldt’s literary “The End of the Tour” (starring Jesse Eisenberg as a Rolling Stone reporter interviewing author David Foster Wallace, played by Jason Segal, “who have great chemistry together,” says Sundance programmer Trevor Groth), John Crowley’s “Brooklyn” (adapted from Colm Toibin’s novel by Nick Hornby), Noah Baumbach’s “Mistress America” (which reunites the director with his collaborator-muse Greta Gerwig), James Strouse’s already-announced “People, Places Things,” competition comedy “The Bronze,” Patrick Brice’s competition comedy “The Overnight” (executive produced by Mark Duplass), high school reunion comedy “The D Train,” starring James Marsden and Jack Black, and Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s “The Stanford Prison Experiment.”
This may also be the first Sundance that features two films by a husband and wife team: Joe and Kris Swanberg.
On the documentary side, Amy Berg, Kirby Dick and Alex Gibney are stirring controversy with their timely films, “Prophet’s Prey,” “The Hunting Ground,” and “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” respectively. The Day One documentary turns out to be “What Happened, Miss Simone?”, Liz Garbus’ portrait of jazz chanteuse Nina Simone.
See lists below.
A showcase of world premieres of some
of the most highly anticipated narrative films of the coming year.
Brooklyn / United Kingdom (Director: John
Crowley, Screenwriter: Nick Hornby, based on the book by Colm Toibin) — 1950s
Ireland: Eilis must confront a terrible dilemma — a heartbreaking choice
between two men and two countries, between duty and true love. Cast: Saoirse
Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent.
Digging for Fire / U.S.A. (Director: Joe Swanberg, Screenwriters: Jake Johnson,
Joe Swanberg) — The discovery of a bone and a gun sends a husband and wife on
separate adventures over the course of a weekend. Cast: Jake Johnson, Rosemarie
Dewitt, Orlando Bloom, Brie Larson, Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick.
Don Verdean / U.S.A. (Director: Jared Hess,
Screenwriters: Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess) —
Biblical archaeologist Don Verdean is hired by a local church pastor to find
faith-promoting relics in the Holy Land. But after a fruitless expedition he is
forced to get creative in this comedy of faith and fraud. Cast: Sam
Rockwell, Jemaine Clement, Amy Ryan, Danny McBride, Leslie Bibb, Will Forte.
End of the Tour / U.S.A. (Director: James Ponsoldt, Screenwriter: Donald
Margulies) — This story of the five-day 1996 interview between Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky and
acclaimed novelist David Foster Wallace explores the tenuous yet intense
relationship that develops between journalist and subject. The two men bob and
weave, sharing laughs and also concealing and revealing their hidden
vulnerabilities. Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Segel, Anna Chlumsky, Joan
Cusack, Mamie Gummer, Ron Livingston.
Experimenter / U.S.A. (Director
and screenwriter: Michael Almereyda) — Experimenter
is based on the true story of famed social psychologist Stanley Milgram, who in
1961 conducted a series of radical behavior experiments that tested ordinary
humans’ willingness to obey authority by using electric shock. We follow Milgram
from meeting his wife through his controversial experiments that sparked public
outcry. Cast: Peter Sarsgaard, Winona Ryder, Jim Gaffigan, Kellan Lutz,
Taryn Manning, John Leguizamo.
Grandma / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Paul Weitz) — Self-described misanthrope Elle Reid has her
protective bubble burst when her 18-year-old granddaughter, Sage, shows up
needing help. The two of them go on a day-long journey that causes Elle to come
to terms with her past and Sage to confront her future. Cast: Lily
Tomlin, Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, Laverne Cox, Sam Elliott.
I Am Michael / U.S.A. (Director: Justin Kelly, Screenwriters: Justin Kelly,
Stacey Miller) — The controversial true story of a gay activist who rejects his
homosexuality and becomes a Christian pastor. Cast: James Franco, Zachary
Quinto, Emma Roberts.
I’ll See You in My Dreams / U.S.A. (Director: Brett Haley, Screenwriters: Brett Haley, Marc
Basch) — A sudden loss disrupts Carol’s orderly life, propelling her into the
dating world for the first time in 20 years. Finally living in the present
tense, she finds herself swept up in not one, but two unexpected relationships
that challenge her assumptions about what it means to grow old. Cast: Blythe
Danner, Martin Starr, Sam Elliott, Malin Akerman, June Squibb, Rhea Perlman.
Last Days in the Desert / U.S.A. (Director
and screenwriter: Rodrigo Garcia) — Ewan McGregor is Jesus — and the Devil — in
an imagined chapter from his 40 days of fasting and praying in the desert. On
his way out of the wilderness, Jesus struggles with the Devil over the fate of
a family in crisis, setting himself up for a dramatic test. Cast: Ewan
McGregor, Ciarán Hinds, Ayelet Zurer, Tye Sheridan.
Lila & Eve / U.S.A. (Director: Charles Stone III, Screenwriter: Patrick
Gilfillan) — Lila, a grief-stricken mother reeling from her son’s murder,
attends a support group where she meets Eve, who urges her to take matters into
her own hands to track down her son’s killers. They soon embark on a journey of
revenge, but also recovery. Cast: Viola Davis, Jennifer Lopez, Shea Whigham,
Julius Tennon, Ron Caldwell, Aml Ameen.
Mississippi Grind / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden) —
Gerry is a talented poker player whose habit is getting the best of him. He
convinces younger player Curtis to join him on a road trip, and they begin
gambling their way towards a high-stakes game in New Orleans. During their
journey, true motivations are revealed, and the two bond. Cast: Ryan
Reynolds, Ben Mendelsohn, Sienna Miller, Analeigh Tipton, Alfre Woodard, Robin
Mistress America / U.S.A. (Director:
Noah Baumbach, Screenwriters: Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig) — Tracy, a lonely college freshman in New York, is
rescued from her solitude by her soon-to-be stepsister Brooke, an adventurous
gal about town who entangles her in alluringly mad schemes. Mistress America is a comedy about
dream-chasing, score-settling, makeshift families, and cat-stealing.
Cast: Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke.
Seoul Searching / U.S.A., Korea (Director and screenwriter: Benson Lee) — Seoul Searching is a comedy set in the
’80s about a group of foreign-born Korean teenagers who meet at a Seoul summer
camp to learn what it means to be Korean. The three boys, from the U.S., Mexico,
and Germany, then meet three girls who rock their world. Cast: Justin Chon,
Jessika Van, In-pyo Cha, Teo Yoo, Esteban Ahn, Byul Kang.
Sleeping With Other People / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Leslye Headland) — Jake and
Lainey impulsively lose their virginity to each other in college. When their
paths cross twelve years later in NYC, they realize they both have become
serial cheaters. Bonding over their chronic infidelity, they form a platonic
friendship to support each other in their quests for healthy romantic
relationships. Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Adam Scott, Amanda Peet,
Jason Mantzoukas, Natasha Lyonne.
Ten Thousand Saints / U.S.A. (Directors:
Robert Pulcini, Shari Springer Berman, Screenwriters: Shari Springer Berman,
Robert Pulcini) — Based on the acclaimed novel, Ten Thousand Saints follows three lost kids and their equally lost
parents as they come of age in New York’s East Village in the era of CBGB,
yuppies, and the tinderbox of gentrification that exploded into the Tompkins
Square Park Riot of 1988. Cast: Ethan Hawke, Asa Butterfield, Emily
Mortimer, Julianne Nicholson, Hailee Steinfeld, Emile Hirsch.
Zipper / U.S.A. (Director: Mora Stephens, Screenwriters: Mora Stephens,
Joel Viertel) — Sam Ellis is a man on the rise — a hot-shot federal prosecutor
on the cusp of a bright political future. But what was meant to be a one-time
experience with an escort turns into a growing addiction — a new demon
threatening to destroy his life, family, and career. Cast: Patrick Wilson,
Lena Headey, Richard Dreyfuss, Ray Winstone, John Cho, Dianna Agron.
Renowned filmmakers and films about
far-reaching subjects comprise this section highlighting our ongoing commitment
to documentaries. Each is a world premiere.
Beaver Trilogy Part IV / U.S.A. (Director: Brad Besser) — A chance meeting in a parking
lot in 1979 between filmmaker Trent Harris and a young man from Beaver, Utah,
inspired the creation of an underground film that is now known as Beaver Trilogy. But the film itself is
only part of the story.
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the
Revolution / U.S.A. (Director: Stanley Nelson) —
This feature-length documentary tells of the rise and fall of the Black Panther
Party, one of the 20th century’s most alluring and controversial
organizations that captivated the world’s attention for nearly 50 years.
DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: The Story
of the National Lampoon / U.S.A.
(Director: Douglas Tirola) — Three Harvard graduates start the first national
humor magazine for adults, launching the careers of some of Hollywood’s most
legendary talent. But success and excess among its brilliant and subversive
contributors begins to challenge its existence.
Fresh Dressed / U.S.A. (Director: Sacha Jenkins) — The history of hip-hop
fashion from its birth in the South Bronx to its rise as a billion-dollar
global industry, Fresh Dressed is
supported by rich archival materials, in-depth interviews with individuals
crucial to the evolution, and the outsiders who study and admire them.
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison
of Belief / U.S.A. (Director: Alex Gibney) — Going Clear intimately profiles eight
former members of the Church of Scientology, shining a light on how they attract
true believers and the things they do in the name of religion.
In Football We Trust / U.S.A. (Directors: Tony Vainuku, Erika Cohn) — Four young
Polynesian football players struggle to overcome gang violence and poverty as
they enter the high-stakes world of recruiting, competitive athletics and
The Hunting Ground / U.S.A. (Director: Kirby Dick) — From the makers of The Invisible War comes a startling
exposé of rape crimes on U.S. campuses, their institutional cover-ups, and
brutal social toll. Weaving together verite footage and first-person testimonies,
the film follows survivors as they pursue their education and justice — despite
harsh retaliation, harassment, and pushback.
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Brett Morgen) — Kurt Cobain,
lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter of Nirvana, remains an icon 20 years
after his death. Kurt Cobain: Montage of
Heck is a raw and visceral journey through Cobain’s life and his career
with Nirvana through the lens of his home movies, recordings, artwork,
photography, and journals.
The Mask You Live In / U.S.A. (Director: Jennifer Siebel Newsom) — Is there a
“boy crisis” in America? Is our male population suffering due to our
emphasis on power, dominance, and aggression? The Mask You Live In
explores how our narrow definition of masculinity is harming our boys, men, and
society at large and unveils what we can do about it.
Most Likely to Succeed / U.S.A. (Director: Greg Whiteley) — Our current education
system is attempting to teach and test skills, that even when mastered, leaves
graduates woefully unprepared for the 21st century. This
feature-length documentary examines what sort of educational environment
is most likely to prepare students for a world changing exponentially.
Prophet’s Prey / U.S.A. (Director: Amy Berg) — When Warren Jeffs rose to prophet
of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he bridged
the gap between sister wives and ecclesiastically justified rape, befuddling
the moral compass of his entire congregation.
Tig / U.S.A. (Directors: Kristina Goolsby, Ashley York, Screenwriter:
Jennifer Arnold) — This documentary explores comedian Tig Notaro’s
extraordinary journey as her life unfolds in grand and unexpected ways, all
while she is battling a life-threatening illness and falling in love.
Happened, Miss Simone? / U.S.A. (Director: Liz Garbus) — Classically trained pianist,
dive-bar chanteuse, black power icon, and legendary recording artist Nina
Simone lived a life of brutal honesty, musical genius, and tortured melancholy.
This astonishing epic interweaves never-before-heard recordings and rare
footage, creating an unforgettable portrait of one of our least understood,
most beloved artists. DAY ONE FILM
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 performance.
Animals. / U.S.A. (Directors and
screenwriters: Phil Matarese, Mike Luciano) — Animals. is an independently produced animated series that focuses
on the downtrodden creatures native to Earth’s least habitable environment: New
York City. Whether it’s lovelorn rats, gender-questioning pigeons, or aging bed
bugs in the midst of a mid-life crisis, the awkward small talk, moral
ambiguity, and existential woes of non-human urbanites prove startlingly
similar to our own. Cast: Phil Matarese, Mike Luciano, Mark Duplass, Katie
Aselton, Nick Kroll, Rob Corddry. World Premiere. FOLLOWED BY A CONVERSATION with the creative team of Animals.:
Mark Duplass, Phil Matarese and Mike Luciano. They will discuss how their
unique project came to light as well as the changing landscape of episodic
storytelling in the digital era. s
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst / U.S.A.
(Director: Andrew Jarecki, Screenwriters: Andrew Jarecki, Marc Smerling, Zac
Stuart-Pontier) — Robert Durst, scion of New York’s billionaire real
estate family, has been accused of three murders but
never convicted. Brilliant, reclusive, and the subject of relentless media
scrutiny, he’s never spoken publicly–until now. During interviews with Andrew
Jarecki, Durst reveals secrets that have baffled authorities for 30 years. Cast:
Robert Durst, Andrew Jarecki, Marc Smerling, Zac Stuart-Pontier, Dick DeGuerin,
Cody Cazalas. World Premiere
Misery Loves Comedy / U.S.A.
(Director: Kevin Pollak, Screenwriters: Kevin Pollak, John Varhous) — Do you
have to be miserable to be funny? Children cry, “Hey, look at me,”
but who turns that into a profession? Over 50 funny people, like Tom Hanks,
Larry David, Jimmy Fallon, Judd Apatow, and Amy Schumer share pain-filled
insights from a life in pursuit of laughter. Cast: Tom Hanks, Larry David,
Amy Schumer, Jimmy Fallon, Judd Apatow, Jim Gaffigan. World Premiere
The Sundance Institute Short Film
Challenge — An international
shorts program designed to spark global conversation highlighting human
ingenuity and imaginative solutions real people are creating to overcome
challenges like extreme hunger and poverty. Filmmakers include Sundance
Institute alumni Gael Garcia Bernal, Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady, Diego Luna, Marialy Rivas, and six storytellers
from around the world. Presented
with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Way of the Rain / U.S.A. (Creative Director: Sibylle Szaggars Redford,
Collaborators: Will Calhoun, Dave Eggar, Chuck Palmer, Desmond Richardson, Ron
Saint Germain, Steve Cohen, Floyd Thomas McBee III)
— A live multidisciplinary performance art inspired by the annual monsoon rains
that sustain life on the fragile high desert plateaus of the southwest. Conceived
by environmental artist Sibylle Szaggars Redford and world-renowned artistic
collaborators, this unique work comes to life through paintings, music, dance,
film, light and spoken word. Special
Guest Appearances: Sussan Deyhim, Marc Roberge, Complexions Contemporary
Ballet, Robert Redford. LIVE
The Festival’s “Power of Story” panel series deepens public engagement
with storytelling, explores cinema culture and celebrates artists whose work
pushes the form. These events will be live streamed on sundance.org.
Story: Serious Ladies — The range of three-dimensional female characters
on film and television suggest a sea change in the cultural zeitgeist. Lena
Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Jenji Kohan, Kristen Wiig and New Yorker critic Emily
Nussbaum discuss anti-heroes and archetypes, using humor to push boundaries and
how far art can go in exploring truths.
Story: Visions of Independence — Kicking off “Art of Film,” a new
program celebrating the craft of filmmaking, join Robert Redford and George
two iconic filmmakers who epitomize the spirit of independence in American
in conversation with critic Leonard Maltin.