The Sundance Film Festival will return in January 2023 with a fresh crop of films and the ability to screen them in-person for the first time in three years. This year’s programming is as varied and diverse as any year at Sundance, but some themes have started to emerge. This year’s festival will screen 101 feature-length films, most of which will be screened for the very first time at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. The festival will kick off with an event, Opening Night: A Taste of Sundance honoring director Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), writer/director Nikyatu Jusu (Nanny) and comic/host W. Kamau Bell (United Shades of America), and the stars will keep shining throughout the festival.
Two documentaries featuring musical icons will screen the first night of the festival. It’s Only Life After All turns the camera on folk rock duo Indigo Girls, showing the “obstacles, activism and life lessons of two queer friends who never expected to make it big.” Little Richard: I Am Everything is about, you guess it, music legend Little Richard, utilizing both archival and performance footage. Other star-studded documentaries in this year’s lineup include two hollywood origin stories, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie and Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields, and another documentary about a young adult author, not a star per-say but a household name, Judy Blume Forever.
The stars turned out for this year’s feature films as well. In the Premieres category, Anne Hathaway stars as a prison counselor in Eileen, set in the 1960s. Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays a novelist whose marriage is in trouble after she learns her husband’s true feelings about her latest book in You Hurt My Feelings. In the Midnight category, Infinity Pool is a horror/thriller about a resort with a dark and violent secret, starring Alexander Skarsgård and Mia Goth. In the U.S. Dramatic Competition, Daisy Ridley of Star Wars fame stars in Sometimes I Think About Dying as a woman whose new relationship is impeded by her fixation on death. Emilia Clarke and Chiwetel Ejiofor star in sci-fi feature, The Pod Generation, set in a future where couples can “share” their pregnancy via pods. The Pod Generation is also the winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, an annual award for the “most outstanding depiction of science and technology in a feature film.”
Coming off the success of CODA, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2021 and won the Academy Award for Best Picture, actress Emilia Jones is starring in two Sundance films this year. In Cat Person (based on the 2017 short story of the same name published in The New Yorker), Jones works at a movie theater, where she meets and begins a flirtatious relationship with an older man. Fairyland, also starring Jones, focuses on the relationship between a father and his daughter, set in a tumultuous San Francisco during the 70s and 80s. It’s based on the memoir Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father by Alysia Abbott.
Fairyland is one of quite a few films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival that center on the tension and trauma of intergenerational relationships and the evolving roles people play in the relationship as internal conflict and outside challenges arise. See: A Thousand And One (U.S. Dramatic Competition), The Persian Version (U.S. Dramatic Competition), Bad Behaviour (World Cinema Dramatic Competition), MAMACRUZ (World Cinema Dramatic Competition), Scrapper (World Cinema Dramatic Competition), In My Mother’s Skin (Midnight), Run Rabbit Run (Midnight), A Little Prayer (Premieres), Jamojaya (Premieres).
There is also at least one film in the lineup this year that has pretty prominent Utah ties. Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out will premiere in the Kids category. The was directed by Studio C alumnus Jake Van Wagoner and filmed in Utah. One of the other films in the Kids category, Blueback (a film about a mother-daughter relationship strengthened by their shared desire to protect the oceans), is the 2023 Sundance Film Festival’s Salt Lake City Opening Night Gala Film, premiering at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center on January 20.
The 2023 Festival will take place January 19–29, 2023 with events and screenings in Park City, Salt Lake City and Sundance Resort. A selection of films will also be available online, January 24–29, 2023. In-Person Ticket Packages are currently on sale through December 16, Online Ticket Packages go on sale December 13 at 10 a.m. MT, and single film tickets go on sale January 12 at 10 a.m. MT. Purchase tickets online at festival.sundance.org.
Call for volunteers
The Sundance Film Festival is also looking for volunteers to help with both the in-person and online aspects of the festival. Volunteer perks include seeing films, swag, meals and, of course, getting to be in the middle of the action. The hourly commitment for volunteers is of 32 hours or more, fulfilling a variety of tasks like ushering in a theater, helping with ticketing and helping people get around the festival. In-person volunteers will be able to choose whether they will be working in Salt Lake City, Park City or at Sundance Resort. You can apply to volunteer at the Sundance Film Festival at the Sundance Institute website.