The snowy streets of Utah will once again be a who's who of actors, filmmakers, and famous movie lovers, as the Sundance Film Festival is returning to in-person festivities for the first time since 2020. In both 2021 and 2022, the festival was forced to cancel in-person screenings and pivot to online programming due to the global pandemic, but independent cinema (as it is wont to do) is persisting this year, with Sundance's founder and president (and Oscar winner) Robert Redford hailing this year's festival as a place for "artists to express themselves, take risks, and for visionary stories to endure and entertain."
Read on for everything you need to know about this year's Sundance Film Festival.
When and where is this year's festival?
The 2023 Sundance Film Festival runs from Jan. 19 to 29 in person in Park City and Salt Lake City — as well as online, with a selection of films available online from Jan. 24 to 29.
The festival will kick off with the inaugural Opening Night: A Taste of Sundance on Jan. 19, where Ryan Coogler will receive Sundance's first annual Variety Visionary Award. During the celebration, Nikyatu Jusu and W. Kamau Bell will also receive Vanguard Awards, and the Indigo Girls will perform ahead of the Sundance debut of their documentary, It's Only Life After All.
Which films are screening at Sundance?
This year's slate boasts 110 feature films — 98 of which will be world premieres — across categories such as the U.S. Dramatic Competition, World Cinema Dramatic Competition, U.S. Documentary Competition, Midnight, and NEXT. (In addition, 64 short films and four indie episodic projects will debut at the festival.)
Sundance's opening night gala screening is Blueback, from Australian writer-director Robert Connolly. Some of this year's most anticipated premieres include Roger Ross Williams' Cassandro (starring Gael García Bernal as the "Liberace of Lucha Libre"), Susanna Fogel's Cat Person (based on the viral New Yorker short story), and Oscar nominee Nicole Holofcener's You Hurt My Feelings, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, as well as documentaries on everyone from Judy Blume to Michael J. Fox, Brooke Shields, and Little Richard.
Below, here are the 12 films premiering in the U.S. Dramatic Competition:
The Accidental Getaway Driver / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Sing J. Lee, Screenwriter: Christopher Chen, Producers: Kimberly Steward, Basil Iwanyk, Andy Sorgie, Brendon Boyea, Joseph Hiếu) — During a routine pickup, an elderly Vietnamese cab driver is taken hostage at gunpoint by three recently escaped Orange County convicts. Based on a true story. Cast: Hiệp Trần Nghĩa, Dustin Nguyen, Dali Benssalah, Phi Vũ, Gabrielle Chan. World Premiere. Available online.
All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Raven Jackson, Producers: Maria Altamirano, Barry Jenkins, Adele Romanski, Mark Ceryak) – A decades-spanning exploration of a woman’s life in Mississippi and an ode to the generations of people, places, and ineffable moments that shape us. Cast: Charleen McClure, Moses Ingram, Kaylee Nicole Johnson, Reginald Helms Jr., Sheila Atim, Chris Chalk. World Premiere. Available online.
Fair Play / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Chloe Domont, Producers: Leopold Hughes, Ben LeClair, Tim White, Trevor White, Allan Mandelbaum) — An unexpected promotion at a cutthroat hedge fund pushes a young couple’s relationship to the brink, threatening to unravel far more than their recent engagement. Cast: Phoebe Dynevor, Alden Ehrenreich, Eddie Marsan. World Premiere. Available online.
Fancy Dance / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Erica Tremblay, Screenwriter: Miciana Alise, Producers: Deidre Backs, Heather Rae, Nina Yang Bongiovi, Tommy Oliver) — Following her sister’s disappearance, a Native American hustler kidnaps her niece from the child’s white grandparents and sets out for the state powwow in hopes of keeping what is left of their family intact. Cast: Lily Gladstone, Isabel Deroy-Olson, Ryan Begay, Shea Whigham, Audrey Wasilewski. World Premiere. Available online.
Magazine Dreams / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Elijah Bynum, Producers: Jennifer Fox, Dan Gilroy, Jeffrey Soros, Simon Horsman) — An amateur bodybuilder struggles to find human connection as his relentless drive for recognition pushes him to the brink. Cast: Jonathan Majors, Haley Bennett, Taylour Paige, Mike O’Hearn, Harrison Page, Harriet Sansom Harris. World Premiere. Available online.
Mutt / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, Producers: Alexander Stegmaier, Stephen Scott Scarpulla, Jennifer Kuczaj, Joel Michaely) — Over the course of a single hectic day in New York City, three people from Feña’s past are thrust back into his life. Having lost touch since transitioning from female to male, he navigates the new dynamics of old relationships while tackling the day-to-day challenges of living life in between. Cast: Lío Mehiel, Cole Doman, MiMi Ryder, Alejandro Goic. World Premiere. Available online.
The Persian Version / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Maryam Keshavarz, Producers: Anne Carey, Ben Howe, Luca Borghese, Peter Block, Corey Nelson) — When a large Iranian-American family gathers for the patriarch’s heart transplant, a family secret is uncovered that catapults the estranged mother and daughter into an exploration of the past. Toggling between the United States and Iran over decades, mother and daughter discover they are more alike than they know. Cast: Layla Mohammadi, Niousha Noor, Kamand Shafieisabet, Bella Warda, Bijan Daneshmand, Shervin Alenabi. World Premiere. Available online.
Shortcomings / U.S.A. (Director: Randall Park, Screenwriter: Adrian Tomine, Producers: Margot Hand, Randall Park, Hieu Ho, Jennifer Berman, Howard Cohen, Eric d’Arbeloff) — Following Ben, Miko, and Alice as they navigate a range of interpersonal relationships and traverse the country in search of the ideal connection. Cast: Justin H. Min, Sherry Cola, Ally Maki, Debby Ryan, Tavi Gevinson, Sonoya Mizuno. World Premiere. Available online.
Sometimes I Think About Dying / U.S.A. (Director: Rachel Lambert, Screenwriters: Kevin Armento, Stefanie Abel Horowitz, Katy Wright-Mead, Producers: Alex Saks, Daisy Ridley, Dori Rath, Lauren Beveridge, Brett Beveridge) — Fran likes to think about dying. It brings sensation to her quiet life. When she makes the new guy at work laugh, it leads to more: a date, a slice of pie, a conversation, a spark. The only thing standing in their way is Fran herself. Cast: Daisy Ridley, Dave Merheje, Parvesh Cheena, Marcia DeBonis, Meg Stalter, Brittany O’Grady. World Premiere. Available online.
The Starling Girl / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Laurel Akira Parmet, Producers: Kevin Rowe, Kara Durrett) — Seventeen-year-old Jem Starling struggles with her place within her Christian fundamentalist community, but everything changes when her magnetic youth pastor Owen returns to their church. Cast: Eliza Scanlen, Lewis Pullman, Jimmi Simpson, Wrenn Schmidt, Austin Abrams, Jessamine Burgum. World Premiere. Available online.
Theater Camp / U.S.A. (Directors and Screenwriters: Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman, Screenwriters: Noah Galvin, Ben Platt, Producers: Erik Feig, Samie Kim Falvey, Julia Hammer, Ryan Heller, Will Ferrell, Jessica Elbaum) — When the beloved founder of a run-down theater camp in upstate New York falls into a coma, the eccentric staff must band together with the founder’s crypto-bro son to keep the camp afloat. Cast: Molly Gordon, Ben Platt, Noah Galvin, Jimmy Tatro, Patti Harrison, Ayo Edebiri. World Premiere. Available online.
A Thousand and One / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: A.V. Rockwell, Producers: Eddie Vaisman, Julia Lebedev, Lena Waithe, Rishi Rajani, Brad Weston) — Convinced it’s one last, necessary crime on the path to redemption, unapologetic and free-spirited Inez kidnaps 6-year-old Terry from the foster care system. Holding on to their secret and each other, mother and son set out to reclaim their sense of home, identity, and stability in New York City. Cast: Teyana Taylor, Will Catlett, Josiah Cross, Aven Courtney, Aaron Kingsley Adetola. World Premiere. Available online.
Sundance will also screen four award-winning films from previous festivals as Encore Special Screenings, including CODA, which premiered at Sundance in 2021 and won the Grand Jury Prize in U.S. Dramatic Competition, Audience Award, Directing Award, and Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Cast before going on to win Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor at last year's 94th Oscars.
The other special screenings include director Maryna Er Gorbach's KLONDIKE, Daniel Roher's Navalny, and Questlove's Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), which also world premiered at Sundance in 2021 and won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary and Audience Award: U.S. Documentary before winning Best Documentary Feature at the 2022 Oscars.
What else is happening during the fest?
Sundance is hosting a series of panels during the festival dubbed "Beyond Film" conversations, all of which are open to the public. The talks are split into three categories — Power of Story, Cinema Café, and The Big Conversation — and will feature the likes of Barry Jenkins and Dakota Johnson (as part of the "On Intimacy" conversation), Randall Park and Marlee Matlin ("Complicating Representation"), and Jonathan Majors ("Going Nowhere? On Burnout & Attention Crisis").
Beyond Film offerings will stream online starting Jan. 24.
Who is on this year's Sundance Jury?
This year's jurors who will determine this year's awards are: Jeremy O. Harris, Eliza Hittman, and Marlee Matlin for U.S. Dramatic Competition; W. Kamau Bell, Ramona Diaz, and Carla Gutierrez for U.S. Documentary Competition; Shozo Ichiyama, Annemarie Jacir, and Funa Maduka for World Cinema Dramatic Competition; and Karim Amer, Petra Costa, and Alexander Nanau for World Cinema Documentary Competition; Madeleine Olnek for the NEXT competition section; Destin Daniel Cretton, Marie-Louise Khondji, and Deborah Stratman for the Short Film Program Competition.
How can I get tickets?
Festival passes are completely sold out, but you can still purchase single film tickets for in-person screenings ($25/ticket) and select online screenings ($20/ticket) at festival.sundance.org/tickets.