Cornerstone Land Five Films at Sundance 2019


World premieres of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s feature directorial debut The Boy Who Harnessed The Windat Netflix, Bart Freundlich’s After The Wedding remake starring Michelle Williams, and the follow-up from the directors of Austrian mystery thriller Goodnight Mommy are among the Sundance 2019 feature film line-up announced on Wednesday (28).

Festival brass unveiled the US and World dramatic and documentary competitions, the Premieres and Documentary Premieres rosters, and Midnight, NEXT, Spotlight and KIDS. Sundance Film Festival runs from January 24-February 3.

Screening in Premieres alongside Ejiofor’s drama and After The Wedding are the Hilary Swank sci-fi I Am Mother (pictured) – which impressed buyers at the AFM – as well as Keira Knightley in Gavin Hood’s whistleblower thriller Official Secrets, Gurinder Chadha’s Thatcher-era UK drama Blinded By The Light, Joe Berlinger’s Ted Bundy film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile, Adam Driver as a Congressional investigator in Scott Z. Burns’ The Report, and Matthias Schoenaerts in drama The Mustang, which Focus Features will release on March 15, 2019.

Goodnight Mommy directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala return with The Lodge starring Riley Keough in Midnight. The section includes Alexandre O. Philippe’s documentary exploration MEMORY – The Origins Of Alien. NEXT brings new work starring Emma Roberts in Paradise Hills, and Naomi Watts in The Wolf Hour. Documentary Premieres includes Untouchable, about the rise of Harvey Weinstein featuring comentary by former colleagues and accusers, as well as Alex Gibney’s new film about the Theranos blood testing scandal, and Nick Broomfield on the romance between Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian muse Marianne Ihlen.

U.S. Dramatic Competition entries include Alfre Woodard death row drama Clemency, father-son drama Honey Boy starring and written by Shia LaBeou, and Naomi Watts in the drama Luce. Among the World Cinema Dramatic Competition entries are Mia Wasikowska in the Australian drama Judy & Punch, Tilda Swinton in Joanna Hogg’s UK romance mystery The Souvenir, and Trine Dyrholm in Danish drama Queen Of Hearts.

“Society relies on storytellers,” said Robert Redford, president and founder of Sundance Institute. ”The choices they make, and the risks they take, define our collective experience. This year’s festival is full of storytellers who offer challenges, questions and entertainment. In telling their stories, they make difficult decisions in the pursuit of truth and art; culture reaps the reward.”

Keri Putnam, executive director of Sundance Institute, said, “Focusing a bright light on these independent stories is urgent and crucial, especially in the noise of today’s globalised media landscape. Voices from many places and perspectives, often shut out of the mainstream, offer us new insights. It’s immensely heartening to see these bold visions and their tellers thriving.”

Sundance Film Festival director John Cooper said, “These films and artists tell the truth: whether documentaries that illuminate hidden histories or fiction features that spotlight diverse, human experiences, this year’s slate is layered, intense and authentic.”

The festival has selected 112 feature-length films representing 33 countries and 45 first-time filmmakers. The festival said 53% of the directors in this year’s U.S. Dramatic Competition are women; 41% are people of colour; and 18% identify as LGBTQIA+. The festival said 44% of the directors in this year’s U.S. Documentary Competition are women; 22% are people of colour; and 5% identify as LGBTQIA+.

Of the 61 directors in all four competition categories, comprising 56 films, 42% are women, 39% are people of colour, and 23% identify as LGBTQIA. Twenty-four films announced on Wednesday were supported by Sundance Institute in development, whether through direct granting or residency Labs. Staff added that 102 of the feature films, or 91% of the line-up announced on Wednesday, will be world premieres. Some 40%, or 45, of all films announced on Wednesday were directed by one or more women, 36%, or 40, were directed by one or more filmmaker of colour, and 13% or 15 by one or more people who identify as LGBTQIA.

The films were selected from a record 14,259 submissions including 4,018 feature-length films. Of the feature film submissions, 1,767 were from the US and 2,251 were international, 31% were directed by one or more women, 38% were directed by one or more filmmaker of colour, and 11% by one or more people who identify as LGBTQIA. Some 2,251 submissions were international, of which 35% were directed by one or more women, 45% were directed by one or more filmmaker of colour, and 13% by one or more people who identify as LGBTQIA.

The DAY ONE selections are After The WeddingGive Me Liberty, and Native Son. Further line-up announcements including Shorts, Indie Episodic and New Frontier, will be made shortly.


A showcase of world premieres of some of the most highly anticipated narrative films of the coming year. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include The Big SickCall Me By Your NameBoyhood, and Mudbound. All films hail from the US and are world premieres unless stated otherwise.

After The Wedding
Director and screenwriter: Bart Freundlich
Producers: Joel B. Michaels, Harry Finkel
Seeking funds for her orphanage in India, Isabelle travels to New York to meet Theresa, a wealthy benefactor. An invitation to attend a wedding ignites a series of events in which the past collides with the present while mysteries unravel. Based on the Academy Award-nominated film by Susanne Bier.
Cast: Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Billy Crudup, Abby Quinn.

Animals (UK-Ireland-Australia)
Director: Sophie Hyde
Screenwriter: Emma Jane Unsworth
Producers: Sarah Brocklehurst, Rebecca Summerton, Cormac Fox, Sophie Hyde
After a decade of partying, Laura and Tyler’s friendship is strained by Laura’s new love and her focus on her novel. A snapshot of a modern woman with competing desires, at once a celebration of female friendship and an examination of the choices we make when facing a crossroads.
Cast: Holliday Grainger, Alia Shawkat.

Blinded By The Light (UK)
Director: Gurinder Chadha
Screenwriters: Sarfraz Manzoor, Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges
Producers: Gurinder Chadha, Jane Barclay, Jamal Daniel
In 1987 during the austere days of Thatcher’s Britain, a teenager learns to live life, understand his family and find his own voice through the music of Bruce Springsteen.
Cast: Viveik Kalra, Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon, Kulvinder Ghir, Nell Williams, Aaron Phagura.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (UK)
Director and screenwriter: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Producers: Andrea Calderwood, Gail Egan
Against all the odds, a thirteen year old boy in Malawi invents an unconventional way to save his family and village from famine. Based on the true story of William Kamkwamba.
Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Maxwell Simba, Lily Banda, Noma Dumezweni, Aissa Maiga, Joseph Marcell.