Sundance 2022: Festival Watchlist
A ten day festival like the Sundance offers an almost embarrassment of riches. It's an opportunity for film lovers to access both domestic and international work featuring a broad range of artists. Some will ultimately secure distribution and find their way to the general public in theaters and streaming. This year's lineup is made up of 82 features, 6 indie eposodics, and 15 new frontier debuts. You can find MTR's full watchlist below. And a few highly anticipated projects, premiering early in the festival, here.
Emergency | Director Carey Williams
Sundance Synopsis: Straight-A college student Kunle and his laid-back best friend, Sean, are about to have the most epic night of their lives. Determined to be the first Black students to complete their school’s frat party legendary tour, the friends strap in for their ultimate assignment, Solo cups in hand. But a quick pit stop at home alters their plans when they find a white girl passed out on the living room floor. Faced with the risks of calling the police under life-threatening optics, Kunle, Sean, and their Latino roommate, Carlos, must find a way to de-escalate the situation before it’s too late.
Fresh | Director: Mimi Cave
Sundance Synopsis: Frustrated by scrolling dating apps only to end up on lame, tedious dates, Noa takes a chance by giving her number to the awkwardly charming Steve after a produce-section meet-cute at the grocery store. During a subsequent date at a local bar, sassy banter gives way to a chemistry-laden hookup, and a smitten Noa dares to hope that she might have actually found a real connection with the dashing cosmetic surgeon. She accepts Steve’s invitation to an impromptu weekend getaway, only to find that her new paramour has been hiding some unusual appetites.
892 | Director: Abi Damaris Corbin
Sundance Synopsis: Living in a cheap motel in Atlanta and separated from his wife and child, former U.S. Marine veteran Brian Easley is desperate. Driven to the brink by forces beyond his control, the soft-spoken, kind man decides to rob a bank and hold hostages with a bomb. As police, media, and family members descend on the bank and Brian, it becomes clear he’s not after money — he wants to tell his story and have what is rightfully his, even if it costs him his life.
Call Jane | Director: Phyllis Nagy
Sundance Synopsis: Chicago, 1968. As a city and the nation are poised on the brink of violent political upheaval, suburban housewife Joy leads an ordinary life with her husband and daughter. When Joy’s pregnancy leads to a life-threatening condition, she must navigate a medical establishment unwilling to help. Her journey to find a solution to an impossible situation leads her to the “Janes,” a clandestine organization of women who provide Joy with a safer alternative — and in the process, change her life.
Speak No Evil | Director: Christian Tafdrup
Sundance Synopsis: While on holiday in Tuscany, a Danish family becomes fast friends with a fellow traveling family from the Netherlands. Months later, when an invitation arrives encouraging the Danish family to visit the Dutch in their countryside home, they don’t hesitate to plan a quick getaway. Free-spirited and adventurous, the Dutch welcome the Danes for the weekend, channeling an energy that rouses their visitors as drinks flow and they start to let loose. But what begins as an idyllic reunion soon takes a turn as the hosts increasingly test the limits of their houseguests. Now the Danes find themselves caught in a web of their own politeness, trying to understand whether their new friends are merely eccentric... or hiding something more sinister.
Alice | Director: Krystin Ver Linden
Sundance Synopsis: Alice (Keke Palmer) spends her days enslaved on a rural Georgia plantation restlessly yearning for freedom. After a violent clash with plantation owner Paul (Jonny Lee Miller), Alice flees through the neighboring woods and stumbles onto the unfamiliar sight of a highway, soon discovering that the year is actually 1973. Rescued on the roadside by a disillusioned Black activist named Frank (Common), Alice uncovers the lies that have kept her enslaved and the promise of Black liberation.
Dual | Director: Riley Stearns
Sundance Synopsis: Recently diagnosed with a rare and incurable disease, Sarah is unsure how to process the news. To help ease her friends’ and family’s impending loss, she is encouraged to participate in a simple futuristic cloning procedure called “Replacement,” after which Sarah’s last days will be spent teaching the clone how to live on as Sarah once she’s gone. But while it takes only an hour for a clone to be made, things become significantly more challenging when that double is no longer wanted.
Resurrection | Director: Andrew Semans
Sundance Synopsis: Margaret (Rebecca Hall) leads a successful and orderly life, perfectly balancing the demands of her busy career and single parenthood to her fiercely independent daughter Abbie. But that careful balance is upended when she glimpses a man she instantly recognizes, an unwelcome shadow from her past. A short time later, she encounters him again. Before long, Margaret starts seeing David (Tim Roth) everywhere — and their meetings appear to be far from an unlucky coincidence. Battling her rising fear, Margaret must confront the monster she’s evaded for two decades who has come to conclude their unfinished business.
God's Country | Director: Julian Higgins
Sundance Synopsis: Sandra (Thandiwe Newton) is very tired. It’s been years of trying (and failing) to please her recently deceased mother, while also navigating the challenging politics and power dynamics at the college where she teaches. And then there is the racism, sexism, and toxic masculinity she encounters wherever she goes. But it’s a confrontation with two hunters trespassing on her property that ultimately tests Sandra’s self-restraint, pushing her grief and mounting anger to their limits. God’s Country examines one woman’s grieving process and determination to be taken seriously amid her refusal to surrender to the confines of society.
Marte Um (Mars One) | Director: Gabriel Martins
Sundance Synopsis: 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.
Honk For Jesus, Save Your Soul | Director: Adamma Ebo (Producer Adanne Ebo)
Sundance Synopsis: As the proud first lady of a Southern Baptist megachurch, Trinitie Childs carries immense responsibility on her shoulders. Her church, Wander To Greater Paths, once served a congregation in the tens of thousands, but after a scandal involving her husband, Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs, forced the church to close temporarily, Trinitie is struggling to manage the aftermath. Now Trinitie and Lee-Curtis must rebuild their congregation and reconcile their faith by all means necessary to make the biggest comeback that commodified religion has ever seen.
My Old School |Director: Jono McLeod
Sundance Synopsis: In 1993, 16-year-old Brandon Lee enrolled at Bearsden Academy, a secondary school in a well-to-do suburb of Glasgow, Scotland. What followed over the next two years would become the stuff of legend. Brandon had been privately tutored in Canada while he accompanied his mother, an opera diva, on tour before her tragic death. The preternaturally bright student surprised teachers by blazing toward his goal of entering medical school, displaying a wealth of knowledge beyond his years. Brandon found friends despite his initial awkwardness. He took bullied students under his wing, introduced classmates to seminal retro bands, and even starred in the school's production of South Pacific. But then his unbelievable secret was revealed.
Master | Director: Mariama Diallo
Sundance Synopsis: At an elite New England university built on the site of a Salem-era gallows hill, three women strive to find their place. Gail Bishop (Regina Hall), just instated as “Master,” a dean of students, discovers what lies behind the school’s immaculate facade; first-year student Jasmine Moore (Zoe Renee) confronts a new home that is cold and unwelcoming; and literature professor Liv Beckman (Amber Gray) collides with colleagues who question her right to belong. Navigating politics and privilege, they encounter increasingly terrifying manifestations of the school’s haunted past… and present.
Nanny | Director: Nikyatu Jusu
Sundance Synopsis: Aisha, an undocumented Senegalese immigrant, lands a job as a nanny of a wealthy Manhattan couple. While she easily wins the affection of their young daughter Rose, she becomes a pawn in the couple’s facade of a marriage. The mother is as controlling as the dad is disillusioned and woke. Haunted by the absence of the young son she left behind in Senegal, Aisha hopes her new job will afford her the chance to bring him to the U.S. and share in the life she is piecing together. But as his arrival approaches, a supernatural presence begins to invade both her dreams and her reality.
After Yang | Director: Kogonada
Sundance Synopsis: When Yang — a lifelike, artificially intelligent android that Jake and Kyra buy as a companion for their adopted daughter — abruptly stops functioning, Jake just wants him repaired quickly and cheaply. But having purchased Yang “certified refurbished” from a now-defunct store, he’s led first to a conspiracy theorist technician and then a technology museum curator, who discovers that Yang was actually recording memories. Jake’s quest eventually becomes one of existential introspection and contemplating his own life, as it passes him by.
Leonor Will Never Die | Director: Martika Ramirez Escobar
Sundance Synopsis: Leonor Reyes was once a major player in the Filipino film industry after creating a string of successful action films, but now her household struggles to pay the bills. When she reads an advertisement looking for screenplays, Leonor begins tinkering with an unfinished script about the quest of young, noble Ronwaldo, forced to avenge his brother’s murder at the hand of thugs. While her imagination provides some escape from reality, she goes all-in after an accident involving a television knocks her out, sends her into a coma, and transports her inside the incomplete movie. Now Leonor can play out her wildest dreams firsthand and discover the perfect ending to her story.
You Won't Be Alone | Director: Goran Stolevski
Sundance Synopsis: In an isolated mountain village in 19th-century Macedonia, a young girl is taken from her mother and transformed into a witch by an ancient, shape-shifting spirit. Left to wander feral, the young witch beholds the natural world with curiosity and wonder. After inadvertently killing a villager and assuming her body, she continues to inhabit different people, living among the villagers for years, observing and mimicking their behavior until the ancient spirit returns, bringing them full circle.
Piggy | Director: Carlota Pereda
Sundance Synopsis: With the summer sun beating down on her rural Spanish town, Sara hides away in her parent’s butcher shop. A teenager whose excess weight makes her the target of incessant bullying, she flees a clique of capricious girls who torment her at the town pool, only to stumble upon them being brutally kidnapped by a stranger, who drives off with them in his van. When the police begin asking questions, Sara keeps quiet. Intrigued by the stranger — an interest that’s mutual — she’s torn between revealing the truth and protecting the man who saved her.
Aftershock | Director: Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee
Sundance Synopsis: An alarmingly disproportionate number of Black women are failed every year by the U.S. maternal health system. Shamony Gibson and Amber Rose Isaac were vibrant, excited mothers-to-be whose deaths due to childbirth complications were preventable. Now, their partners and families are determined to sound a rallying cry around this chilling yet largely ignored crisis.
Descendant | Director: Margaret Brown
Sundance Synopsis: History exists beyond what is written. The Africatown residents in Mobile, Alabama, have shared stories about their origins for generations. Their community was founded by enslaved ancestors who were transported in 1860 aboard the last known and illegal slave ship, Clotilda. Though the ship was intentionally destroyed upon arrival, its memory and legacy weren’t. Now, the long-awaited discovery of the Clotilda’s remains offers this community a tangible link to their ancestors and validation of a history so many tried to bury.
Riotsville, USA | Director: Sierra Pettengill
Sundance Synopsis: RIOTSVILLE, USA is a poetic and furious reflection on the reaction of a nation’s citizens and institutions to the rebellions of the late 1960s. This artful, riveting documentary consists entirely of archival footage that was shot by the United States military or appeared on broadcast television.
All That Breathes | Director: Shaunak Sen
Sundance Synopsis: Brothers Saud and Nadeem were raised looking at a sky speckled with black kites, watching as relatives tossed meat up to these birds of prey. Muslim belief held that feeding the kites would expel troubles. Now, birds are falling from the polluted, opaque skies of New Delhi and the two brothers have made it their life’s work to care for the injured black kites.
Nothing Compares | Director: Kathryn Ferguson
Sundance Synopsis: Since the beginning of her career, Sinéad O’Connor has used her powerful voice to challenge the narratives she was surrounded by while growing up in predominantly Roman Catholic Ireland. Despite her agency, depth, and perspective, O’Connor’s unflinching refusal to conform means that she has often been patronized and unfairly dismissed as an attention-seeking pop star.
Sirens | Director: Rita Baghdadi
Sundance Synopsis: 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.
Tantura | Director: Alon Schwarz
Sundance Synopsis: The tape-recorded words “erase it” take on new weight in the context of history and war. When the state of Israel was established in 1948, war broke out and hundreds of Palestinian villages were depopulated in its aftermath. Israelis know this as the War of Independence. Palestinians call it “Nakba” (the Catastrophe). In the late 1990s, graduate student Teddy Katz conducted research into a large-scale massacre that had allegedly occurred in the village of Tantura in 1948. His work later came under attack and his reputation was ruined, but 140 hours of audio testimonies remain.
The Mission | Director: Tania Anderson
Sundance Synopsis: Offering an unprecedented level of access into the journeys of missionaries, The Mission follows four American teens as they embark on one of the most religiously significant, ideologically challenging, and culturally unifying experiences in their community: their mission to Finland. As these young people reckon with the weight of their ambassador status, the film explores the varying ways in which their work shapes how they view themselves, the world, and their theology. Steadfast in its commitment to their perspectives, this film reveals the individuals behind the suits and nametags that have come to signify the work of Mormon missionaries globally. Through snubs on street corners, difficult Finnish lessons, triumphant baptisms, tearful goodbyes, and riotous welcomes home, The Mission is a full-bodied, complex presentation of missionary life.
TikTok, Boom. | Director: Shalini Kantayya
Sundance Synopsis: Dissecting one of the most influential platforms of the contemporary social media landscape, TikTok, Boom. examines the algorithmic, sociopolitical, economic, and cultural influences and impact of the history-making app. This rigorous exploration balances a genuine interest in the TikTok community and its innovative mechanics with a healthy skepticism around the security issues, global political challenges, and racial biases behind the platform. A cast of Gen Z subjects, helmed by influencer Feroza Aziz, remains at its center, making this one of the most needed and empathetic films exploring what it means to be a digital native.
We Need to Talk About Cosby | Director: W. Kamau Bell
Sundance Synopsis: During his nearly 50 years in show business, Bill Cosby became one of the most recognizable Black celebrities in America. With a career that included an astronomical rise on television in the mid-1960s; work in children’s programming and education; legendary stand-up performances and albums; and an epoch-defining hit sitcom, The Cosby Show, Cosby was a model of Black excellence for millions of Americans. But now, thanks to the brave and painful testimonies of dozens of women, we know there was a sinister reality to the man once extolled as “America’s Dad.”
Watching Sundance Films Yourself
Remember, this year's Sundance is completely virtual. That means you can purchase tickets to individual films (premier or a second screening) for $20.00 on the tickets page.
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