Sundance Film Festival 2019: What Critics Are Saying

Sundance Film Festival is an annual event showcasing independent films from several talented filmmakers. Each year, as critics and fans gather in Park City, Utah, the films garner a lot of attention and could lead to a full theatrical release in the future. It illustrates changes in the film industry and provides a platform for emerging directors and actors alike. The following are some takeaways from Sundance 2019, along with some films to keep your eye on.

Female Directors Shine

According to Variety, forty-five percent of the directors showcased at Sundance 2019 were female. This is greatly different from the average among blockbuster movies. TheTime’s Up movement has even brought along the “4 Percent Challenge”. The challenge calls people of the film industry to commit to working with at least one female director in the next eighteen months. This is due to a study conducted in 2017, stating that only four percent of the top movies from the decade have had female directors. Some of these talented directors from this year include Chinonye Chukwu for Clemency, Lulu Wang for The Farewell and Minhal Baig for Hala.

Zac Efron and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

The new film starring Zac Efron as the serial killer Ted Bundy has received a lot of divided press ever since its release at Sundance along with the public trailer release. Some people are upset at the way the trailer portrays Ted Bundy, worrying the movie will glorify his gruesome acts. Others argue that it shows the way the public viewed Bundy, with an underlying creepiness masked by his appearance and reputation. So which way does the film actually lean? The critic consensus thus far has been that beyond the way they treat the life of Bundy (which most have argued is in a way that does not glamorize his actions with a strong performance from Efron), the film has limitations as far as the narrative goes, with a current 61% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Standout Films

Some films stood out to critics and fans alike and should be kept in mind as they may come to a theater near you. First, Velvet Buzzsaw is a Netflix film (now streaming) starring Jake Gyllenhaal when paintings created by an unknown artist are revealed to have a supernatural force. The Last Black Man in San Francisco follows a man (Jimmie Fails) returning to a city that seems to have changed and left him alone. Late Night, written by Mindy Kaling, tells the story of a talk-show host who is worried about losing her show. The Report stars Adam Driver as Daniel Jones, a Senate staffer trying to figure out why the intelligence branch of America destroyed several tapes in 2005.

Pressing Stories

This year brought some documentaries following a few of the sexual allegations in Hollywood, along with important stories of abuse. Leaving Neverland is a highly debated documentary about the allegations of Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck against Michael Jackson during their time visiting the star as young children. Untouchable follows the life of Harvey Weinstein and the numerous sexual allegations against him. Finally, the film Honey Boy is based on the childhood of Shia LaBeouf and the relationship he had with his father.