2018 Sundance Film Festival: Latest Additions Announced, Including Eight Features, Virtual Reality Work, Hosted Retrospectives

Akicita: The Battle of Standing Rock, Credit: Cody Lucich.

Published December 30, 2017

PARK CITY, UTAH — Sundance Institute completes the slate of bold independent work set for the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, with eight feature films, a VR experience, the NEXT Innovator’s Award juror and hosted retrospectives joining the lineup today. Screenings will take place in Park City, Salt Lake City and at Sundance Mountain Resort January 18-28.

RuPaul will convene a retrospective of VH1’s Emmy-winning “RuPaul’s Drag Race” on the heels of its 10th season, and host a panel with executive producers and Sundance Film Festival veterans Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey, along with Tom Campbell and Pamela Post, senior vice president of Original Programming for MTV, VH1 and Logo. RuPaul will also serve as the Festival’s inaugural and sole NEXT Innovator Award juror, and will present the NEXT Innovator Award to his favorite film in that category, which showcases pure, bold works distinguished by innovative, forward-thinking approaches to storytelling.

Other additions to the program include features Akicita: The Battle of Standing Rock, Hereditary, Lords of Chaos, The Long Dumb Road, Private Life, You Were Never Really Here and Sweet Country and New Frontier work Isle of Dogs Behind the Scenes (in Virtual Reality)Hearts Beat Loud, a feature announced earlier in the Premieres section, is now confirmed as a Closing Night Film.

These latest additions are joined by archive film Smoke Signals, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1998, and a selection of early work by filmmaker Todd Haynes, whose feature film directorial debut Poison won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival. The archive films are selections from the Sundance Institute Collection at UCLA, a partnership between UCLA Film & Television Archive and Sundance Institute. Established in 1997, the Collection is devoted to the preservation of independent documentaries, narratives, and short films supported by Sundance Institute. The Collection has grown to over 4,000 holdings representing nearly 2,300 titles and preservation efforts have brought renewed attention to films such asHoop DreamsDesert HeartsReservoir DogsRiver of GrassWalking and TalkingParis is Burning, El Mariachi and Paris, Texas. Titles are generously donated by individual filmmakers, distributors and studios.

For the 2018 Festival, 121 feature-length films were selected, representing 29 countries and 53 first-time filmmakers, including 30 in competition. These films were selected from 13,468 submissions including 3,901 feature-length films and 8,740 short films. Of the feature film submissions, 1,799 were from the U.S. and 2,102 were international. One hundred and eight feature films at the Festival will be world premieres. In 2017, the Festival drew 71,638 attendees, generated $151.5 million in economic activity for the state of Utah and supported 2,778 local jobs.

The latest additions to the 2018 Sundance Film Festival Program are:


An Evening with Todd Haynes / In the thirty years since he burst onto the indie scene, Todd Haynes has established himself as one of most distinctive voices in American cinema. A special conversation with Haynes and longtime collaborator, producer Christine Vachon, explores Haynes’ early work, including clips from notable, recently restored gems.

Smoke Signals / U.S.A. (Director: Chris Eyre, Screenwriter: Sherman Alexie, Producers: Larry Estes, Scott Rosenfelt) — When Victor’s estranged father Arnold dies in Arizona, he must leave his home on an Idaho reservation to retrieve Arnold’s ashes. Victor’s friend Thomas offers to fund the trip, but only if he can accompany Victor. Together they undertake a journey filled with discovery about their personal and cultural identities. Cast: Adam Beach, Evan Adams, Irene Bedard, Gary Farmer, Tantoo Cardinal.


Akicita.: The Battle of Standing Rock / U.S.A. (Director: Cody Lucich, Producers: Heather Rae, Gingger Shankar, Ben-Alex Dupris) — Standing Rock, 2016: the largest Native American occupation since Wounded Knee. Thousands of activists, environmentalists and militarized police descend on the Dakota Access Pipeline in a standoff between oil corporations and a new generation of Native Warriors. This chronicle captures the sweeping struggle, spirit and havoc of a People’s uprising. World Premiere. THE NEW CLIMATE


Hereditary / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ari Aster, Producers: Kevin Frakes, Lars Knudsen, Buddy Patrick) — After their reclusive grandmother passes away, the Graham family tries to escape the dark fate they’ve inherited. Cast: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Ann Dowd, Milly Shapiro. World Premiere

Lords of Chaos / U.S.A. (Director: Jonas Åkerlund, Screenwriters: Jonas Åkerlund, Dennis Magnusson, Producers: Kwesi Dickson, Danny Gabai, Jim Czarnecki, Erik Gordon, Jack Arbuthnott, Ko Mori) — Based on truth (and lies), Lords of Chaos is a dark drama about a precocious teenager, Euronymous, who wants to spread evil, chaos, and true Norwegian black metal. When Euronymous invites a mysterious loner, Varg, to join his “Black Circle,” a rivalry sparks, leading to unexpected consequences. Cast: Rory Culkin, Emory Cohen, Sky Ferreira, Jack Kilmer, Valter Skarsgård. World Premiere


Isle of Dogs Behind the Scenes (in Virtual Reality) / (Lead Artists: A collaboration between Felix Lajeunesse & Paul Raphael and the Isle of Dogs production team) — This virtual reality experience places the viewer inside the miniature world of Wes Anderson’s upcoming stop-motion animated film, face to face with the cast of dogs as they are interviewed on set, while the crew of the film works around you to create the animation you are seeing. Cast: A selection of actors from the cast of Isle of Dogs.


The Long Dumb Road / U.S.A. (Director: Hannah Fidell, Screenwriters: Hannah Fidell, Carson Mell, Producers: Hannah Fidell, Jacqueline “JJ” Ingram, Jonathan Duffy, Kelly Williams) — Two very different men, at personal crossroads, meet serendipitously and take an unpredictable journey through the American Southwest. Cast: Tony Revolori, Jason Mantzoukas, Taissa Farmiga, Grace Gummer, Ron Livingston, Casey Wilson. World Premiere

Private Life / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Tamara Jenkins, Producers: Anthony Bregman, Stefanie Azpiazu) — A couple in the throes of infertility try to maintain their marriage as they descend deeper into the weird world of assisted reproduction and domestic adoption. When their doctor suggests third-party reproduction, they bristle. But when Sadie, a recent college dropout, re-enters their life, they reconsider. Cast: Kathryn Hahn, Paul Giamatti, Molly Shannon, John Carroll Lynch, Kayli Carter. World PremiereDAY ONE


RuPaul’s Drag Race: A Retrospective of the Cultural Phenomenon / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: RuPaul Charles) — A retrospective of VH1’s Emmy-winning “RuPaul’s Drag Race” on the heels of its10th season, and a panel hosted by RuPaul with executive producers Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey, along with Tom Campbell and Pamela Post, senior vice president of Original Programming for MTV, VH1 and Logo. Cast: RuPaul Charles, Michelle Visage, Carson Kressley, Ross Mathews. World Premiere


You Were Never Really Here / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lynne Ramsay, Producers: Pascal Caucheteux, Rosa Attab, James Wilson, Rebecca O’Brien, Lynne Ramsay) — A traumatized veteran, unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, Joe’s nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening. Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Alessandro Nivola, Judith Roberts, Ekaterina Samsonov, John Doman, Alex Manette. North American Premiere

Sweet Country / Australia (Director: Warwick Thornton, Screenwriter: Steven McGregor, David Tranter, Producers: David Jowsey, Greer Simpkin) — In 1920s Australia, a middle-aged Aboriginal man’s comfortable life is upended by a newcomer’s arrival. Wanted for murder in the bloody aftermath of a violent shootout, he must flee into the dangerous outback with his wife. Cast: Bryan Brown, Sam Neill, Hamilton Morris, Ewen Leslie, Thomas M. Wright, Matt Day. Utah Premiere

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