From a total of 12,166 submissions from 29 countries the Sundance Institute has announced its picks for the U.S. and World Cinema Dramatic and Documentary Competitions, as well as their NEXT, Premieres, Spotlight, New Frontiers Films and Park City at Midnight selections. This year’s Latino lineup features films from and about Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and the United States, ranging across all the categories.
In the U.S. Dramatic Competition Latino director Alfonso Gomez Rejón will be premiering his film Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. The film follows Greg, who is coasting through senior year of high school as anonymously as possible, avoiding social interactions like the plague, while secretly making spirited, bizarre films with Earl, his only friend. But both his anonymity and friendship threaten to unravel when his mother forces him to befriend a classmate with leukemia.
The U.S. Documentary Competition contenders include two films hailing from the U.S. and Mexico, both set on the border. Director Matthew Heineman’s Cartel Land (pictured above left) is in the shape of a classic Western but takes place in the 21st century as vigilantes on both sides of the border fight the Mexican drug cartels. Heineman questions lawlessness and whether citizens should fight violence with violence. Brothers Bill and Ross Turner’s submission in the same category, Western, portrays a cowboy and a lawman as their harmonious vision of the border and way of life is threatened by a specter of cartel violence.
Brazil makes it to the World Cinema Dramatic Competition with acclaimed director and writer Anna Muylaert’s The Second Mother / Que horas ela volta? (pictured right). The Second Mother is the story of Val, a loving nanny in São Paolo, who has left her daughter to grow up with relatives in Northern Brazil. When she sees her daughter 13 years later turmoil erupts in the household. The screening at Sundance will mark its world premiere.
Sundance’s NEXT section showcases low-budget films which are innovative and present a forward-thinking approach to storytelling. The Institute describes NEXT as “a section that will shape a “greater” next wave in American cinema.” Acclaimed Chilean director Sebastián Silva will be having the world premiere of his most recent film Nasty Baby.
Shot in U.S., and starring Silva himself along with Kristin Wiig, Tunde Adebimpe, and Alia Shawkat, the film is about a gay couple trying to have a baby with the help of their best friend. The trio navigates the idea of creating life while confronted by unexpected harassment from a neighborhood man called The Bishop. As their clashes grow increasingly aggressive, odds are someone is getting hurt.
Argentinean-American film H. is also featured in this category from directors and screenwriters Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia. In H. two women, each named Helen, find their lives spinning out of control after a meteor allegedly explodes over their city of Troy, New York. H.’s screening at Sundance will also mark its world premiere.
Also premiering in the NEXT section is The Strongest Man by Kenny Riches which follows an anxiety-ridden Cuban man who fancies himself the strongest man in the world attempts to recover his most prized possession, a stolen bicycle. On his quest, he finds and loses much more.
Colombian film Liveforever / Que viva la música by director Carlos Moreno will be premiering in the New Frontiers Films section of Sundance. Driven by the music and dancing she finds along the way, a teenager leaves home willing to try anything her provocative and tolerant city has to offer, even if she burns out in the process. Inspired by the best-selling novel "Que viva la música" by Andres Caicedo.
In the Premieres section of the festival, Latin American director Rodrigo García will be presenting his most recent feature Last Days in the Desert in which Ewan McGregor plays Jesus — and the Devil — in an imagined chapter from his 40 days of fasting and praying in the desert. On his way out of the wilderness, Jesus struggles with the Devil over the fate of a family in crisis, setting himself up for a dramatic test.
In the Spotlight section Peruvian director Claudia Llosa will be having the North American premiere of her most recent film Aloft. Starring Jennifer Connelly, the Spanish-French-Canadian co-production tells the story of a struggling mother, Nana, and her evolution to becoming a renowned healer. When a young artist tracks down Nana's son 20 years after she abandoned him, she sets in motion an encounter between the two that will bring the meaning of their lives into question.
The popular film Wild Tales / Relatos salvajes by Damián Szifrón, Argentina's Oscar submission, will also be featured in Spotlight. Inequality, injustice, and the demands of the world cause stress and depression for many people. Some of them, however, explode. This is a movie about those people. Vulnerable in the face of an unpredictable reality, the characters of Wild Tales cross the thin line dividing civilization and barbarism.
The Park City at Midnight will host the world premiere of the gritty psychological thriller Reversal by Mexican director J.M. Cravioto. The film tells the story of a young woman chained in a basement of a sexual predator and manages to escape. However, right when she has a chance for freedom, she unravels a hard truth and decides to turn the tables on her captor.
The 2015 Sundance Film Festival will take place January 22 - February 1 in Park City, Utah.