Movies on NEXT, Spotlight and Midnight
Every year, the Sundance Film Festival showcases groundbreaking work by original storytellers. After an all-digital festival in 2022, this year Sundance returns to in-person events while continuing to offer online options (for variety). The 2023 Sundance Film Festival will be held January 19-29 on the mountain in beautiful Park City, Utah. Whether it’s in person or at home, Sundance 2023 is set to be another year to remember.
NEXT, Spotlight and Midnight are just three of the many programs to be presented at Sundance 2023. The films in the NEXT section stand out for their innovative storytelling, unleashing their creativity without the need for a big studio budget. Meanwhile, the Spotlight program showcases films that bring people from around the world together through their shared love of cinema. Finally, there’s Midnight, home to thrillers, horror films and comedies that transcend any genre – like My Animals. Without further ado, the films featured in the Sundance 2023 NEXT, Spotlight, and Midnight programs.
Well, Burkina! is the first feature film of writer-director and designer Vale Oyéjide. The film tells the story of a Burkinabe boy who loses most of the things he holds dear during his migration to Italy. Determined to recover what he lost, the boy finds a way to do so through time travel. Well, Burkina! will explore what it means to exist in two worlds and is described as a “multidimensional exploration of love and displacement.”
In Divinity, a scientist studies the secret of immortality by working on the film’s titular serum. With the help of an attractive woman, two mysterious brothers decide to kidnap a scientist. The film mixes retro sci-fi horror with elements of action and comedy, featuring black-and-white cinematography.
After working as an Afghan translator for the US government, 20-year-old Donya finds herself living a lonely life in Fremont. Donya gets a job at a fortune cookie factory, then gets a promotion that allows her to write a fortune. Meanwhile, something awakens inside Donya, and she uses the opportunity to send a special message to the world.
Who’s Video is named after a former video retailer known for its rare selections. Before closing, the store owner donated a collection of 55,000 movies on the condition that Kim’s Video members would continue to have access to them. A small group of filmmakers challenge themselves to find the collection, their journey takes them all the way to Sicily.
A mix of documentary and fairy tale, King Coal is about Appalachia, a region known for its history of coal mining. A coal miner’s daughter learns how coal is ingrained in the culture and identity of the Appalachians. But as the world reevaluates its relationship with coal, Appalachia remains in a quandary about its future. King Coal is director Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s beautiful love letter to the place she calls home.
CITY OF KOKOMO
Two-time Grammy Award-nominated songwriter-producer D. Smith directs his feature debut with KOKOMO CITY. The film follows four black transgender sex workers in New York and Georgia and delves into black culture, the meaning of sexuality, and individual and collective identity. KOKOMO CITY deals with social issues that are rarely addressed, offering new perspectives on topics that other films avoid.
Deaf director Alison O’Daniel makes her film debut with The Tuba Thieves. In the early 2010s, high schools in Los Angeles were the scene of a series of thefts, with a large number of snorkels being stolen. Tuba Thieves does not focus on thieves or missing snorkels, but instead presents a cinematic language that unifies the experience of deafness. The film combines documentary style with fictional performances.
Live, die and live
Qasim Basir returns to Sundance with To Live and Die and Live after screening at the 2018 festival for A Boy. Girl. A dream. In Basir’s new film, Hollywood director Muhammad returns to Detroit to attend the funeral of his late stepfather. Muhammad is given new responsibilities as provider and protector, but at the same time he secretly struggles with depression and addiction. As she struggles with her own demons, she tries to be what her family and friends expect her to be.
Young. Wild. Liberate.
Suffocated by the demands of everyday life, a high school student looks for an escape. He immediately falls in love with a bad girl who is the personification of freedom but also danger. Young. Wild. Liberate. It depicts two teenagers who dream, have fun and make mistakes against the backdrop of LA
Film Constellation / Sundance Institute
Joyland premiered at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival and won the Jury Prize in the Definitive View category. In the film, Haider’s wife gives birth to a daughter and disappoints her family as she continues to wish for a son. Haider becomes a dancer in an erotic theater, where he falls in love with a transsexual star.
Warner Bros. Pictures/Sundance Institute
Premiering at the 2022 Venice Film Festival, L’Immensità is now coming to Sundance. Penelope Cruz plays Clara, a mother who moves to Rome in the 1970s with three children and an unfaithful husband. As Clara sees Roman change before her eyes, she focuses on understanding and building a stronger relationship with her children.
Other people’s children
Ad Vitam, Sundance Institute
Rachel is a high school teacher who truly loves her life. But as a childless woman in her 40s, she struggles with the social pressures of being a mother at that age. She finds herself attached to the daughter of the man she loves, but wonders what it really means to be a mother. Other People’s Children premiered at the 2022 Venice Film Festival.
Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hypgnosis)
Hipgnosis is a now-defunct British design group responsible for some of rock music’s greatest covers. Their list of artistic contributions includes Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Led Zeppelin’s Sacred Houses. Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hypgnosis) by Anton Corby gives viewers an in-depth look at the creative genius of Hypgnosis.
Pietro and Bruno meet in an Italian mountain village, developing a strong friendship over several summers. The two go their separate ways, but are reunited when Pietro returns to the mountain after his father’s death. Les Huit Montagnes won the Jury Prize at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival.
Rose works in a morgue and is fascinated by resuscitation. Celi works as a midwife and spends her time taking care of her daughter. The birth/rebirth puts Rose and Celie on a collision course as the two women are responsible for raising a girl from the dead.
In my mother’s skin
In My Mother’s Skin is set in the Philippines in 1945, the last year of World War II. To save her dying mother, a young girl seeks the help of a powerful fairy. However, the fairy is not exactly benevolent, as evidenced by the fact that the fairy eats human flesh and destroys everyone in its path.
In Infinity Pool, James and Em Foster are at an expensive resort where James is responsible for a fatal accident. They quickly learn that the resort is not what it seems, revealing a dark past of violence, surreal horrors and hedonistic tourism. Infinity Pool stars Alexander Skarsgård and Mia Goth.
Heather is the protagonist of My Animal, a janitor and teenage socialite who lives with her alcoholic mother. Heather’s life changes when she meets Johnny, a figure skater with whom she develops a romantic relationship. But there’s a dark secret that explains why Heather doesn’t leave the house every full moon…
Random Onyx and Spirits Talisman
Struggling occultist Onyx accepts an invitation to a dark ritual from his idol, Bartok the Great. The ritual was supposed to awaken an ancient demon, but Onyx fears that Bartok is unreliable. Onyx, along with a new group of friends, takes on a new fight for survival. Random Onyx and Talisman of Spirits is called “a joyous celebration of all manner of weirdness.”
Polite Society introduces Ria Khan, aspiring martial artist and younger sister of Lena Khan. When Lena drops out of art school to marry someone after a month of dating, Ria takes it upon herself to save her sister from becoming a trophy wife. His project? Perform a heist by kidnapping her older sister from her wedding.
Run Rabbit Run
Fertility doctor Sarah celebrates her daughter Mia’s seventh birthday. Coinciding with the appearance of a rabbit on their doorstep, Mia suddenly begins exhibiting very strange behaviors, including learning things she didn’t know. In Run Rabbit Run, Sarah is forced to face a mysterious ghost from her past.
Talk to me
A group of friends learn to conjure spirits with a baled hand. They use the supernatural ability for their own amusement, but inevitably cause the collapse of a barrier that separates the physical world from the spirit world. Talk to Me is a violent and bloody horror-thriller that follows Mia as she tries to make things right.