By Drake Vittitow
Movie festivals are back baby.
The 2021 Sundance Film Festival begins Jan. 28 and ends Feb. 3. Festivalgoers will have the chance to watch the entire festival online for the first time in history.
There are several categories of movies that will show. These include:
- U.S. Dramatic Competition
- U.S. Documentary Competition
- World Cinema Dramatic Competition
- World Cinema Documentary Competition
- Indie Series Program
- Short Films Program
- Special Screenings
I know there are many movies to consume, but this list combs through every single upcoming release so you don’t have to. These are the five movies that you need to have on your radar at the festival.
1. John and the Hole
Directed by Pascual Sisto, “John and the Hole” tells the story of a young boy who discovers an unfinished bunker in the backwoods of his house. Without hesitation, he drugs his family and puts them in the bunker. While they’re drugged, he can finally do the things he wants to do.
This sounds like the craziest coming-of-age movie I have ever heard of. Will this movie upend the great coming-of-age movies like “The Breakfast Club” or “Booksmart”? Probably not, but it has the chance to be the most unhinged.
“John and the Hole” is featured in the U.S. Dramatic Competition.
2. Eight For Silver
“Eight for Silver” tells the story of a nineteenth century land baron who murders a Roma clan. In doing this, he unleashes a curse that affects everyone in the local village. At first, everyone in the village thinks the culprit is a wild animal, but a visiting pathologist suggests a much more evil entity lurks in the forest.
I have always been a fan of weird mixings of movie genres. Mixing period pieces and horror has seen recent success. Robert Eggers (“The Witch,” “The Lighthouse”) is one director that comes to mind. Sean Ellis, the director of “Eight For Silver,” is no stranger behind the camera. He has been nominated for an Oscar and BAFTA award. This one should be should special and sinister.
“Eight for Silver” is featured in the Premieres category.
3. One for the Road
A popular bartender in New York City, Boss is called to his home in Bangkok after discovering that his friend is dying. Once in Thailand, they begin to reminisce on memories, which ultimately exposes why they grew estranged in the first place. While returning certain items to former exes, Aood realizes that one of the items he has to return may permanently destroy their friendship.
I love nostalgia and reminiscing on memories because many of them shaped me into the person I am today. Baz Poonpiriya, the director of “One for the Road,” is a seasoned veteran behind the camera. His movie, “Bad Genius,” was the highest-grossing Thai film in 2017.
“One for the Road” is featured in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition.
4. Night of the Kings
There is a new inmate at MACA prison, and he is declared to be the new “Roman,” the prison’s storyteller, by Blackbeard. Roman must be quick on his feet and smart in his game of Scheherazade to stay on top of the prison’s ever-changing politics. The tale must be so spectacular that it gets them through the impending chaos of the night.
This movie received critical and commercial claim at the Venice film festival, so this isn’t technically a brand new release, but one that is a must-watch. Philippe Lacôte, the director of “Night of the Kings,” traveled to the Ivory Coast, where the MACA prison is located, to better understand West African culture.
I am a history lover and the high stakes presented in this movie are too good resist. Make sure to put this on the watchlist.
“Night of the Kings” is featured in the Spotlight category.
5. Coming Home in the Dark
While hiking through the New Zealand wilderness, a family is taken by two drifters who are ghosts from their pasts, in which they cannot escape.
James Ashcroft is a New Zealand-born director who focuses on many genres in the horror genre, including iconic gothic, horror and literary-derived thrillers. Horror movies fatal flaw is that it is a static genre. There are very few innovators in the horror world. That is why I am intrigued by this tale. Kidnapping is not a new feature in movies, so I am eager to find out what special sauce is slathered on this horror offering.
“Coming Home in the Dark” is featured in the Midnight category.