After three years of virtual and hybrid event offerings, the Sundance Film Festival is set to celebrate its fortieth anniversary with its most robust in-person edition of the festival since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. While online offerings will still be available to those who wish to participate from home, with the official online viewing window opening on Thursday, January 25. That lineup will include at-home screenings of the five competition sections (including Next).

On the ground, however, seems like the place to be. As ever, this year’s festival boasts a wide variety of new films from some of our favorite filmmakers, plus an assortment of rising stars, new talents to keep an eye on, and perhaps a few surprises.

This year’s program includes new films from Steven Soderbergh, Debra Granik, David and Nathan Zellner, Richard Linklater, Lana Wilson, Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss, Dawn Porter, Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, Yance Ford, Ramona S. Diaz, Rory Kennedy, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, among many others.

Looking for big stars? Sundance has them, too, as notable actors at this year’s festival include Kristen Stewart, Steven Yeun, André Holland, Pedro Pascal, Melissa Barrera, Michael Fassbender, Saoirse Ronan, Sebastian Stan, Leslie Grace, Andra Day, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Glen Powell, Bill Nighy, Emilia Jones, Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie, Kieran Culkin, Dolly de Leon, Aubrey Plaza, Lucy Liu, Julia Fox, Riley Keough, Jesse Eisenberg, June Squibb, Danielle Deadwyler, Laura Linney, Talia Ryder, David Schwimmer, Woody Harrelson, and the final performance from the late Richard Roundtree.

How, you may wonder, could you ever hope to plow through such a robust offering of feature films? Allow us to help, as we’ve culled the program to pick out26 titles we’re most excited to see at this year’s festival.

This year’s festival runs from January 18 – January 28 in Park City, Utah. For more information on tickets for both in-person attendees and virtual viewers, head here. Check out all of our coverage of the festival right here.

Christian Blauvelt, Marcus Jones, Chris O’Falt, Anne Thompson, and Brian Welk also contributed to this article.

“Between the Temples”

Nathan Silver (“Thirst Street,” “Stinking Heaven”) returns with a comedy starring Jason Schwartzman as a cantor whose crisis of faith is interrupted by a new bat mitzvah student — his grade school music teacher. That paraphrased Wikipedia plot description should already be enough to make “Between the Temples” the biggest movie since “Barbie,” but just wait until I tell you that Schwartzman’s grade school music teacher is played by the Carol Kane. L’Chaim!

The “Hester Street” icon tops a triumphant supporting cast that also includes Robert Smigel, Annie Hamilton, and “Triangle of Sadness” favorite Dolly de Leon. Brace for laughs, tsuris, and what I can only assume will be the festival’s greatest haftorah portion. —DE


A tough and tender documentary that refuses to settle for easy tears (though audiences should know that a little crying is all but guaranteed), “Daughters” offers an observational look at the lead-up to — and fallout from — a special Daddy Daughter Dance for girls with incarcerated fathers. Like many of the most successful prison programs, the “A Dance of Their Own” initiative eschews punishment for a more positive incentive, in this case rewarding inmates and their children with an opportunity to spend meaningful one-on-one time together; to hold each other, often for the first time since the girls were just babies.

Filmed over five years and co-directed by the program’s founder Angela Patton (alongside Natalie Rae), “Daughters” leverages its access to the inmates and their families into a raw and heart-wrenching rebuke against the dehumanizing principles of America’s prison system, a rebuke made all the more powerful by its focus on wounds that may never be healed completely. —DE

A still from A Different Man by Aaron Schimberg, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
“A Different Man”Matt Infante

“A Different Man”

Already an A24 release, the Sebastian Stan-starrer written and directed by Aaron Schimberg explores the idea of an aspiring actor radically transforming his appearance only to then lose out on a role he feels he was born to play. Promising a haunting score and folkloric magical realism, the psychological thriller also marks one of Renate Reinsve’s first major roles since her “The Worst Person in the World” breakout and reintroduces audiences to British actor Adam Pearson, credited as The Deformed Man in Jonathan Glazer’s “Under the Skin.” —MJ

“Exhibiting Forgiveness”

The feature debut from writer-director Titus Kaphar, who happens to also be an internationally recognized painter and MacArthur Fellow, this U.S. Dramatic Competition entry tells the story of a Black artist navigating through rising success, and the return of his father, a recovering addict who is desperate to reconcile. So rarely are we treated to a lead performance from “Moonlight” breakout André Holland, so that aspect alone is probably enough to draw the Sundance audience in, sight unseen. But Kaphar’s fresh approach toward telling stories on the silver screen, and the relatable conversation around learning how to forgive and/or forget family trauma make the drama one for an even wider set of viewers to look out for. —MJ

“Freaky Tales”

One obvious hot Sundance sales title is “Captain Marvel” directors Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s heightened period hallucination “Freaky Tales,” starring Pedro Pascal and Ben Mendelsohn and a colorful ensemble. They inhabit four interconnected stories set in 1987 in Oakland, California. Fleck, who grew up in Oakland, celebrates the city’s egalitarian pulp, pop, kung fu, hip-hop culture, from underdog teen punks fighting off Nazi skinheads, to an emerging rap duo and an NBA all-star.

Backed by eOne and Macro Film Studios, produced by Jelani Johnson and Poppy Hanks, with James Lopez and Charles D. King as exec producers along with Oakland’s Todd Shaw AKA Too $hort, along with his manager David Weintraub, the movie started filming on Telegraph Avenue on November 14, 2022 and wrapped on January 12, 2023. —AT


As she researched Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, editor-turned-director Carla Gutierrez (“RBG”) realized that while many have told the artist’s often painful story, none had used her words to narrate it. There was enough writing by Kahlo and her muralist husband, Diego Rivera, to support a Spanish-language, subtitled documentary with not only rich archives for the visuals but also Kahlo’s vividly colored artwork. The director, perhaps controversially, chose to animate the art to give it more life. Imagine Entertainment Documentaries, Amazon MGM Studios, and TIME Studios produced the project, which will air on Amazon Prime on March 15. —AT

“Gaucho Gaucho”

Photographers turned nonfiction filmmakers, Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw return to Sundance with another film that promises to deliver on their distinctive visual and aural approach to nonfiction. After capturing fading traditions holding on by a thread in “The Last Race” and the phenomenal “The Truffle Hunters,” the duo set their lenses on a community of Argentine cowboys and cowgirls, known as Gauchos, who live beyond the boundaries of the modern world.

It’s more than their fascinating approach to their subjects and the modern world; it’s how their almost wistful perspective comes alive in their cinema that is so intoxicating. IndieWire’s review of “The Truffle Hunters” put it best, “Dweck and Kershaw don’t build a narrative so much as an accumulation of encounters that often lead to the visually immersive thrill of watching.” —CO

A still from Girls State by Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo courtesy of Apple.
“Girls State”Courtesy of Apple

“Girls State”

In 2020, “Boys State” was the perfect microcosm of modern American politics in the form of a highly entertaining and dramatically engrossing documentary about the one-week high school mock government camp, so much so Apple bought it for $12 million. There’s a tendency with a documentary like “Boys State” to assume the filmmakers got lucky with the dynamic kids they decided to trail, and to some degree they did, but that is to ignore the rigor, preparation, and visual language directors Jesse Moss, Amanda McBaine, and their team put into capturing the 7-day event. As Apple and the co-directors return to Sundance with “Girls State” (now set in Missouri instead of Texas), it feels like a safe bet they’ll get “lucky” again.  —CO

“Handling the Undead”

Renate Reinsve and Anders Danielsen Lie treat audiences to a “Worst Person in the World” reunion with “Handling the Undead,” their first film together since Joachim Trier’s 2022 Cannes sensation. This time, the indie Norwegian dream team isn’t involved in a messy romantic entanglement; instead it’s a disturbing arthouse horror premise in this debut narrative feature from Thea Hvistendahl.

Based on a novel by “Let the Right One In” author John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also co-writes this script with Hvistendahl, “Handling the Undead” begins on a hot summer’s day in Oslo when all the city’s newly dead awaken. Three families still grieving are now forced to confront this new reality and what the resurrection really means. “Handling the Undead” will be distributed stateside by Neon. —RL

“I Saw the TV Glow”

Jane Schoenbrun’s lauded sophomore film “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair,” a moody and unsettling look at how the internet can literally follow us out into the wider world, was one of the gems at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and the filmmaker seems to be building on those same tensions, ideas, and tones with “I Saw the TV Glow.” The A24-backed film set for theatrical release follows “two teenagers [who] bond over their love of a television series; After it is mysteriously canceled, their reality begins to blur” —all of which sounds like a fitting follow-up to “World’s Fair.”

The involvement of Schoenbrun is enough to get us excited — few filmmakers working today so keenly understand the ways in which screen life permeates our real life — but a closer look at the incredible team around the filmmaker has us even more thrilled, including producers Emma Stone and Dave McCary, plus supporting turns from Phoebe Bridgers, Fred Durst, and Conner O’Malley. —KE

Kristen Stewart and Katy O'Brian appear in Love Lies Bleeding by Rose Glass, an official selection of the Midnight program at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
“Love Lies Bleeding”Anna Kooris

“Love Lies Bleeding”

Shot way back in August of 2022, Rose Glass’ much-anticipated follow-up to “Saint Maud” is an original romantic thriller set in the world of extreme bodybuilding and described as “a romance fueled by ego, desire, and the American Dream,” the brilliantly titled “Love Lies Bleeding” stars a bisexual bodybuilder played by Katy O’Brian whose heart endures a punishing workout after she falls for a gym employee played by a mulleted Kristen Stewart.

The film’s first trailer showed off not just Stewart and O’Brian’s steamy bond, but a story that hinges on all sorts of criminal concerns to boot. O’Brian has promised that “chaos and calamity” will ensue; if Glass’ previous work is anything to go by, such “chaos and calamity” will likely find the film’s characters pushed to the brink of insanity as their rippling bodies give way to their fraying minds. We can’t wait. —DE 

“Love Me”

Buzz is building about Sam & Andy Zuchero’s inventive post-apocalyptic sci-fi film starring Kristen Stewart and Steven Yeun. After the fall of human civilization, a satellite connects with a buoy, and they fall in love. How could such an oblique premise be rendered as a star vehicle? That’s where the creativity comes in, or as, Stewart told Entertainment Weekly, “It’s hard to explain. I hope I don’t botch it, because it’s a really revolutionarily written script.” Married directorial duo Sam & Andy Zuchero are such a unit that they never want to be listed separately, so it sounds like they certainly know how to create a great love story. —CB

“Luther: Never Too Much”

Yes, one could argue the amount of documentary projects focusing on a singular artist has gotten out of hand, but Black music icon Luther Vandross has a story that fans have been dying to hear. Starting off as a background singer for everyone from David Bowie to Bette Midler, the vocalist ascended to the top of the R&B charts with timeless hits like “Never Too Much.”

But even though he showed his range by covering an eclectic group of songs, like The Carpenters’ “Superstar,” he struggled to be seen as more than a soul singer. Documentarian Dawn Porter, a two-time Sundance alum, takes a more detailed look back at Vandross’ life, unpacking the personal and professional challenges he overcame, and the ones that still followed him into his passing in 2005. —MJ

“The Mother of All Lies”

At the beginning of Asmae ElMoudir’s innovative hybrid documentary, which uses clay puppets fashioned by the filmmaker’s father to recreate incidents from her family’s past, we meet her formidable grandmother Zahra. She has long refused to allow any photographs in her home, preferring to keep the past under lock and key. Only after three years, when ElMoudir threatened to hire an actress to play her, did Zahra agree to play herself.

The film took eight years to finish; the filmmaker was determined to blow things up by bringing people in to interact with the dolls in their atelier three hours from Casablanca, to provide space away from their homes. The strategy is effective, as grown men are reduced to tears. One man recalls being thrown in a prison cell full of dead bodies during the 1981 Casablanca bread riots, among other horrors. Although the co-production between Morocco, Egypt, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia shared the documentary prize at Cannes, won the Un Certain Regard Best Director award, was shortlisted as the Moroccan Oscar entry, and nominated for Best Documentary at the Indie Spirits, the film still lacks distribution. —AT

“My Old Ass”

“My Old Ass”

Canadian actress and singer Megan Park hasn’t quite gotten the attention she deserves as a filmmaker, even though her outstanding feature directorial debut, the Jenna Ortega-starring school shooting drama “The Fallout,” won both the Grand Jury and Audience Awards at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival, but we’re guessing (hoping?) her sophomore film will ratchet up the accolades. 

Margot Robbie’s LuckyChap Entertainment and Indian Paintbrush produce the film, billed as a “modern coming-of-age comedy” that stars Maisy Stella (also a Canadian actress and singer!) as a young woman who is warned by her future self (please, God, let it be co-star Aubrey Plaza) not to fall in love. Easy, right? That’s what Stella’s character thinks, too — until she meets the very dude she warned herself about. It sounds like the precise kind of charming, quirky, and insightful comedy Sundance — and its audiences — adore. — KE


River Gallo’s 2019 short “Ponyboi,” which they wrote, directed, and starred in, was a first for an intersex performer playing an intersex character on screen. And you’ll recognize them from both “Love, Victor” and as a subject in last year’s “Every Body” documentary.

But beyond the representation landmark, the film was a tender and dreamy odyssey about a runaway sex worker named Ponyboi who dreamt of a rugged cowboy to take them away from their life and problems. Gallo reprised the character for the feature, but it now unfolds over the course of Valentine’s Day as Ponyboi escapes from the mob. Gallo recruited “Blast Beat” director Esteban Arango and a cast that also includes Dylan O’Brien and Murray Bartlett, all of which have the ingredients to help Gallo break out in an even bigger way. —BW


Yance Ford became the first openly trans director in Oscars history to be nominated for an Academy Award for 2017’s “Strong Island.” For that racial injustice documentary, Ford turned the camera on himself in examining the 1992 murder of a 24-year-old Black man who was also Ford’s brother. This raw and lucid journey looked at systemic racism through a personal lens, while eschewing the call-to-action tropes of similarly themed nonfiction portraits.

“Power” takes a broader look at the implications of power-driven law enforcement in the United States, and the history and evolution of policing. Along with Ford, the documentary is produced by Sweta Vohra, Jess Devaney, and Netsanet Negussie. Netflix also releases “Power.” —RL



35 years after taking Sundance by storm with “sex, lies, and videotape,” Steven Soderbergh is back in Park City (he had “The Girlfriend Experience” in 2009 at the festival), taking a risk with another self-financed project. He’s back in his experimental mode as well, staging the movie entirely in one location but also bringing in more traditional thriller vibes and genre trappings that should make it appealing to buyers. Soderbergh even blends known actors like Lucy Liu and Julia Fox alongside some newcomers and has reunited with the screenwriter on 2022’s “KIMI.” —BW

“A Real Pain”

Jesse Eisenberg brought his directorial debut “When You Finish Saving the World” to Sundance two years ago. The Julianne Moore-Finn Wolfhard comedic drama, based on Eisenberg’s own 2020 audio drama, proved slightly divisive but went on to play Cannes. Now he’s back in Park City with his second feature. And this time he’s starring in it, alongside Kieran Culkin.

They’ll be playing brothers on a trip to Poland to trace the footsteps of their grandmother, and along the way, they get drawn in to a tour about the Holocaust. Will Sharpe and Jennifer Grey are also on hand for this bittersweet comedy about remembering where you came from that’s, like “When You Finish Saving the World,” produced by Emma Stone and Dave McCary under their Fruit Tree banner. It’ll premiere in the U.S. Dramatic Competition, so it will be available for online viewing by the public near the end of the festival. —CB

“Sasquatch Sunset”

Nobody — but nobody — does it like the Zellner brothers, a pair of sibling iconoclasts who march to the wild beat of their own drum with such conviction that you can’t help but get on their rhythm and let the good times roll. Fresh off directing three episodes of “The Curse,” the “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter” filmmakers are back in the feature business with the kind of movie nobody else would think to make, which is the only kind of movie the Zellners do.

A gross, hilarious, and dementedly poignant ethnographic drama that follows a family of Sasquatches (played to perfection by Jesse Eisenberg, Riley Keough, Nathan Zellner, and Christophe Zacaj-Denek, all unrecognizable under their incredible costumes and makeup) as they roam the Pacific Northwest over the course of a very eventful year, “Sasquatch Sunset” may be entirely conveyed through errant grunts, failed sexual overtures, and prolific amounts of pissing and shitting, but it somehow manages to cohere into a heartbreaking — and all too human — story about a species oblivious to its own demise. —DE

“Sasquatch Sunset”Courtesy of Bleecker Street


Queer Finnish filmmaker Mikko Mäkelä (“A Moment in the Reeds”) writes and directs the sensitive queer portrait “Sebastian,” which takes an inside-out look at the exhilaration and stresses of sex work — and of stepping outside your bounds for the sake of your art. Ruaridh Mollica plays Max, a 25-year-old aspiring writer in London who adopts a double life as a sex worker as research for his first novel. But Max’s immersion brings with its own challenges and joys, including a rare connection with an older client (Jonathan Hyde).

Putting its reasoned approach to transgressive and explicit queer sexuality aside, Mäkelä’s film also illuminates the troubles of art-making in a world that only appreciates sensationalism, namely as Max’s project starts to spiral out of his hands and publishers expect more sordid material. “Sebastian” is a sales title in the World Cinema Dramatic section. —RL

“Skywalkers: A Love Story” 

It’s “Man on Wire” meets “Fire of Love.” “Skywalkers: A Love Story” combines the romance of two daredevils with the thrills of a heist film as this Russian couple illegally traverses rooftops and climbs spires in an attempt to scale a super skyscraper 2,230 feet above ground. Co-director Jeff Zimbalist already has a couple of Emmys and Peabodys to his name, but this one has the potential to be the breakout documentary from the festival. —BW

“Stress Positions”

Trans filmmaker and actress Theda Hammel, both in front of and behind the camera here, turns her lens on a recent slice of time many of us prefer covered up in a psychic corner somewhere: summer 2020 and specifically in New York City. The COVID lockdown and identity tensions collide in this dark comedy that crashes in on Terry Goon (comedian John Early), a gay man going through a divorce quarantining with his soon-to-be-ex-husband’s unkempt Brooklyn brownstone, while said ex is off sniffing ketamine in Berlin.

Meanwhile, also convalescing though much more literally in the home is Terry’s very pretty model nephew (Qaher Harhash), nursing a broken leg. And not far away in town, Hammel is Terry’s close friend, a boozing layabout whose live-in writer girlfriend recently stole her trans life story for her latest novel. Neon brings this frantic, chatty New York comedy to Sundance with distribution already in place and a few rising stars attached. —RL

“Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story”

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Christopher Reeve’s death — I know, the terrifyingly swift passage of time — after he spent the last nine years of his life spent paralyzed after a 1995 equestrian accident. And even more important: He inspired the world with his courage, offering hope and a model of perseverance to anyone with a disability.

In fact, Reeve probably did as much as anyone ever to increase the visibility of disability. In this new documentary, “McQueen” filmmakers Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui chart Reeve’s life, from his days at Juilliard to becoming the first big-screen Superman to his more challenging roles in films like “The Remains of the Day” to his accident and beyond. It’s even more personal because Reeve’s 31-year-old son Will Reeve, a correspondent for “Good Morning America,” is involved. —CB


For New Yorkers and pro-union supporters, it was one of those local news stories you followed daily and religiously. It was the ultimate David vs. Goliath story, as the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) at the JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island was trying to do the impossible and unionize an Amazon facility. The big personalities and fun-loving organizers (who will ever forget Chris Smalls, who is featured in this film) were so easy to root for, that the promise of a documentary showing the “up-close, in-the-trenches moments” behind the movement would be enough to make this a much-watch. That it is a film by two innovative nonfiction directors Brett Story (“The Hottest August”) and Stephen T. Maing (“Crime + Punishment”) promises this will be more than a glimpse behind-the-scenes. —CO

“Veni Vidi Vici”

“Veni Vidi Vici”

“Succession” by way of “The Most Dangerous Game”? Austrian filmmaking team Daniel Hoesl and Julia Niemann (“Davos”) reunite for this one-percenter social satire produced by their fellow countryman, the provocateur Ulrich Seidl (the “Paradise” trilogy), whose own films regularly rile up film festivals. In “Veni Vidi Vici,” billionaire family the Maynards are led by a patriarch who loves hunting — except it’s not animals he’s after. Here is a family that lives in a world of no consequences, as free to be kind as they are to be cruel and violent. This Machiavellian family portrait is currently a sales title among World Cinema Dramatic entries. —RL

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