LGBTQ+ highlights at Sundance 2022

UPDATE: January 5th 2022, Sundance announced that the Festival’s in-person Utah elements will be moving online. The Festival will begin Thursday January 20th 2022 as planned with screening schedule adjustments to be announced to account for an online only schedule. The seven satellite partners will host screenings for their local communities from January 28th-30th 2022.

With the full 2022 Sundance Film Festival slate of features, docs, shorts, series, VR, and AR works now announced, here we take a deep dive into the program to discover some of the LGBTQ+ highlights that we’re looking forward to catching at the upcoming online event running January 20th – 30th. Film descriptions courtesy of Sundance.

FEATURES:

Zackary Drucker appears in Framing Agnes by Chase Joynt, an official selection of the NEXT section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Ava Benjamin Shorr.

FRAMING AGNESDirected by Chase Joynt. World Premiere.

Agnes, the pioneering, pseudonymized transgender woman who participated in Harold Garfinkel’s gender health research at UCLA in the 1960s, has long stood as a figurehead of trans history. In this rigorous cinematic exercise that blends fiction and nonfiction, director Chase Joynt (No Ordinary Man) explores where and how her platform has become a pigeonhole. Framing Agnes endeavors to widen the frame through which trans history is viewed — one that has remained too narrow to capture the multiplicity of experiences eclipsed by Agnes’s. Through a collaborative practice of reimagination, an impressive lineup of trans stars (Zackary Drucker, Angelica Ross, Jen Richards, Max Wolf Valerio, Silas Howard, and Stephen Ira) take on vividly rendered, impeccably vintage reenactments, bringing to life groundbreaking artifacts of trans healthcare.

Joynt’s signature form-rupturing style radically reenvisions the imposition of the frame on the cultural memory of transness through his brilliantly crafted, communally driven excavation. This reclamation tears away with remarkable precision the myth of isolation as the mode of existence of transgender history-makers, breathing new life into a lineage of collaborators and conspirators who have been forgotten for far too long.

Premieres online January 22nd at 2:30pm MST. Click here for further screenings.

Dakota Johnson and Sonoya Mizuno appear in AM I OK? by Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by James Clark.

AM I OK?Directed by Stephanie Allynne and Tig Notaro. Written by Lauren Pomerantz. Cast: Dakota Johnson, Sonoya Mizuno, Jermaine Fowler, Kiersey Clemons, Molly Gordon, Sean Hayes. World Premiere. Fiction.

Lucy and Jane are the best of friends. They finish each other’s sentences, predict every detail of each other’s food order, and pretty much know everything about each other. But when Jane is promoted at work and agrees to move to London for her new position, Lucy confesses her deepest, long-held secret: She likes women, she has for a long time, and she’s terrified by this later-in-life realization. Suddenly, their friendship is thrown into chaos as the two choose different routes by which to navigate the unexpected changes in their lives.

Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne’s directorial feature debut is an exceptionally sweet and charming love story about two adults working through the complexities of self-discovery and personal awakening. Anchored by endearing performances and the undeniable chemistry between Dakota Johnson as Lucy and Sonoya Mizuno as Jane, AM I OK? is a relatable, poignant, and often humorous look at the transformative power of human vulnerability.

Premieres online on January 24th at 2pm MST. Click here for further screenings.

Teresa Sánchez and Tatín Vera appear in Dos Estaciones by Juan Pablo González, an official selection of the World Cinema: Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Gerardo Guerra.

DOS ESTACIONESDirected by Juan Pablo González. Written by Juan Pablo González, Ana Isabel Fernández, and Ilana Coleman. Cast: Teresa Sánchez, Tatín Vera, Rafaela Fuentes, and Manuel García-Rulfo. World Premiere.

Amid picturesque red dirt, blue sky, and green agave fields stands Dos Estaciones, a once-majestic tequila factory struggling to stay afloat. At the helm of the plant reigns Maria Garcia, heir to the family business and beacon to the townspeople she employs. To help oversee the company’s administration, Maria appoints an eager woman named Rafaela, whose vibrant presence generates much-needed hope in a home thirsty for a miracle. When a persistent plague and an unexpected flood cause irreversible damage, Maria is forced to do everything she can to save her community’s main source of economy and pride.

With a camera that floats effortlessly through the hills of Jalisco’s highlands, writer-director Juan Pablo González reflects on the values of ritual, tradition, and artistry as he lovingly captures the painstaking process of making an artisanal bottle of tequila. But it’s Teresa Sánchez’s standout performance that radiates the essence of the film: a strong-willed woman refusing to allow the impending loss of her legacy as foreign corporations dominate her industry.

Premieres online on January 24th at 12pm MST. Click here for further screenings.

Aamu Milonoff and Eleonoora Kauhanen appear in Girl Picture by Alli Haapasalo, an official selection of the World Cinema: Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Ilkka Saastamoinen.

GIRL PICTUREDirected by Alli Haapasalo. Written by Ilona Ahti and Daniela Hakulinen. Cast: Aamu Milonoff, Eleonoora Kauhanen, Linnea Leino. World Premiere.

Best friends Mimmi and Rönkkö work after school at a foodcourt smoothie kiosk, frankly swapping stories of their frustrations and expectations regarding love and sex. Volatile misfit Mimmi, unexpectedly swept up in the thrill of a new romance with Emma (a driven skater training for the European championships), struggles to adjust to the trust and compromise required by a lasting relationship. Meanwhile, the offbeat, indefatigable Rönkkö hits the teen party scene, stumbling through a series of awkward encounters with members of the opposite sex while hoping to find her own version of satisfaction.

Girl Picture manifests its uninhibited characters’ youthful energy and smartly centers the chemistry between its three terrific leads. Within the film’s tender, funny exploration of the fears and confusions of discovering one’s identity and sexuality, a refreshingly positive portrait of the power of female friendship emerges. Writers Daniela Hakulinen and Ilona Ahti consistently present the film’s teen protagonists as complex individuals, while director Alli Haapasalo, rather than aestheticizing the girls’ femininity, vibrantly depicts their trials and tribulations through their own eyes.

Premieres online on January 24th at 2:30 MST. Click here for further screenings.

Cícero Lucas appears in Marte Um (Mars One) by Gabriel Martins, an official selection of the World Cinema: Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Leonardo Feliciano.

MARTE UM (MARS ONE)Written and directed by Gabriel Martins. Cast: Rejane Faria, Carlos Francisco, Camilla Souza, and Cícero Lucas. World Premiere. DAY ONE.

The Martins family are optimistic dreamers, quietly leading their lives in the margins of a major Brazilian city following the disappointing inauguration of a far-right extremist president. A lower-middle-class Black family, they feel the strain of their new reality as the political dust settles. Tércia, the mother, reinterprets her world after an unexpected encounter leaves her wondering if she’s cursed. Her husband, Wellington, puts all of his hopes into the soccer career of their son, Deivinho, who reluctantly follows his father’s ambitions despite secretly aspiring to study astrophysics and colonize Mars. Meanwhile, their older daughter, Eunice, falls in love with a free-spirited young woman and ponders whether it’s time to leave home.

Writer-director Gabriel Martins weaves a tender and uplifting tapestry of a Brazilian family whose affection for each other is palpable in every frame, mining his delightful cast for authentic performances brimming with humor and charm. Delicately balancing its characters as they find themselves and their country at a crossroads, Marte Um (Mars One) invites us to dream beyond the stars.

Premieres online on January 20th at 9pm MST. Click here for further screenings.

Shery Bechara and Lilas Mayassi appear in Sirens by Rita Baghdadi, an official selection of the World CInema: Documentary Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Rita Baghdadi.

SIRENSWritten directed, and produced by Rita Baghdadi. World Premiere.

True to their name, Slave to Sirens — the first and only all-woman thrash metal band in the Middle East — are utterly magnetic. Amid a backdrop of political unrest and the heartbreaking unraveling of Beirut, five bandmates form a beacon of expression, resistance, and independence. Director Rita Baghdadi follows founders and guitarists Lilas Mayassi and Shery Bechara as their tenderness, and sometimes bitterness, for one another grows in ways both unexpected and deeply moving. Joined by vocalist Maya Khairallah, bassist Alma Doumani, and drummer Tatyana Boughaba, these women negotiate their emotional journeys through young adulthood in tumultuous circumstances with grace, raw passion, and a ferocious commitment to their art. Their grit is tested as they grapple with the complexities of friendship, sexuality, and the destruction around them.

Sirens is Rita Baghdadi’s third documentary feature. Acting as director, producer, and cinematographer, her singular vision is gentle yet emotionally powerful. Her film and its incredible subjects are inspirations to all who seek light through darkness.

Premieres online on January 23rd at 2:15pm MST. Click here for further screenings.

A still from Neptune Frost by Anisia Uzeyman and Saul Williams, an official selection of the Spotlight section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

NEPTUNE FROSTDirected by Anisia Uzeyman and Saul Williams. Written by Saul Williams. Cast: Cheryl Isheja, Elvis Ngabo “Bobo”, Bertrand Ninteretse “Kaya Free”, Eliane Umuhire, Rebecca Muciyo, Trésor Niyongabo. Fiction.

A cinematic vision born out of a war that forces its citizenry to inhabit other dimensions, Neptune Frost, which debuted to critical acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival, is a film that becomes richer with every rewatch, and is destined to occupy the upper echelons of the Afrofuturism canon.

If today’s world is fueled by technology, obsessed with the future, and articulated by a language that erases the power of Black people, then this poetic masterpiece of Afrofuturism invents a language that is vibrant and capacious enough to tell the complex story of how African miners digging for the rare earth minerals make up the digital network we currently depend on.

Neptune Frost is the stunning, explosively inventive first collaborative feature by Anisia Uzeyman and slam poet Saul Williams (who made his Sundance debut appearing in 1998’s Slam) that hacks the conventions of moviemaking to give us this musical science fiction hybrid set in Rwanda about a transcending connection between an intersex runaway, Neptune (played by both Cheryl Isheja and Elvis Ngabo “Bobo”), and a grieving coltan miner (Bertrand Ninteretse “Kaya Free”).

Premieres online on January 23rd at 12:30pm MST. Click here for further screenings.

SERIES:

John Early and Gordon Landenberger appear in My Trip to Spain by Theda Hammel, an official selection of the Indie Episodic Pilot Showcase at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Arlene Muller.

MY TRIP TO SPAINWritten and directed by Theda Hammel. Cast: John Early, Theda Hammel, Gordon Landenberger. World Premiere. Fiction.

Alexis, a successful trans woman, is heading to Spain for cosmetic surgery. Her embittered old friend Charlie arrives to house sit while she’s away. During the handoff, he tries his best to convince her to cancel, while simultaneously pursuing a sexual liaison with her brooding gardener Bruno.

Premieres online on January 20th 9am MST. Read more here.

NEW FRONTIER:

The 2022 edition of the festival’s New Frontier section will be a fully “biodigital showcase”, presented simultaneously on a bespoke WebXR spatialized virtual venue, The Spaceship, that has touchpoints in a newly conceived, free-to-access venue in Park City, The Craft. Ticketed New Frontier performances will also be presented in Park City’s iconic Egyptian Theatre, with simultaneous presentations on The Spaceship.

A still from ATUA by Tanu Gago, Jermaine Dean and Kat Lintott, an official selection of the New Frontier section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Imery Watson.

ATUALead Artists: Tanu Gago, Jermaine Dean, Key Collaborators: Kat Lintott, Carthew Neal, Nacoya Anderson. World Premiere.

If your gods could whisper in your ear, what would they say? ATUA reimagines the realm of Pacific gods in this sculptural AR experience that claims space for gender-diverse identities impacted by colonial first contact, and creates an intimate portal for users to see themselves reflected as vital to their cultural heritage and an intrinsic part of the cosmos. Enabled through handheld devices, the ATUA experience begins with Te Kore, the void – a space of abundance and limitless potential. Activated through the power of augmented reality, witness as Te Kore is manifested into the physical realm as a cosmic being, forged of ancestral memory and adorned in cultural navigation. Become immersed in an expansive tale of time and space, in this intimate user experience that reframes Pacific cosmology through a queer Indigenous lens.

SHORTS:

Zélia Duncan and Bruna Linzmeyer appear in A Wild Patience Has Taken Me Here by Érica Sarmet, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

A WILD PATIENCE HAS TAKEN ME HEREWritten and directed by Érica Sarmet. Cast: Zélia Duncan, Bruna Linzmeyer, Camila Rocha, Clarissa Ribeiro, Lorre Motta. North American Premiere.

Tired of loneliness, a middle-aged motorcyclist goes to a lesbian party for the first time. There she meets four young queers who share their home and affections. A wild patience has taken me here is an encounter of generations and a tribute to those who brought us here.

Premieres online January 20th at 9am MST. Click here for further screenings.

Zachary Quinto and Russell Kahn in Sam Max’s Chaperone, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

CHAPERONE – Written and directed by Sam Max. Cast: Zachary Quinto, Russell Kahn. U.S. Premiere.

An unnamed figure picks up a young man in his car. As the two drive together, and settle into an austere rental house in the country, the details of their arrangement become guttingly clear.

Premieres online January 20th at 9am MST. Click here for further screenings.

A still from Egúngún (Masquerade) by Olive Nwosu, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

EGÚNGÚN (MASQUERADE)Written and directed by Olive Nwosu. Cast: Sheila Chukwulozie, Teniola Aladese.

In search of healing, a young woman returns home to her birthplace: Lagos, Nigeria.

Premieres online January 20th at 9am MST. Click here for further screenings.

Emmanuel ‘DDm’ Williams appears in F^¢K ‘€M R!GHT B@¢K by Harris Doran, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Tyler W. Davis.

F^¢K ‘€M R!GHT B@¢KDirected by Harris Doran. Written by Harris Doran and Emmanuel ‘DDm’ Williams. Cast: Emmanuel ‘DDm’ Williams, Kara Young, Catherine Curtin. World Premiere.

A queer Black aspiring Baltimore rapper must outwit his vengeful day-job boss in order to avoid getting fired after accidentally eating an edible.

Premieres online January 20th at 9am MST. Click here for further screenings.

Sabri Sahafuddin appears in Makassar is a City for Football Fans by Khozy Rizal, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Rahman Saade.

MAKASSAR IS A CITY FOR FOOTBALL FANSWritten and directed by Khozy Rizal. Cast: Sabri Sahafuddin, Muh. Saleh Hasanuddin, Atdriansyah Arismunandar. North American Premiere.

In a city where men have to go crazy about football, Akbar has to pretend to love the game in order to prevent rejection from his new college friends.

Premieres online January 20th at 9am MST. Click here for further screenings.

Flavirina Nana appears in Prayers for Sweet Waters by Elijah Ndoumbe, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Elijah Ndoumbe.

PRAYERS FOR SWEET WATERSDirected by Elijah Ndoumbe. Lead Artists: Flavirina Nana, Gulam Petersen, and Wes Leal.

Stories intersect across vivid realities and dreamscapes to submerge us into the worlds of three transgender sex workers living in Cape Town, South Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premieres online January 20th at 9am MST. Click here for further screenings.

Cole Doman and Antonio Marziale appear in Starfuckers by Antonio Marziale, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Matthew Pothier.

STARFUCKERSWritten and directed by Antonio Marziale. Cast: Antonio Marziale, Cole Doman, Jonathan Slavin. World Premiere.

An intimate evening between a film director and an escort is disrupted when a familiar face arrives.

Premieres online January 20th at 9am MST. Click here for further screenings.

A still from Warsha by Dania Bdeir, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Shadi Chaaban.

WARSHA – Written and directed by Dania Bdeir. Cast: Khansa. World Premiere.

A Syrian migrant working as a crane operator in Beirut volunteers to cover a shift on one of the most dangerous cranes, where he is able to find his freedom.

Premieres online January 20th at 9am MST. Click here for further screenings.

Marisela Zumbado, Elaine Whae and Peter Kim appear in Work by April Maxey, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Melinda James.

WORKWritten and directed by April Maxey. Cast: Marisela Zumbado, Elaine Whae. World Premiere.

Unable to move on from a breakup, Gabi, a queer Latina freelance editor, impulsively drops into an old job at an underground lap dance party, where she unexpectedly runs into a friend from her past.

Premieres online January 20th at 9am MST. Click here for further screenings.

FROM THE COLLECTION – SUNDANCE INSTITUTE 40TH ANNIVERSARY SHORTS:

From the Collection shorts have all screened in Park City previously and the selection will play on demand on the Festival’s online platform through the Explorer Pass and available to all passholders from January 20th until January 30th.

A still from 575 Castro St. by Jenni Olsen, an official selection of the From the Collection section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

575 CASTRO ST.Directed by Jenni Olson. Non-Fiction. 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

Set to the original audiocassette recorded by Harvey Milk in November 1977 to be played “in the event of my death by assassination.”

Available to watch online from January 20th 9am MST. Read more here.

A still from Bugcrush by Carter Smith, an official selection of the From the Collection section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

BUGCRUSHDirected by Carter Smith. Fiction. 2006 Sundance Film Festival, Jury Prize Short Filmmaking.

A small-town high school loner’s fascination with a dangerously seductive new kid leads him into something much more sinister than he ever could have imagined.

Available to watch online from January 20th 9am MST. Read more here.

Maya Henry appears in For Nonna Anna by Luis De Filippis, an official selection of the From the Collection section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Kelly Jeffrey.

FOR NONNA ANNADirected by Cedar Sherbert. Non-Fiction. 2006 Sundance Film Festival.

A trans girl caring for her Italian grandmother assumes that her nonna disapproves of her. Instead, she discovers a tender bond in their shared vulnerability.

Available to watch online from January 20th 9am MST. Read more here.

A still from Greetings From Africa by Cheryl Dunye, an official selection of the From the Collection section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

GREETINGS FROM AFRICADirected by Cheryl Dunye. Fiction. 1995 Sundance Film Festival.

A candid view of the state of things in 1990s lesbian dating.

Available to watch online from January 20th 9am MST. Read more here.

Nancy Giles appears in Hold Up by Madeline Olnek, an official selection of the From the Collection section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

HOLD UPDirected by Madeleine Olnek. Fiction. 2006 Sundance Film Festival.

A robber is after more than money at a convenience store holdup.

Available to watch online from January 20th 9am MST. Read more here.

A still from La Corona (The Crown) by Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega, an official selection of the From the Collection section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

LA CORONA (THE CROWN)Directed by Isabel Vega and Amanda Micheli. Non-Fiction. 2008 Sundance Film Festival, Honorable Mention Short Filmmaking.

Female murderers compete ferociously for a beauty pageant crown in prison.

Available to watch online from January 20th 9am MST. Read more here.

Brett Barsky appears in Trevor by Peggy Rajski, an official selection of the From the Collection section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

TREVORDirected by Peggy Rajski. Fiction. 1995 Sundance Film Festival, Honorable Mention Short Filmmaking.

A poignant and liberating look at a 13-year-old as he begins to discover his sexual identity.

Available to watch online from January 20th 9am MST. Read more here.

Ticket packages go on sale on Friday December 17th at 10am MT, with single film tickets going on sale on Thursday January 6th at 10am MT. For more details head to Festival.Sundance.org.

UPDATE: January 5th 2022, Sundance announced that the Festival’s in-person Utah elements will be moving online. The Festival will begin Thursday January 20th 2022 as planned with screening schedule adjustments to be announced to account for an online only schedule. The seven satellite partners will host screenings for their local communities from January 28th-30th 2022.

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