Next month’s Sundance film festival will see a return to in-person premieres with new films featuring Anne Hathaway, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
The Utah-based festival has been online only since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and while this year’s was set to be a physical-digital hybrid, the rise of the Omicron variant meant that it was cancelled at the last minute. There will still be a digital component to 2023’s edition but a large number of films will only be available to watch on the ground.
The Lady Macbeth director William Oldroyd will unveil his much-anticipated follow-up, the psychological thriller Eileen. Set in the 1960s, it stars Thomasin McKenzie as a secretary who develops a friendship with a glamorous new counselor at the prison where she works, played by Anne Hathaway. But things take a dark turn when a secret is revealed. It’s based on the highly acclaimed book by Otessa Moshfegh, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize.
Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor will also head to the mountains with the sci-fi comedy The Pod Generation, which sees him and Emilia Clarke star as a couple using technology to start a family with an artificial womb.
Nicole Holofcener, whose 2006 film Friends With Money opened the festival that year, will return with You Hurt My Feelings, a comedy that reteams her with Enough Said’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The Veep star will play a novelist whose life is thrown into disarray when she overhears her husband criticising her writing.
An adaptation of Kristen Roupenian’s viral short story Cat Person will also premiere, starring Coda’s Emilia Jones and Succession’s Nicholas Braun. “They’ve kind of turned it into a thriller,” Jones said in an interview last year. Brandon Cronenberg will also return to the festival after 2020’s Possessor with the gory resort-set horror Infinity Pool starring Alexander Skarsgård and Mia Goth. The Thoroughbreds director Cory Finley will premiere his new film Landscape With Invisible Hand starring Tiffany Haddish about a future in which aliens take over and control the world’s economy.
Films in competition include bodybuilding drama Magazine Dreams starring Jonathan Majors, Sometimes I Think About Dying starring Daisy Ridley as a suicidal office worker and relationship thriller Fair Play led by Bridgerton’s Phoebe Dynevor.
The festival will also see a large selection of major documentaries premiere. Victim/Suspect is focused on women making claims of sexual assault but being mistreated and misrepresented by the system, Food and Country is about the broken food system in the US and Plan C centres on a grassroots organisation aiming to help women gain access to abortion pills . There will also be documentaries focused on figures including Little Richard, Michael J Fox, Judy Blume and Brooke Shields.
This year will see 101 films premiere with 53% of them directed by one or more film-makers who identify as women and 45% from film-makers of colour.
“Maintaining an essential place for artists to express themselves, take risks, and for visionary stories to endure and entertain is distinctly Sundance,” said Robert Redford, the founder and president of the Sundance Institute. “The festival continues to foster these values and connections through independent storytelling. We are honored to share the compelling selection of work at this year’s festival from distinct perspectives and unique voices.”
The Sundance film festival will take place on 19-29 January.