A Queer Guide to Sundance 2018 - Films, Reviews, Winners, and more

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The Sundance Film Festival quicks off on Thursday, January 18 so for all of you following the festival we have a special Queer Guide to the films and filmmakers at one of the world's largest film festivals.  To view the entire Sundance lineup, click here.


And That's A Wrap for Sundance 2018 with 5 Queer-themed Films Take Home Awards including the Grand Jury Prize!

  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post - Winner of Grand Jury Prize (US Dramatic Competition)
  • And Breathe Normally - Winner of Best Directing Award - Ísold Uggadóttir (World Cinema Dramatic Competition)
  • We The Animals - Winner (Tie) - Winner of Next Innovator Award
  • Would You Look At Here - Winner of Short Film Jury Award (International Fiction)
  • For Nonna Anna - Winner - Short Film Special Jury Award

Acquisitions - All the queer films picked up for distribution so far...


 

Narrative Feature Films

 
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And Breathe Normally, Directed by Isold Uggadóttir
Iceland/Sweden/Belgium, 95 mins
World Cinema Dramatic Competition

On Reykjanes peninsula in Iceland, Lara trains as a border patrol officer at the Keflavík airport. Despite struggling financially and fighting personal demons, she’s a devoted mother to her young son, Eldar. One day on the job, Lara spots a suspicious passport, resulting in Adja, a female refugee from Guinea-Bissau, being detained. Days go by as Adja is held in a state of limbo, and the two women’s paths continue to cross in the small town. Despite resentment and cultural differences, the women—neither with obvious paths in life—find a unique bond that rests on a moment when Lara is faced with a crucial decision. (Sundance)

Reviews

 
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Assassination Nation, Directed by Sam Levinson
USA, 110 mins
Midnight

High school senior Lily and her crew of besties live in a haze of texts, posts, selfies, and chats—just like the rest of us. So when a provocateur starts posting details from the private digital lives of everyone in their small town of Salem, the result is a Category 5 shitstorm. We’re talking browser histories, direct messages, illegal downloads, secret text chains, and way, way, way worse. People get angry. Like, “rampaging murder posse” angry. And Lily finds herself right in the middle. (Sundance)

Reviews

 
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The Catcher Was a Spy, Directed by Ben Lewin
USA, 94 mins
Premieres

In the midst of World War II, major league catcher Moe Berg (Paul Rudd) is drafted to join a new team: the Office of Security Services (the precursor to the CIA). No ordinary ballplayer, the erudite, Jewish Ivy League graduate speaks nine languages and is a regular guest on a popular TV quiz show. Despite his celebrity, Berg is an enigma—a closeted gay man with a knack for keeping secrets. The novice spy is quickly trained and sent into the field to stop German scientist Werner Heisenberg before he can build an atomic bomb for the Nazis. (Sundance)

Reviews

 
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Colette, Directed by Wash Westmoreland
United Kingdom, 111 mins
Premieres

Colette (played with sumptuous feistiness by Keira Knightley) arrives from the countryside as a young bride to Willy—an older, notorious literary entrepreneur—and she is immediately swept into flamboyant, libertine society. At Willy’s prompt, she takes pen to paper and invents the loosely autobiographical Claudine novels, which take Paris by storm. The character Claudine becomes a veritable pop-culture icon, but Colette does not, since Willy takes authorial credit. To reclaim her literary voice, Colette must set out for new transgressive adventures, sans Willy. (Sundance)

Reviews

 
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Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot, Directed by Gus Van Sant
USA, 113 mins
Premieres

John Callahan has a lust for life, a knack for off-color jokes, and a drinking problem. When an all-night bender ends in a catastrophic car accident, John wakes up to the reality of being confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. In his journey back from rock bottom, his honesty and wicked sense of humor turn out to be his saving grace, as he makes friends with an oddball AA group, finds that love is not beyond his reach, and develops a talent for drawing irreverent and sometimes shocking cartoons. (Sundance)

NOTE: Native Arkansan Beth Ditto is one of the stars of Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot.

Reviews

 
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The Happy Prince, Directed by Rupert Everett
Germany/Belgium/Italy,105 mins
Premieres

Rupert Everett writes, directs, and stars in his moving debut feature, detailing the final three years (1897–1900) in the life of Oscar Wilde.Sequestered at a remote seaside hotel in France by faithful friends (played by Edwin Thomas and Colin Firth), a buoyant Wilde is soon restlessly traversing Europe under assumed names, beset by familiar, warring impulses: to reunite with his estranged wife (a radiant Emily Watson) or his former lover Sir Alfred "Bosie" Douglas (Colin Morgan), whose former provocations brought Wilde to ruin. Fading health, dwindling funds, and still more betrayals await Wilde, who relentlessly seeks love and creative outlets in whatever taverns and alleyways still welcome him. It’s here that Everett particularly shines, evoking the spirit of the once-celebrated fallen genius who finds divine light even in the darkest corners of life. (Sundance)

Reviews

 
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Hearts Beat Loud, Directed by Brett Haley
USA, 97 mins
Premieres

As single dad Frank (Nick Offerman) prepares to send hardworking daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons) off to UCLA pre-med, he also reluctantly realizes he has to accept that his own record-store business is failing. Hoping to stay connected with his daughter through their shared love of music, he urges her to turn their weekly “jam sesh” into an actual band. Channeling Sam’s resistance into a band name, they unexpectedly find We’re Not a Band’s first song turning into a minor Spotify hit, and they use their songwriting efforts to work through their feelings about the life changes each of them faces. (Sundance)

NOTE: Adopted Arkansan Ted Danson is one of the stars of Hearts Beat Loud.

Reviews

 
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A Kid Like Jake, Directed by Silas Howard
USA, 92 mins
Premieres

Loving parents Alex (Claire Danes) and Greg (Jim Parsons) are faced with the daunting task of applying to prestigious kindergartens in NYC for their 4-year-old, Jake. Competing in this cutthroat environment means focusing on what is most unique about a child, forcing Alex and Greg to consider Jake’s love of dresses, fairy tales, and princesses. These qualities never seemed unusual before, but when Jake begins to act out in preschool, Alex and Greg—suddenly at odds—must find a way to support Jake’s identity without losing each other in the process. (Sundance)

Reviews

 
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Lizzie, Directed by Craig William Macneill
USA, 105 mins
U.S. Dramatic Competition

1892: Headstrong Lizzie Borden (Chloë Sevigny) lives with her wealthy father, stepmother, and sister in Fall River, Massachusetts. Lizzie lovingly tends to her pet pigeons and is occasionally allowed out of her dimly lit, foreboding house, but otherwise lives under strict rules set by her domineering father. When her family hires live-in maid Bridget (Kristen Stewart), an uneducated Irish immigrant, the two find kindred spirits in one another. Their friendship begins with covert communication and companionship that blossoms into an intimate relationship. Meanwhile, tension builds in the Borden household, and Lizzie’s claustrophobic existence becomes increasingly more oppressive and abusive, leading to its inevitable breaking point. (Sundance)

Reviews

 
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The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Directed by Desiree Akhavan
USA, 90 mins
U.S. Dramatic Competition

Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) looks the part of a perfect high school girl. But after she’s caught with another girl in the back seat of a car on prom night, Cameron is quickly shipped off to a conversion therapy center that treats teens “struggling with same-sex attraction.” At the facility, Cameron is subjected to outlandish discipline, dubious “de-gaying” methods, and earnest Christian rock songs—but this unusual setting also provides her with an unlikely gay community. For the first time, Cameron connects with peers, and she’s able to find her place among fellow outcasts. (Sundance)

Reviews

 
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Skate Kitchen, Directed by Crystal Moselle
USA, 106 mins
NEXT

Introverted 18-year-old skateboarder Camille lives on Long Island with her single mother. After a startling injury, she promises her mother she’ll hang up her board, but the pull to skate is too strong. On Instagram she discovers "The Skate Kitchen,” a subculture of girls whose lives revolve around skating, and bravely seeks them out. The sexually fluid, rambunctious big-city girls quickly adopt the naive Camille as part of their gang, and soon they’re featuring her in trick videos and exposing her to a wild life she’s never experienced. For the first time, she feels acceptance and support from other girls. However, she soon learns the complexity of friendship when she befriends a boy from a rival group of skaters. (Sundance)

Reviews

 
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We the Animals, Directed by Jeremiah Zagar
USA, 90 mins
NEXT

Us three—brothers—kings inseparable. Manny, Joel, and Jonah tear their way through childhood. Their Ma and Paps have a volatile love that makes and unmakes the family many times over, leaving the boys fending for themselves. As their parents rip at one another, Manny and Joel ultimately harden and grow into versions of their father. With the triumvirate fractured, Jonah—the youngest, the dreamer—becomes increasingly aware of his desperate need to escape. Driven to the edge, Jonah embraces an imagined world all his own. (Sundance)

Reviews

 
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White Rabbit, Directed by Daryl Wein
USA, 71 mins
NEXT

Recently single Korean-born LA artist Sophia devotes herself to her public performance art, whether it’s a provocative Korean perspective in the park on the LA Riots or face planting into cheesy puffs for Instagram. To pay the bills, she does odd jobs on TaskRabbit. When a filmmaker reaches out to discuss an acting role in his film, she is excited to explore the opportunity, only to realize he can’t distinguish between her art and her real-life identity. Meanwhile, when a stranger makes Sophia late for a TaskRabbit gig, she loses her temper with her, only to run into her repeatedly and discover a strong connection. Sophia develops feelings for her, but it’s unclear if her love is reciprocated. (Sundance)

Reviews

 

Documentary Feature Films

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Believer, Directed by Don Argott
USA, 110 mins
Doc Premieres

Dan Reynolds was just a normal Mormon kid from Utah. He did everything by the book, and his faith in God, family, and community held firm—even when he became a giant rock star. As the creative force behind the wildly successful band Imagine Dragons, Dan comes to a crossroads when he witnesses fellow members of the Mormon church spurned due to their sexual orientation. Since 2008, teen suicide rates in Utah have skyrocketed, which many people attribute to the Mormon church’s official stance regarding same-sex relationships. With an unrelenting desire to engender positive change within their tribe, Dan and openly gay former Mormon Tyler Glenn, lead singer of Neon Trees, decide to create LoveLoud, a music and spoken-word festival designed to spark dialogue between the church and members of the LGBTQ community. (Sundance)

Reviews

 
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Quiet Heroes, Directed by Jenny Mackenzie, Jared Ruga, & Amanda Stoddard
USA, 69 mins
Doc Premieres

Dr. Kristen Ries, an infectious-disease specialist, arrived in Salt Lake City on June 5, 1981—the same day the Centers for Disease Control first published a report on what would become known as AIDS. By the next year, Ries would encounter her first patient with the disease. Because of stigma and fear surrounding both AIDS and homosexuality, Ries and her eventual partner, physician assistant Maggie Snyder, became the only medical professionals in Utah willing to treat the growing number of people with HIV/AIDS. These patients, facing certain death in the early years of the epidemic, often had to keep their status a secret or risk ostracism from their families, workplaces, and religious communities. Chronicles of the AIDS epidemic have tended to focus on cities with large gay populations, like New York and San Francisco. Quiet Heroes instead reveals the impact of the disease on a less obvious, more conservative location—one that perhaps better mirrored the rest of the country at the time—as it shares the evocative story of these unheralded caregivers and their patients. (Sundance)

 
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Studio 54, Directed by Matt Tyrnauer
USA, 98 mins
Doc Premieres

Studio 54 was the epicenter of ’70s hedonism—a monumental magnet for beautiful stars, casual sex, and mounds of cocaine, a den of excess that defined its own rules and enshrined the ostracized, queer, and fabulous. Matt Tyrnauer (Valentino: The Last Emperor) chronicles the rise and fall of this nightclub’s founders: two best friends from Brooklyn, Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell, who conquered New York City only to have it crumble before their eyes.With rare footage, a parade of colorful patrons and staff, and brutally honest interviews with Schrager himself, Studio 54 is a riveting study in contradictions. Inside the palatial theatre-turned-disco, the crowd reveled in an atmosphere of total acceptance, whether drag queen, octogenarian, waiter, or celebrity. Yet outside, a frenzied, excluded mob yearned to be noticed by the doorman and ushered into the sanctum of pulsating love. Schrager and Rubell’s glittering creation sprang from carefree naivete and unbridled ambition—yet those same instincts managed to destroy it. This bracing story reveals how even the most culturally potent and transformative phenomena can be vulnerable and fleeting. (Sundance)

Reviews

 
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Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist, Directed by Lorna Tucker
United Kingdom, 78 mins
World Cinema Documentary Competition

Punk. Icon. Activist. The undisputed Queen of Fashion Dame Vivienne Westwood is known for her subversive and original take on British fashion. Told in her own words, Westwood is a sharp-witted look into Vivienne’s creative process and her life’s journey from 1970s punk protests to fierce independent global figure. Westwood sits alongside Gucci, Dior, and McQueen—but only Vivienne still owns and runs her empire. Today she fights to maintain her brand’s integrity and legacy as it expands to open flagship stores in fashion capitals Paris and New York in the face of global consumerism. (Sundance)

Reviews

 

Narrative Short Films

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For Nonna Anna, Directed by Luis De Filippis
Canada, 14 mins

A trans girl cares for her Italian grandmother. She assumes that her nonna disapproves of her—but instead discovers a tender bond in their shared vulnerability. (Sundance)

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Manivald, Directed by Chintis Lundgren
Estonia, Croatia, Canada, 13 mins

Manivald is still living at home with his retired mother. The day before his 33rd birthday a hot young wolf named Toomas comes to fix their washing machine. A love triangle develops, which leaves Manivald increasingly frustrated. (Sundance)

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Men Don’t Whisper, Directed by Jordan Firstman
USA, 22 mins

After being emasculated at a sales conference, gay couple Reese and Peyton set out to do the most masculine thing they can think of—sleep with some women. (Sundance)

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PLUR, Directed by Julie Fliegenspan
USA, 2 mins

A claymation adaptation of a series of actual voicemails received after making out with someone at a rave.(Sundance)

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Set Me as a Seal Upon Thine Heart, Directed by Omer Tobi
Israel, 13 mins

A gay sauna encounter between a young man and an older man becomes an unexpected lesson about love. (Sundance)

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Would You Look at Her, Directed by Goran Stolevski
Macedonia, 19 mins

A hardheaded tomboy spots the unlikely solution to all of her problems in an all-male religious ritual. (Sundance)

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Wren Boys, Directed by Harry Lighton
United Kingdom, 11 mins

On the day after Christmas, a Catholic priest from Cork drives his nephew to prison. (Sundance)

Documentary Short Films

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I Like Girls, Directed by Diane Obomsawin
Canada, 8 mins

Charlotte, Mathilde, Marie, and Diane reveal the nitty-gritty about their first loves, sharing funny and intimate tales of one-sided infatuation, mutual attraction, erotic moments, and fumbling attempts at sexual expression. (Sundance)

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Judith Loves Martha, Directed by Anna Gaskell
USA, 10 mins

A wily 87-year-old New Yorker, Judith Godwin is one of very few women of the Abstract Expressionist Movement. A creative awakening in college led her to produce the brilliant, gestural paintings for which she is renowned. (Sundance)

Indie Episodic

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The Mortified Guide, Directed by Michael Mayer
USA, 45 mins

Real people share their childhood writings and art in front of total strangers, offering a comedic look at the biggest issues of adolescence, from first loves to fitting in. Based on the Mortified stage shows, books, podcast, and film, this uproarious docuseries celebrates the awkward insecurities that shaped us all. Utilizing a mix of live storytelling, animation, and documentary footage, each episode tackles a singular topic. We are thrilled to premiere one episode of the series, titled “The Mortified Guide to Growing Up.” (Sundance)

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This Close, Directed by Andrew Ahn
USA, 50 mins

Best friends Kate and Michael, who are deaf, try to balance their personal and professional lives. She's newly engaged and struggles to grow at work, while he battles self-destructive writer's block after having his heart broken. As they tackle their own issues, their friendship is put to the test. Based on a short-form series that premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, we are excited to present the first two episodes of This Close, set to air in February on Sundance Now. (Sundance)

Special Events

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RuPaul’s Drag Race: A Retrospective of the Cultural Phenomenon

For each of the past nine seasons, RuPaul’s Drag Race has showcased the quest to find America’s next drag superstar. But what began as an unabashed celebration of the art of drag soon became a cultural sensation, as poignant and uplifting stories about the human experience surfaced throughout. From intimately personal revelations to unprecedented representation, and from fierce confidence to touching support, the show is still a beacon for all those who dare to be themselves. Its ebullient and Emmy-winning host, RuPaul Charles, reminds us that it’s possible to find love for ourselves—and others—despite any adversity that life throws our way. In Ru’s words, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” Can I get an amen up in here?

On the verge of the show’s monumental 10th season, the Festival is proud to present a retrospective of this groundbreaking series, featuring incredible moments from the show and a panel discussion with RuPaul; World of Wonder’s Randy Barbato, Fenton Bailey, and Tom Campbell; and executive producer Pamela Post. (Sundance)

Retrospective/Collection

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An Evening with Todd Haynes

In the 30 years since he burst onto the indie scene, Todd Haynes has established himself as one of most distinctive voices in American cinema. Haynes’s extraordinary body of work, which reflects his ongoing collaboration with longtime producer Christine Vachon, includes Poison, Safe, Velvet Goldmine, Far From Heaven, I’m Not There., Carol, the mini-series Mildred Pierce, 2017’s Wonderstruck, as well as the shorts Superstar and Dottie Gets Spanked.

Since his earliest films, Haynes has demonstrated a penchant for provocative, idiosyncratic stories, formal ingenuity, and rich aesthetic stylization. And yet his films are grounded in a fascination with people—their contradictions, depths of character, emotional confinement, and relationship to the complex dynamics of gender, race, and sexuality. Haynes’s creative spirit epitomizes the independent film movement that he helped launch and continues to sustain.

In a special conversation with Haynes and Vachon, moderated by Richard Linklater, we look back to the founding years of the American independent cinema movement through Haynes’s early work, including clips from notable, recently restored gems. (Sundance)