The 2016 Sundance Film Festival runs from January 21st through the 31st in Park City, Utah. The festival is a destination for both up-and-coming and veteran filmmakers, and has earned a reputation as a showcase for some of the most critically acclaimed and Oscar-worthy films of the year. This year, out of the 12,793 submissions they received, the Sundance committee has selected just over 200 feature length and short films to play at the festival. From all of this, there is sure to be plenty of studio deals, bidding wars, trailers, clips and news — and we’re here to give you a daily wrap up of all the big developments from Park City. (And don’t forget to check out our exclusive party and event grid!)
We’re halfway through Sundance and people are still buzzing about Daniel Radcliffe’s “farting corpse” movie. More importantly, studios are scooping up films that can very well be Award season contenders for next year. One of the hottest tickets at the festival was THE BIRTH OF A NATION, which was received with a uproarious ovation from audiences. Studios were duking it out for this one and the winner bought it for a handsome, record-breaking amount. Read about that big purchase, the acquisition of Anna Gunn’s Wall Street drama, as well as a plethora of trailers and clips for your viewing pleasure.
THE BIRTH OF A NATION
Synopsis: Set against the antebellum South, this story follows Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner, accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. After witnessing countless atrocities against fellow slaves, Nat devises a plan to lead his people to freedom.
Category: U.S. Dramatic Competition
Director: Nate Parker
Cast: Aja Naomi King, Armie Hammer, Gabrielle Union, Jackie Earle Haley, Mark Boone Jr., Nate Parker
Purchased by: Fox Searchlight for a record-breaking $17.5 million, the biggest purchase in Sundance history. The Weinstein Company, Netflix, Paramount and Sony were also participating in the bidding war for the slave rebellion drama, but Fox Serachlight ended up on top.
Category: U.S. Dramatic Competition
Synopsis: A female investment banker, fighting to get a promotion at her competitive Wall Street firm, leads a controversial tech IPO in the post-financial-crisis world, where regulations are tight but pressure to bring in big money remains high.
Director: Meera Menon
Cast: Alysia Reiner, Anna Gunn, James Purefoy, Sarah Megan Thomas
Purchased by: Sony Pictures Classics
ACQUISITION TALLY AS OF JANUARY 26, 2016:
Beta Cinema: 1
Brainstorm Media: 1
Fox Searchlight: 1
Oscilloscope Laboratories: 1
Roadside Attractions: 1
Sony Pictures Classics: 2
TRAILERS AND CLIPS
SLEIGHT — Clip
Synopsis: After a young street magician is left to care for his little sister following their mother’s passing, he turns to dealing drugs, but he quickly runs into trouble with his supplier. When his sister gets kidnapped, he must rely on his smarts and sleight of hand to save her.
Director: JD Dillard
Cast: Cameron Esposito, Dule Hill, Jacob Latimore, Sasheer Zamata, Seychelle Gabriel, Storm Reid
CARNAGE PARK — Clip
Synopsis: The year is 1978. A team of wannabe crooks botch a small-town bank heist and flee with their hostage deep into the California desert, where they inexplicably find themselves in a harrowing fight for survival against a psychotic ex-military sniper.
Director: Mickey Keating
Cast: Alan Ruck, Ashley Bell, Darby Stanchfield, James Landry Hebert, Larry Fessenden, Pat Healy
HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE — Trailer
Synopsis: Ricky is a defiant young city kid who finds himself on the run with his cantankerous foster uncle in the wild New Zealand bush. A national manhunt ensues, and the two are forced to put aside their differences and work together to survive in this heartwarming adventure comedy.
Director: Taika Waititi
Cast: Julian Dennison, Oscar Kightley, Rachel House, Rima Te Wiata, Sam Neill
YOGA HOSERS — Clip
Synopsis: Colleen Collette and Colleen McKenzie are teenage besties from Winnipeg who love yoga and live on their smartphones. But when these sophomores get invited to a senior party by the school hottie, the Colleens accidentally uncover an ancient evil buried beneath their Canadian convenience store.
Director: Kevin Smith
Cast: Austin Butler, Harley Quinn Smith, Johnny Depp, Justin Long, Lily-Rose Depp, Tyler Posey
TAKE 5: JUSTICE IN AMERICA — A Clip From the Collection of Five Short Films
Synopsis: Presented by the SundanceNow Doc Club, the original collection of five short documentaries were presented at Sundance. The shorts cover various issues from the perspective of six different filmmakers. The clip above is from Rachel Lears‘s THE NEW FIGHT FOR VOTING RIGHTS.
MAMMAL — Trailer
Synopsis: After Margaret, a divorcée living in Dublin, loses her teenage son, she develops an unorthodox relationship with Joe, a homeless youth. Their tentative trust is threatened by his involvement with a violent gang and the escalation of her ex-husband’s grieving rage.
Category: World Cinema Dramatic Competition
Director: Rebecca Daly
Cast: Rachel Griffiths, Barry Keoghan, Michael McElhatton
FUCKKKYOUUU — Short Film
With the ability to travel in time, a girl finds love and comfort by connecting with her past self. Eventually faced with rejection, she struggles with her identity, and as time folds onto itself only one of them can remain.
Category: Shorts Program
Director: Eddie Alcazar
See all of our preview posts for the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, and catch up with our full coverage of the festival in our other Sundance Spotlights!
For a complete list of festival films and details, visit sundance.org.
Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer
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