Sundance Film Festival 2018: From Robin Williams docu to Counterfeit Kunkoo, here's all you need to know

FP Staff

January 16, 2018 15:31:41 IST

Documentaries about Robin Williams, Gloria Allred and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a Lizzie Borden film with Kristen Stewart and Debra Granik’s long-awaited follow up to Winter’s Bone are among the 110 features set to premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

The Sundance Institute announced the diverse lineup of films in November for the annual festival organised by Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute. Festival programmers say the films this year will highlight the stories of alternative voices and points of view, including films by and about women, and the experience of African-American men in the world right now.

The African-American experience

Idris Elba (R) directing Aml Ameen in Yardie. Twitter/@AmlAmeen

Idris Elba (R) directing Aml Ameen in Yardie. Twitter/@AmlAmeen

The African-American experience is highlighted in competition films like Blindspotting, a buddy comedy starring Daveed Diggs, and Sorry to Bother You, a dystopian tale about a telemarketer with Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson, both of whom are Oakland-based filmmakers. The festival had premiered Jordan Peele’s Get Out in a special screening last year.

Actors turn directors

Actor Idris Elba also makes his feature directorial debut with Yardie, a thriller about a boy who sees his brother’s assassination in 1973 Jamaica. Ethan Hawke (BLAZE), Paul Dano (Wildlife) and Rupert Everett (The Happy Prince) are among other actors who directed films that will premiere at the festival.

'Women-centric' films

Sundance Film Festival unveiled its 2018 line-up of movies and documentaries with many featuring female leads. These include Eighth Grade, a coming-of-age story of a 13-year-old girl, The Kindergarten Teacher starring Maggie Gyllenhaal as a teacher helping a young prodigy, The Tale starring Laura Dern as a woman examining her sexual history, Lizzie, a psychological thriller about Lizzie Borden starring Kristen Stewart and Chloe Sevigny as Borden, The Miseducation of Cameron Post — about a girl who is forced to go to therapy for her sexuality — starring Chloe Grace Moretz and based on the coming-of-age teen novel of the same name by Emily M Danforth. Star Wars: The Last Jedi star Daisy Ridley also stars in Ophelia, a female-focused spin on Hamlet.

Debra Granik, whose last feature Winter’s Bone earned Jennifer Lawrence her first Oscar nomination and ostensibly catapulted her to stardom, is back with her first narrative feature in over seven years — an untitled film about a father and daughter living in a secluded nature reserve in Oregon starring Ben Foster.

Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind premieres on 19 January. Twitter/@RWFansite

Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind premieres on 19 January. Twitter/@RWFansite

Other films profile actress and activist Jane Fonda (In Five Acts), US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG), women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred (Seeing Allred), Japanese visual artist Yayoi Kusama (Kusama – Infinity) and Yazidi ISIS survivor Nadia Murad (On Her Shoulders).

Documentaries

The domestic documentary competition includes a timely film called Seeing Allred, which focuses on the Gloria Allred’s life and taking on both Bill Cosby and Donald Trump. Others include a Hal Ashby portrait, Hal, and a look at the deportation of 1,200 immigrant miners living at the Arizona-Mexico border in 1917 (Bisbee ’17).

Documentary premieres, a section that has in the past unveiled An Independent Sequel and Going Clear, has a film about the life of Robin Williams told mostly through his own voice, Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind and a Fred Rogers documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor.

India at Sundance

Reema Sengupta's Counterfeit Kunkoo is the only film (feature or short) representing India at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

The has been selected in the new Indie Episodic section, which showcases independent work in TV and serialised storytelling. Counterfeit Kunkoo, a project of Catnip Productions, deals with issues of housing discrimination, marital rape and reclaiming one's sexuality. The 15-minute film is an intimate perspective on the idiosyncrasies that come with the misogyny that seeps into our everyday lives.

A still from Counterfeit Kunkoo. Twitter/@ReemaSengupta

A still from Counterfeit Kunkoo. Twitter/@ReemaSengupta

"It feels really surreal that the world is taking notice of a small indie short film we made hustling in some claustrophobic lanes of Mumbai. We are the official selection in the International Narrative Shorts competition. Sundance will be the world premiere of the short film," Sengupta told IANS. "We're absolutely thrilled! This is a huge deal! Sundance is one of the largest and most selective film festivals in the world. This year, out of 9000 short film entries, they chose less than 1 per cent - only 69 shorts. Also, Counterfeit Kunkoo is the first Indian fiction short to be an official selection at Sundance in 15 years. We're also the second Indian fiction short to get selected to Sundance ever. The pride of representing India is immense, as is the responsibility."

Free Screenings

Six free weekend screenings have been scheduled during the festival: 20-21 January and 26-27 January at the Park Avenue Theatre in Park City, and 21 and 25 January at the Tower Theatre in Salt Lake City. The films to be screened will be decided based on the festival buzz and announced accordingly.

Addressing the sexual misconduct crisis

Sundance Film Festival organisers say they are working with law enforcement to make the annual independent film showcase in January a safer place in the wake of sexual harassment accusations sweeping Hollywood. Movie producer Harvey Weinstein, formerly a major force in independent films and a staple at Sundance, was accused by dozens of women of sexual harassment or assault over the past three decades. Some of the accusations against Weinstein involve incidents said to have taken place at the 10-day Sundance festival in Park City, Utah. Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper said they plan to publicly share a code of conduct previously only seen by staff and volunteers. The festival also plans to host multiple panels about sexual misconduct and misuse of power.

When and where is it?

The 2018 Sundance film festival will run from 18-28 January in Park City, Utah.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Jan 16, 2018 15:31 PM