Sundance Film Festival kicks off on Thursday when the industry will gather on the mountain to put the world to rights and buyers will engage in the annual hunt for the festival’s must-have acquisition titles.

Streamers and theatrical buyers will vie for coveted breakouts and while there will almost certainly be a number of on-site deals as there were last year when Netflix swooped on Fair Play in a $20m deal, Apple forked out close to that amount for Flora And Son, and Searchlight Pictures paid $8m for Theater Camp, the post-Covid deal lag will see many transactions take weeks if not months to close.

The Hollywood strikes did not by and large impact the array of films on offer to Sundance programmers, although the disruption to production schedules caused by the work stoppages is likely to manifest itself in the number of independent films on the release calendar further down the line.

Meanwhile there will be opportunities for smaller buyers to discover gems if they can get out of the way of streamers and larger theatrical buyers, even if the scarcity of pay-1 partners means they will be more cautious than ever.

A number of films are already spoken for, like The American Society Of Magical Negroes at Focus, Bleecker Street’s Sasquatch Sunset, and several at A24 including Rose Glass’s Love Lies Bleeding, Jane Schoenbrun’s I Saw The TV Glow, and Christine Vachon-produced A Different Man.

Neon has Handling The Undead, Stress Positions, and Seeking Mavis Beacon, Apple will distribute the documentary Girls’ State, Netflix has Power and 2023 Venice and TIFF selection Hit Man, and HBO Documentary Films has The Synanon Fix.

That said, there is plenty available.

Below is an alphabetical list of some acquisition titles sitting at the top of buyers’ viewing lists. All times are in local Mountain Time and wherever possible Screen has listed the first public and first P&I screenings for each film. The Sundance website lists the full screening schedules.

The festival runs from January 18-28 in-person in Park City and Salt Lake City, with a selection of titles available online nationwide (US only) from January 25-28.

Between The Temples
US Dramatic Competition
Dir: Nathan Silver
Jason Schwartzman stars in the story of a cantor in a crisis of faith who finds his world turned upside down when his grade school music teacher re-enters his life as his new adult bat mitzvah student. The cast includes Carol Kane and Dolly de Leon.
Sales: CAA Media Finance
Screenings: Jan. 19, 2.30pm public, Library Center Theatre; Jan 20, 3.30pm P&I, Holiday Village Cinemas 1

Dir: Chris Smith
Chris Smith captures the highs and lows of the new wave band launched in the early 1970s through previously unseen archival footage and interviews with band members, charting their rise from humble origins to the heady days of MTV.
Sales: Cinetic Media
Screenings: Jan. 21, 10pm public, Library Center Theatre; Jan. 22, 3.30pm P&I, Holiday Village Cinemas 1

Exhibiting Forgiveness
US Dramatic Competition
Dir: Titus Kaphar
A Black artist on the path to success is derailed by an unexpected visit from his estranged father and recovering addict. André Holland, John Earl Jelks, Andra Day, and Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor star.
Sales: UTA Independent Group
Screenings: Jan. 20, 3pm public, Eccles Theatre; Jan. 21, 5pm P&I, Holiday Village Cinemas 4.

Freaky Tales
Dirs: Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden
Sundance veterans Fleck and Boden (Half Nelson, Sugar, Mississippi Grind) are back with this aptly named set of four connected underdog stories set in Oakland in 1987 as teens battle Nazi skinheads and a weary hitman looks for redemption. Pedro Pascal leads an ensemble that includes Jay Ellis, Normani Kordei Hamilton, Dominique Thorne, Ben Mendelsohn, and Ji-Young Yoo.
Sales: WME Independent
Screenings: Jan. 18, 6.45pm public, Eccles Theatre; Jan. 19, 1.30pm P&I, Holiday Village Cinemas 4

Krazy House (Neth)
Dirs: Steffen Haars, Flip van der Kuil
Nick Frost stars in the livewire story of Bernie, who mans up to save his family after Russian workers in his house turn out to be wanted criminals. Alicia Silverstone also stars in the first English-language film from Dutch filmmaking duo Haars and van der Kuil (Ron Goossens).
Sales: XYZ Films (North America)
Screenings: Jan. 20, 10.30pm public, Egyptian Theatre; Jan. 22, 12noon P&I, Holiday Village Cinemas 1

Little Death (USA)
Dir: Jack Begert
David Schwimmer stars as a middle-aged filmmaker on the verge of a breakthrough. Darron Aronofsky is among the producers and the cast includes Gaby Hoffmann, Talia Ryder, and Jena Malone.
Sales: UTA Independent Film Group, CAA Media Finance
Screenings: Jan. 19, 9.15pm public, Egyptian Theatre; Jan. 20, 9.30am P&I, Holiday Village Cinemas 2

Love Me
US Dramatic Competition
Dirs: Sam Zuchero, Andy Zuchero
One of two selections to star Kristen Stewart, Love Me is a sci-fi romance set after the end of humanity about a buoy and a satellite who meet online and fall in love. The presence of Steven Yeun will boost the existential tale’s appeal.
Sales: WME Independent/2AM
Screenings: Jan. 19, 12noon public, Eccles Theatre; Jan. 19, 7pm P&I, Holiday Village Cinemas 1

The Moogai (Aus)
Dir: Jon Bell
Bankside sold out Sundance 2023 selection Talk To Me and will be looking for a strong response to another film from the producers of that film and The Babadook: Jon Bell’s story about an Aboriginal mother who becomes convinced a malign spirit is trying to steal her baby. Shari Sebbens and Meyne Wyatt star.
Sales: Bankside Films
Screenings: Jan. 21, 10.30pm public, The Ray Theatre; Jan. 22, 4.30pm P&I, Holiday Village Cinemas 2.

My Old Ass
Dir: Megan Park
Cheeky Elliott comes face-to-face with her older self during a mushroom trip during the summer before college. Maddie Ziegler, Maisy Stella, and Aubrey Plaza from The White Lotus and 2022 Sundance hit Emily The Criminal star.
Sales: CAA Media Finance
Screenings: Jan. 20, 7pm public, Eccles Theatre; Jan. 21, 8.30pm P&I, Holiday Village Cinemas 4

The Outrun
Dir: Nora Fingscheidt
Saoirse Ronan stars in this BBC Film production as Rona, a young woman living life on the edge in London who tries to come to terms with her troubled past and returns to Scotland’s Orkney Islands where she grew up, in the hopes of healing. Adapted from the bestselling memoir by Amy Liptrot.
Sales: Protagonist Pictures, CAA Media Finance
Screenings: Jan. 19, 6pm public, Library Centre Theatre; Jan. 20, 1.30pm P&I, Holiday Village Cinemas 4

Dir: Steven Soderbergh
Anticipation is high for Presence, which remarkably is the first film directed by Soderbergh to premiere in Park City since his breakout Sex, Lies, And Videotape back in 1989. Lucy Liu stars in the thriller about a family that moves into a suburban house and becomes convinced they’re not alone. The storyline may sound familiar, but there’s only one Soderbergh.
Sales: Suagr23
Screenings: Jan. 19, 9.45pm public, Library Centre Theatre; Jan. 21, 12noon P&I, Holiday Village Cinemas 1

A Real Pain (US-Pol)
US Dramatic Competition
Dir: Jesse Eisenberg
Eisenberg is back with his second directing effort after 2022 Sundance selection When You Finish Saving The World, starring opposite Emmy and Golden Globe winner Kieran Culkin in a drama about an odd couple of cousins who embark on a tour of Poland to commemorate their beloved grandmother. During the trip tensions and family politics rear their heads.
Sales: WME Independent/CAA Media Finance
Screenings: Jan. 20, 11.45am public, Eccles Theatre; Jan. 21, 9.30am public, Eccles Theatre

Rob Peace
Dir: Chiwetel Ejiofor
The story of Peace, who grew up in an impoverished section of Newark and later graduated from Yale with degrees in molecular biophysics and biochemistry while on scholarship. He led a dual life in academia and research while also earning six figures selling marijuana. Based on Jeff Hobbs’ bestselling biography. The cast includes Jay Will, Mary J. Blige, and Ejiofor.
Sales: Republic Pictures
Screenings: Jan. 22, 12.30pm public, Eccles Theatre; Jan. 23, 9.30am public, Eccles Theatre

Skywalkers: A Love Story
US Documentary Competition
Dir: Jeff Zimbalist
The co-director of 2016 Tribeca entry Pele: The Birth Of A Legend has spent much of his career telling sporting and inspirational stories and arrives with one of the most anticipated selections in Park City. His new documentary follows a daredevil couple as they plan an acrobatic stunt atop the world’s last super skyscraper in a bid to save their career and relationship.
Sales: XYZ Films
Screenings: Jan. 18, 9.45pm public, The Ray Theatre; Jan. 19, 9.30am P&I, Holiday Village Cinemas 2

Sujo (Mex-US-Fr)
World Cinema Dramatic Competition
Dirs: Astrid Rondero, Fernanda Valadez
Valadez directed 2020 Sundance audience award winner Identifying Features and teams up with Rondero on the story of the infant son of a dead cartel gunman who grows up and realises he may have no choice but to avenge his father’s death. Juan Jesús Varela stars.
Sales: Alpha Violet
Screenings: Jan. 19, 12.15pm public, The Ray Theatre; Jan. 19, 7.30pm P&I, Holiday Village Cinemas 3

Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story (UK-US)
Dirs: Ian Bonhôte, Peter Ettedgui
Never-before-seen home movies and extraordinary personal archives reveal how Christopher Reeve went from unknown actor to iconic movie star as the ultimate screen superhero, Superman, before an accident left him quadriplegic and dependent on a ventilator to breathe.
Salt Lake Opening Film
Sales: Cinetic Media
Screenings: Jan. 21, 9am public, The Ray Theatre; Jan. 24, 2.15pm public, Redstone Cinemas 7

Dir: Josh Margolin
June Squibb, in the first lead role of her career, plays a 93-year-old woman who goes on the warpath after she gets scammed. Margolin was inspired to tell the story after a similar episode involving his grandmother and frames the action in a manner reminiscent of Mission: Impossible as the title character uses wit, nonagenarian spycraft and the help of a friend (Shaft icon Richard Roundtree in his final role) to get even.
Sales: CAA Media Finance
Screenings: Jan. 18, 6.30pm public, The Ray Theatre; Jan 19, 3.30pm P&I, Holiday Village Cinemas 1

Will & Harper
Dir: Josh Greenbaum
Will Ferrell embarks on a cross-country road trip when he finds out his close friend of 30 years is coming out as a trans woman in Greembaum’s documentary.
Sales: UTA Independent Film Group (world)
Screenings: Jan. 22, 7.30pm public, Eccles Theatre; Jan. 23, 9am P&I, The Ray Theatre

Winner (US-Can)
Dir: Susanna Fogel
After Sydney Sweeney played Reality Winner in HBO’s 2023 Berlin selection Reality, Sundance alumnus Emilia Jones (Coda) stars in this latest treatment about the young Texan NSA contractor who becomes a whistleblower and gets prosecuted after she exposes Russia’s hacking of the 2016 election.
Sales: UTA Independent Film Group
Screenings: Jan 20, 3.30pm public, The Ray Theatres; Jan. 21, 8.30am P&I, Holiday Village Cinemas 1

Your Monster
Dir: Caroline Lindy
After her life falls apart, soft-spoken actress Laura Franco finds her voice again when she meets a terrifying yet charming monster in her closet. Melissa Barrera, Tommy Dewey, Meghann Fahy, Edmund Donovan, and Kayla Foster star.
Sales: WME Independent
Screenings: Jan. 18, 10.15pm public, Egyptian Theatre; Jan. 19, 1pm P&I, Holiday Village Cinemas 2.

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