By Sean Boelman
The 2023 Sundance Film Festival is back, and for the first time since 2020, has an in-person element in Park City in addition to its beloved online options. Now, cinephiles can again converge in the mountains or can choose to watch most of the lineup from the comfort of their own homes!
For the second year in a row, we at disappointment media are covering the festival remotely, and we wanted to call your attention to what we think are some of the films you should keep your eye on — whether you’re attending the festival in person or kicking back on the couch to watch some great indie cinema!
Other People's Children
Having debuted on last year’s fall festival circuit, Rebecca Zlotowski’s wonderful romance Other People’s Children is making its U.S. Premiere at Sundance as part of the Spotlight section. Buoyed by a performance by budding starlet Virginie Efira — who gives what is sure to be the single best turn in any film at the festival this year — the film refreshingly avoids being melodramatic while being an absolute emotional powerhouse of a film.
The Tuba Thieves
For many years now, Sundance has been a champion for films telling disabled stories — just a couple years ago being the launchpad for the Best Picture-winning film CODA. The metafiction documentary The Tuba Thieves is the latest in that legacy of d/Deaf representation, and it might be the most unorthodox film at the festival this year. Don’t let the title (or the Sundance description) fool you, this is straight avant-garde cinema. That’s not an insult by any means, though. This is a singular, fascinating cinematic experience.
20 Days in Mariupol
Although there have already been some documentaries about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it would be hard to imagine one as viscerally powerful as journalist Mstyslav Chernov’s 20 Days in Mariupol, premiering in the World Cinema Documentary competition. This is an extraordinarily brutal watch, with Chernov offering a no-holds-barred glimpse into the very real terrors being experienced by the Ukrainian people at the hands of the Russians, but viewers will absolutely feel how important it is to watch this film.
The Longest Goodbye
Also in the World Cinema Documentary competition is The Longest Goodbye, which is poised to be this year’s documentary breakout hit a la Fire of Love. Like the acclaimed documentary from last year’s festival, The Longest Goodbye is a science documentary with some of the most gorgeous nature cinematography you may ever see in your life. The shots included in the film depicting the vast beauty of outer space are simply breathtaking — and the Earth-bound stuff is pretty great too. In its exploration of the isolation experienced by astronauts, the film finds an unexpectedly human and empathetic angle. It’s a crowd-pleaser in the best way.
Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls
For those looking for a bit more brevity in their Sundance viewing, Midnight selection Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls fits that bill perfectly. Inspired by writer/director/star Andrew Bowser’s character known from the “Weird Satanist Guy” meme, this is a throwback horror-comedy blending elements of so many of the movies that hardcore genre cinephiles grew up with. In other words, it’s perfectly at home in Sundance’s Midnight lineup.
And these are just a few of the amazing films playing in the lineup! Other exciting films to look out for are Slow (World Cinema Dramatic), Sorcery (World Cinema Dramatic), Kim’s Video (NEXT), Rye Lane (Premieres — playing in-person only), and L’Immensità (Spotlight). Be sure to buy your tickets now before they sell out!
The 2023 Sundance Film Festival runs January 19-29 in-person in Park City, UT and January 24-29 online.
The Snake Hole
Retrospectives, opinion pieces, awards commentary, personal essays, and any other type of article that isn't a traditional review or interview.