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Sundance 2016
Sundance Announces Competition and NEXT Lineups
The 2016 Sundance Film Festival may be months away from kicking off in snowy Park City, Utah, but the annual festival has begun rolling out its various lineups, including today's announcement of its competition sections — including U.S. Dramatic, U.S. Documentary, World Cinema Dramatic and World Documentary offerings — along with its out of competition NEXT lineup.

The slate includes a number of familiar names, most notably "Simon Killer" filmmaker Antonio Campos, who will return to the festival with "Christine" (a narrative feature about TV reporter Christine Chubbuck, who killed herself live on-air in 1974; interestingly enough, the Sundance slate also includes a Chubbuck-centric documentary, "Kate Plays Christine," a new feature from director Robert Greene that looks to blend fact and fiction in ways similar to his previous documentary, "Actress") and "This is Martin Bonner" director Chad Hartigan, who will debut his "Morris from America" at the festival. Sundance mainstay David Gordon Green doesn't have a directorial outing in this batch, but he does serve as co-writer on Andrew Neel's fact-based "Goat," and "Life After Beth" helmer Jeff Baena returns to the fest with the raucous-sounding "Joshy."

This lineup also plays home to a number of heavily anticipated directorial debuts from actors, including Nate Parker's "The Birth of a Nation," Clea DuVall's "The Intervention" and Sian Heder's "Tallulah" (which has adapted from her own short, "Mother"). Elsewhere, Richard Tanne will make his feature directorial debut with "Southside With You," a telling of Barack and Michelle Obama's first date. Also of note is a power-packed documentary section, including Jeff Feuerzeig's "Author: The JT LeRoy Story," Kim A. Snyder's "Newtown," Robert Cannan and Ross Adam's "The Lovers and the Despot" and Shimon Dotan's "The Settlers." The U.S. Documentary section also plays home to perhaps the most intriguing feature announced today: "Holy Hell," a doc about "a loving, secretive and spiritual community" that was "shockingly torn apart" after decades in existence. That film's director? Currently "undisclosed," though as the film is built around said filmmaker's own experiences with the group and their archival material, the festival may play host to one hell of an identity reveal. Of the slate, Robert Redford, President and Founder of Sundance Institute, said, "From diverse backgrounds, places and perspectives, these independent artists are united by the power of their stories and vision. Their films will soon launch onto the global stage, beginning their journeys through our culture. A new year in independent film will start right here — on the mountain — in January." John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival, also weighed in, saying, "Fueled by wild creativity, fresh perspectives and a deep understanding of the craft of storytelling, independent film is evolving. Our Festival continues to show that film has the power to inspire, challenge and surprise audiences in new ways."

More of the Sundance lineup will be revealed in the coming weeks, including the Premiere and Documentary Premiere sections, along with more Sundance-centric offerings like New Frontier and their always-robust short film lineup. The festival takes place January 21-31, 2016. Below are the 65 titles announced today by Sundance as part of their Competition and NEXT sections. Synopses provided by Sundance.


Presenting the world premieres of 16 narrative feature films, the Dramatic Competition offers Festivalgoers a first look at groundbreaking new voices in American independent film.

"As You Are" / U.S.A. (Director: Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, Screenwriters: Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, Madison Harrison) — As You Are is the telling and retelling of a relationship between three teenagers as it traces the course of their friendship through a construction of disparate memories prompted by a police investigation. Cast: Owen Campbell, Charlie Heaton, Amandla Stenberg, John Scurti, Scott Cohen, Mary Stuart Masterson. World Premiere "The Birth of a Nation" / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Nate Parker) — Set against the antebellum South, this story follows Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher, whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner, accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. After witnessing countless atrocities against fellow slaves, Nat devises a plan to lead his people to freedom. Cast: Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, Mark Boone Jr. World Premiere

"Lovesong" "Christine" / U.S.A. (Director: Antonio Campos, Screenwriter: Craig Shilowich) — In 1974, a female TV news reporter aims for high standards in life and love in Sarasota, Florida. Missing her mark is not an option. This story is based on true events. Cast: Rebecca Hall, Michael C. Hall, Maria Dizzia, Tracy Letts, J. Smith-Cameron. World Premiere "Equity" / U.S.A. (Director: Meera Menon, Screenwriter: Amy Fox) — A female investment banker, fighting to get a promotion at her competitive Wall Street firm, leads a controversial tech IPO in the post-financial-crisis world, where regulations are tight but pressure to bring in big money remains high. Cast: Anna Gunn, James Purefoy, Sarah Megan Thomas, Alysia Reiner. World Premiere "The Free World" / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jason Lew) — Following his release from a brutal stretch in prison for crimes he didn’t commit, Mo is struggling to adapt to life on the outside. When his world collides with Doris, a mysterious woman with a violent past, he decides to risk his newfound freedom to keep her in his life. Cast: Boyd Holbrook, Elisabeth Moss, Octavia Spencer, Sung Kang, Waleed Zuaiter. World Premiere

"Goat" / U.S.A. (Director: Andrew Neel, Screenwriters: David Gordon Green, Andrew Neel, Michael Roberts) — Reeling from a terrifying assault, a 19-year-old boy pledges his brother’s fraternity in an attempt to prove his manhood. What happens there, in the name of "brotherhood," tests both the boys and their relationship in brutal ways. Cast: Nick Jonas, Ben Schnetzer, Virginia Gardner, Danny Flaherty, Austin Lyon. World Premiere "The Intervention" / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Clea DuVall) — A weekend getaway for four couples takes a sharp turn when one of the couples discovers the entire trip was orchestrated to host an intervention on their marriage. Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Cobie Smulders, Alia Shawkat, Clea DuVall, Natasha Lyonne, Ben Schwartz. World Premiere "Joshy" / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jeff Baena) — Josh treats what would have been his bachelor party as an opportunity to reconnect with his friends. Cast: Thomas Middleditch, Adam Pally, Alex Ross Perry, Nick Kroll, Brett Gelman, Jenny Slate. World Premiere "Lovesong" / U.S.A. (Director: So Yong Kim, Screenwriters: So Yong Kim, Bradley Rust Gray) — Neglected by her husband, Sarah embarks on an impromptu road trip with her young daughter and her best friend, Mindy. Along the way, the dynamic between the two friends intensifies before circumstances force them apart. Years later, Sarah attempts to rebuild their intimate connection in the days before Mindy’s wedding. Cast: Jena Malone, Riley Keough, Brooklyn Decker, Amy Seimetz, Ryan Eggold, Rosanna Arquette. World Premiere

"Morris from America" / U.S.A., Germany (Director and screenwriter: Chad Hartigan) — Thirteen-year-old Morris, a hip-hop loving American, moves to Heidelberg, Germany, with his father. In this completely foreign land, he falls in love with a local girl, befriends his German tutor-turned-confidant, and attempts to navigate the unique trials and tribulations of adolescence. Cast: Markees Christmas, Craig Robinson, Carla Juri, Lina Keller, Jakub Giersza?, Levin Henning. World Premiere "Other People" / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Chris Kelly) — A struggling comedy writer, fresh from breaking up with his boyfriend, moves to Sacramento to help his sick mother. Living with his conservative father and younger sisters, David feels like a stranger in his childhood home. As his mother worsens, he tries to convince everyone (including himself) he's "doing okay." Cast: Jesse Plemons, Molly Shannon, Bradley Whitford, Maude Apatow, Zach Woods, June Squibb. World Premiere.

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