The lineup for the 2023 Sundance Film Festival has been unveiled and it includes a strong roster of queer titles. The fest is set to take place in-person in Park City in Utah with select titles online from January 19-29, 2023.
Little Richard: I Am Everything, the Lisa Cortes-directed documentary about the titular rock star is set to make its debut on day one of the fest. Queer music will also be showcased in the documentary It’s Only Life After All from Alexandria Bombach which spotlights musicians Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of the legendary Indigo Girls.
Saim Sadiq’s Joyland starring trans actress Alina Khan has been making waves on the festival circuit and will make stop in Park City for the festival.
Good Trouble star Sherry Cola joins Justin H. Min and Ally Maki in Randall Park’s feature directorial debut, Shortcomings while Erica Tremblay’s Fancy Dance starring Lily Gladstone will bow at the festival.
Cassandro, directed by Roger Ross Williams wand tarring Gael Garcia Bernal, follows a gay amateur wrestler from El Paso and will make it world premiere at the festival.
Films will become available online during the second half of the Festival — beginning January 24 — and will include all Competition titles (U.S. Dramatic, U.S. Documentary, World Cinema Dramatic, World Cinema Documentary, and NEXT), as well as exciting work across other sections of the feature film program, Indie Episodic Program, and Shorts Program.
“Maintaining an essential place for artists to express themselves, take risks, and for visionary stories to endure and entertain is distinctly Sundance,” said Robert Redford, Sundance Institute Founder and President. “The Festival continues to foster these values and connections through independent storytelling. We are honored to share the compelling selection of work at this year’s Festival from distinct perspectives and unique voices.”
“The program for this year’s Festival reiterates the relevancy of trailblazing work serving as an irreplaceable source for original stories that resonate and fuel creativity and dialogue,” added Kim Yutani, Sundance Film Festival Director of Programming. “In so many ways this year’s slate reflects the voices of communities around the world who are speaking out with urgency and finally being heard. Across our program, impactful storytelling by fearless artists continues to provide space for the community to come together to be entertained, challenged, and inspired.”
This year, 61% or 8 of the 13 directors in this year’s U.S. Dramatic Competition identify as women; 61% or 8 of the 13 identify as people of color; 23% or 3 of the 13 identify as LGBTQ+.
63% or 10 of the 16 directors in this year’s U.S. Documentary Competition identify as women; 63% or 10 of the 16 identify as people of color; 13% or 2 of the 16 identify as LGBTQ+; 6% or 1 of the 16 identify as a person with a disability.
58% or 7 of the 12 directors in the World Dramatic Competition identify as women; 50% or 6 of the 12 identify as people of color; 25% or 3 out of 12 directors identify as LGBTQ+.
6% or 6 of the 13 directors in the World Documentary Competition identify as women; 38% or 5 of the 13 as people of color; 23% or 3 of the 13 identify as LGBTQ+; 8% or 1 of the 13 identify as a person with a disability.
Of the 4,061 feature film submissions, 1,662 were from the U.S. and 2,399 were international; 1,105 (27%) were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as women; 91 (2%) were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as nonbinary individuals; 1,676 (41%) were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as people of color; 547 (13%) were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as LGBTQ+.
Of the 101 feature films announced so far, 54 (53%) were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as women; 5 (5%) were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as nonbinary individuals; 46 (45%) were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as people of color; 20 (20%) by one or more filmmakers who identify as LGBTQ+; 3 (3%) by one or more filmmakers who identifies as a person with a disability.
Read the entire announced lineup here. Read the known LGBTQ titles that will be featured at this year’s fest below.
Fancy Dance / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Erica Tremblay, Screenwriter: Miciana Alise, Producers: Deidre Backs, Heather Rae, Nina Yang Bongiovi, Tommy Oliver) — Following her sister’s disappearance, a Native American hustler kidnaps her niece from the child’s white grandparents and sets out for the state powwow in hopes of keeping what is left of their family intact. Cast: Lily Gladstone, Isabel Deroy-Olson, Ryan Begay, Shea Whigham, Audrey Wasilewski. World Premiere. Available online
Mutt / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, Producers: Alexander Stegmaier, Stephen Scott Scarpulla, Jennifer Kuczaj, Joel Michaely) — Over the course of a single hectic day in New York City, three people from Feña’s past are thrust back into his life. Having lost touch since transitioning from female to male, he navigates the new dynamics of old relationships while tackling the day-to-day challenges of living life in between. Cast: Lío Mehiel, Cole Doman, MiMi Ryder, Alejandro Goic. World Premiere. Available online.
Shortcomings / U.S.A. (Director: Randall Park, Screenwriter: Adrian Tomine, Producers: Margot Hand, Randall Park, Hieu Ho, Jennifer Berman, Howard Cohen, Eric d’Arbeloff) — Following Ben, Miko, and Alice as they navigate a range of interpersonal relationships and traverse the country in search of the ideal connection. Cast: Justin H. Min, Sherry Cola, Ally Maki, Debby Ryan, Tavi Gevinson, Sonoya Mizuno. World Premiere. Available online.
Theater Camp / U.S.A. (Directors and Screenwriters: Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman, Screenwriters: Noah Galvin, Ben Platt, Producers: Erik Feig, Samie Kim Falvey, Julia Hammer, Ryan Heller, Will Ferrell, Jessica Elbaum) — When the beloved founder of a run-down theater camp in upstate New York falls into a coma, the eccentric staff must band together with the founder’s crypto-bro son to keep the camp afloat. Cast: Molly Gordon, Ben Platt, Noah Galvin, Jimmy Tatro, Patti Harrison, Ayo Edebiri. World Premiere. Available online.
The Disappearance of Shere Hite / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Nicole Newnham, Producers: Molly O’Brien, R.J. Cutler, Elise Pearlstein, Kimberley Ferdinando, Trevor Smith) — Shere Hite’s 1976 bestselling book, The Hite Report, liberated the female orgasm by revealing the most private experiences of thousands of anonymous survey respondents. Her findings rocked the American establishment and presaged current conversations about gender, sexuality, and bodily autonomy. So how did Shere Hite disappear? World Premiere. Available online.
Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project / U.S.A. (Directors and Producers: Joe Brewster, Michèle Stephenson, Producer: Tommy Oliver) — Intimate vérité, archival footage, and visually innovative treatments of poetry take us on a journey through the dreamscape of legendary poet Nikki Giovanni as she reflects on her life and legacy. World Premiere. Available online
Going Varsity in Mariachi / U.S.A. (Directors: Alejandra Vasquez, Sam Osborn, Producers: James Lawler, Luis A. Miranda, Jr., Julia Pontecorvo) — In the competitive world of high school mariachi, the musicians from the South Texas borderlands reign supreme. Under the guidance of coach Abel Acuña, the teenage captains of Edinburg North High School’s acclaimed team must turn a shoestring budget and diverse crew of inexperienced musicians into state champions. World Premiere. Available online.
Little Richard: I Am Everything / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Lisa Cortés, Producers: Robert Friedman, Liz Yale Marsh, Caryn Capotosto) — This celebration of Little Richard reveals the Black queer origins of rock ’n’ roll, finally exploding the whitewashed canon of American pop music. Through archival and performance footage, the revolutionary icon’s life unspools with all of its switchbacks and contradictions. World Premiere. Available online. DAY ONE
The Stroll / U.S.A. (Directors: Kristen Lovell, Zackary Drucker, Producer: Matt Wolf) — The history of New York’s Meatpacking District, told from the perspective of transgender sex workers who lived and worked there. Filmmaker Kristen Lovell, who walked “The Stroll” for a decade, reunites her community to recount the violence, policing, homelessness, and gentrification they overcame to build a movement for transgender rights. World Premiere. Available online.
Bad Behaviour / New Zealand (Director and Screenwriter: Alice Englert, Producers: Molly Hallam, Desray Armstrong) — Lucy, a former child actor, seeks enlightenment at a retreat led by spiritual leader Elon while she navigates her close yet turbulent relationship with her stunt-performer daughter, Dylan. Cast: Jennifer Connelly, Ben Whishaw, Alice Englert, Ana Scotney, Dasha Nekrasova, Marlon Williams. World Premiere. Available online.
KOKOMO CITY / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: D. Smith, Producers: Harris Doran, Bill Butler) — Four Black transgender sex workers explore the dichotomy between the Black community and themselves, while confronting issues long avoided. World Premiere. Documentary. Available online.
Cassandro / U.S.A (Director and Screenwriter: Roger Ross Williams, Screenwriters: David Teague, Julián Herbert, Producers: Gerardo Gatica, Todd Black, David Bloomfield, Ted Hope, Julie Goldman) — Saúl Armendáriz, a gay amateur wrestler from El Paso, rises to international stardom after he creates the character Cassandro, the “Liberace of Lucha Libre.” In the process, he upends not just the macho wrestling world, but also his own life. Cast: Gael García Bernal, Roberta Colindrez, Perla De La Rosa, Joaquín Cosío, Raúl Castillo. World Premiere. Fiction.
The Deepest Breath / U.K, Ireland (Director and Screenwriter: Laura McGann, Producers: John Battsek, Sarah Thomson, Jamie D’Alton, Anne McLoughlin) — A champion freediver and expert safety diver seemed destined for one another despite the different paths they took to meet at the pinnacle of the freediving world. A look at the thrilling rewards — and inescapable risks — of chasing dreams through the depths of the ocean. World Premiere. Documentary.
Drift / France, U.K, Greece (Director and Producer: Anthony Chen, Screenwriters: Susanne Farrell, Alexander Maksik, Producers: Peter Spears, Emilie Georges, Naima Abed, Cynthia Erivo, Solome Williams) — Jacqueline, a young refugee, lands alone and penniless on a Greek island where she tries to survive, then to cope with her past. While gathering her strength, she begins a friendship with a rootless tour guide and together they find the resilience to forge ahead. Cast: Cynthia Erivo, Alia Shawkat, Ibrahima Ba, Honor Swinton Byrne, Zainab Jah, Suzy Bemba. World Premiere. Fiction.
Fairyland / U.S.A (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Andrew Durham, Producers: Sofia Coppola, Megan Carlson, Siena Oberman, Greg Lauritano, Laure Sudreau) — Set against the backdrop of San Francisco’s vibrant cultural scene in the 1970s and ’80s, chronicling a father-daughter relationship as it evolves from an era of bohemian decadence to the heartbreaking AIDS crisis. Based on the best-selling memoir Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father by Alysia Abbott. Cast: Scoot McNairy, Emilia Jones, Geena Davis, Cody Fern, Adam Lambert, Maria Bakalova. World Premiere. Fiction.
It’s Only Life After All / U.S.A (Director and Producer: Alexandria Bombach, Producers: Kathlyn Horan, Jess Devaney, Anya Rous) — Blending 40 years of home movies, film archives, and intimate present-day vérité, a poignant reflection from Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of iconic folk rock duo Indigo Girls. A timely look into the obstacles, activism, and life lessons of two queer friends who never expected to make it big. World Premiere. Documentary. DAY ONE
Joyland / Pakistan (Director and Screenwriter: Saim Sadiq, Producers: Apoorva Guru Charan, Sarmad Sultan Khoosat, Sabiha Sumar, Lauren Mann) — As the Ranas, a happily patriarchal joint family, yearn for the birth of a baby boy to continue the family line, their youngest son secretly joins an erotic dance theater and falls for an ambitious trans starlet. Their impossible love story illuminates the entire family’s desire for a sexual rebellion. Cast: Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gilani, Sania Saeed, Salmaan Peerzada. Fiction. Available online.