9 Sundance 2016 Films We’re Dying To See
Posted by Isabelle 9 months ago in Film
Sundance 2016 is around the corner, and true to form, it’s power-packed with films we’d give our right lung to see.
However, after hours of nerd-combing through this year’s line up, a few of those films really piqued our interest and stood out as worthy objects of our obsession.
Whether they drew us in because of the score, cast or plot, here are nine films premiering at this year’s festival that we’re 103 going to see.
*Most of them don’t have trailers yet, but what they lack in trailers, they make up for in photos.
1. Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to ‘Off the Wall’
Director: Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, Malcom X, She’s Gotta Have It … and 1,303,938 other things).
Plot: This documentary tells the story of how Michael Jackson went from singing in his living room to ascending the throne as the King of Pop. How he got his start at Motown, his experience with CBS records and his relationship with Quincy Jones culminate in a portrait of Jackson as an earnest, passionate artist whose blood, sweat and tears was often overshadowed by his image.
Why it’s awesome: It’s goes shoulder-deep into his seminal album and is full of rare footage and interviews with people who personally witnessed Michael Jackson’s flowering celebrity on his rise to fame.
Director: Jeff Baena (I Heart Huckabees, Life After Beth)
Plot: In the wake of a broken engagement, Josh decides to have his bachelor party anyway in Ojai, California with a few of his most loyal dude-bros. However, more interested in drugs and their own hangups, his friends ignore Josh’s emotional distress. As a host of welcome and unwelcome guests stop by, Josh attempts to find closure during his weekend of bromance.
Why it’s awesome: It’s scored by Devendra Banhart, and stars tons of our favorite comics like Brett Gelman, Nick Kroll, Aubrey Plaza and Jenny Slate. There’s something undeniably hilarious about the inept, emotionally fragile nature of male bonding, and Joshy captures it perfectly.
Director: Todd Solondz (Welcome to the Dollhouse, Happiness)
Plot: Wiener-Dog is the story of a special daschund who finds himself at the center of several people’s intersecting lives. As these people interact with the living hot dog, they find their life inspired or changed by the peculiar canine who seems to be spreading a certain comfort and joy to all he meets.
Why it’s awesome: A “sort-of sequel to Welcome to the Dollhouse,” Wiener-Dog is vintage Solondz, brimming with caustic, yet endearing observations about humanity. His well-known ability to find empathy and laughs in the darkest subject matter shines through more than ever here. One of the people the wiener-dog encounters is Dawn Wiener, the character mercilessly teased as “Wiener-Dog” in the 1995 cult film.
Also, Danny DeVito is in it. He’s a human wiener-dog so this makes sense.
4. Brahman Naman
Director: Q (Gandu, Tasher Desh)
Plot: Naman, a young virgin teenage “quizard” leads his hopelessly geeky high school friends on an epic trip to Calcutta where they hope to complete for a major college quiz prize. Determined to lose their virginities on the way, they get into a series of hilariously raunchy predicaments.
Why it’s awesome: Q is revered internationally as one of India’s most vital and outspoken independent filmmakers, and his latest film’s take on classic American teen comedy is a provocative step for India’s traditionally conservative view on teen sexuality. It’s being hailed as an “Indian Porky’s” too, so you really can’t go wrong with that.
Director: Felix van Groeningen (Broken Circle Breakdown)
Plot: Frank and Jo are two brothers whose very opposite personalities converge when they open a dive bar called Belgica together. As Belgica becomes the place to be for beautiful people, debauchery and great music, the brothers move to expand the bar. It quickly becomes bigger and better, leading Frank and Jo to mistakenly believe they’ve found the formula for success … that is, until they learn that running that kind of business on such a scale is more complicated than they’d thought, and their relationship and personal lives begin to crumble.
Otherwise known as an advertisement for continued laziness and entrepreneurial avoidance.
Why it’s awesome: It’ll give you flashbacks from way back when when you were capable of staying up past 9 p.m. and stomaching more than a Zinfandel at da club. Even better, it’s scored by Soulwax.
6. Under the Shadow
Director: Babak Anvari
Plot: Set in the context of the 1988 Iran-Iraq war, a mother and her daughter are haunted by evil spirits that are a metaphor for her culture’s admonishment of independent women. With no help from her husband, this bad ass mother of the year single-handedly battles of a plethora of dangers from both the physical and supernatural worlds to save herself and her daughter.
Why it’s awesome: Babak Anvari’s ambitious feature debut blends period detail and social critique with a good old-fashioned horror story, crafting a film that is as smart as it is scary.
7. The 4th
Director: Andre Hyland (Stupidface, The Daily Habit)
Plot: A chance encounter on the way to buy some lighter fluid for a 4th of July cookout fuels a hilarious chain reaction of piss-poor luck and frustrating scenarios that threaten to destabilize main character Jaime’s life.
8. Swiss Army Man
Director: Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan (a.k.a. music video gurus “The Daniels“).
Plot: Alone on a tiny deserted island, Hank has given up all hope of ever making it home again. But one day everything changes when a dead body washes ashore, and he soon realizes it may be his last opportunity to escape certain death. Armed with his new “friend” and an unusual bag of tricks, the duo go on an epic adventure to bring Hank back to the woman of his dreams.
Why it’s awesome: This is the first feature length film for The Daniels, who have directed videos for Chromeo, Battles and Passion Pit. They also did that legendary “Turn Down For What” video for Lil’ Jon and DJ Snake.
9. Operation Avalanche
Director: Matt Johnson (The Dirties, How Heavy This Hammer)
Plot: This mockumentary takes place in 1967 when two CIA agents infiltrate NASA in an endeavor to fake the moon landing.
Why it’s awesome: Just like the characters in Operation Avalanche, Matt Johnson infiltrated fucking NASA to make this film. Masquerading as students shooting a documentary on NASA in the sixties, Johnson tricked NASA into unwittingly offering up their facilities for a narrative feature, and the dichotomy between the movie’s plot and the real-life making of it is beyond entertaining.
Aaand finally, one short-film for those with goldfish-like attention spans:
Director: Eddie Alcazar (Tapia)
Plot: A lonely girl with the power to time travel finds love and comfort by connecting with her past selves.
Why it’s awesome: Scored by Flying Lotus. This isn’t his first experience with film though; in 2014, he scored a short film starring Noomi Rapace as well as Imperial Dreams, a short starring John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) that debuted at Sundance. He also said WOKE, his new project with Shabazz Palaces and Thundercat, was inspired by a script he wrote a few years ago.