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Sundance Wish List: 70 Films We Hope Will Head to Park City in 2019

With new programming leadership, next year's Sundance lineup may be full of surprises, but these films all stand a good chance.

The Egyptian Theatre on Main Street during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah2018 Sundance Film Festival - Day 5, Park City, USA - 22 Jan 2018

The Egyptian Theatre on Main Street during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival

Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

“Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project”
Director: Matt Wolf
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: There’s binge-watching, and then there’s what Marion Stokes did. She recorded television 24 hours a day for more than 30 years, a project that ended with her 2012 death; that endeavor resulted in more than 70,000 VHS tapes that Stokes intended to serve as a media archive for posterity. Her single-minded focus took a toll on her personal life, as such projects tend to, and now Wolf (“Teenage,” “Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell”) has made a documentary about her. His track record is strong enough to make this project worth checking out even if you’ve never heard of Stokes’ strange case; even if you have, Wolf’s treatment is sure to add a welcome new chapter. —MN

“Shooting the Mafia”
Director: Kim Longinotto
We’ve never lacked for mob movies, but authenticity has rarely been the top priority when bringing Casa Nostra stories to screen. Longinotto’s documentary looks to be an exception to this rule, focusing on the story of a photographer who stood up to the Corleonesi Mafia. Letizia Battaglia’s pictures are combined with rare archival footage, newsreel, and personal memories in “Shooting Mafia,” which promises to explore the world of “ritualized slaughter, omertà, semi-religious oppression, and feudal control” — and how it “reached as far as the Italian presidency.” Who wouldn’t want to see that movie? —MN

“The Souvenir Part 1”
Director: Joanna Hogg
Hogg isn’t as prolific as many would like her to be, but films like “Archipelago” and “Exhibition” prove that she’s always worth seeing. “The Souvenir” sounds like her most ambitious undertaking yet, and not just because it’s split into two parts: Tilda Swinton stars opposite daughter Honor Swinton Byrne and Tom Burke, who play a film student and a mysterious man who embark on a love affair. Byrne’s character “tries to disentangle fact from fiction as she surrenders to the relationship, a relationship which comes dangerously close to destroying her dreams” in the drama, which also stars Ariane Labed (“Attenberg,” “The Lobster”) and Richard Ayoade. —MN

“Swallow”
Director: Carlo Mirabella-Davis
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: You’ve seen a lot of Haley Bennett in the last few years, but her leading role in Mirabella-Davis’ “Swallow” looks to be more prominent than her supporting turns in “The Magnificent Seven,” “The Girl on the Train,” and “Rules Don’t Apply.” She stars as a woman whose habit of eating dangerous objects threatens her pregnancy; complicating matters further is her husband’s domineering family, from whom she attempts to escape. Austin Stowell, Denis O’Hare, and Elizabeth Marvel co-star in “Swallow,” which marks Mirabella-Davis’ feature debut and has the makings of an unusually tense psychological thriller. —MN

“To the Stars”
Director: Martha Stephens
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: “Land Ho!” director Stephens last appeared at the festival in 2014 with her amiable road trip dramedy, and a return to Park City would be a nice way to kick off another festival run for her latest, which is bursting with some of indie film’s most beloved stars. This time around, Stephens is again fixated on friendships, as the 1960s-set drama follows a pair of unlikely intimates who forge a bond in the face of a misunderstanding Oklahoma town. —KE

“Two Against Nature”
Director: Owen Kline
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: Want to feel old? The youngest brother in “The Squid and the Whale” is a director now, and Kline has gathered an impressive cast of indie faves and rising stars for his feature debut (which he also wrote). Produced by Scott Rudin and the Safdie brothers and lensed by Sean Price Williams, the comedy’s logline has been kept under wraps, but that much indie star power signal something special. —KE

Untitled Amy Berg Women’s Movement
Director: Amy Berg
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: “Deliver Us From Evil” director Berg excels at tackling some of the heavier problems in American society, from the criminal justice system (“West of Memphis”) to Hollywood sexual abuse (“An Open Secret”). For her latest project, she turns to another timely subject matter — the eruption of the women’s movement in the wake of the 2016 election and its strength in numbers leading up to the recent midterm elections. With more women elected to public office than ever before, Berg’s film stands a good chance at capturing a galvanizing national moment while looking ahead to a promising future. —EK

Roger Ross Williams

Director Roger Ross Williams

Daniel Bergeron

Untitled Apollo Theater Documentary
Director: Roger Ross Williams
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: “Life, Animated” Oscar-nominated Williams chronicles the history of the historic Harlem venue and its musical and cultural legacy, as well as its place in the dialogue about race and social progress in the U.S. since 1934. Highlights will surely include celebrations of the many famed music, dance, and comedy performances that turn make the Apollo into an American institution. Williams aims to preserve the theater’s rich legacy, but also show how this treasured institution is nurturing the next generation of visionary artists. The project counts Charles D. King’s MACRO as one of its key backers, a company that’s on a roll with recent critically acclaimed fare in “Fences,” “Mudbound” and “Sorry to Bother You,” to name a few. —TO

Untitled Babak Anvari Project
Director: Babak Anvari
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: Iranian director Anvari’s “Under the Shadow” was a sensation in Sundance’s midnight section, where it landed distribution with Netflix. Now, he’s made inroads with American actors, and his Annapurna-produced project is poised to bring his sharp genre sensibilities to an even wider audience. Armie Hammer and Dakota Johnson star in the New Orleans-set story of a bartender haunted by strange events after he picks up a stranger’s phone at a bar. As anyone who has seen “Under the Shadow” knows, Anvari excels at creating unsettling moods and constructing allegorical horror, so this one has a lot of potential to generate heat at the festival. —EK

Untitled Duplass Brothers/Ray Romano Project
Director: Alex Lehmann
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: Mark Duplass steps back into his producing, acting and writing role with one of his favorite collaborators, cinematographer-turned-director Alex Lehman (“Blue Jay”) in a secretive new film featuring Ray Romano. The actors post-“Everybody Loves Raymond” roles have shown surprising depth, which will be fun to see explored and expanded upon in a the latest Duplass collaboration — which has been billed as “a bittersweet bromance about friendship, mortality, and made-up sports.” As part of the siblings’ Netflix pact, a quick festival-to-streaming turnaround could be a possibility. —CO

Untitled Christopher Morris Project
Director: Christopher Morris
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: British comedian and satirist Morris brought his caustic humor to Sundance in 2010 with the sensational breakout “Four Lions,” an edgy terrorist comedy that mined humor from territory most filmmakers would never dare approach — and pulled it off. His long-awaited follow-up was shot in the Caribbean under secretive conditions, but it features an exciting cast that includes Anna Kendrick as an FBI agent in a dark comedy surrounding a hostage situation that goes very wrong. Jim Gaffigan and Rupert Friend also star in a movie that is almost certain to take a subversive approach to timely matters and leave audiences shocked and giggling all at once. —EK

Untitled Lauren Greenfield Film
Director: Lauren Greenfield
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: Greenfield could return to Sundance just a year after debuting “Generation Wealth” in the Documentary Premiere program on the opening night of last year’s event. The documentary filmmaker is a Sundance regular, having won the U.S. Directing Award at the 2012 festival for her beloved “Queen of Versailles.” Sundance is Greenfield’s usual launching pad, and there’s no reason to believe a new project would premiere anywhere else. The only question is whether her untitled next documentary is ready to be seen. —ZS

Untitled Lulu Wang Film
Director: Lulu Wang
Cast: Awkwafina, Tzi Ma, Diana Lin
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: “Posthumous” director Lulu Wang is a rising female voice on the indie circuit, and her next project features the red hot Awkwafina, who broke big this summer in “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Ocean’s 8.” Wang’s latest is described as a family dramedy about a Chinese family planning an impromptu wedding before the death of a grandparent. Neither Wang or Awkwafina have made a splash in Park City, and this project could do the trick. Wang shot the film over the summer in New York and China, so it’s possible she gets it ready in time for Sundance. —ZS

Untitled Miranda July Film
Director: Miranda July
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: It’s been nearly a decade since singular talent July took her last feature, “The Future,” to Park City. Though the multi-hyphenate has certainly kept busy in the interim (she even co-starred in last year’s breakout Sundance feature “Madeline’s Madeline”), the festival is in need of her special talents. Her next project sounds as intriguing as ever, billed as a heist film with a funny bent, following criminal parents who invite an outsider to join them on their biggest job yet. —KE

Miranda July'Madeline's Madeline' premiere, Sundance Film Festival, Park City, USA - 22 Jan 2018

Miranda July at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival

Arthur Mola/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Untitled Noah Baumbach Project
Director: Noah Baumbach
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: The ever-reliable Baumbach took his last few titles to starry international film festivals (“The Meyerowitz Stories” competed for the Palme d’Or at Cannes, while documentary “De Palma” debuted at the Berlinale). Here’s hoping the writer-director makes a return to Park City with his next project, which focuses on a divorce that unfolds in New York and Los Angeles, the filmmaker’s two favorite locations (the theme is also a natural extension of his many relationship-focused dramedies over the years). Baumbach hasn’t been to Sundance since “Mistress America” in 2015, and he’s got the kind of ensemble cast, including his “While We’re Young” star Adam Driver, that would easily pop at Sundance. Netflix is distributing and has been a dominant Sundance presence over the last two years, so a premiere here makes sense, especially since production wrapped in March. —ZS

Untitled Penny Lane Religious Activism Film
Director: Penny Lane
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: Lane was the talk of Sundance 2016 with the world premiere of her documentary “Nuts!” The film mixed live action interviews with animated sequences to tell the bizarre true story of controversial medical doctor John R. Brinkley. Lane won the festival’s Special Jury Award for Editing and hasn’t returned to Sundance since, which means her new religious activism documentary could bring her back to Park City. Expect Lane to cover a more serious subject with the same level of fascination she brought to “Nuts!” —ZS

Untitled Pippa Bianco Project
Director: Pippa Bianco
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: Bianco’s stunning short film “Share” followed the outcome of a cruel video from a high school party that leaks onto the internet and shames a young teen (Taissa Farming). The naturalistic 11-minute thriller was a hit at Cannes, where it played in the Cinefoundation section, and established Bianco as a talent to watch. Her yet-to-be-titled feature-length adaptation has some big guns behind it, with Scott Rudin’s production company and A24 shepherding the project to fruition; the cast includes Charlie Plummer, Poorna Jagannathan, and Nicholas Galitzine. As its topic has only become more timely, this is exactly the sort of movie that could generate major buzz in Park City. —EK

“Us”
Director: Jordan Peele
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: “Get Out” became such a giant cultural phenomenon that it’s easy to forget the movie started its journey at Sundance as a surprise midnight screening. It’s safe to say that the comedian-turned-auteur’s second feature is one of the most anticipated movies of 2019, even though much about it remains under wraps. With a March 2019 release, “Us” might be ready in time for Sundance (but if not, SXSW could be an even safer bet). Reportedly another social thriller on race relations in the 21st century, the movie has real potential as an actor’s showcase as well, with Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker heading up the cast. The pressure’s on for Peele to deliver on insanely high expectations, but the confidence of his debut suggests he knows exactly what he’s doing, and “Us” will be a hot title no matter where it surfaces. So why wait? —EK

Jordan Peele - Original Screenplay - 'Get Out'90th Annual Academy Awards, Show, Los Angeles, USA - 04 Mar 2018

Jordan Peele with his Best Original Screenplay Oscar for “Get Out”

Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock

“Without Compromise”
Director: Reiner Holzemer
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: Holzemer has been making documentaries on prolific artists for years, from fashion designer Dries Van Noten (“Dries”) to photographer William Eggleston (“Photographer”). The documentary filmmaker turns his attention toward the enigmatic fashion designer Martin Margiela in his next project, “Without Compromise.” Margiela is described as the Banksy of the German fashion world, and the documentary should be a revealing one as the designer’s real identity remains anonymous to this day. —ZS

“Wyrm”
Director: Christopher Winterbauer
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: At the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, a young Damien Chazelle arrived to debut a short film called “Whiplash.” The project became so beloved in Park City that Chazelle quickly was able to get funding together to make a feature adaptation and bring it to Sundance in 2014, and the rest is history. “Whiplash” is a Sundance success story, and “Wyrm” could follow in its footsteps. Director Christopher Winterbauer turned heads at Sundance earlier this year with his short about an alternate reality where teens have to pass a Sexuality Requirement to get past puberty. Expect the filmmaker to want to use Sundance to launch the feature adaptation. —ZS

“XY Chelsea”
Director: Tim Travers Hawkins
Why We Hope It Heads to Park City: Since coming out amid a very public espionage trial in 2013, whistleblower Chelsea Manning became an instant icon of the transgender community. Deservedly, she is getting the “Citizenfour” treatment with an in-depth, vérité documentary from executive producer and veteran documentarian Laura Poitras. Shot over two years, the film picks up on the day Manning is released from an all-male maximum security prison after receiving a presidential pardon from Barack Obama. Even more promising, “XY Chelsea” is produced by Pulse Films, the studio behind “American Honey,” “The Witch,” and “Lemonade.” With a broadcast planned for Showtime, a Sundance play would give the film the extra push to ensure a fruitful theatrical run. —JD

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