movies sold at Sundance 2017

A lot of films that premiere at the Sundance Film Festival are hoping to attract a distributor and find a wider 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 2017. This list should help give you an idea about which movies may someday be available to you either theatrically of VOD. These are the movies sold at Sundance 2017.

Latest update: IFC Films and Sony Pictures acquires Band Aid, Magnolia buys Fergeson documentary Whose Streets?.

Previous update: The Orchard and CNN Films acquire the endangered animal hunting documentary Trophy, A24 lands father/son drama Menashe, and The Orchard acquires the US documentary grand jury prize winner Dina.

sundance 2017

Movies Sold At Sundance 2017 Distributor Breakdown

  • A24: A Ghost Story, Toru, Menashe
  • Amazon: Long Strange Trip, The Big Sick, Landline, City of Ghosts, Crown Heights
  • Dogwoof: Motherland
  • FilmRise: Dayveon
  • Focus Features: Thoroughbred
  • Fox Searchlight: Step, PATTI CAKE$
  • Gunpowder & Sky: The Little Hours
  • IFC Midnight: 78/52, Band Aid
  • Kino Lorber: Pop Aye
  • Magnolia: Whose Streets?
  • Neon: Ingrid Goes West, Roxanne Roxanne, Beach Rats
    Netflix: Casting JonBenet, Berlin Syndrome (streaming), Chasing Coral, Fun Mom Dinner, The Incredible Jessica James, Nobody Speak: Hulk Hogan, Gawker and Trials of a Free Press, Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower, Icarus, To The Bone, Mudbound
  • Paramount: An Inconvenient Sequel
  • RLJ Entertainment: Bushwick
  • Roadside & FilmNation: Beatriz At Dinner
  • Sony Pictures Classics: Call Me By Your Name, Novitiate, Brigsby Bear
  • The Orchard: The Hero, Trophy, Dina
  • Vertical: Berlin Syndrome (theatrical)

These Movies Sold at Sundance 2017

We will be updating this post with 2017 Sundance Film Festival acquisitions throughout the festival. The post is organized from newest to oldest, with the latest acquisitions on the top.

whose streets

Whose Streets?

Acquired: February 7
By: Magnolia
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis
Other Info: North American rights. Magnolia plans a summer theatrical release to coincide with the anniversary of Mike Brown’s murder.

Plot Synopsis:

Told by the activists and leaders who live and breathe this movement for justice, Whose Streets? is an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising. When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and left lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of St. Louis, Missouri. Grief, long-standing racial tensions and renewed anger bring residents together to hold vigil and protest this latest tragedy. Empowered parents, artists, and teachers from around the country come together as freedom fighters. As the national guard descends on Ferguson with military grade weaponry, these young community members become the torchbearers of a new resistance.

band aid

Band Aid

Acquired: Februry 3
By: IFC Films and Sony Pictures
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: Zoe Lister-Jones
Starring: Zoe Lister-Jones, Adam Pally, Fred Armisen, Susie Essman, Hannah Simone, Ravi Patel
Other Info:  IFC Films has acquired all North American rights. Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions (SPWA) picked-up all rights to the film outside of North America.

Plot Synopsis:

BAND AID is the story of a feuding married couple, Anna (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Ben (Adam Pally), whose shared love of music makes for unconventional therapy, transforming their fights into song and ultimately forming a band with the help of their once-drummer neighbor Dave (Fred Armisen).

dina

Dina

Acquired: February 1
By: The Orchard
Purchase Price: n/a
Director:Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini
Other Info: North American rights. Film won the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize. Orchard is planning a fall release.

Plot Synopsis:

Dina, an outspoken and eccentric 49-year-old in suburban Philadelphia, invites her fiancé Scott, a Walmart door greeter, to move in with her. Having grown up neurologically diverse in a world blind to the value of their experience, the two are head-over-heels for one another, but shacking up poses a new challenge. Scott freezes when it comes to physical intimacy, and Dina, a Kardashians fanatic, wants nothing more than to share with Scott all she’s learned about sensual desire from books, TV shows, and her previous marriage. Her increasingly creative forays to draw Scott close keep hitting roadblocks—exposing anxieties, insecurities, and communication snafus while they strive to reconcile their conflicting approaches to romance and intimacy.

MENASHE

Menashe

AcquiredJanuary 31
By: A24
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: Joshua Z. Weinstein
Starring: Menashe Lustig
Other Info: A24’s first acquisition of a foreign language film.

Plot Synopsis:

Deep in the heart of New York’s ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jewish community, Menashe, a kind, hapless grocery store clerk, struggles to make ends meet and responsibly parent his young son, Rieven, following his wife Leah’s death. Tradition prohibits Menashe from raising his son alone, so Rieven’s strict uncle adopts him, leaving Menashe heartbroken. Meanwhile, though Menashe seems to bungle every challenge in his path, his rabbi grants him one special week with Rieven before Leah’s memorial. It’s his chance to prove himself a suitable man of faith and fatherhood, and restore respect among his doubters. Performed entirely in Yiddish, the colloquial language of the Hasidic community, Menashe uses intimate, handheld camerawork to drop us inside and humanize a hermetically sealed world of black-hatted, working-class men debating in crowded shuls or seeking counsel in the rabbi’s library. And yet Menashe is in many ways an outsider in this tight-knit circle, as he bucks convention and ruffles feathers to stay true to himself.

Trophy

Trophy

AcquiredJanuary 20
By: The Orchard and CNN Films
Purchase Price: near $2 million
Director: Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau
Other Info: The Orchard will handle all North American rights, and CNN gets broadcast rights. International rights still are being brokered.

Plot Synopsis:

Endangered African species like elephants, rhinos, and lions march closer to extinction each year. Their devastating decline is fueled by a global desire to consume and collect these majestic animals. Trophy investigates the powerhouse businesses of big game hunting, breeding, and wildlife conservation. Through the eyes of impassioned individuals who drive these industries, filmmakers Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau grapple with the complex consequences of imposing economic value on animals. What are the ethical implications of treating animals as commodities? Do breeding, farming, and hunting offer some of the few remaining options to conserve these species before it’s too late?

Mudbound

Mudbound

AcquiredFebruary 1
By: Netflix
Purchase Price: $12.5 million
Director: Dee Rees (Pariah)
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige, Rob Morgan, Garrett Hedlund, and Jonathan Banks
Other Info: For U.S. rights and select other territories. Read Angie Han’s Mudbound review.

Plot Synopsis:

Set in the post-WWII South, Mudbound is an epic pioneer story of two families pitted against a barbaric social hierarchy and an unrelenting landscape as they simultaneously fight the battle at home and the battle abroad. The film is about friendship, unacknowledged heritage, and the unending struggle for and against the land. Newly transplanted from the quiet civility of Memphis, the McAllan family is underprepared and overly hopeful for Henry’s grandiose farming dreams. Laura struggles to keep the faith in her husband’s losing venture. Meanwhile, for Hap and Florence Jackson, whose families have worked the land for generations, every day is a losing venture as they struggle bravely to build some small dream of their own. The war upends both families’ plans as their returning loved ones, Jamie and Ronsel, forge a fast, uneasy friendship that challenges them all.

Beach Rats

Beach Rats

AcquiredJanuary 28
By: Neon
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: Eliza Hittman
Starring: Harris Dickinson, Madeline Weinstein, Kate Hodge
Other Info: Won the festival’s directing award in the U.S. Dramatic competition at the annual award ceremony.

Plot Synopsis:

Frankie, an aimless teenager on the outer edges of Brooklyn, is having a miserable summer. With his father dying and his mother wanting him to find a girlfriend, Frankie escapes the bleakness of his home life by causing trouble with his delinquent friends and flirting with older men online. When his chatting and webcamming intensify, he finally starts hooking up with guys at a nearby cruising beach while simultaneously entering into a cautious relationship with a young woman. As Frankie struggles to reconcile his competing desires, his decisions leave him hurtling toward irreparable consequences.

Roxanne Roxanne

Roxanne Roxanne

AcquiredJanuary 29
By: Neon
Purchase Price: nearly $3 million
Director: Michael Larnell (Cronies)
StarringChanté Adams,  Mahershala Ali, Nia Long, Elvis Nolasco, Kevin Phillips, Shenell Edmonds
Other Info: Neon won a bidding war between Amazon, Lionsgate and Miramax.

Plot Synopsis:

The most feared battle MC in early-’80s NYC was a fierce teenager from the Queensbridge projects with the weight of the world on her shoulders. At age 14, hustling the streets to provide for her family, Roxanne Shanté was well on her way to becoming a hip-hop legend.

78/52

78/52

AcquiredJanuary 27
By: IFC Midnight
Purchase Price: at least $1 million
Director: Alexandre O. Philippe
Other Info: RLJ Entertainment’s recent feature films include “Bone Tomahawk,” starring Kurt Russell; Jackie Earle Haley’s “Criminal Activities” with John Travolta, Michael Pitt, and Dan Stevens; “The Cobbler” toplined by Adam Sandler and Steve Buscemi; and “Nina,” starring Zoe Saldana and David Oyelowo.

Plot Synopsis:

An unprecedented look at the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, the ‘Man behind the Curtain’, and the screen murder that profoundly changed the course of world cinema, 78/52 references the number of setups (78) and the number of cuts (52) in the shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO. One entire week out of the four weeks scheduled to shoot PSYCHO — a full quarter of the film’s production schedule was dedicated to the infamous shower scene.

Bushwick

Bushwick

AcquiredJanuary 27
By: RLJ Entertainment
Purchase Price: at least $1 million
Director: Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott (Cooties)
Starring:  Dave Bautista, Brittany Snow, Angelic Zambrana, Jeremie Harris, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Arturo Castro
Other Info: RLJ Entertainment’s recent feature films include “Bone Tomahawk,” starring Kurt Russell; Jackie Earle Haley’s “Criminal Activities” with John Travolta, Michael Pitt, and Dan Stevens; “The Cobbler” toplined by Adam Sandler and Steve Buscemi; and “Nina,” starring Zoe Saldana and David Oyelowo.

Plot Synopsis:

BUSHWICK introduces us to Lucy, who emerges from a Brooklyn subway to find that her neighborhood is under attack by black-clad military soldiers. An ex-Marine corpsman, Stupe, reluctantly helps her fight for survival through a civil war, as Texas attempts to secede from the United States of America.

Beatriz at Dinner

Beatriz At Dinner

AcquiredJanuary 27
By: Roadside & FilmNation
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: Miguel Arteta (Star Maps, Chuck & Buck, and The Good Girl)
Starring:  Salma Hayek, John Lithgow
Other Info: North American Rights. Read our review here.

Plot Synopsis:

Beatriz (Salma Hayek) is a miracle worker—highly sensitive with her touch, and passionately dedicated to curing pain through holistic therapy. After treating the mother of a young woman Beatriz helped recover from chemotherapy, her car breaks down, so she is invited to stay for a dinner celebrating a lucrative business deal. An interloper inside this private enclave of the have-mores, Beatriz is politely acknowledged by the guests, with the exception of Doug, a mega brazen and successful business developer. Believing she knows him from somewhere, Beatriz becomes increasingly unsettled. Uninhibited, she questions whether Doug’s accomplishments have come at the expense of other people’s suffering—to the chagrin of the sycophantic hosts—pitting the guests into opposing forces.

dayveon

Dayveon

AcquiredJanuary 25
By: FilmRise
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: Amman Abbasi
Starring:   Devin Blackmon, Kordell “KD” Johnson, Dontrell Bright, Chasity Moore, Lachion Buckingham, Marquell Manning
Other Info: North American Rights. FilmRise is setting the film for theatrical release slated in late Spring

Plot Synopsis:

In the wake of his big brother’s violent death, 13-year-old Dayveon (Devin Blackmon) struggles to find his way in an economically depressed Arkansas town. With no parents and few role models around, Dayveon is soon torn between the lure of a local gang and the friendship of his sister’s boyfriend, who reluctantly acts as a father figure.

The Little Hours

The Little Hours

AcquiredJanuary 26
By: Gunpowder and Sky
Purchase Price: low-seven figures
Director: Jeff Baena (Life After Beth)
Starring:  Alison Brie, Dave Franco, Kate Micucci, Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon
Other Info:

Plot Synopsis:

Medieval nuns Alessandra (Alison Brie), Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza), and Ginevra (Kate Micucci) lead a simple life in their convent. Their days are spent chafing at monastic routine, spying on one another, and berating the estate’s day laborer. After a particularly vicious insult session drives the peasant away, Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly) brings on new hired hand Massetto (Dave Franco), a virile young servant forced into hiding by his angry lord. Introduced to the sisters as a deaf-mute to discourage temptation, Massetto struggles to maintain his cover as the repressed nunnery erupts in a whirlwind of pansexual horniness, substance abuse, and wicked revelry.Loaded with comedic talent and written with an off-kilter, yet knowing touch, The Little Hours is an immensely charming romp. Writer/director Jeff Baena’s riotous follow-up to Sundance Film Festival favorites Life After Beth and Joshy has transferred the nervy comedic energy from his earlier work to the Middle Ages with hilarious results.

crown heights

Crown Heights

AcquiredJanuary 27
By: Amazon
Purchase Price: just over $2 million
Director: Matt Ruskin
Starring: Lakeith Stanfield, Nnamdi Asomugha, Natalie Paul, Bill Camp, Nestor Carbonell, Amari Cheatom
Other Info: It will receive a theatrical release.

Plot Synopsis:

On April 10, 1980, a shot rang out on the streets of Crown Heights, igniting a decades-long quest for justice in this harrowing true story. Colin Warner, played with heartbreaking sincerity by Lakeith Stanfield, is arrested and tried for a crime he did not commit, a victim of a deeply broken system that refuses to listen. Quick to throw him away, the court wrongfully convicts him. But as Colin loses hope to reclaim an innocence that has been cast aside, his best friend, Carl King, devotes his life to restoring Colin’s freedom, doggedly pursuing every lead for years.

City Of Ghosts

City Of Ghosts

AcquiredJanuary 26
By: Amazon
Purchase Price: north of $2 million
Director: Matthew Heineman (Cartel Land)
Other Info:

Plot Synopsis:

Directed, produced, and filmed by Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker Matthew Heineman (CARTEL LAND, 2015 Sundance Film Festival Directing Award), CITY OF GHOSTS is a singularly powerful cinematic experience that is sure to shake audiences to their core as it elevates the canon of one of the most talented and exciting documentary filmmakers working today. A real life international thriller, CITY OF GHOSTS exposes a new type of warfare: a battle over ideas, a fight for hearts and minds, a conflict over clicks and views. Captivating in its immediacy, it follows the journey of “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently”-a handful of anonymous activists who banded together after their homeland was taken over by ISIS in 2014. With astonishing, deeply personal access, this is the story of a brave group of citizen journalists as they face the realities of life undercover, on the run, and in exile, risking their lives to stand up against one of the greatest evils in the world today.

Brigsby Bear Review

Brigsby Bear

AcquiredJanuary 26
By: Sony Pictures Classics
Purchase Price: $5 million
Director: Dave McCary
Starring: Kyle Mooney, Claire Danes, Mark Hamill, Greg Kinnear, Matt Walsh, Michaela Watkins
Other Info: The film will be released Summer 2017.

Plot Synopsis:

BRIGSBY BEAR is a children’s TV show produced for an audience of one, James (Mooney). When the show abruptly ends, James’ life changes forever and he sets out to finish the story himself.

Landline

Landline

AcquiredJanuary 25
By: Amazon
Purchase Price: $3 million
Director: Gillian Robespierre (Obvious Child)
Starring: Jenny Slate, John Turturro, Edie Falco, Abby Quinn, Jay Duplass, Finn Wittrock
Other Info:

Plot Synopsis:

Two sisters come of age in ‘90s New York when they discover their dad’s affair—and it turns out he’s not the only cheater in the family. Everyone still smokes inside, no one has a cell phone and the Jacobs finally connect through lying, cheating and hibachi.

PATTI CAKE$

PATTI CAKE$

AcquiredJanuary 24
By: Fox Searchlight
Purchase Price: $10.5 million
Director: Geremy Jasper’s debut feature 
Starring: Danielle Macdonald, Bridget Everett, Siddharth Dhananjay, Mamoudou Athie, Cathy Moriarty
Other Info: Annapurna Pictures, The Orchard, Amazon, Neon and Lionsgate were also among the distributors who had pursued the film. That deal covered worldwide rights.

Plot Synopsis:

Patricia “Killa P” Dombrowski drafts rhymes behind the bar at a dingy dive, trying to pay off her coarse but beloved Nana’s medical bills and support her hard-drinking mom, whose own musical aspirations failed long ago. Patti and her rap partner/best friend Jheri share dreams of fame, fortune, and escaping Dirty Jersey for good, but they haven’t found a producer with the “fire beats” they need. Unbroken by the taunts of local goons, she unexpectedly gravitates to a reclusive goth-metal musician named Basterd, a newcomer who just might be able to help Patti achieve hip-hop superstardom.

step

Step

AcquiredJanuary 24
By: Fox Searchlight
Purchase Price: More than $4 million
Director:  Amanda Lipitz
Other Info: Fox Searchlight doesn’t do a lot of documentaries but will give this a major theatrical release, which is said to be why they won the bid.

Plot Synopsis:

STEP documents the senior year of a girls’ high-school step dance team against the background of inner-city Baltimore.  As each one tries to become the first in their families to attend college, the girls strive to make their dancing a success against the backdrop of social unrest in the troubled city. STEP immerses us into the world of a group of young women whom we come to love and admire. This film was made as a tribute to the bravery and conviction of the young women in the film and to the courage they demonstrated in their willingness to share their story.

pop aye

Pop Aye

AcquiredJanuary 24
By: Kino Lorber
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: feature debut for Singaporean writer-director Kirsten Tan
Starring: Thaneth Warakulnukroh, Penpak Sirikul, Bong
Other Info: Plan is to release the movie in North American theaters this summer, with a VOD and physical media release later in the year.

Plot Synopsis:

Thana, a once-illustrious architect, drifts ever further into existential crisis, propelled by the impending demolition of his proudest work and his wife’s waning romantic interest. Unexpectedly running into his long-lost childhood “pet” elephant Popeye, performing in the streets of Bangkok, spurs Thana on a quest across Thailand to return his displaced friend to rural Loei, the small village where they grew up. As the unlikely travelers saunter at elephant speed, they encounter fellow lost souls, like a gas station vagabond yearning for his first love and a lonely karaoke singer aching for a friend, who encourage them as a series of unfortunate mishaps impede their journey.

Icarus

Icarus

AcquiredJanuary 24
By: Netflix
Purchase Price: $5 million (one of the biggest ever for a non-fiction film)
Director: Bryan Fogel
Other Info: After it screened at the festival, there were several interested studios circling the project including Sony Pictures Classics, Neon, Magnolia, and Amazon.

Plot Synopsis:

ICARUS takes viewers on an improbable odyssey that starts out in the world of amateur cycling and ends up upsetting the Olympics world order.Taking a cue from Super Size Me, Fogel, an endurance cyclist, sets out to investigate doping in sports by doping himself, documenting the changes in his performance over a pair of races, seeing if he can avoid detection.Over the course of his investigation however, the film pivots more toward CitizenFour when Fogel meets Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the head of Russia’s government anti-doping program. Over dozens of Skype calls in which the Russian expert instructs Fogel how to meet his goals, the two forge a deeply personal bond. As shocking allegations emerge that Rodchenkov actually ran a large-scale doping scheme during the Sochi Olympics, and as accusations of illegality leading all the way to the Kremlin, the two collaborate to reveal the biggest international sports scandal in living memory. As a global cat and mouse game unfolds, the two men experience what it truly means to stand up for the truth and where even a small miscalculation can be deadly.

Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower

Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower

AcquiredJanuary 23
By: Netflix
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: Joe Piscatella
Other Info: Movie will launch globally later this year simultaneously on Netflix in 190 countries.

Plot Synopsis:

Joshua Wong is not your typical Hong Kong college student. Inside the bespectacled, unassuming teenager simmers a fierce political activist whose question for his compatriots is simple: Why should China decide our values? Armed with a political philosophy of Scholarism and enormous cojones, Wong is so deeply committed to his convictions that he’s willing to go up against anyone, including the Chinese regime, to fight for them. Amid the glistening cityscape, filmmaker Joe Piscatella shows us another side of Hong Kong—where a new generation, in defiance of the ghosts of Tiananmen Square, has asserted its identity against the mood of disillusionment that ignited mass protests in 2014. A powerful, charismatic spokesperson, Joshua comes of age on screen as he rallies tens of thousands to civil disobedience as part of a 79-day campaign to shut down Hong Kong’s financial district. Determined not to “dump this problem on the next generation,” Joshua risks it all and doubles down as the crackdown intensifies, becoming the face of a movement in the process.

to the bone

To The Bone

AcquiredJanuary 24
By: Netflix
Purchase Price: $8 million
Director: TV veteran Marti Noxon’s directorial film
Starring: Lily Collins, Keanu Reeves, Carrie Preston, Lili Taylor, Alex Sharp, Liana Liberato
Other Info:

Plot Synopsis:

Ellen is an unruly, 20-year-old anorexic girl who spent the better part of her teenage years being shepherded through various recovery programs, only to find herself several pounds lighter every time. Determined to find a solution, her dysfunctional family agrees to send her to a group home for youths, which is led by a non-traditional doctor. Surprised by the unusual rules—and charmed by her fellow patients—Ellen has to discover for herself how to confront her addiction and attempt self-acceptance, in order to stand a chance against her demons.

Nobody Speak Hulk Hogan, Gawker and the Trials of a Free Press

Nobody Speak: Hulk Hogan, Gawker and Trials of a Free Press

AcquiredJanuary 23
By: Netflix
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: Brian Knappenberger
Other Info: Acquired worldwide rights before it’s festival premiere.

Plot Synopsis:

When online tabloid Gawker posted a sex tape starring former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, a high-stakes legal battle pitting privacy rights against the First Amendment ensued. Hogan won the case and the staggering settlement he received not only bankrupted Gawker and its founder Nick Denton, but also exposed a controversial, behind-the-scenes benefactor: Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel. Whether you love or hate Gawker, Brian Knappenberger’s gripping polemic reveals the forces that really brought down the news portal. Taking examples like Sheldon Adelson’s purchase of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, this compelling documentary illustrates a growing, sinister trend at odds with our country’s free press. Corporate executives, titans, and billionaires are tipping the balance on the public’s access to news, posing new threats to society’s relationship to the truth.

Jessica Williams in The Incredible Jessica James

The Incredible Jessica James

AcquiredJanuary 23
By: Netflix
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: James Strouse (Grace Is Gone, The Winning Season, and People Places Things)
Other Info: Acquired before it’s festival premiere.

Plot Synopsis:

Jessica James (Jessica Williams), an aspiring playwright in New York City, is trying hard to get over a recent breakup with her boyfriend. She sees light at the end of the tunnel when she meets Boone (Chris O’Dowd), who’s also recovering from a recent break-up. Together, they figure out a way to make it through the tough times, while also realizing they like each other—a lot.

Fun Mom Dinner

Fun Mom Dinner

AcquiredJanuary 19
By: Netflix
Purchase Price: near $5 million
Director: Alethea Jones
Starring: Katie Aselton, Toni Collette, Bridget Everett, Molly Shannon, Adam Scott, Adam Levine
Other Info: eOne’s Momentum Pictures has closed North American theatrical distribution and Netflix got multi-territory SVOD rights

Plot Synopsis:

At some point, Emily stopped being “Emily”—high-powered lawyer, strong woman, sexual being—and became, simply, “Mom.” It’s like, her kids and husband are great, but there’s got to be more to life than diapers, playdates, and fingerpaint, right? RIGHT?!? When some of the other moms at school propose a Chardonnay-soaked night out, Emily is IN. She even drags her reluctant friend Kate along for the ride. But what starts as gossip and tapas quickly turns into a night that these ladies will never forget (even though they’re all super duper high). Deftly infusing zany hijinks with real feeling, director Alethea Jones and writer Julie Rudd deliver a riotous comedy that spares no rods and spoils no children. The titular moms (Katie Aselton, Toni Collette, Molly Shannon, and Bridget Everett) make a truly formidable ensemble, dispensing dick jokes and tearful revelations with equal aplomb. Together, they prove that “mom” is more than a dirty word—it’s a badge of honor.

the hero

The Hero

AcquiredJanuary 22
By: The Orchard
Purchase Price: n/a
DirectorBrett Haley (I’ll See You In My Dreams)
Starring: Sam Elliott, Laura Prepon, Krysten Ritter, Nick Offerman, Katharine Ross
Other Info: Includes all North American distribution rights. The Orchard plans a wide release for the film this fall.

Plot Synopsis:

Lee Hayden (Sam Elliott) is an aging Western icon with a golden voice, but his best performances are decades behind him. He spends his days reliving old glories and smoking too much weed with his former-co-star-turned-dealer, Jeremy (Nick Offerman), until a surprise cancer diagnosis brings his priorities into sharp focus. He soon strikes up an exciting, contentious relationship with stand-up comic Charlotte (Laura Prepon), and he attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Lucy (Krysten Ritter), all while searching for one final role to cement his legacy.

NOVITIATE

Novitiate

AcquiredJanuary 22
By: Sony Pictures Classics
Purchase Price:mid-seven figure range.
Director: narrative feature directorial debut of Maggie Betts
Starring: Margaret Qualley, Melissa Leo, Julianne Nicholson, Dianna Agron, Morgan Saylor
Other Info:

Plot Synopsis:

Spanning the early 1950s through the mid-’60s, this coming-of-age story is about a young girl’s first love. In this case, her first love is God. Raised by a deeply caring, non-religious mother, Cathleen is drawn to the heady mysticism of the lives of Catholic nuns and their undying romantic devotion to their chosen husband, Jesus Christ. She enrolls in a training program with The Sisters of Blessed Rose, a cloistered convent. As Cathleen progresses from the postulant to the novitiate levels of her tutelage, her faith is challenged by the harsh, often inhumane realities of being a nun, just as Pope John XXIII’s announcement of the Second Vatican Council threatens to alter the course of nuns’ lives forever.

Thoroughbred sundance

Thoroughbred

AcquiredJanuary 22
By: Focus Features
Purchase Price: around $5 million
Director: Cory Finley
Starring: Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks, Francie Swift, Kaili Vernoff
Other Info:

Plot Synopsis:

Two teenage girls in suburban Connecticut rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. In the process, they learn that neither is what she seems to be—and that a murder might solve both of their problems.

Ingrid Goes West

Ingrid Goes West

AcquiredJanuary 22
By: Neon (Alamo Drafthouse creator Tim League’s company that distributed Colossal and Where To Invade Next)
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: Matt Spicer
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen
Other Info: Neon won North American distribution rights. A24 and Netflix were both reportedly trying to get the film. This is one of our favorite films so far from this year’s festival. Read our Ingrid Goes West review here.

Plot Synopsis:

Ingrid is an unstable young woman with a checkered past of obsessive behavior. She secretly moves to Los Angeles to get close to Taylor Sloane—an Instagram “lifestyle guru” with a fabulous artist boyfriend, a camera-ready terrier, and an array of new products and brands to promote to her followers. After Ingrid adopts a Taylor-made identity for herself, her machinations to prove she’s BFF material for her Insta idol are underway—that is, until she meets Taylor’s obnoxious brother Nicky, who threatens to tear down her façade. Aubrey Plaza is fearless in her performance as Ingrid, whose elaborate fabrications and unsettling behavior lead to an avalanche of harrowing and squirm-worthy situations.

The Big Sick

The Big Sick

AcquiredJanuary 22
By: Amazon
Purchase Price: $12 milion
Director: Michael Showalter (Hello My Name is Doris)
Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant, and Kurt Braunohler
Other Info: This is one of our favorite films of the festival so far. Read our The Big Sick review here. Film sparked interest from Sony, Focus Features and Netflix. Bids were presented on Saturday with negotiations for North American rights and other foreign territories stretched into midnight on Saturday. Nanjiani wanted a theatrical release

Plot Synopsis:

Based on the real-life courtship between Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, THE BIG SICK tells the story of Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail (Nanjiani), who connects with grad student Emily (Kazan) after one of his standup sets. However, what they thought would be just a one-night stand blossoms into the real thing, which complicates the life that is expected of Kumail by his traditional Muslim parents. When Emily is beset with a mystery illness, it forces Kumail to navigate the medical crisis with her parents, Beth and Terry (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) who he’s never met, while dealing with the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart.

chasing coral

Chasing Coral

Acquired: January 21
By: Netflix
Purchase Price: n/a
Director:  Jeff Orlowski (Chasing Ice)
Other Info: A release is planned for later this year.

Plot Synopsis:

Chasing Coral taps into the collective will and wisdom of an ad man, a self-proclaimed coral nerd, top-notch camera designers, and renowned marine biologists as they invent the first time-lapse camera to record coral bleaching events as they happen. Unfortunately, the effort is anything but simple, and the team doggedly battles technical malfunctions and the force of nature in pursuit of their golden fleece: documenting the indisputable and tragic transformation below the waves. With its breathtaking photography, nail-biting suspense, and startling emotion, Chasing Coral is a dramatic revelation that won’t have audiences sitting idle for long.

AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL TRUTH TO POWER

An Inconvenient Sequel

AcquiredJanuary 19
By: Paramount
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk (Audrie & Daisy)
Other Info: Will hit theaters on July 28th 2017 in wide release.

Plot Synopsis:

A decade after An Inconvenient Truth brought climate change into the heart of popular culture comes the riveting and rousing follow-up that shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution. Vice President Al Gore continues his tireless fight, traveling around the world training an army of climate champions and influencing international climate policy. Cameras follow him behind the scenes—in moments private and public, funny and poignant—as he pursues the empowering notion that while the stakes have never been higher, the perils of climate change can be overcome with human ingenuity and passion.

long strange trip

Long Strange Trip

Acquired: January 18
By: Amazon
Purchase Price: n/a
Director: Amir Bar-Lev (The Tillman Story)
Other Info: Executive produced by Martin Scorsese. Set to debut May 26 on Amazon Prime Video in the US and UK as a six part documentary, with additional territories to be announced.

Plot Synopsis:

The 30-year odyssey of the Grateful Dead was the most unlikely success story in rock and roll history. Famously averse to publicity, seemingly incapable of recording radio-friendly hits, they flouted music-industry convention by giving their live music away to a global network of tape traders, becoming the highest-grossing concert act in America on word of mouth alone. Executive produced by Scorsese (Silence), Long Strange Trip is the first full-length documentary to explore the fiercely independent vision, insistence on continuous innovation, and uncompromising commitment to their audience that propelled the original jam band from a Bay Area pizza parlor to the ranks of the most enduringly influential musicians of their generation. By assembling candid interviews with the band, road crew, family members, and notable Deadheads, director Bar-Lev (The Tillman Story) unearths the untold history of the Dead and the freewheeling psychedelic subculture that sprouted up around it, while providing poignant insight into the psyche of late lead guitarist Jerry Garcia, who disdained leadership of the increasingly sprawling collective organization that kept the show on the road. With a soundtrack that captures some of the band’s most dynamic live performances as well as unguarded moments offstage and never before seen footage and photos, Long Strange Trip is an epic exploration into a uniquely American experiment in radically eclectic music-making that continues to earn the passionate loyalty of generations of fans worldwide.

toru short film

Toru

AcquiredJanuary 16
By: A24
Purchase Price: N/a
Director:  Jonathan Minard and Scott Rashap
Other Info: 14-minute short film in Japanese with English subtitles, teased cryptically by A24.

Plot Synopsis:

With a science fiction undercurrent, Toru centers on the story of a baby boy, named Toru, born with a fatal lung condition. As he only has a few days to live Toru’s parents sign him up for a trial experiment that would simulate a full life in a matter of days. The film follows Toru’s dream-like life simulation as a boy named Todd growing up in a New England suburb, and concludes in futuristic Japan.

Berlin Syndrome

Berlin Syndrome

AcquiredJanuary 13
By: Vertical & Netflix
Purchase Price: low- to mid-seven figures
Director: Cate Shortland (LoreSomersault)
Starring: Teresa Palmer, Max Riemelt
Other Info: Acquired pre-fest. Netflix will get all rights including streaming after Vertical distributes the film theatrically.

Plot Synopsis:

Australian tourist Clare (Teresa Palmer) travels to Berlin to photograph East German architecture and meets Andi (Max Riemelt), a handsome but brooding schoolteacher. After a brief erotic fling, Clare tries to leave, but Andi isn’t ready to let go. She soon finds herself held prisoner in his locked apartment, cut off from the outside world. As her ordeal unfolds, Clare cycles between reasoning with her captor, surrendering to his obsessions, and plotting her escape.

Motherland

Motherland

AcquiredJanuary 9
By: Dogwoof (UK Distributor)
Purchase Price:
Director: Ramona Diaz
Other Info: The deal was negotiated between Dogwoof and Diaz with the distributor handling world sales across all platforms.

Plot Synopsis:

This stirring vérité portrait takes us into the heart of the planet’s busiest maternity hospital—a world unto itself in the Philippines. Unseen observers in this frenetic and understaffed landscape, we enter hectic birthing rooms and pass through overcrowded hallways bursting with life. Babies are lost and found, and multiple mothers share a single bed. The camera glides intimately and effortlessly around the hospital, unlocking nuances of this intricate ecosystem. There is a remarkably calm air of acceptance to this tumultuous scene, that can only be understood by a mother on her seventh child. Despite the harsh, unsanitary circumstances a supportive community of women—from doctors and nurses to social workers—makes this world thrive. Imbued with optimism, humor, and a specific type of strength, mothers exit the doors of the hospital and return to the bustling street outside.

a ghost story

A Ghost Story

AcquiredJanuary 8
By: A24
Purchase Price: N/A
Director: David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Pete’s Dragon)
Starring: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, Will Oldham, Sonia Acevedo, Rob Zabrecky, Liz Franke
Other Info: A24 reportedly had such confidence in the film, they bought it sight unseen.

Plot Synopsis:

From acclaimed filmmaker David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies SaintsPete’s Dragon), GhostStory follows a recently deceased young man (Casey Affleck) who returns to his former home as a benevolent spectral presence repeatedly trying to connect with his beloved wife (Rooney Mara), and over time, others who pass through the house.  As time unfolds, he arrives at an increasingly deeper understanding about love, loss, his place in the world, and the world beyond.  Lowery crafts a soulful and romantic portrait of life after death and a beautifully intimate meditation on some of life’s most epic and profound questions.

Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name

AcquiredJanuary 6
By: Sony Pictures Classics
Purchase Price:
Director: Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love)
Starring: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, Victoire Du Bois
Other Info: SPC acquired worldwide rights in advance of the festival.

Plot Synopsis:

It’s the summer of 1983 in northern Italy, and Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), a 17-year-old American-Italian boy, spends his days in his family’s seventeenth century villa lazily transcribing music and flirting with his friend Marzia. One day Oliver (Armie Hammer), a charming, 24-year-old American scholar working on his doctorate, arrives as the annual summer intern tasked with helping Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlbarg), an eminent professor specializing in Greco-Roman culture. Amid the sun-drenched splendor of this sensual setting, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will change their lives forever.

Casting JonBenet

Casting JonBenet

AcquiredJanuary 4
By: Netflix
Purchase Price:
Director: Kitty Green (Ukraine is Not a Brothel, The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul, which premiered at Sundance in 2015 where it won short film non-fiction jury prize)
Other Info: The film will launch on Netflix and in limited theatrical release in Spring of 2017. The doc will have its world premiere in the US Documentary Competition; the first time a nonfiction work from the company will compete.

Plot Synopsis:

Casting JonBenet is a sly and stylized exploration of the world’s most sensational child-murder case, the still unsolved death of six-year-old American beauty queen, JonBenet Ramsey. After years of media speculation and public fascination, audiences are presented with a documentary hybrid examining the macabre legacy of this tiny starlet. Over 15 months, the filmmakers traveled to the Ramseys’ Colorado hometown to elicit responses, reflections and even performances from the local community. In doing so, Casting JonBenet examines how this crime and its resulting mythologies have shaped the attitudes and behavior of successive generations of parents and children.

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