The Sundance Institute has just announced the lineup of feature films for the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, running January 19th–29th in person in Park City, Salt Lake City, and the Sundance Resort, with select titles available nationwide online January 24th – 29th via the festival’s digital platform. Of the 101 features revealed so far, 20% are by filmmakers who identify as LGBTQ+ according to statistics released today by Sundance. Following the previously announced From the Collection premiere of the uncensored director’s cut of Gregg Araki’s cult classic The Doom Generation, here we take a first look by section at some of the other queer highlights in the 2023 program.
birth/rebirth / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Laura Moss, Screenwriter: Brendan J. O’Brien, Producers: Mali Elfman, David Grove Churchill Viste) A single mother and a childless morgue technician are bound together by their relationship to a little girl they have reanimated from the dead. Cast: Marin Ireland, Judy Reyes, A.J. Lister, Breeda Wool. World Premiere. Fiction. DAY ONE.
My Animal / Canada (Director: Jacqueline Castel, Screenwriter: Jae Matthews, Producers: Andrew Bronfman, Michael Solomon) Heather, an outcast teenage goalie in a small northern town, falls for newcomer Jonny, an alluring but tormented figure skater. As their relationship deepens, Heather’s growing desires clash with her darkest secret, forcing her to control the animal within. Cast: Bobbi Salvör Menuez, Amandla Stenberg, Stephen McHattie, Heidi von Palleske, Cory Lipman, Joe Apollonio. World Premiere. Fiction.
Cassandro / U.S.A (Director and Screenwriter: Roger Ross Williams, Screenwriters: David Teague, Julián Herbert, Producers: Gerardo Gatica, Todd Black, David Bloomfield, Ted Hope, Julie Goldman) Saúl Armendáriz, a gay amateur wrestler from El Paso, rises to international stardom after he creates the character Cassandro, the “Liberace of Lucha Libre.” In the process, he upends not just the macho wrestling world, but also his own life. Cast: Gael García Bernal, Roberta Colindrez, Perla De La Rosa, Joaquín Cosío, Raúl Castillo. World Premiere. Fiction.
Drift / France, U.K, Greece (Director and Producer: Anthony Chen, Screenwriters: Susanne Farrell, Alexander Maksik, Producers: Peter Spears, Emilie Georges, Naima Abed, Cynthia Erivo, Solome Williams) Jacqueline, a young refugee, lands alone and penniless on a Greek island where she tries to survive, then to cope with her past. While gathering her strength, she begins a friendship with a rootless tour guide and together they find the resilience to forge ahead. Cast: Cynthia Erivo, Alia Shawkat, Ibrahima Ba, Honor Swinton Byrne, Zainab Jah, Suzy Bemba. World Premiere. Fiction.
Eileen / U.S.A (Director and Producer: William Oldroyd, Screenwriters and Producers: Luke Goebel, Ottessa Moshfegh, Producers: Anthony Bregman, Stefanie Azpiazu, Peter Cron) Set during a bitter 1964 Massachusetts winter, young secretary Eileen becomes enchanted by the glamorous new counselor at the prison where she works. Their budding friendship takes a twisted turn when Rebecca reveals a dark secret – throwing Eileen onto a sinister path. Based on Ottessa Moshfegh’s award-winning novel. Cast: Thomasin McKenzie, Anne Hathaway, Shea Whigham, Marin Ireland, Owen Teague. World Premiere. Fiction.
Fairyland / U.S.A (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Andrew Durham, Producers: Sofia Coppola, Megan Carlson, Siena Oberman, Greg Lauritano, Laure Sudreau) Set against the backdrop of San Francisco’s vibrant cultural scene in the 1970s and 80s, chronicling a father-daughter relationship as it evolves from an era of bohemian decadence to the heartbreaking AIDS crisis. Based on the bestselling memoir Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father by Alysia Abbott. Cast: Scoot McNairy, Emilia Jones, Geena Davis, Cody Fern, Adam Lambert, Maria Bakalova. World Premiere. Fiction.
It’s Only Life After All / U.S.A (Director and Producer: Alexandria Bombach, Producers: Kathlyn Horan, Jess Devaney, Anya Rous) Blending 40 years of home movies, film archives, and intimate present-day vérité, a poignant reflection from Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of iconic folk rock duo Indigo Girls. A timely look into the obstacles, activism, and life lessons of two queer friends who never expected to make it big. World Premiere. Documentary. DAY ONE.
Passages / France (Director and Screenwriter: Ira Sachs, Screenwriter: Mauricio Zacharias, Producers: Saïd Ben Saïd, Michel Merkt) An intimate examination of attraction and emotional abuse between men and women. Cast: Franz Rogowski, Ben Whishaw, Adèle Exarchopoulos. World Premiere. Fiction.
Rotting in the Sun / U.S.A (Director and Screenwriter: Sebastian Silva, Screenwriter: Pedro Peirano, Producer: Jacob Wasserman) After filmmaker Sebastian Silva goes missing in Mexico City, social media celebrity Jordan Firstman begins searching for him, suspecting that the cleaning lady in Sebastian’s building may have something to do with his disappearance. Cast: Jordan Firstman, Catalina Saavedra, Sebastian Silva. World Premiere. Fiction.
U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
The Disappearance of Shere Hite / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Nicole Newnham, Producers: Molly O’Brien, R.J. Cutler, Elise Pearlstein, Kimberley Ferdinando, Trevor Smith) Shere Hite’s 1976 bestselling book, The Hite Report, liberated the female orgasm by revealing the most private experiences of thousands of anonymous survey respondents. Her findings rocked the American establishment and presaged current conversations about gender, sexuality, and bodily autonomy. So how did Shere Hite disappear? World Premiere. Available online.
Going Varsity in Mariachi / U.S.A. (Directors: Alejandra Vasquez, Sam Osborn, Producers: James Lawler, Luis A. Miranda, Jr., Julia Pontecorvo) In the competitive world of high school mariachi, the musicians from the South Texas borderlands reign supreme. Under the guidance of coach Abel Acuña, the teenage captains of Edinburg North High School’s acclaimed team must turn a shoestring budget and diverse crew of inexperienced musicians into state champions. World Premiere. Available online.
Little Richard: I Am Everything / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Lisa Cortés, Producers: Robert Friedman, Liz Yale Marsh, Caryn Capotosto) This celebration of Little Richard reveals the Black queer origins of rock ’n’ roll, finally exploding the whitewashed canon of American pop music. Through archival and performance footage, the revolutionary icon’s life unspools with all of its switchbacks and contradictions. World Premiere. Available online. DAY ONE.
The Stroll / U.S.A. (Directors: Kristen Lovell, Zackary Drucker, Producer: Matt Wolf) The history of New York’s Meatpacking District, told from the perspective of transgender sex workers who lived and worked there. Filmmaker Kristen Lovell, who walked “The Stroll” for a decade, reunites her community to recount the violence, policing, homelessness, and gentrification they overcame to build a movement for transgender rights. World Premiere. Available online.
U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Fancy Dance / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Erica Tremblay, Screenwriter: Miciana Alise, Producers: Deidre Backs, Heather Rae, Nina Yang Bongiovi, Tommy Oliver) Following her sister’s disappearance, a Native American hustler kidnaps her niece from the child’s white grandparents and sets out for the state powwow in hopes of keeping what is left of their family intact. Cast: Lily Gladstone, Isabel Deroy-Olson, Ryan Begay, Shea Whigham, Audrey Wasilewski. World Premiere. Available online.
Mutt / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, Producers: Alexander Stegmaier, Stephen Scott Scarpulla, Jennifer Kuczaj, Joel Michaely) Over the course of a single hectic day in New York City, three people from Feña’s past are thrust back into his life. Having lost touch since his transition, he navigates the new dynamics of old relationships while tackling the day-to-day challenges of living life in between. Cast: Lío Mehiel, Cole Doman, MiMi Ryder, Alejandro Goic. World Premiere. Available online.
The Persian Version / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Maryam Keshavarz, Producers: Anne Carey, Ben Howe, Luca Borghese, Peter Block, Corey Nelson) When a large Iranian-American family gathers for the patriarch’s heart transplant, a family secret is uncovered that catapults the estranged mother and daughter into an exploration of the past. Toggling between the United States and Iran over decades, mother and daughter discover they are more alike than they thought. Cast: Layla Mohammadi, Niousha Noor, Kamand Shafieisabet, Bella Warda, Bijan Daneshmand, Shervin Alenabi. World Premiere. Available online.
Shortcomings / U.S.A. (Director: Randall Park, Screenwriter: Adrian Tomine, Producers: Margot Hand, Randall Park, Hieu Ho, Jennifer Berman, Howard Cohen, Eric d’Arbeloff) Following Ben, Miko, and Alice as they navigate a range of interpersonal relationships and traverse the country in search of the ideal connection. Cast: Justin H. Min, Sherry Cola, Ally Maki, Debby Ryan, Tavi Gevinson, Sonoya Mizuno. World Premiere. Available online.
KOKOMO CITY / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: D. Smith, Producers: Harris Doran, Bill Butler) Four Black transgender sex workers explore the dichotomy between the Black community and themselves, while confronting issues long avoided. World Premiere. Documentary. Available online.
Joyland / Pakistan (Director and Screenwriter: Saim Sadiq, Producers: Apoorva Guru Charan, Sarmad Sultan Khoosat, Sabiha Sumar, Lauren Mann) As the Ranas, a happily patriarchal joint family, yearn for the birth of a baby boy to continue the family line, their youngest son secretly joins an erotic dance theater and falls for an ambitious trans starlet. Their impossible love story illuminates the entire family’s desire for a sexual rebellion. Cast: Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gilani, Sania Saeed, Salmaan Peerzada. Fiction. Available online.
WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Slow / Lithuania, Spain, Sweden (Director and Screenwriter: Marija Kavtaradze, Producer: Marija Razgute) Dancer Elena and sign language interpreter Dovydas meet and form a beautiful bond. As they dive into a new relationship, they must navigate how to build their own kind of intimacy. Cast: Greta Grinevičiūtė, Kęstutis Cicėnas. World Premiere. Available online.
INDIE EPISODIC PROGRAM
The Night Logan Woke Up / Canada, France. (Director Xavier Dolan) The Larouche family of Lac Saint-Jean, Quebec, are all grown up, struggling with relationships, bills, and sobriety but seemingly a united force. Then their mother dies, their estranged sister Mimi reappears to embalm her, and the reading of the will sets off a series of shocking revelations going back decades. Weaving moments from 30 years ago with their present-day ramifications, what unfolds is an intricate string of secrets that have haunted and shaped this family irrevocably. In adapting Michel Marc Bouchard’s stage play, Xavier Dolan punctuates gritty realism and humane vulnerabilities with sporadic spectral flourishes. The Night Logan Woke Up is a mystery where the clues, no matter how compelling, never count more than the lives they affect. Cast: Xavier Dolan, Patrick Hivon, Eric Bruneau, Julie Le Breton, Magalie Lépine-Blondeau, Anne Dorval. Available online.
Explore the full festival lineup at festival.sundance.org. Film synopses courtesy of Sundance.
The 2023 Sundance Film Festival runs January 19–29, 2023, in person in Park City, Salt Lake City, and the Sundance Resort, along with a selection of films available online across the US January 24–29, 2023. In-Person Ticket Packages are currently on sale through December 16th, 2022, Online Ticket Packages go on sale December 13th at 10am MT, and single film tickets go on sale January 12th, 2023 at 10am MT.