Sundance: A Preview

The first major film festival of 2018, Sundance returns to the snowy peaks of Park City in Utah. The Robert Redford-launched showcase that brought us Reservoir Dogs, sex, lies and videotape and Little Miss Sunshine remains a key launch-pad for any independent movie hoping to gain traction and distribution around the world. Last year, the celebrated Call Me By Your Name and God’s Own Country both got there starts here.

What will stand out this time? All eyes will be on Yardie, Idris Elba’s directorial debut, based on Victor Headley’s novel about a young Jamaican named Denis Dread who gets caught up in gang violence on the streets of London after his brother is killed. Set in the early 1980s, Elba co-stars with Stephen Graham (This Is England), although the lead role is taken by Aml Ameen in what will surely be a major stepping stone for the London-born actor.

Whilst it’s difficult to pick the breakout indie liable to gatecrash next year’s awards season, Paul Dano’s Wildlife may manage it. Making his directorial debut, actor Dano co-wrote this adaptation of Richard Ford’s novel with his off-screen partner, actress Zoe Kazan. Seen through the eyes of a 14 year-old boy, it’s the story about a 1960s Montana couple (Carey Mulligan, Jake Gyllenhaal) whose marriage disintegrates when she finds another man.

Those who enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale will doubtless be keen to check out I Think We’re Alone Now, directed by Reed Morano, who helmed several episodes of the hit adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel. A two-hander, it’s an end-of-the-world drama that casts Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) as a recluse forced to face the impending apocalypse with another – played by Elle Fanning (The Beguiled).

For those looking towards the documentary strand, Marina Zenovich’s Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind promises to be a candid portrait of the beloved comedian. Zenovich has already delivered intriguing docs on Richard Pryor and Roman Polanski, and this mix of rare footage and interviews with those that knew Williams is likely to score highly with the Sundance crowd.

Finally, if you’re looking for a cult-in-the-making, seasoned with Nicolas Cage going bat-shit crazy, then look no further than Mandy. Set in 1983, Cage plays Red, out for revenge on the sadistic religious cult that destroyed his home and murdered his wife. Directed by Panos Cosmatos (Beyond the Black Rainbow), the film co-stars Andrea Riseborough and Linus Roache – and, judging by the first stills released, there will be blood.

The 2018 Sundance Film Festival takes place from 18 January 18 to 28 January. For more details, visit: www.sundance.org

James Mottram

Credits:
1. Idris Elba in Yardie.