5 2016 Sundance Films to See



This is but a small sampling of the fantastic film fare to screen this year at Sundance in Park City, Utah. Check out five of the films I am most looking forward to seeing in 2016.


The Birth of a Nation


The Birth of a Nation is the feature directorial debut for screenwriter and actor Nate Parker, which made quite an impression during its World Premiere at Sundance this year. The film received both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize in the US Dramatic Competition. After an impressive bidding war, Fox Searchlight purchased the rights to the film for a massive $17.5 million, a record making deal for Sundance.


As well as direct, Parker also wrote the screenplay and stars as the film’s protagonist, Nat Turner, the leader of a slave rebellion in 1831 Virginia. Joining Parker in the cast is Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Penelope Ann Miller, and Gabrielle Union.



Manchester by the Sea


Casey Affleck stars as Lee Chandler, who must return to his hometown to care for his nephew after the sudden and unexpected death of his brother, Joe, played by Kyle Chandler. Michelle Williams also stars as Lee’s wife, Randi.


Manchester by the Sea premiered to near universal critical acclaim at Sundance and was acquired for distribution by Amazon. Kenneth Lonergan both wrote and directed the film.





Goat had its World Premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and was also selected to screen in the Panorama section of the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival. Andrew Neel directed and co-wrote the script, along with David Gordon Green, and Mike Roberts, adapted from the memoir of Brad Land.


“Reeling from a terrifying assault, a 19 year-old boy enrolls into college with his brother and pledges the same fraternity. What happens there, in the name of “brotherhood” tests the boy and his loyalty to his brother in brutal ways.”


Goat stars Nick Jonas, Ben Schnetzer, and Virginia Gardner. Paramount Home Media acquired the worldwide distribution rights, and Great Point Media maintains the theatrical distribution rights.



Spa Night


Spa Night is Andrew Ahn’s directorial debut, starring Joe Seo, who won the Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance. Ahn also wrote the script, which depicts, “A closeted Korean-American teenager who takes a job at a Korean spa to help his struggling family, only to discover an underground world of gay sex at the spa that both scares and excites him.”

The film notably features Los Angeles, Koreatown in particular, almost as its own character. It is a story of self-discovery for a young man who must grapple with the social pressures of his family and community. Spa Night is one of five films to show at Sundance this year to subsequently be acquired by Sundance Channel Global.





Another feature directorial debut, Tallulah was both written and directed by Sian Heder. In the film, “A young free-spirited woman rescues a baby from an irresponsible mother and pretends the child is her own with the help of her ex-boyfriend’s mother. After being accused of kidnapping, she returns the child to its mother, and the three women form a close connection.”


Tallulah stars Ellen Page, Allison Janney, and Uzo Aduba. Netflix snatched up exclusive streaming and VOD rights to the dramedy even before it had premiered at Sundance.