Sundance 2019: 10 to See

With this year’s Sundance fast approaching, we’ve picked out ten of the most exciting films that are up for competition in Park City this year.

The Last Tree, UK. Dir: Shola Amoo

After his short Dear Mr. Shakespearescreened at Sundance 2017,Shola Amoo is returning to Park City with a fresh and honest depiction of a crooked – and at times perilous – path to manhood. Protagonist Femi is a British boy of Nigerian heritage who, after a happy childhood in rural Lincolnshire, moves to inner London to live with his mother. Struggling with the unfamiliar culture and values of his new environment, teenager Femi has to figure out which path to adulthood he wants to take.

The Souvenir, UK. Dir: Joanna Hogg

Set in the 1980s and based on director Joanna Hogg’s own experiences, The Souvenirfollows a shy film student finding her voice as an artist whilst navigating a turbulent courtship with a charismatic but untrustworthy man. She defies her protective mother and concerned friends as she slips deeper into an intense, emotionally fraught relationship that comes dangerously close to destroying her dreams.

Ashton Sanders appears in Native Son.

Native Son, USA. Dir: Rashid Johnson

Up for competition in the USA Dramatic category, Rashid Johnson’s new film is a contemporary reworking of Richard Wright’s 1940 novel – with Pulitzer Prize-winning Suzan Lori-Parks on board as screenwriter. It tracks the tale of Bigger “Big” Thomas, a young African American man, who lives with his mother and siblings in Chicago. Big accepts a job as a chauffeur for a wealthy businessman but when he’s involved with an accidental death, his life begins to veer out of control.

Pahokee, USA. Dir: Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan

Four high-school students, Na-Kerria, Jocabed, Junior and BJ embark on their senior year in Pahokee, a small Florida town on the shores of Lake Okeechobee. The teens navigate all of the sometimes exciting, sometimes heart-breaking rite-of-passage rituals as they make profound decisions about their futures. Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan’s first feature-length documentary is a culmination of a long rapport achieved filming within the Pahokee community, a unique town with a unique identity.

The Sound of Silence, USA. Dir: Michael Tyburski

Knowing their relationship is falling apart, Elin and Tobias embark on a joyless camping trip hoping to find their way back to one another. Instead, they find themselves in an endless loop of torment, humiliation, and tangled dreams at the hands of a troupe of outlandishly distorted nursery-rhyme antagonists. Set within a nightmarish landscape, Koko-di Koko-dais a savage psychological horror film about a relationship in despair.

Still from Koko-Di Koko-Da, Sweden/Denmark. Dir: Johannes Nyholm.

Koko-Di Koko-Da, Sweden/Denmark. Dir: Johannes Nyholm

A self-taught scientist, Peter (Peter Sarsgaard) works in New York as a “house tuner” – a highly specialised profession he’s invented. His clients approach him with troubles like depression, anxiety, or fatigue. After extensive analysis of their house’s acoustic characteristics, he identifies some sonic combination that is affecting their mood. One client remains unconvinced, forcing Peter to obsessively search for the fault in his practice.

We Are Little Zombies, Japan. Dir: Makoto Nagahisa

After winning the Short Film Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2016, Makoto Nagahisa returns with a maximalist, hyper-pop style feature, taking inspiration from film, television, music and above all videogames. We Are Little Zombies see four young strangers who meet by chance after they lose their parents. Alone in the world at 13 years of age, with little future or hope, they decide to form a band.

The Magic Life of V,Finland/Denmark/Bulgaria. Dir: Tonislav Hristov

Wizards, magic and sword battles are just fantasy for most, but for Veera, they’re a meaningful part of conquering her inner trauma. When Veera transforms into her LARP (Live Action Role Play) persona “V”, the game’s fantasy battlefields give her space to combat her real-life psychological troubles. Tonislav Hristov’s elegant documentary gives powerful insight into the ways in which the virtual can help cope with reality.

Honey Boy, USA. Dir: Alma Har’el

The much-anticipated collaboration between director Alma Har’el and screenwriter Shia LaBeouf sees 12-year-old Otis find success as a child television star in Hollywood. Otis’ troubled father, an ex-rodeo-clown, returns to mend his relationship with his son. LaBeouf’s semi-autobiographical screenplay also features a cameo from FKA Twigs.

Still from The Farewell.

The Farewell, USA /China. Dir: Lulu Wang

Lulu Wang’s highly anticipated feature is a heartfelt celebration about family and how we perform our roles within it. After learning their beloved matriarch has terminal lung cancer, a family decide not to tell her about the diagnosis and instead organise a wedding-reunion to surreptitiously say their goodbyes. With only grandma actually looking forward to the reunion, the family awkwardly attempt to rekindle old bonds and try to find a way to say goodbye – without ever saying it.

Christopher Webb

For more information about Sundance 2019, click here.

Lead Image:
Still from
The Last Tree, UK. Dir: Shola Amoo.