Sundance 2020 Movies Sold

The 2020 Sundance Film Festival is underway, and we’ve already seen a lot of great movies in the mountains of Park City, Utah. But this year, studios and distributors are being a little more cautious when it comes to picking up any of the buzzed about movies playing at the festival. Last year saw some big deals result in disappointing box office returns, and without many big movies garnering loads of attention, the Sundance market is moving at a slower pace than usual. But even so, there are already some movies that have been picked up, and we’ve got a list of them rounded up below that will be continuously updated.

Sundance 2020 Movies Sold

The Father

The Father

Buyer: Sony Pictures Classics (via Variety)

Director: Florian Zeller

Writer: Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller

Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, Olivia Williams.

Sundance Synopsis: Almost 80, mischievous, caustic, and defiantly living alone, Anthony (Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins) rejects each and every hired caretaker that his daughter, Anne (Academy Award winner Olivia Colman), lovingly introduces. Anne is desperate for help. She can’t make daily visits anymore, and Anthony’s grip on reality is unraveling. Given the ebb and flow of his memory, how much of his own identity and past can he cling to? Anne grieves the loss of her father as he lives and breathes before her—but doesn’t she have the right to live her own life?

Mucho Mucho Amor

Mucho Mucho Amor

Buyer: Netflix (via The Hollywood Reporter)

Director: Cristina Costantini, Kareem Tabsch

Writer: N/A

Cast: Interview subjects include Lin-Manuel Miranda, Eugenio Derbez, Raul De Molina

Sundance Synopsis: Extravagant Puerto Rican astrologer, psychic, and gender nonconforming legend Walter Mercado charmed the world for over 30 years with his televised horoscopes. Equal parts Oprah, Liberace, and Mr. Rogers, Walter was a celebrated daily part of Latin culture—until one day in 2007 he mysteriously disappeared. Over a decade later, the filmmakers find Walter and invite us into his home and interior world as he prepares to restore his legacy in the public eye.

The film explores Walter’s complex story from the rural sugarcane fields of Puerto Rico to international astrology superstardom, rising above homophobia and the heteronormative beliefs of Latin society with a message of love and hope.

the night house review

The Night House

Buyer: (Fox) Searchlight Pictures (via Deadline)

Director: David Buckner

Writer: Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski

Cast: Rebecca Hall, Sarah Goldberg, Stacy Martin, Evan Jonigkeit, Vondie Curtis-Hall

Sundance Synopsis: Reeling from the unexpected death of her husband, Beth (Rebecca Hall) is left alone in the lakeside home he built for her. She tries as best she can to keep together—but then the dreams come. Disturbing visions of a presence in the house call to her, beckoning with a ghostly allure. But the harsh light of day washes away any proof of a haunting. Against the advice of her friends, she begins digging into his belongings, yearning for answers. What she finds are secrets both strange and terrible and a mystery she’s determined to resolve.

Read our The Night House review right here.

Herself

Herself

Buyer: Amazon Studios (via Deadline)

Director: Phyllida Lloyd

Writer: Clare Dunne, Malcolm Campbell

Cast: Clare Dunne, Harriet Walter, Conleth Hill

Sundance Synopsis: Sandra, an Irish single mother of two young girls, faces a dire situation. An attack by her abusive ex-husband and a housing crisis in Dublin leave her living in fear and unable to find a new home. Temporarily living with her two daughters in a cramped hotel room and battling a system that refuses to help her, Sandra is determined to create some stability and security for the three of them. Seeing no other options, she decides to build her own house, literally and metaphorically pouring the foundation of her own future.

Ironbark review

Ironbark

Buyer: Lionsgate (via Deadline)

Director: Dominic Cooke

Writer: Tom O’Connor

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Merab Ninidze, Rachel Brosnahan, Jessie Buckley

Sundance Synopsis: Businessman Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) and prim but warm housewife Sheila (Jessie Buckley) lead a properly quiet English life. When rumblings of a mole in the Soviet Union government reach British intelligence agent Dickie Franks (Angus Wright) and CIA official Emily Donovan (Rachel Brosnahan), Greville is called upon by his country precisely for his ordinariness. He is thrown into the political conflict, and as his efforts to end the Cuban Missile Crisis deepen, he forges an unbreakable bond with his informant, Oleg (Merab Ninidze), that will be put to the ultimate test. Pressured by Sheila’s suspicion of his secrecy and as the Soviets close in on the plot, Greville proves himself not to be ordinary at all.

Read our Ironbark review right here.

Uncle Frank

Uncle Frank

Buyer: Amazon Studios (via Deadline)

Director: Alan Ball

Writer: Alan Ball

Cast: Paul Bettany, Sophia Lillis, Peter Macdissi, Steve Zahn, Judy Greer, Margo Martindale

Sundance Synopsis: In 1973, teenage Beth (Sophia Lillis) leaves her rural hometown to study at New York University where her estranged uncle Frank (Paul Bettany) is a revered literature professor. She soon discovers that Frank is gay and living with his longtime partner, Wally (Peter Macdissi)—an arrangement he has kept secret for years. After the sudden death of surly patriarch Mac (Stephen Root), Frank reluctantly returns home for the funeral with Beth and Wally in tow. Along the way, he’s forced to reckon with the ghosts of the past and finally face his family.

Sundance 2020 Movies Sold

Palm Springs

Buyer: NEON / Hulu (via Deadline)

Director: Max Barbakow

Writer: Andy Siara

Cast: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons, Meredith Hagner, Camila Mendes, Peter Gallagher

Sundance Synopsis: Stuck in Palm Springs for her younger sister Tala’s destination wedding, family black sheep and reluctant maid of honor Sarah meets carefree Nyles, the date of a vapid bridesmaid. After Nyles bails Sarah out of giving a wedding toast, she quickly realizes that he is actually not a sentimental fool at all and feels drawn to his offbeat nihilism. After their impromptu tryst is thwarted by a surreal, unexpected interruption, Sarah joins Nyles in embracing the idea that nothing really matters, and they begin wreaking spirited havoc on the wedding celebration.

Read our Palm Springs review right here.

His House

His House

Buyer: Netflix (via Deadline)

Director: Remi Weekes

Writer: Remi Weekes

Cast: Wunmi Mosaku, Sope Dirisu, Matt Smith

Sundance Synopsis: Many refugee stories end in the same place: a safe (if slightly bewildering) new home. And that’s where His House begins, with a Sudanese couple arriving in a quiet English town for their “happily ever after.” But as their acclimation process falters, we realize that there’s more to blame than cross-cultural misunderstanding. Things begin to go disastrously wrong. “Screaming nightmares” wrong. “Blood magic” wrong. And then, it gets much, much worse.

The Truffle Hunters Documentary

The Truffle Hunters

Buyer: Sony Pictures Classics (via Deadline)

Director: Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw

Writer: N/A

Cast: N/A

Sundance Synopsis: Deep in the forests of Northern Italy resides the prized white Alba truffle. Desired by the wealthiest patrons in the world, it remains a pungent but rarified mystery. It cannot be cultivated or found, even by the most resourceful of modern excavators. The only souls on Earth who know how to dig it up are a tiny circle of canines and their silver-haired human companions—Italian elders with walking sticks and devilish senses of humor—who only scour for the truffle at night so as not to leave any clues for others.

Boys State Documentary

Boys State

Buyer: Apple / A24 (via Deadline)

Director: Jesse Moss, Amanda McBaine

Writer: N/A

Cast: N/A

Sundance Synopsis: Strap up your saddle and get ready for a wild ride. Boys State is a political coming-of-age story, examining the health of American democracy through an unusual experiment: a thousand 17-year-old boys from across the state of Texas gather together to build a representative government from the ground up. High-minded ideals collide with low-down dirty tricks as four boys of diverse backgrounds and political views navigate the challenges of organizing political parties, shaping consensus, and campaigning for the highest office at Texas Boys State—governor.

Read our Boys State review right here.

I Carry You With Me

I Carry You With Me

Buyer: Sony Pictures Classics and Sony’s Stage 6 Films (via Deadline)

Director: Heidi Ewing

Writer: Heidi Ewing, Alan Page Arriaga

Cast: Armando Espitia, Christian Vázquez, Michelle Rodríguez, Ángeles Cruz, Arcelia Ramírez, Michelle González

 

Sundance Synopsis: As a young aspiring chef in Mexico, Iván works at a restaurant, hoping to land a spot in the kitchen while supporting the mother of his child. One night he meets Gerardo, a handsome teacher who, unlike Iván, is out as a gay man. Their chemistry is instant. The discovery of their romance, however, causes conflict, and he is told he can no longer see his son. In despair, Iván makes the arduous decision to cross the border to advance his culinary career, promising his son and newfound love he will return.

Identifying Features

Identifying Features (Sin Señas Particulares)

Buyer: Kino Lorber (via Deadline)

Director: Fernanda Valadez

Writer: Fernanda Valadez, Astrid Rondero

Cast: Mercedes Hernández, David Illescas, Juan Jesús Varela, Ana Laura Rodríguez, Laura Elena Ibarra, Xicoténcatl Ulloa

Sundance Synopsis: Magdalena hasn’t heard from her son in months—not since he left their town to cross the border into the United States. The authorities want her to sign her son’s death certificate, but an encounter with a bereaved parent makes Magdalena realize that she cannot live without knowing his fate. She begins an odyssey across Mexico, though areas of violence and desolation, chasing any available lead despite being warned not to publicly ask such questions. Along the way, she meets and travels with recently deported Miguel, who finds himself journeying home through a changed country.

The Fight

The Fight

Buyer: Magnolia (via Deadline)

Director: Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, Eli Despres

Writer: N/A

Cast: N/A

Sundance Synopsis: Seven days after President Trump’s inauguration, the country’s airports and courthouses were clogged with protesters fighting to protect immigrants facing deportation due to the administration’s “Muslim ban” policy. It was to be the opening salvo of a relentless attack on civil liberties—and a tsunami of lawsuits waged against the Trump administration.

What must it be like to be an ACLU lawyer in this day and age?

The Fight is an inspiring, emotional insider look at how these important battles are fought and the legal gladiators on the front lines fighting them.

Siempre, Luis

Siempre, Luis

Buyer: HBO Documentary Films (via Deadline)

Director: John James

Writer: N/A

Cast: N/A

Sundance Synopsis: When Luis A. Miranda Jr. left Puerto Rico for New York City in the 1970s, he had big dreams—but little did he know how far he’d go. Landing an influential position in New York City mayor Ed Koch’s administration as the director of Hispanic affairs, he built a career representing Latinx (and largely, due to their prevalence in the city, Puerto Rican) communities, helping to elect some of the most powerful politicians in the country.

Over the course of an intense year, Luis’s devotion to family and country propel him forward despite recent health issues. He finds that there is always more to do, especially when his beloved Puerto Rico is in need. Following the devastation of Hurricane Maria, he helps plan relief efforts and, to raise money and awareness, manages the logistics behind bringing his son Lin-Manuel Miranda’s award-winning production of Hamilton to the island. With humor and a lot of heart, Siempre, Luis tells the story of a unique and proud American.

Bad Hair

Bad Hair

Buyer: Hulu (via Deadline)

Director: Justin Simien

Writer: Justin Simien

Cast: Elle Lorraine, Vanessa Williams, Jay Pharoah, Lena Waithe, Blair Underwood, Laverne Cox

Sundance Synopsis: Los Angeles, 1989. Anna Bludso (Elle Lorraine) is a scarred survivor of a scalp burn from a mild relaxer perm. She also has the smarts and ambition to be the next on-air star at Culture, a music video TV show. After years of struggling to be seen for her ideas and hard work, Anna fears the worst when her dreadlocked boss is replaced by Zora (Vanessa Williams), an ex-supermodel with a silver tongue. Zora warns Anna that her nappy look has got to go, so Anna bites the bullet and gets a weave. Turns out, her flowing new hair is the key to success—but it arrived with a mind of its own, and it bites back!

Read our Bad Hair review right here.

Assassins

Assassins

Buyer: Magnolia (via Deadline)

Director: Ryan White

Writer: N/A

Cast: N/A

Sundance Synopsis: The mysterious murder of North Korean royal family member Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia sparks a captivating global investigation. At the center of the story, two women are on trial for the murder. Are the women ruthless assassins or political pawns in a twisted game?

The investigation goes far beyond the headlines, probing further into each woman’s upbringing, one in rural Indonesia and one in Vietnam, and, ultimately, what led them to participate in an alleged prank show that ended with Kim Jong-nam dead. Assassins questions every angle of this murder case, from human trafficking to high-level political espionage to the inner dynamics of the North Korean royal family.

Spree

Spree

Buyer: RLJE Films (via Deadline)

Director: Eugene Kotlyarenko

Writer: Gene McHugh, Eugene Kotlyarenko

Cast: Joe Keery, Sasheer Zamata, David Arquette, Kyle Mooney, Mischa Barton, Josh Ovalle

Sundance Synopsis: Meet Kurt, from @KurtsWorld96. He dreams of one day sitting atop a social media empire, but he’s not there yet. He currently drives for the rideshare company Spree, which is cool for him because he gets to hang with so many dope people all day long. Fortunately, Kurt has come up with the perfect way to go viral: #TheLesson. He’s decked out his car with cameras for a nonstop livestream full of killer entertainment. In the middle of all this madness, a stand-up comedian with her own viral agenda, Jessie Adams, crosses Kurt’s path and becomes our only hope to put a stop to his misguided carnage.

Read our Spree review right here.

On the Record

On the Record

Buyer: On the Reconrd (via Deadline)

Director: Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering

Writer: Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering, Sara Newens

Cast: N/A

Sundance Synopsis: This documentary presents the haunting story of music executive Drew Dixon, whose career and personal life have been deeply affected by the abuse she faced from the men she admired in the industry she loves. Directed by the Academy Award–nominated filmmaking duo Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (The Invisible War, 2012 Sundance Film Festival), the film follows Dixon (producer of hit records by 2Pac, Method Man, and Mary J. Blige) as she grapples with her decision to become one of the first women of color to come forward as part of the #MeToo movement.

Sylvie's Love

Sylvie’s Love

Buyer: Amazon (via Deadline)

Director: Eugene Ashe

Writer: Eugene Ashe

Cast: Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Eva Longoria, Aja Naomi King, Wendi Mclendon-Covey, Jemima Kirke

Sundance Synopsis: The jazz is smooth and the air sultry in the New York summer of 1957. Sylvie helps around her father’s record store as she waits for her fiancé to return from war—until sweet saxophonist Robert walks in looking for a day job to subsidize his residency at the Blue Morocco lounge. This chance meeting kindles a deep passion in each of them unlike anything they’ve felt before. Sylvie’s mother immediately disapproves and reminds Sylvie of her engagement, while Robert’s band books their first big gig overseas. As time passes, the sexual revolution begins, and Motown becomes king, the two fall in and out of each other’s arms, but never out of love.

Read our Sylvie’s Love review right here.

The 40-Year Old Version

The 40-Year Old Version

Buyer: Netflix (via Deadline)

Director: Radha Blank

Writer: Radha Blank

Cast: Radha Blank, Peter Y. Kim, Oswin Benjamin, Reed Birney, Imani Lewis, TJ Atoms

Sundance Synopsis: Radha, a once-promising playwright, is barreling toward the stigma of being single and a struggling artist at the age of 40. Facing nonstop rejections from the theatre community while teaching a motley group of teens, she becomes creatively re-invigorated when she returns to rapping, her long-forgotten passion. When her play finally gets going, however, she puts recording a rap demo on the back burner and must navigate the awful tension of compromising her voice for career success.

Kajillionaire

Kajillionaire

Buyer: Focus Features (via Deadline)

Director: Miranda July

Writer: Miranda July

Cast: Evan Rachel Wood, Gina Rodriguez, Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger

Sundance Synopsis: Con artists Theresa and Robert have spent 26 years training their only daughter, Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood), to swindle, scam, and steal at every opportunity. During a desperate, hastily conceived heist, they charm a kind stranger, Melanie (Gina Rodriguez), into joining their next scheme, completely shaking up Old Dolio’s routine. Her unlikely connection with Melanie begins to challenge Old Dolio’s odd and stoic reality—and she finds herself suddenly caught between the only family she has ever known and the prospect of total freedom.

Read our Kajillionaire review right here.

Shirley

Shirley

Buyer: NEON (via Deadline)

Director: Josephine Decker

Writer: Sarah Gubbins

Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg, Odessa Young, Logan Lerman

Sundance Synopsis: Fred and Rose move to a small Vermont college town in pursuit of a job for Fred as an assistant professor of literature. The young couple receives an offer for free room and board from professor Stanley Hyman, as long as Rose agrees to spend time cleaning up the home and looking after his wife, acclaimed horror author Shirley Jackson. At first Fred and Rose detest the rocky household of the eccentric couple, but they eventually establish deep bonds with their counterparts, which will test the limits of their young love.

Read our Shirley review right here.

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