For film fanatics, myself included, this is indeed the most wonderful time of the year, complete with a pleasantly overwhelming assortment of future inspirations. In a statement released alongside Wednesday’s unveiling, Sundance Institute founder and president Robert Redford pointed to the continued expansion of the fest’s original mission, which is to champion independent filmmakers and platform their work.
“From the first edition in 1985, Sundance Film Festival has aimed to provide a space to gather, celebrate, and engage with risk-taking artists that are committed to bringing their independent visions to audiences — the Festival remains true to that goal to this day,” Redford said in an emailed statement. “It continues to evolve, but its legacy of showcasing bold work that starts necessary conversations continues with the 2024 program.”
This year’s Sundance, which marks the 40th edition of the Utah-set festival, begins on Jan. 18 with a special Opening Night Gala event presented by Chase Sapphire. Announced Wednesday was a lineup of 91 projects selected from more than 17,000 total submissions, a record high for the longstanding festival. Per reps, an astounding 94 percent of this year’s lineup are worldwide premieres; meanwhile, an equally astounding 40 percent of this year's projects are from first-time filmmakers.
Highlights from the projects selected for inclusion in this year's festival include the Pedro Pascal-starring Freaky Tales directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden. The film is comprised of “four interconnected tales,” including one focused on “teen punks” forced to defend themselves against a group of Nazi skinheads. Pascal is joined in the film by Jay Ellis, Normani Kordei Hamilton, Dominique Thorne, Ben Mendelsohn, and Ji-Young Yoo.
Other highlights include Love Me, a post-extinction love story starring Kristen Stewart and Steven Yeun, and the documentary Lolla: The Story of Lollapalooza. The latter is a three-part limited series focused on the 1991 launch of the famed music festival and features Chance the Rapper, Flea, Ice-T, Trent Reznor, Tom Morello, and more.
Sundance 2024 kicks off on Jan. 18 and runs through Jan. 28, with screenings taking place in Park City and Salt Lake City. Packages and passes are currently available here, with single tickets set to launch on Jan. 11.
Earlier this year, I had the privilege of attending the 2023 edition of the festival as a guest of Chase Sapphire, resulting in a pair of pieces that are always worth your time. See those here and here, respectively.