There are 110 feature films at the 34th edition of the Sundance Film Festival, which opens Jan. 18 in Park City, Utah.
That’s roughly one-third the number at the Toronto International Film Festival. But it feels just as overwhelming when it comes to deciding what to see in my brief five days here.
Added to my must-see list this year is the virtual reality program, which includes artificial intelligence, augmented reality and more.
As a huge Wes Anderson fan, I’m excited to see the Montreal’s Félix & Paul Studios’ Isle of Dogs Behind the Scenes, which lets audiences “step right in” to the elaborate stop-motion canine world Anderson created for his new film, which debuts next month in Berlin.
Read more about it and other Canadian titles at Sundance in my story for The Canadian Press.
Here’s a list of some of the movies I plan to see at Sundance – in between interviews and writing stories for The Canadian Press – and why I’m excited about them:
Remember the old 40 whacks rhyme? This drama is based on the 1892 murder of Lizzie Borden‘s family, perhaps by Lizzie, or maybe not. I remember the 1975 made-for-TV movie with Bewitched’s Elizabeth Montgomery in the title role as the axe-wielding daughter, so a bit of nostalgia here with this title. Lizzie is billed as a “psychological thriller” that goes deeper into the title character’s psyche than previous stories and playground rhymes. Chloë Sevigny plays Lizzie and Kristen Stewart takes the role of the family maid, Bridget.
I Think We’re Alone Now
Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning star in this post-apocalyptic tale of the last man on Earth – lucky for him he’s a recluse. Not so fast, loner. A young woman shows up to surprise him.
Andrea Riseborough is one of my favourite actresses and I keep waiting for her to truly break through with a great role. This could be it, about a woman with a fondness for creating online hoaxes who is convinced she was kidnapped as a child.
Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind
I may need a bunch of tissues for this – one handful for laughter, the other for sadness. Williams acts as narrator for much of the documentary which includes some never-before-seen footage.
A new telling of Shakespeare’s tale and billed as “a mythic spin on Hamlet through a lens of female empowerment.” Now who wouldn’t want to see that? Oh yes, Daisy Ridley plays Ophelia, Naomi Watts is Queen Gertrude and Clive Owen is Claudius. Claire McCarthy directs.
Director Kevin Kerslake’s biopic about rocker Joan Jett, from founding the Runaways onwards. I love Joan Jett. Also rock and roll. So put another dime in the jukebox, baby.
This Canadian film directed by Cuban brothers Rodrigo Barriuso and Sebastián Barriuso intrigues me. It’s in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition and is based on the story of their father, a Russian Literature professor at the University of Havana. He was ordered to work as a translator when the child victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster arrived for treatment in Cuba.
Another Canadian film, from director Matthieu Rytz about the low-lying Pacific island of Kiribati, fated to sink under the ocean due to rising seas from climate change. President Anote Tong realizes it’s too late to stop the environmental crisis, but needs the global community to help the 100,000 people relocate with dignity. At the world premiere of An Inconvenient Sequel at Sundance last year, I heard former vice-president Al Gore speak passionately onscreen and onstage at the premiere about the urgent need act to lessen the inevitable human toll of climate change refugees. Anote’s Ark underscores that cry.