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Sundance Adds John Carney Musical and More World Premieres to 2023 Lineup

The "Sing Street" and "Once" director's latest stars Eve Hewson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Plus, Sundance adds encore screenings of favorites like "CODA" and "Summer of Soul."

Flora and Son

“Flora and Son”

Courtesy Sundance Film Festival

The first fully in-person Sundance Film Festival since 2020 is around the bend, with the Utah-based event running January 19-29. While the festival revealed more than 100 feature-length films in December, Sundance has announced five more world premiere features, plus four throwback screenings from past festivals.

The latest feature films world premiering at the upcoming festival are “Beyond Utopia,” playing in the U.S. Documentary Competition section;  “Flora and Son,” A24’s “Earth Mama” and “Past Lives,” playing in the Premieres section; and “Stephen Curry: Underrated,” playing in the Special Screenings section. Perhaps the buzziest addition is “Flora and Son,” the new musical from Dublin director John Carney. Starring Eve Hewson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, this is “Once” director Carney’s first film since 2016’s “Sing Street.” Since then, he has served as showrunner, director, and executive producer on the Prime Video anthology series “Modern Love.”

Meanwhile, returning to the festival as Encore Special Screenings are “CODA” (the big winner out of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival that went on to nab Best Picture at the Oscars), “Klondike” (the 2022 Sundance Film Festival entry now repping Ukraine in the 2023 International Feature Oscar race), “Navalny” (2022 Sundance Film Festival and now a Documentary Oscar contender), and “Summer of Soul” (2021 Sundance Film Festival and 2022 Best Documentary Oscar winner). This will be the first time these Sundance award winners will screen in person at the festival in Park City after going virtual in their respective years. Encore Special Screenings will take place January 25–27, with select filmmakers attending post-screening Q&As.

Below synopses of the world premiere titles come courtesy of the festival.

U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

“Beyond Utopia” / U.S.A. (Director: Madeleine Gavin, Producers: Jana Edelbaum, Rachel Cohen, Sue Mi Terry) — Hidden camera footage augments this perilous high-stakes journey as we embed with families attempting to escape oppression, ultimately revealing a world most of us have never seen. World Premiere. Available online.

PREMIERES

“Earth Mama” / U.S.A (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Savanah Leaf, Producers: Cody Ryder, Shirley O’Connor, Medb Riordan, Sam Bisbee) — A pregnant single mother with two children in foster care embraces her Bay Area community as she fights to reclaim her family. Cast: Tia Nomore, Erika Alexander, Doechii, Sharon Duncan Brewster, Dominic Fike, Bokeem Woodbine. World Premiere. Fiction.

“Flora and Son” / U.S.A, Ireland (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: John Carney, Producers: Anthony Bregman, Peter Cron, Rebecca O’Flanagan, Robert Walpole) — Single mom Flora is at war with her teenage son, petty thief Max. Encouraged by the police to find Max a hobby, she rescues a beat-up guitar from a dumpster and finds that one person’s trash can be a family’s salvation. Cast: Eve Hewson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Orén Kinlan, Jack Reynor. World Premiere. Fiction.

“Past Lives” / U.S.A (Director and Screenwriter: Celine Song, Producers: Christine Vachon, Pamela Koffler, David Hinojosa) — Nora and Hae Sung, two deeply connected childhood friends, are wrested apart after Nora’s family emigrates from South Korea. Two decades later, they are reunited in New York for one fateful week as they confront notions of destiny and love, and the choices that make a life. Cast: Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, John Magaro. World Premiere. Fiction.

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

“Stephen Curry: Underrated” / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Peter Nicks, Producers: Ryan Coogler, Erick Peyton) — Stephen Curry is one of the most influential, dynamic, and unexpected players in the history of basketball. Intimate cinematic video, archival footage, and on-camera interviews reveal Curry’s rise from an undersized college player to a four-time NBA champion. World Premiere. Documentary.

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