movies sold at Sundance 2016

These are the movies sold at Sundance 2016. Many of the films that premiere at the Sundance Film Festival are hoping to attract a distributor and find a bigger audience, be it in theaters around the country or distributed through digital VOD. Throughout the festival we will be reporting on all of the movies sold at Sundance 2016. This list should help give you an idea about which movies may someday be available to you either theatrically of VOD. We’re including photo stills from each of the films along with all of the relevant information (director, cast, how much it sold for, the plot synopsis and more).  Hit the jump to find out which movies sold at Sundance 2016.

Latest update: Netflix grabs SVOD rights to Belgica (from Broken Circle Breakdown director Felix van Groeningen) and White Girl (starring Homeland‘s Morgan Saylor); Amazon Prime picks up NUTS!, a documentary about the stranger-than-fiction story of John Romulus Brinkley.

Previous update: Miramax/Roadshow acquire Obama love story Southside With You, Magnet buys horror film The Eyes of My Mother.

Sundance Film Festival 2016

Movies Sold At Sundance 2016 Distributor Breakdown

  • A24: Morris From America, Swiss Army Man
  • Amazon: Weiner-Dog, Manchester By The Sea, Complete Unknown, Love & Friendship, Gleason, Author: The JT Leroy Story, NUTS! (sVOD)
  • Beta Cinema: Sand Storm
  • Blumhouse: Sleight (with WWE Films)
  • Brainstorm Media: Resilience
  • Fox Searchlight: The Birth Of A Nation
  • IFC: Weiner
  • Lionsgate: Indignation
  • Magnet: The Eyes of My Mother
  • Magnolia: LO AND BEHOLD: Reveries Of The Connected World, The Lovers and the Despot
  • Miramax: Southside With You
  • Netflix: Tallulah (sVOD), Fundamentals of Caring (sVOD), Under the Shadow, Audrie & Daisy, Brahman Naman, Belgica (sVOD), White Girl (sVOD)
  • Oscilloscope Laboratories: The Fits
  • Paramount/MTV: The Intervention, Goat
  • Roadside: Love & Friendship (theatrical), Southside With You
  • Showtime: Weiner (television)
  • Sony Pictures Classics: The Hollars, The Eagle Huntress, Eat That Question — Frank Zappa in His Own Words, Equity
  • The Orchard: Hunt For The Wilderpeople, Life Animated, Christine
  • Universal: Frank And Lola
  • WWE Films: Sleight (with Blumhouse)

These Movies Sold at Sundance 2016

We will be updating this post with 2016 Sundance Film Festival acquisitions throughout the festival. The post is organized from newest to oldest, with the latest acquisitions on the top.

Belgica

Belgica

AcquiredFebruary 17
By: Netflix
Purchase Price:
Director: Felix van Groeningen
Starring: Stef Aerts, Tom Vermeir, Charlotte Vandermeersch, Hélène Devos
Other Info: Global exclusive SVOD rights

Plot Synopsis:

Belgica is the story of two brothers: charismatic and temperamental Frank—a husband, father, and an incurable womanizer—and his ambitious-but-green, one-eyed younger brother Jo, who owns a dive bar called Belgica. When Frank helps Belgica become the place to be for great music, beautiful people, and debauched fun, the brothers become business partners to expand the bar. Belgica quickly becomes bigger and better, and the brothers seem to have discovered the formula for success—until they learn that running a business on this scale is more complicated than they realized, and their relationship and personal lives suffer.

Writer/director Felix van Groeningen (who directed the Academy Award–nominated Broken Circle Breakdown) bathes the screen in golden hues and kinetic energy, creating an immersive experience of the excess and euphoria of being in the hottest nightclub in town. Set to the eclectic sounds of acclaimed Belgian band Soulwax, this precisely crafted, fast-paced tale shows the brothers’ intoxicating ascent to success—and the crash and burn that follows. Belgica is about living in the moment and realizing that moving forward is not only inevitable but necessary.

White Girl

White Girl

AcquiredFebruary 17
By: Netflix
Purchase Price:
Director: Elizabeth Wood
Starring: Morgan Saylor, Brian ‘Sene’ Marc, Justin Bartha, Chris Noth, India Menuez, Adrian Martinez
Other Info: SVOD only — theatrical distributor TBD
Plot Synopsis:

The cross section between New York’s mean streets and its gentrified alcoves makes for potent social satire in Elizabeth Wood’s tough and exhilarating debut. Equipped with platinum blonde hair and a winning smile, college girl Leah (Morgan Saylor) seeks out pleasure in any form. She has two weeks before fall semester, and in between getting high with her roommate and snorting lines with her boss, she finds time to hit it off with a handsome, young Puerto Rican drug dealer named Blue. Within days, the two are selling dime bags to her affluent white colleagues, collecting fast cash, and living the high life. But their euphoria comes to a grinding halt once Blue is arrested and Leah’s left with a hefty amount of his coke. Does she sell it to save him or use it herself?

Shot with a sharp eye for New York City, White Girl thrashes through an increasingly high-stakes game of hedonism where unspoken socio-economic tensions coupled with a blatant disregard for consequence converge into a shocking commentary on today’s youth culture. Saylor and Wood are forces to be reckoned with, unleashing a torrent of vulnerability and confidence that will leave audiences enticed and unsettled.

NUTS!

NUTS!

AcquiredFebruary 17
By: Amazon
Purchase Price:
Director: Penny Lane
Starring: Pope Brock, Gene Fowler, James Reardon, Megan Seaholm, Gene Tognacci, Thom Stylinski
Other Info: SVOD only — theatrical distributor TBD
Plot Synopsis:

NUTS! recounts the true story of John Romulus Brinkley, a small-town Kansas doctor who discovers in 1917 that he can cure impotence by transplanting goat testicles into men. And that’s just the tipping point in this stranger-than-fiction tale. With the balls of a P.T. Barnum, the gonads of goats, and the wishful dreams of flaccid men, Brinkley amassed a fortune, was almost elected Governor of Kansas, invented junk mail and the infomercial, and built the world’s most powerful radio station. By the time all of the twists and turns of Brinkley’s story are revealed, NUTS! certainly earns its title.

Utilizing hilariously cheeky animation and the writings of Brinkley himself (whose dubious memoir provides the narration for this true story), filmmaker Penny Lane injects her audacious tale with humor and empathy. We’re reminded that our love of (and need for) compelling narratives is exactly what makes us so endlessly susceptible to being conned. But don’t be fooled here; Penny Lane is the real deal.

The eyes of my mother

The Eyes Of My Mother

AcquiredFebruary 12
By: Magnet
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: Nicolas Pesce
Starring:  Kika Magalhães, Will Brill, Paul Nazak, Flora Diaz, Clara Wong, Diana Agostini
Other Info: Worldwide rights

Plot Synopsis:

In their secluded farmhouse, a mother, formerly a surgeon in Portugal, teaches her daughter, Francisca, to understand anatomy and be unfazed by death. One afternoon, a mysterious visitor horrifyingly shatters the idyll of Francisca’s family life, deeply traumatizing the young girl, but also awakening some unique curiosities. Though she clings to her increasingly reticent father, Francisca’s loneliness and scarred nature converge years later when her longing to connect with the world around her takes on a distinctly dark form.Shot in crisp black and white, the haunting, and at times disturbing, visual compositions of The Eyes of My Mother evoke its protagonist’s isolation and illuminate her deeply unbalanced worldview. Genre-inflected, but so strikingly unique as to defy categorization, writer/director Nicolas Pesce’s assured feature debut allows us only an elliptical presence in Francisca’s world, guiding our imaginations to follow her into peculiar, secret places.

Southside With You

Southside With You

AcquiredFebruary 12
By: Miramax/Roadside
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: Richard Tanne
Starring: Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers star as Michelle and Barack
Other Info: North American rights

Plot Synopsis:

One Chicago afternoon in 1989, a Harvard Law summer associate named Barack Obama finagled a tête-à-tête with an attorney from the prestigious corporate law firm where they both worked. Her name was Michelle Robinson, and his pretense was a friendly outing to a community organizer meeting. In Michelle’s eyes, it was most certainly not a date. But as ice cream gives way to a stop at the Art Institute, and the community gathering conveniently becomes a chance for Barack to lecture brilliantly on activism, it’s stunningly obvious to Michelle that this cigarette-smoking smooth talker is desperately trying to woo her. As their epic encounter continues into evening and these fiercely bright minds go head-to-head, sparks fly.Southside With You takes plenty of poetic license to craft this charming, playful story out of true-life events, yet actors Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers embody the essence of two people matched in power, idealism, and intellect. As the second Obama presidential term winds down, it’s profound to consider just how serendipitous and consequential that day in 1989 was—not just for Michelle and Barack, but for America.

Christine

Christine

Acquired: February 4
By: The Orchard
Purchase Price:
Director: Antonio Campos
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Michael C. Hall, Maria Dizzia, Tracy Letts, J. Smith-Cameron
Other Info:

Plot Synopsis:

Christine (Rebecca Hall) is an ambitious 29-year-old news reporter in Sarasota, Florida, circa 1974. Relentlessly motivated to succeed, she knows she has talent, but being a driven career woman in the 1970s comes with its own challenges, especially when competition for a promotion, unrequited love for a coworker, and a tumultuous home life lead to a dissolution of self. With ratings in the cellar, WZRB’s station manager issues a mandate to deliver juicier and more exploitative stories, a style firmly at odds with Christine’s serious brand of issue-based journalism. To accomplish her goals, she must overcome her self-doubt and give the people what they want.

Life, Animated

Life, Animated

AcquiredFebruary 3
By: The Orchard
Purchase Price:
Director: Roger Ross Williams
Starring: Owen Suskind, Ron Suskind
Other Info: Read our review here.

Plot Synopsis:

At three years old, a chatty, energetic little boy named Owen Suskind ceased to speak, disappearing into autism with apparently no way out. Almost four years passed and the only stimuli that engaged Owen were Disney films. Then one day, his father donned a puppet—Iago, the wisecracking parrot fromAladdin—and asked “what’s it like to be you?” And poof! Owen replied, with dialogue from the movie.

Life, Animated tells the remarkable story of how Owen found in Disney animation a pathway to language and a framework for making sense of the world. By evocatively interweaving classic Disney sequences with verite scenes from Owen’s life, the film explores how identification and empathy with characters like Simba, Jafar, and Ariel forge a conduit for him to understand his feelings and interpret reality. Beautiful, original animations further give form to Owen’s fruitful dialogue with the Disney oeuvre as he imagines himself heroically facing adversity in a tribe of sidekicks. With an arsenal of narratives at his disposal, Owen rises to meet the challenges of adulthood in this moving coming-of-age tale.

The Hollars review

The Hollars

AcquiredJanuary 29
By: Sony Classics
Purchase Price:
Director: John Krasinski
Starring: Krasinski, Margo Martindale, Richard Jenkins, Sharlto Copley, Anna Kendrick, Charlie Day, Josh Groban, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Randall Park.
Other Info: Sony Pictures Classics acquired all rights in the U.S. and Asia. Read our review here.

Plot Synopsis:

John Krasinski’s big-hearted family comedy takes a touching look at the ties that bind. Krasinski plays John Hollar, a frustrated graphic novelist anxiously awaiting the birth of his baby with girlfriend, Rebecca (Anna Kendrick). When his mother, Sally (Margo Martindale), is diagnosed with a brain tumor, John flies back home, where denial runs deep in the family tree. While his loving but fractured family pulls together to prepare Sally for surgery, John takes a second look at the life he left behind.Krasinski, last seen at the Sundance Film Festival with his directorial debut Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (2009), takes a gentle approach to the dysfunctional Hollar clan, leavening the heart-tugging drama with inspired character-driven comedy. The large ensemble cast (including Richard Jenkins, Sharlto Copley, Josh Groban, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Mary Kay Place) gives the relationships a lived-in feeling, while Krasinski offers a warm, funny, warts-and-all look at the importance of family.

The Eagle Huntress

The Eagle Huntress

AcquiredFebruary 1st
By: Sony Pictures Classics
Purchase Price:  mid-seven-figure deal that includes select international territories including Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, Germany, Scandinavia and Asia.
Director: Otto Bell
Starring: 
Other Info: One of the best reviewed documentaries at the festival. Star Wars star Daisy Ridley came on board as executive producer.

Plot Synopsis:

A teenager girl named Ashol-Pan living in the mountains of northwestern Mongolia becomes an eagle huntress.

Frank And Lola

Frank And Lola

AcquiredJanuary 29
By: Universal
Purchase Price:  Universal has made a deal for most of the world for a minimum guarantee north of $2 million
Director: Matthew M. Ross
Starring: Imogen Poots, Michael Shannon, Justin Long, Michael Nyqvist, Emmanuelle Devos and Rosanna Arquette.
Other Info:

Plot Synopsis:

Frank is a brooding, staunch Las Vegas chef who always focused his energy into his culinary talents—until he meets Lola, a young and beautiful enigma. Together, Frank and Lola build an intense relationship that saves each other from their mutual despair. Cracks begin to show after Lola suddenly cheats on Frank, which leads to Frank’s evolving mistrust of Lola and a growing obsession with an imposing man from her past. As Frank is given the chance to cook for a famed Parisian restaurateur, he is overcome by extreme thoughts of betrayal, causing him to seek revenge and answers. But what he learns about Lola is not black and white, and trust gives way to a web of deceit.Filmmaker Matthew Ross’s debut feature is a psychosexual noir love story that plays with slighted emotions and the nuances of manipulation. In a seductive, layered role, Imogen Poots holds her own with Michael Shannon’s subtle, complex portrayal of Frank. Brash supporting characters; include Justin Long and Michael Nyqvist, who round out this world of shifting trusts that asks us who we can believe in.

The Lovers and the Despot

The Lovers and the Despot

AcquiredJanuary 29
By: Magnolia
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: Robert Cannan and Ross Adam
Starring: 
Other Info: Part of the World Documentary competition. All international rights are available through Magnolia International.

Plot Synopsis:

They were the Brangelina of ’70s South Korea—the romance between the debonair film director Shin Sang-ok and glamorous actress Choi Eun-hee took them to the heights of South Korean society. Fame took a toll on their love, but it also attracted unbelievable twists of fate. The two find themselves kidnapped by the North Korean regime, and they are forced to play along with a bizarre filmmaking project led by superfan cinephile Kim Jong-il. Enduring torture, imprisonment, and surveillance, their romance is rekindled, and they realize escape is only possible through filmmaking—but the smallest mistake in their plans could cost them their lives. This film noir of the most twisted order is meticulously crafted with an analog-loving sensibility, offering incredible archive footage of the era that even includes rare clandestine audio recordings of Jong-il discussing his plot for a cinematic paradise. The tapes deliver a chilling yet fascinating glimpse into the psychology of the North Korean dictatorship and what happens when art, love, and megalomania collide.

Swiss Army Man

Swiss Army Man

AcquiredJanuary 29
By: A24
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan
Starring: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Other Info: The film premiered Jan. 22 in the U.S. Dramatic section. Read our review here.

Plot Synopsis:

Alone on a tiny deserted island, Hank has given up all hope of ever making it home again. But one day everything changes when a dead body washes ashore, and he soon realizes it may be his last opportunity to escape certain death. Armed with his new “friend” and an unusual bag of tricks, the duo go on an epic adventure to bring Hank back to the woman of his dreams.Music video gurus “The Daniels,” a.k.a. Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, craft a wholly original debut feature bursting with limitless creativity both in content and form. Their consistently surprising script spans a wide range of emotions: from the ridiculously absurd to a touching exploration of what it means to be human. Given what are likely to be some of the most unique roles of their acting careers, co-leads Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe give their all to a movie that celebrates the wonder that cinema offers.

Goat

Goat

AcquiredJanuary 29
By: MTV/Paramount Pictures
Purchase Price: just south of $3 million.
Director: Andrew Neel
Starring: Virginia Gardner, Danny Flaherty, Austin Lyon and Nick Jonas
Other Info: Screened in the U.S. Dramatic Competition section.

Plot Synopsis:

Reeling from a terrifying assault, a 19-year-old boy enrolls in the same college as his brother and pledges his fraternity. Swept up in a world of shotgunning beer, all-night ragers, and hooking-up with nameless coeds, a protective shell forms to mask his insecurities. But as the hazing escalates in the name of “brotherhood,” his loyalty to his brother is tested in brutal ways.Director Andrew Neel’s documentary background is evident as Goat resounds with searing authenticity—rarely has such raw and terrifyingly truthful masculinity been captured on screen. The result exposes the brutal and violent aspects of male culture that lurk beneath the surface of our seemingly controlled society. The entire cast valiantly commits to the challenging roles and, combined with Neel’s assured direction, shine new light on male identity and how it’s formed. Part neorealism, part horror film, Goat is a riveting cinematic experience that is as important as it is brutal.

LO AND BEHOLD: Reveries Of The Connected World

LO AND BEHOLD: Reveries Of The Connected World

Acquired: January 28
By: Magnolia Pictures
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: Werner Herzog
Starring:
Other Info:

Plot Synopsis:

In LO AND BEHOLD: REVERIES OF THE CONNECTED WORLD, the Oscar-nominated Herzog chronicles the virtual world from its origins to its outermost reaches, exploring the digital landscape with the same curiosity and imagination he previously trained on earthly destinations as disparate as the Amazon, the Sahara, the South Pole and the Australian outback. Working with NetScout, a world leader in real time service assurance and cybersecurity, Herzog leads viewers on a journey through a series of provocative conversations that reveal the ways in which the online world has transformed how virtually everything in the real world works – from business to education, space travel to healthcare, and the very heart of how we conduct our personal relationships.

Audrie & Daisy

Audrie & Daisy

AcquiredJanuary 27
By: Netflix
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk (“The Island President”)
Starring:
Other Info: all rights

Plot Synopsis:

Audrie and Daisy, two high school girls in different towns across America, were sexually assaulted by boys they thought were their friends. Both girls experienced social media bullying and were stigmatized—and both attempted suicide. Tragically, Audrie takes her own life, but Daisy survives, and her story becomes a journey to keep living. By juxtaposing their stories and drawing connections between the two teenage girls, bold filmmakers Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk illuminate the larger societal epidemic of sexual assault that has been exacerbated by today’s technologies. And rather than paint a simple picture, they also give voice to the spectrum of male perspectives involved in Daisy’s case: her assailants, the small-town sheriff, and her brother, who now works to change the next generation of boys.Through the specificity of Audrie and Daisy’s experiences, insights emerge that can be extrapolated to the larger landscape. As Daisy learns Audrie’s story and joins a community of survivors, Audrie & Daisy sparks a vital conversation around breaking these cycles of stigma and isolation for teenage rape victims that has blown up in the face of social media hysteria.

Brahman Naman

Brahman Naman

AcquiredJanuary 27
By: Netflix
Purchase Price: low seven-figure range
Director: Q.
Starring:  Shashank Arora, Tanmay Dhanania, Sid Mallya, Vaiswath Shankar, Chaitanya Varad, Sindhu Sreenivasa Murthy
Other Info: worldwide streaming rights

Plot Synopsis:

It’s the 1980s and Naman (Shashank Arora, star of Cannes hit TITLI) is a know-it-all nerd driven by the whims of his raging hormones. Heading up Bangalore University’s team of bespectacled misfits (best friends Ajay and Ramu), the trio of lusty intellectuals spend the majority of their time on the quizzing circuit, using their winnings to buy nudie magazines, whiskey, and beer, fantasizing about the buxom neighborhood beauty all the while. When the boys qualify for the National Quiz Championships, they make a booze-fuelled train trip across the country determined to defeat their rivals in Calcutta and desperate to lose their virginities along the way.  Unfolding to the tune of the iconic anthem, “Whiskey Bar,” as Naman and his friends run amok against the colorful backdrop of the Indian landscape, his quest for sex and glory is complicated when he finds his intellectual superior in a stunning female quizzer. Directed by Indian filmmaker Q. (known for his controversial cult hit GANDU) BRAHMAN NAMAN is a smart, raucous sex comedy that’s raunchy and endearing in equal measure— replete with innovative masturbation methods that put even Philip Roth’s Alexander Portnoy to shame.

Sleight

Sleight

AcquiredJanuary 28
By: Blumhouse and WWE Films
Purchase Price: deal was north of $1 million
Director: JD Dillard
Starring:  Jacob Latimore, Dulé Hill and Seychelle Gabriel
Other Info: the plan is for a 1,000-screen release. Read our Sleight review here.

Plot Synopsis:

Starring young rising talent Jacob Latimore (The Maze Runner, Ride Along) in a breakout performanceand Dulé Hill (Suits, The West Wing), SLEIGHT blends elements of crime thriller, family drama and sci-fi in a truly groundbreaking spin on the coming of age story.  Latimore stars as Bo, a young street magician who is left to care for his little sister Tina (Storm Reid) following their mother’s passing.  After he turns to dealing drugs, Bo quickly runs into trouble with his supplier Angelo (Dulé Hill) and must rely on his smarts and sleight of hand to save her

The Intervention

The Intervention

AcquiredJanuary 28
By: Paramount Pictures
Purchase Price: deal was pegged at just north of $2 million
Director: Clea DuVall (veteran actress best known for roles in ‘Argo’ and HBO’s ‘Carnivale makes her feature directing debut)
Starring:  Melanie Lynskey, Clea DuVall, Cobie Smulders, Alia Shawkat, Natasha Lyonne and Ben Schwartz
Other Info:

Plot Synopsis:

Control freak bride-to-be Annie gathers her group of thirtysomething friends at the picturesque Savannah family summer home of sisters Jessie (writer/director Clea DuVall) and Ruby to convince Ruby and her workaholic husband, Peter, that their relationship has turned irreparably toxic. Joined by Annie’s easygoing fiancé, Jessie’s partner (Sarah), as well as the reluctant Jack and his sprightly 22-year-old girlfriend, the group makes fumbling attempts to jump-start the intervention throughout the booze-fueled weekend, while resolutely avoiding dealing with their own vices and regrets.The Intervention depicts an intensely relatable group of characters as they abandon the façade of being fine and embrace the reality of “fine-adjacent.” In her feature directorial debut, DuVall adeptly balances the performances of her talented ensemble cast, highlighted by complex work by Cobie Smulders as the deeply unhappy Ruby and an effervescent turn by Alia Shawkat as the “baby stranger” interloper, weaving them into a bittersweet dramedy acknowledging how difficult it can be to stop doing the things that hurt us.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Hunt For The Wilderpeople

AcquiredJanuary 26
By: The Orchard
Purchase Price: $2 million
Director: Taika Waititi
Starring:  Julian Dennison, Sam Neill, Rima Te Miata, Rachel House, Oscar Kightley
Other Info: a theatrical release commitment for around 100 markets.

Plot Synopsis:

Raised on hip-hop and foster care, defiant city kid Ricky gets a fresh start in the New Zealand countryside. He quickly finds himself at home with his new foster family: the loving Aunt Bella, the cantankerous Uncle Hec, and dog Tupac. When a tragedy strikes that threatens to ship Ricky to another home, both he and Hec go on the run in the bush. As a national manhunt ensues, the newly branded outlaws must face their options: go out in a blaze of glory or overcome their differences and survive as a family. Equal parts road comedy and coming-of-age drama, director Taika Waititi masterfully weaves lively humor with emotionally honest performances by Sam Neill and Julian Dennison. Never short on laughs, this touching story reminds us about the journey that growing up is (at any age) and those who help us along the way.

Wiener-Dog

Wiener-Dog

AcquiredJanuary 26
By: Amazon
Purchase Price: low seven figure range
Director: Todd Solondz
Starring: Kieran Culkin, Danny DeVito, Greta Gerwig, Zosia Mamet, Julie Delpy and Ellen Burstyn
Other Info: Amazon is committed to a significant theatrical release.

Plot Synopsis:

Wiener-Dog tells several stories featuring people who find their life inspired or changed by one particular dachshund, who seems to be spreading a certain kind of comfort and joy. Man’s best friend starts out teaching a young boy some contorted life lessons before being taken in by a compassionate vet tech named Dawn Wiener. Dawn reunites with someone from her past and sets off on a road trip picking up some depressed mariachis along the way. Wiener-Dog then encounters a floundering film professor, as well as an embittered elderly woman and her needy granddaughter—all longing for something more.

The Birth of a Nation

The Birth Of A Nation

AcquiredJanuary 26
By: Fox Searchlight
Purchase Price: $17.5 million, a Sundance record
Director: Nate Parker
Starring: Armie Hammer, Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union,  Penelope Ann Miller, Mark Boone Junior, and Aja Naomi King.
Other Info:

Plot Synopsis:

Set against the antebellum South, this story follows Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner, accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. After witnessing countless atrocities against fellow slaves, Nat devises a plan to lead his people to freedom.

Indignation

Indignation

AcquiredJanuary 25
By: Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment
Purchase Price:upward of $2.5 million for North American rights
Director: James Schamus
Starring: Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon, Tracy Letts, Linda Emond, Danny Burstein and Ben Rosenfield
Other Info: International rights information here. Read our review here.

Plot Synopsis:

In 1951, Marcus Messner escapes the perils of the Korean War draft and the obsessive fears of his overbearing kosher-butcher father in New Jersey with his admission to college in Ohio. Upon arriving at the strictly Christian school, ardent atheist Marcus rejects the assumption that he should integrate into the small Jewish population there, eventually butting heads with the exacting Dean Caudwell over his reluctance to attend chapel and his budding relationship with a beautiful but troubled classmate. As his outrage mounts, Marcus finds himself yearning to shake off his long-held persona of hardworking boy and dutiful son.

Academy Award–nominated screenwriter and independent film stalwart James Schamus makes his feature directorial debut with this exquisite period portrait of a young man at a crossroads. Adapting Philip Roth’s novel with warmth and faithfulness, Schamus elicits support from a universally top-of-their-game cast, highlighted by a blistering turn by Logan Lerman as the idealistic, increasingly indignant Marcus.

Author: The JT Leroy Story

Author: The JT Leroy Story

AcquiredJanuary 23
By: Amazon
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: Jeff Feuerzeig
Starring: 
Other Info:

Plot Synopsis:

The definitive look inside the mysterious case of 16-year-old literary sensation JT LeRoy-a creature so perfect for his time that if he didn’t exist, someone would have had to invent him. The strangest story about story ever told.

Equity

Equity

AcquiredJanuary 25
By: Sony Classics
Purchase Price:
Director: Meera Menon
Starring: Anna Gunn, James Purefoy, Sarah Megan Thomas, Alysia Reiner.
Other Info: Sony Pictures Classics acquired worldwide rights.

Plot Synopsis:

Senior investment banker Naomi Bishop’s (Anna Gunn) world of high-power big money is brutal and fierce, and one she thrives in. When a controversial IPO threatens the fragile balance of power and confidentiality, Naomi finds herself entangled in a web of politics and deception. With an aggressive prosecutor (Alysia Reiner) from her past on her heels, and a strained relationship with her junior, Erin (Sarah Megan Thomas), Naomi is forced to reexamine her own ambitions and the cutthroat world she loves—one where women have yet to break the glass ceiling.

Meera Menon’s suspenseful sophomore feature tackles head-on the power structure of Wall Street in the post-financial crisis through the female lens of women fighting for survival in the race to the top. Ambitious and deftly directed, Menon gives us the first female-focused Wall Street drama and proves herself to be a director to watch.

Morris From America

Morris From America

AcquiredJanuary 24
By: A24 (US Rights)
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: Chad Hartigan
Starring: Craig Robinson, Carla Juri, Lina Keller, Markees Christmas, Jakub Gierszal, Levin Henning, Patrick Güldenberg, and Eva Löbau. Martin Heisler, Sara Murphy, Adele Romanski
Other Info: Read our movie review here.

Plot Synopsis:

Morris Gentry (Markees Christmas) is a 13-year-old, overweight, African-American boy who fancies himself the next Notorious B.I.G. He’s entering puberty, self-conscious, and new to living in Heidelberg, Germany, where nobody else looks or acts like him. His single father Curtis (Craig Robertson) is better at relating to Morris as a friend than a father, bonding with his son over their shared love of music. Initially, Morris only interacts with Curtis and Inka (Carla Juri), his kind – if naïve – German language tutor, but when forced to attend summer classes at a youth center, he instantly falls in love. 15-year-old Katrin (Lina Keller) is just the girl for Morris: rebellious, cool as ice, and not as indifferent toward him as the other kids. As the two begin to develop a slow friendship (albeit one that Morris hopes will be the start of something deeper), Morris drifts further from Curtis, who is having a hard time of his own adjusting to his son’s burgeoning adolescence. In the wake of these changing relationships, Morris risks everything in a journey far outside of his comfort zone toward self-confidence and acceptance in this new, foreign environment. Directed by Chad Hartigan (Sundance’s 2013 Best of Next Winner THIS IS MARTIN BONNER) with perceptive humor and sensitivity, MORRIS FROM AMERICA captures the unique challenges and – ultimately – freedom that can only be found while being a stranger in a strange land.

Manchester by the Sea

Manchester By The Sea

AcquiredJanuary 24
By: Amazon
Purchase Price: near $10 million
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Starring: Casey Affleck, Kyle Chandler and Michelle Williams
Other Info:

Plot Synopsis:

Lee Chandler is a brooding, irritable loner who works as a handyman for a Boston apartment block. One damp winter day he gets a call summoning him to his hometown, north of the city. His brother’s heart has given out suddenly, and he’s been named guardian to his 16-year-old nephew. As if losing his only sibling and doubts about raising a teenager weren’t enough, his return to the past re-opens an unspeakable tragedy.Casey Affleck’s astonishing performance captures all the substance and crumbling complexity of Lee—a guy frozen in anguish and barely holding it together—who must now step beyond self-imposed isolation to connect with his nephew. Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count On Me, 2000 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winner) masterfully depicts human brokenness and the possibility of transformation through subtle, small moments between characters. There are no quick fixes in the working-class New England town of Manchester-by-the-Sea, just the imperfect struggle to meet loss with integrity and decency, day by day.

Eat That Question Frank Zappa in His Own Words

Eat That Question – Frank Zappa in His Own Words

AcquiredJanuary 23
By: Sony Pictures Classics
Purchase Price:
Director: Thorsten Schütte
Starring:
Other Info:

Plot Synopsis:

It is only fitting that a comet and a mollusk are named in Frank Zappa’s honor. The famed American musician, composer, and thinker created satirical, operatic interpretations of music that seemed to originate from another world.

Thorsten Schütte’s film is a sharply edited and energetic celebration of Zappa through his public persona, allowing us to witness his shifting relationship with audiences. Utilizing potent TV interviews and many forgotten performances from his 30-year career, we are immersed into the musician’s world while experiencing two distinct facets of his complex character. At once Zappa was both a charismatic composer who reveled in the joy of performing and, in the next moment, a fiercely intelligent and brutally honest interviewee whose convictions only got stronger as his career ascended.
Zappa was uncompromising as he led the charge against music censorship in the ’90s and even went on to embrace the role of quasi-cultural ambassador in the Czech Republic. His music and ideas are vital, and they cut across generations, while his goal of freeing the listener from conformity still resonates today.

Resilience

Resilience

Acquired: January 22
By: Brainstorm Media
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: James Redford
Starring: 
Other Info: Brainstorm Media simultaneously picked up RESILIENCE’s companion film and predecessor, PAPER TIGERS, for DVD and Digital release in North America.

Plot Synopsis:

RESILIENCE explores Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) and the effects of Toxic Stress on children. Researchers have recently discovered a dangerous biological syndrome caused by abuse and neglect during childhood. Toxic Stress can trigger hormones that wreak havoc on the brains and bodies of children, putting them at a greater risk for disease, homelessness, prison time and early death. While the broader impacts of poverty worsen the risk, no segment of society is immune. RESILIENCE chronicles the dawn of a movement determined to fight back. Trailblazers in Pediatrics, Education and Social Welfare are using cutting edge science and field-tested therapies to protect children from the insidious effects of Toxic Stress—the dark legacy of a childhood that no child would choose. KPJR Films was determined to find out why children who experience adverse stress are at serious risk of shorter lifespans.

Love & Friendship

Love & Friendship

AcquiredJanuary 21
By: Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions
Purchase Price: Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Director: Whit Stillman
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny, Xavier Samuel, Emma Greenwell, Tom Bennett, Stephen Fry
Other Info: Amazon acquired North American rights to the pic last summer. The movie will now get an exclusive theatrical window before becoming available on Amazon’s subscription streaming service.
Plot Synopsis:

Set in the opulent drawing rooms of eighteenth-century English society, Love & Friendship focuses on the machinations of a beautiful widow, Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale), who, while waiting for social chatter about a personal indiscretion to pass, takes up temporary residence at her in-laws’ estate. While there, the intelligent, flirtatious, and amusingly egotistical Lady Vernon is determined to be a matchmaker for her daughter Frederica—and herself too, naturally. She enlists the assistance of her old friend Alicia (Chloë Sevigny), but two particularly handsome suitors (Xavier Samuel and Tom Bennett) complicate her orchestrations.Adapting Jane Austen’s unpublished early novella Lady Susan, Whit Stillman returns to the Sundance Film Festival (where his Metropolitan premiered in 1990) in top form with his latest comedy of manners. Kate Beckinsale excels in her role as the deliciously devious Lady Vernon and delivers each line with relish. With exquisite period detail and a script teeming with bon mots and witty dialogue, Love & Friendship is a rare—and rarified—treat.

Tallulah

Tallulah

AcquiredJanuary 12th (pre-fest)
By: Netflix (Subscription VOD rights only)
Purchase Price: Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but insiders pegged the price as being in the mid-seven figures.
Director: Sian Heder (WGA-nominated writer and producer for Orange Is the New Black)
Starring: Ellen Page, Allison Janney, Tammy Blanchard, Evan Jonigkeit, Uzo Aduba
Other Info: Theatrical rights still open.
Plot Synopsis:

A free spirited young woman rescues a toddler from her reckless mother in this dramatic comedy about the unpredictability of life.

Fundamentals of Caring

Fundamentals of Caring

AcquiredJanuary 15th (pre-fest)
By: Netflix (Worldwide Subscription VOD rights only)
Purchase Price: The deal is pegged at nearly $7 million
Director: Rob Burnett (former producer of The Late Show With David Letterman)
Starring: Paul Rudd, Craig Roberts, Selena Gomez, Jennifer Ehle, Megan Ferguson, Frederick Weller
Other Info: The movie will premiere as the fest’s Closing-Night Film. Theatrical rights still open.
Plot Synopsis:

Having suffered a tragedy, Ben becomes a caregiver to earn money. His first client, Trevor, is a hilarious 18-year-old with muscular dystrophy. One paralyzed emotionally, one paralyzed physically, Ben and Trevor hit the road, finding hope, friendship, and Dot in this funny and touching inspirational tale.

Complete Unknown

Complete Unknown

AcquiredJanuary 19th (pre-fest)
By: Amazon (US rights)
Purchase Price: N/A
Director: Joshua Marston (Maria Full of Grace)
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Michael Shannon, Kathy Bates, Danny Glover, Michael Chernus
Other Info:
Plot Synopsis:

When Tom (Michael Shannon) and his wife host a dinner party to celebrate his birthday, one of their guests brings an intriguing date named Alice (Rachel Weisz). Tom is convinced he knows her, but she refuses to acknowledge their past history. When Alice makes a hasty exit, Tom follows her down the rabbit hole and into the night, where they explore the freedom to shed one’s skin in the anonymity of the big city. What ensues is an all-night odyssey with two characters, one needing to make a change in his life, the other questioning how to stop changing.

Under The Shadow

Under The Shadow

AcquiredJanuary 21st (pre-fest)
By: Netflix (VOD)
Purchase Price: N/A
Director: first-time filmmaker Babak Anvar
Starring: Narges Rashid, Avin Manshadi, Bobby Naderi, Ray Haratian, Arash Marandi
Other Info The movie will premiere as part of the Midnight program. It is set to debut globally on Netflix later this year, shortly after a theatrical or alternative-platform release. The film’s theatrical rights have yet to be acquired.
Plot Synopsis:

In 1988 Tehran, Shideh’s attempts to rejoin medical school after getting married and having daughter Dorsa are thwarted as a consequence of her politically active history. Her husband is sent off to serve in the Iran-Iraq War while Iraqi air raids draw perilously close to their own apartment. As she is left alone with Dorsa after neighbors and friends flee from a city in chaos, her daughter becomes increasingly ill and seemingly disturbed. Shideh initially dismisses Dorsa’s tantrums over a missing doll, but she reluctantly comes to suspect that they’ve been targeted by djinn—malevolent spirits that steal from those they seek to possess.

The Fits

The Fits

AcquiredJanuary 19th (pre-fest)
By: Oscilloscope Laboratories
Purchase Price: N/A
Director: Anna Rose Holmer
Starring: Royalty Hightower, Makyla Burnam, Inayah Rodgers
Other Info: Part of the NEXT Competition.
Plot Synopsis:

Tomboy boxer Toni (newcomer Royalty Hightower) lands a spot on an after school dance team in the West End community of Cincinnati. Enamored by the power and confidence of the team, Toni eagerly absorbs routines, masters drills, and even pierces her own ears to fit in. As she discovers the joys of dance and of female camaraderie, she grapples with her individual identity amid her newly defined social sphere. Shortly after Toni joins the team, the captain faints during practice. By the end of the week, most of the girls on the team suffer from episodes of fainting, swooning, moaning, and shaking in a seemingly uncontrollable catharsis. Triggered by her own insecurities, Toni questions the cause of “the fits.” Soon, however, the girls on the team embrace these mystical spasms, transforming them into a rite of passage. Toni fears experiencing the fits, but also fears losing her new friendships as a result of remaining left out of the transcendental experience. She has to decide how far she needs to go to maintain her niche on the team.

Sand Storm

Sand Storm

AcquiredJanuary 11th (pre-fest)
By: Beta Cinema
Purchase Price: N/A
Director: Elite Zexer (first time director)
Starring: Lamis Ammar, Ruba Blal-Asfour, Haytham Omari, Khadija Alakel, Jalal Masarwa
Other Info: Arabic-language film, set to world premiere in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition
Plot Synopsis:

As wedding festivities get underway in a Bedouin village in Israel, Jalila finds herself in the awkward position of hosting her husband Suliman’s marriage to a second, much younger wife. During the celebration, Jalila stumbles across her eldest daughter Layla’s involvement with a boy from her university—a strictly forbidden liaison that would shame the family. Burying the indignity of Suliman and his new bride living next door, Jalila also tries to contain Layla’s situation by clamping down on her. But younger and possessed of a boundless spirit, Layla sees a different life for herself.

Weiner

Weiner

AcquiredJanuary 14th (pre-fest)
By: IFC and Showtime
Purchase Price: N/A
Director: Josh Kriegman & Elyse Steinberg
Starring: Anthony Weiner
Other Info: The buzz worthy doc will premiere on January 24th at the fest as part of the U.S. Documentary Competition. The film will go out through IFC’s Sundance Selects label and be released on May 20, and will later make its worldwide TV debut in the fall on Showtime.
Plot Synopsis:

With unprecedented access to Anthony Weiner, as he mounts his New York City mayoral campaign, WEINER is a thrilling look inside his impending political meltdown. What begins as an unexpected comeback from being a disgraced ex-congressman takes a sharp turn once Weiner is forced to admit to new sexting allegations. As the media descends and dissects his every move, Weiner desperately tries to forge ahead, but the increasing pressure and crippling 24-hour news coverage halt his political aspirations dead in their tracks. WEINER teeters the line between political farce and personal tragedy.  With the city of New York as a loud and bustling backdrop, this documentary charges through an increasingly baffling political campaign with unflinching clarity, humor, and pathos. 100 m.

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