Sundance Spotlight: The Festival Kicks Off With Pre-Festival Acquisitions And A Host Of Trailers



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 they received, the 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 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!)

Some studios and distributors couldn’t wait to get their hands on certain films, so plenty of acquisitions were made before the festival even started. The days leading up to the festival also presented a host of trailers and clips from some of the most anticipated films including a look at the Sandy Hook doc, Newton, the unconventional father-son Cuban drama, Viva and the first trailer at the nerdy sex comedy from India, Brahman Naman. Read about all the deals and watch the trailers below.




Synopsis: When Tom and his wife host a dinner party to celebrate his birthday, one of their friends brings a date named Alice. Tom is convinced he knows her, but she’s going by a different name and a different biography— and she’s not acknowledging that she knows him.
Category: Premieres
Cast: , , , ,
Purchased by: Amazon (U.S. rights only)



Synopsis: In this psychological portrait, Toni, an 11-year-old tomboy, is assimilating into a tight-knit dance team in Cincinnati’s West End when a mysterious outbreak of fainting spells plagues the team, and her desire for acceptance is twisted.
Category: NEXT
: Anna Rose Holmer
Cast: Alexis Neblett, Da’Sean Minor, Inayah Rodgers, Lauren Gibson, Makyla Burnam, Royalty Hightower
Purchased by: Oscilloscope Laboratories



Synopsis: Having suffered a tragedy, Ben becomes a caregiver to earn money. His first client, Trevor, is a hilarious 18-year-old with muscular dystrophy. One paralyzed emotionally, one paralyzed physically, Ben and Trevor hit the road, finding hope, friendship, and Dot in this funny and touching inspirational tale.
Cast: ,, , , ,
Purchased by: Netflix (Worldwide subscription VOD rights only, theatrical still open)



Synopsis:The public execution of American conflict journalist James Foley captured the world’s attention, but he was more than just a man in an orange jumpsuit. Seen through the lens of his close childhood friend, Jim moves from adrenaline-fueled front lines and devastated neighborhoods of Syria into the hands of ISIS.
Category: U.S. Documentary Competition
: Brian Oakes
Cast: Brian Oakes, ,
Purchased by: HBO Documentary Films

Ross McDonnell


Synopsis: From Jane Austen’s novella, the beautiful and cunning Lady Susan Vernon visits the estate of her in-laws to wait out colorful rumors of her dalliances and to find husbands for herself and her daughter. Two young men, handsome Reginald DeCourcy and wealthy Sir James Martin, severely complicate her plans.
Category: Premieres
Cast: , , , , Tom Bennett,
Purchased by: Amazon and Roadside Attractions



Category: World Cinema Dramatic Competition
Synopsis: When their entire lives are shattered, two Bedouin women struggle to change the unchangeable rules, each in her own individual way.
: Elite Zexer
Cast: Haytham Omari, Jalal Masarwa, Khadija Alakel, Lamis Ammar, Ruba Blal-Asfour
Purchased by: Beta Cinema



Synopsis: A rootless young woman takes a toddler from a wealthy, negligent mother and passes the baby off as her own in an effort to protect her. This decision connects and transforms the lives of three very different women.
Category: U.S. Dramatic Competition
Cast: , , , ,
Purchased by:: Netflix (VOD rights only, theatrical rights still open)



Synopsis: Tehran, 1988: As the Iran-Iraq War rumbles into its eighth year, a mother and daughter are slowly torn apart by the bombing campaigns on the city coupled with the country’s bloody revolution. As they struggle to stay together amidst these terrors, a mysterious evil stalks through their apartment.
Category: Midnight
: Babak Anvar
Cast: , , Bobby Nderi, Narges Rashid,
Purchased by: Netflix (VOD rights only, theatrical rights still open)



Synopsis: With unrestricted access to Anthony Weiner’s New York City mayoral campaign, this film reveals the human story behind the scenes of a high-profile political scandal as it unfolds, and it offers an unfiltered look at how much today’s politics are driven by an appetite for spectacle.
Category: U.S. Documentary Competition
: Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegman
Purchased by: IFC and Showtime


Amazon: 2
Beta Cinema: 1
HBO: 1
IFC: 1
Netflix: 3
Oscilloscope Laboratories: 1
: 1
Showtime: 1



AGNUS DEI — Official Trailer

Synopsis: 1945 Poland: Mathilde, a young French doctor, is on a mission to help World War II survivors. When a nun seeks her assistance in helping several pregnant nuns in hiding, who are unable to reconcile their faith with their pregnancies, Mathilde becomes their only hope.
Category: Premieres
Writers: Alice Vial, , Sabrina B. Karine
Cast: , , , Katarzyna Darbowska, Lou de Laage, Vincent Macalgne



Category: Documentary Premieres
Synopsis: Does the internet dream of itself? Explore the horizons of the connected world.


VIVA — Official Trailer

Synopsis: In contemporary Cuba, a father and son struggle to escape from each other’s expectations, duty, and the burden of past sins.
Category: Spotlight
: Paddy Breathnach
: Mark O’Halloran
Cast: Alberto Garcia, Hector Medina,


GREEN ROOM — Official Trailer

Category: Spotlight
Synopsis: This wickedly fun horror-thriller tells a story about the owner of a neo-Nazi club who squares off against an unsuspecting but resilient young punk band after they witness a horrific act of violence.
Cast: , , , , ,


UNCLE HOWARD — Official Trailer

Synopsis: Howard Brookner’s first film, Burroughs: The Movie, captured the cultural revolution of downtown New York City in the early ‘80s. Twenty-five years after his promising career was cut short by AIDS, his nephew sets out to discover Howard’s never-before- seen films to create a cinematic elegy about his childhood idol.
Category: U.S. Documentary Competition
Cast: , , , , Tom DiCillo, William S. Burroughs


SNOWTIME! — Official Trailer

Synopsis: To amuse themselves during their winter break from school, the kids in a small village have a massive snowball fight. But what starts out as pure youthful fun and enthusiasm deteriorates into a more serious conflict as the children learn the role that love and friendship play in their lives.
Category: Kids
: Francois Brisson and Jean-Francois Poullot
Cast: Angela Gallupo, Don Shepherd, Lucinda Davis, , , Sonja Ball


SING STREET — Official Trailer

Synopsis: A boy growing up in Dublin during the ‘80s escapes his strained family life and tough new school by starting a band to win the heart of a beautiful and mysterious girl.
Category: Premieres
Cast: , Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, , ,



Synopsis: This blistering, poetic story is inspired by the original journals of scientists Theodor Koch Grünberg and Richard Evans Schultes, who meet lone survivor Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman. Over 40 years, they develop a friendship while traveling through the Colombian Amazon in search of the sacred, psychedelic yakruna plant.
Category: Spotlight
: Ciro Guerra
Writers: Ciro Guerra, Jacques Toulemonde Vidal
, , , Miguel Dionisio Ramos, Nibio Torres



Synopsis: After joining the ranks of a growing club no one wants to belong to, the people of Newtown, Connecticut, weave an intimate story of resilience. This film traces the aftermath of the worst mass shooting of schoolchildren in American history as the traumatized community finds a new sense of purpose.
Category: U.S. Documentary Competition
: Kim A. Snyder



Synopsis: Law student Christine Reade is introduced to the world of transactional relationships
in this original anthology series. Providing “The Girlfriend Experience”—an emotional and sexual relationship offered at a high price—gives Christine a rush of control and intimacy, but she soon finds herself juggling two very different lives.
Category: Special Events
Executive Producers: Amy Seimetz, Gary Marcus, Jeff Cuban, , Philip Fleishman
, , , ,



Synopsis:In a small Southern town in the autumn of 1941, Sophie’s lonely life is transformed when an Asian man arrives under mysterious circumstances. Their love affair becomes the lightning rod for long-buried conflicts that erupt in bigotry and violence with the outbreak of World War II.
Category: Premieres
/writer: Maggie Greenwald
Cast: , , , , , Takashi Yamaguchi


BRAHMAN NAMAN — Teaser Trailer

Synopsis: When Bangalore University’s misfit quiz team manages to get into the national championships, they make an alcohol-fueled, cross-country journey to the competition, determined to defeat their arch-rivals from Calcutta while all desperately trying to lose their virginity.
Category: World Cinema Dramatic Competition
: Q
: S. Ramachandran
Cast: , , , , ,

See all of our preview posts for the , and catch up with our full of the festival in our other Sundance Spotlights!

For a complete list of  festival films and details, visit


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