The 2022 Sundance Film Festival is here. Though initially planned for a hybrid event, the festival recently announced that, due to the rise of omicron cases, it has shifted to a completely virtual platform, save for its Satellite Screen program.
While filmmakers and fans will no longer be gathering in Park City, Utah, for the annual event, there’s still plenty of anticipation surrounding this year’s festival. From thrilling, original stories to passionate directorial debuts, this collection of films has something for everyone – and once again serves as an invigorating start to awards season.
An impressive 82 films have joined this year’s lineup, up from last year’s number of 72. With screenings running from Jan. 20-30, we’ve rounded up 15 of the festival’s buzziest projects.
Dual tells the story of Sarah (Karen Gillan), a woman recently diagnosed with a rare and incurable disease. In order to help her friends and family cope with her impending death, Sarah creates a clone of herself – though not all goes to plan, and Sarah faces a dilemma when the clone is no longer wanted. Aaron Paul also stars in the sci-fi thriller, from Los Angeles-based writer-director Riley Stearns.
Dual premieres Jan. 22 and screens Jan. 24-25.
Emily The Criminal
Writer-director John Patton Ford’s buzzy new thriller follows Emily (Aubrey Plaza), a woman saddled with student debt and desperate for income. Amid her despair, Emily takes a shady gig buying goods with stolen credit cards and reselling them on a black market with a middleman named Youcef (Theo Rossi). While the job was just meant to be temporary, Emily soon finds herself entranced by both the illegal venture and her mentor.
Emily the Criminal premieres Jan. 24 and screens Jan. 26-27.
When You Finish Saving the World
The struggle parents sometimes face in trying to connect to their teenagers is brilliantly represented in Jesse Eisenberg’s directorial debut, When You Finish Saving the World. Starring Finn Wolfhard as Ziggy, a budding musician with an adoring online fan base, and Julianne Moore as his mother Evelyn, who runs a shelter for survivors of domestic abuse, the film showcases the challenges the pair face trying to understand each other, which are further complicated when Evelyn takes in the son of someone staying at her shelter.
When You Finish Saving the World premieres Jan. 20 and screens Jan. 22-23.
Director Kogonada’s debut film, Columbus, which starred John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson, premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Five years later, he returns with his highly anticipated second feature film. After Yang, adapted from an Alexander Weinstein short story, sees Colin Farrell and Jodie Turner-Smith playing a father and daughter trying to save the life of their beloved android family member, Yang. The film previously premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to critical acclaim.
After Yang premieres Jan. 21 and screens Jan. 23-24.
The Worst Person in the World
Director Joachim Trier’s Oslo Trilogy about contemporary existence in the Norwegian capital concludes with The Worst Person in the World, a story about Julie, a young woman navigating the troubled waters of her love life and struggling to find her career path. Renate Reinsve won Best Actress for her performance at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival for delivering a moving performance that captures the struggle and pain that comes with finding yourself while making numerous mistakes along the way.
The Worst Person in the World premieres Jan. 20 and screens Jan. 22-23.
Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.
In this satire on for-profit religion, Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown star as a first lady and pastor attempting to rebuild their congregation after a scandal brings down their Southern Baptist megachurch. Partially shot in faux-documentary style, the film follows the couple’s attempts to achieve their goals by all means necessary – and shows what happens behind the scenes. Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. marks the feature film debut of the Ebo twins (writer-director Adamma Ebo and producer Adanne Ebo), who adapted the movie from their 2018 short film of the same name.
Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. premieres Jan. 23 and screens Jan. 25-26.
Maika Monroe, Karl Glusman and Ciubuciu Bogdan Alexandru star in this thriller about a young woman, Julia, who moves into a new apartment in Romania with her fiancé, only to be tortured by the feeling that she is being followed by an unseen watcher in an adjacent building. Julia’s growing tension is exquisitely captured by director Chloe Okuno, who makes her feature debut with Watcher, following her anthology V/H/S/94.
Watcher premieres Jan. 21 and screens Jan. 23-24.
Writer-director Mariama Diallo makes her feature film debut with Master, a horror movie that centers on three women trying to fit in at an elite New England university. As the group – a dean of students (Regina Hall), first-year student (Zoe Renee) and literature professor (Talia Ryder) – attempts to navigate politics and privilege, it is faced with a terrifying supernatural force that manifests the school’s haunted past, along with valid fears of racism.
Master premieres Jan. 21 and screens Jan. 23-24.
Keke Palmer stars in this dramatic thriller as Alice, a woman who escapes slavery on a rural Georgia plantation and discovers the year is actually 1973. Following her rescue on the roadside by a Black activist named Frank (Common), Alice uncovers and confronts the lies that kept her enslaved. Alice marks the directorial debut of writer-director Krystin Ver Linden, who was inspired by true accounts of Black Americans who were kept in slavery for more than 100 years after its abolition.
Alice premieres Jan. 23 and screens Jan. 25-26.
Lucy and Desi
Amy Poehler, having already directed two narrative films, makes her directorial debut as a documentary filmmaker with Lucy and Desi, which chronicles how Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz made their mark in comedy, revolutionizing the entertainment industry in the process. With archival interviews, home movies, and testimonials from those who knew and loved them, the doc offers a thoughtful examination of the iconic couple, depicting their ups and downs in front of and behind the camera.
Lucy and Desi premieres Jan. 22 and screens Jan. 24-25.
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
Director Sophie Hyde, whose debut drama 52 Tuesdays won the Directing Award at Sundance in 2014, returns to the festival with Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, a charming comedy written by comedian Katy Brand, and starring 2-time Academy Award winner Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack. The film follows Nancy Stokes (Thompson), a retired schoolteacher determined to finally have some good sex, recruiting a sex worker (McCormack) to help her get the job done. It turns out the two may have some chemistry, leading to a few surprises for the unlikely pair.
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande premieres Jan. 22 and screens Jan. 24-25.
Mexican filmmaker Juan Pablo González, who has so far set all of his films in his hometown of Atotonilco El Alto in Jalisco, Mexico, returns to Sundance this year with Dos Estaciones, a story about a once-majestic tequila factory now struggling to stay afloat. At the center of it all is Maria Garcia, an iron-willed businesswoman doing everything she can to save the tequila factory and the townspeople she employs. Values of ritual and tradition beautifully seep through González’s camera in Dos Estaciones, while star Teresa Sánchez delivers a standout performance.
Dos Estaciones premieres Jan. 24 and screens Jan. 26-27.
Carol screenwriter Phyllis Nagy steps behind the camera as director to helm Call Jane, a film centering on events surrounding the Jane Collective, which provided thousands of abortions during a four-year period when abortion was illegal in most of the United States. The group comes to the rescue of suburban housewife Joy (Elizabeth Banks), who in 1968 has been forced to navigate a medical establishment unwilling to help, despite her pregnancy leading to a life-threatening condition.
Call Jane premieres Jan. 21 and screens Jan. 23-24.
Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy
Directing team Clarence “Coodie” Simmons & Chike Ozah first established their style with Kanye West’s music video for “Through the Wire” in 2004. In the film, they take audiences back to the beginning of West’s career. Coodie first met the rapper-record producer at Jermaine Dupri’s birthday party in 1998, and decided to document the then-up-and-coming hip-hop artist’s journey through the industry. With hours of fly-on-the-wall footage, Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy takes fans from West’s early days through his rise to becoming one of the most influential figures in music.
Part 1 of Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy, entitled “Vision,” premieres Jan. 23 and screens Jan. 25-26.
Decades after her 1997 death, the fascination surrounding Princess Diana remains. In his documentary, director Ed Perkins tells Princess Diana’s story entirely with archival footage, painting a picture of how the People’s Princess navigated her glamorous-yet-complicated and painful life in the spotlight. Free from retrospective interviews, The Princess shares a new perspective on the British monarchy, and paints a picture of one of the most alluring and iconic public figures in the world in the last half century.
The Princess premieres Jan. 20 and screens Jan. 22-23.