22 Films You Need to Watch at Sundance 2022: Festival Preview

22 Films You Need to Watch at Sundance 2022: Festival Preview

While many are in the throes of holiday preparations and catching up on all the films they may have missed throughout the year, Park City is preparing cinema fans for another year of incredible independent films. The line up for the 2022 edition of Sundance Film Festival (January 20-30, 2022) has just been released and it is full of potential breakout features!

With so many unique films on the Sundance’s slate this year, we at Silver Linings Reviews have picked out 22 highlights that should be on your radar. Even if you are not attending Sundance in person this year, the festival continues with online and satellite screenings across the country. Ticket packages go on sale on Dec 17 and single tickets on January 6. For a full list of the line up and schedule, please go to festival.sundance.org. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest information on all things movies!

U.S. Narrative Competition:

A still from 892 by Abi Damaris Corbin, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Chris Witt.

892 / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Abi Damaris Corbin, Screenwriter: Kwame Kwei-Armah, Producers: Ashley Levinson, Salman Al-Rashid, Sam Frohman, Kevin Turen, Mackenzie Fargo) — When Brian Brown-Easley’s disability check fails to materialize from Veterans Affairs, he finds himself on the brink of homelessness and breaking his daughter’s heart. No other options, he walks into a Wells Fargo Bank and says “I’ve got a bomb.“ Cast: John Boyega, Michael Kenneth Williams, Nicole Beharie, Connie Britton, Olivia Washington, Selenis Leyva. World Premiere.


Dakota Johnson appears in CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH by Cooper Raiff, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Cha Cha Real Smooth / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Cooper Raiff, Producers: Dakota Johnson, Ro Donnelly, Erik Feig, Jessica Switch, Cooper Raiff) — A directionless college graduate embarks on a relationship with a young mom and her teenage daughter while learning the boundaries of his new bar mitzvah party-starting gig. Cast: Dakota Johnson, Cooper Raiff, Vanessa Burghardt, Evan Assante, Brad Garrett, Leslie Mann. World Premiere.


U.S. Documentary Competition

Yan Jiaqi, Wu’er Kaixi and Wan Runnan appear in The Exiles by Ben Klein and Violet Columbus, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Christine Choy.

The Exiles / U.S.A. (Directors: Ben Klein, Violet Columbus, Producers: Maria Chiu, Ben Klein, Violet Columbus) — Documentarian Christine Choy tracks down three exiled dissidents from the Tiananmen Square massacre, in order to find closure on an abandoned film she began shooting in 1989. World Premiere.


A still from Jihad Rehab by Meg Smaker, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Jack Shurman.

Jihad Rehab / U.S.A. (Director: Meg Smaker, Producers: Meg Smaker, Bryan Storkel) — A group of Al-Qaeda members are transferred from Guantanamo to a secretive rehabilitation center for Islamic extremists. World Premiere.


Spencer X appears in TikTok Boom by Shalini Kantayya, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

TikTok, Boom. / U.S.A. (Director: Shalini Kantayya, Producers: Ross M. Dinerstein. Shalini Kantayya, Danni Mynard) — With TikTok now crowned the world’s most downloaded app, these are the personal stories of a cultural phenomenon, told through an ensemble cast of Gen-Z natives, journalists and experts alike. This film seeks to answer, ‘why is an app, best known for people dancing, the target of so much controversey?’ World Premiere.


World Cinema Dramatic Competition

A still from Brian and Charles by Jim Archer, an official selection of the World Cinema: Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Brian And Charles / U.K. (Director: Jim Archer, Screenwriters: David Earl, Chris Hayward, Producer: Rupert Majendie) — A story of friendship, love, and letting go. And a 7ft tall robot that eats cabbages. A comedy shot in documentary format. Cast: David Earl, Chris Hayward, Louise Brealey, Jamie Michie, Lowri Izzard, Mari Izzard. World Premiere.


Sheila Francisco appears in Leonor Will Never Die by Martika Ramirez Escobar, an official selection of the World Cinema: Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | Carlos Mauricio.

Leonor Will Never Die / Philippines (Director and Screenwriter: Martika Ramirez Escobar, Producers: Monster Jimenez, Mario Cornejo) — Fiction and reality blur when Leonor, a retired filmmaker, falls into a coma after a television lands on her head, compelling her to become the action hero of her unfinished screenplay. Cast: Sheila Francisco, Bong Cabrera, Rocky Salumbides, Anthony Falcon. World Premiere.


Camilla Souza and Cícero Lucas appear in Marte Um (Mars One) by Gabriel Martins, an official selection of the World Cinema: Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Leonardo Feliciano.

Marte Um (Mars One) / Brazil (Director and Screenwriter: Gabriel Martins, Producer: Thiago Macêdo Correia) — In Brazil, a lower-middle-class Black family of four tries to keep their spirits up and their dreams going in the months that follow the election of a right-wing president, a man who represents everything they are not. Cast: Rejane Faria, Carlos Francisco, Camilla Souza, Cícero Lucas. World Premiere. DAY ONE


World Cinema Documentary Competition

A still from Calendar Girls by Maria Loohufvud and Love Martinsen, an official selection of the World Cinema: Documentary Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Love Martinsen.

Calendar Girls / Sweden (Directors, Screenwriters and Producers: Maria Loohufvud, Love Martinsen) — A coming-of-golden-age look at Florida’s most dedicated dance team for women over 60, shaking up the outdated image of “the little old lady,” and calling for everyone to dance their hearts out, while they still can. World Premiere.


Elder Tyler Davis appears in The Mission by Tania Anderson, an official selection of the World Cinema: Documentary Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Antti Savolainen.

The Mission / Finland (Director and Screenwriter: Tania Anderson, Producers: Isabella Karhu, Juho-Pekka Tanskanen) — A revelation of the inner lives of young LDS missionaries, as they leave their homes for the first time and embark upon the most emotionally, physically and psychologically challenging period of their life. World Premiere.


NEXT:

A still from Mija by Isabel Castro, an official selection of the NEXT section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Isabel Castro.

Mija / U.S.A. (Director: Isabel Castro, Producers: Tabs Breese, Isabel Castro, Yesenia Tlahuel) — Doris Muñoz is a young, ambitious music manager whose undocumented family depends on her ability to launch pop stars. When she loses her biggest client, Doris hustles to discover new talent and finds Jacks, another daughter of immigrants for whom “making it” isn’t just a dream: it’s a necessity. World Premiere. Documentary.


Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson appear in Something in the Dirt by Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson, an official selection of the NEXT section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Aaron Moorhead.

Something In The Dirt / U.S.A. (Directors: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Screenwriter: Justin Benson, Producers: David Lawson, Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson) — When neighbors John and Levi witness supernatural events in their Los Angeles apartment building, they realize documenting the paranormal could inject some fame and fortune into their wasted lives. An ever-deeper, darker rabbit hole, their friendship frays as they uncover the dangers of the phenomena, the city, and each other. Cast: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead. World Premiere. Fiction.


Premieres:

A still from 2nd Chance by Ramin Bahrani, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

2nd Chance / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Ramin Bahrani, Producers: Daniel Turcan, Johnny Galvin, Charles Dorfman, Ramin Bahrani, Jacob Grodnik) — Bankrupt pizzeria owner Richard Davis invented the modern-day bulletproof vest. To prove that it worked, he shot himself 192 times. He launched a multi-million-dollar company and became a cult figure among police. Davis’ rise and fall reveals a man of contradictions and the nature of power and impunity in America. World Premiere. Documentary.


Aubrey Plaza appears in Emily the Criminal by John Patton Ford, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Low Spark Films.

Emily the Criminal / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: John Patton Ford, Producers: Tyler Davidson, Aubrey Plaza, Drew Sykes) — Down on her luck and saddled with debt, Emily gets involved in a credit card scam that pulls her into the criminal underworld of Los Angeles, ultimately leading to deadly consequences. Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Theo Rossi, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Gina Gershon. World Premiere. Fiction.


Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown appear in Honk For Jesus, Save Your Soul by Adamma Ebo, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Alan Gwizdowski.

Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Adamma Ebo, Producers: Daniel Kaluuya, Adanne Ebo, Rowan Riley, Amandla Crichlow, Jesse Burgum, Matthew Cooper) — In the aftermath of a huge scandal, Trinitie Childs, the first lady of a prominent Southern Baptist megachurch, attempts to help her pastor husband, Lee-Curtis Childs, rebuild their congregation. Cast: Regina Hall, Sterling K. Brown. World Premiere. Fiction.


Alan Cumming appears in My Old School by Jono McLeod, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan.

My Old School / U.K. (Director: Jono McLeod, Producers: John Archer, Olivia Lichtenstein) — The astonishing true story of Scotland’s most notorious imposter. It’s 1993 and 16-year-old Brandon is the new kid in school. Soon he’s top of the class, acing exams and even taking the lead in the school musical. He’s the model pupil, until he’s unmasked… Cast: Alan Cumming. World Premiere. Documentary.


Finn Wolfhard and Julianne Moore appear in When You Finish Saving the World by Jesse Eisenberg, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Beth Garrabrant.

When You Finish Saving the World / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter:
Jesse Eisenberg, Producers: Ali Herting, Dave McCary, Emma Stone) —
Evelyn and her oblivious son Ziggy seek out replacements for each other as Evelyn desperately tries to parent an unassuming teenager at her shelter, while Ziggy fumbles through his pursuit of a brilliant young woman at school. Cast: Julianne Moore, Finn Wolfhard. World Premiere. Fiction. DAY ONE


Midnight

Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones appear in FRESH by Mimi Cave, an official selection of the Midnight section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

FRESH / U.S.A. (Director: Mimi Cave, Screenwriter: Lauryn Kahn, Producers: Adam McKay, Kevin Messick, Maeve Cullinane) — The horrors of modern dating seen through one young woman’s defiant battle to survive her new boyfriend’s unusual appetite. Cast: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jojo T. Gibbs, Charlotte Le Bon, Andrea Bang, Dayo Okeniyi. World Premiere. Fiction. DAY ONE


Laura Galán appears in PIGGY by Carlota Pereda, an official selection of the Midnight section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Jorge Fuembuena.

PIGGY / Spain (Director and Screenwriter: Carlota Pereda, Producers: Merry Colomer, David Atlan-Jackson) — Sara deals with constant teasing from girls in her small town. But it comes to an end when a stranger kidnaps her tormentors. Sara knows more than she’s saying and must decide between speaking up and saving the girls or saying nothing to protect the strange man who spared her. Cast: Laura Galán. World Premiere. Fiction.


Spotlight:

Colin Farrell appears in After Yang by Kogonada, an official selection of the Spotlight section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Benjamin Loeb / A24.

After Yang / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Kogonada, Producers: Andrew Goldman, Caroline Kaplan, Paul Mezey, Theresa Park) — In the near future, a father and daughter try to save the life of Yang, their beloved robotic family member. Cast: Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith. Justin H. Min, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, Haley Lu Richardson. North American Premiere. Fiction.


Anamaria Vartolomei appears in Happening by Audrey Diwan, an official selection of the Spotlight section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by IFC Films.

Happening / France (Director and Screenwriter: Audrey Diwan, Screenwriter: Alice Girard, Producers: Edouard Weil, Alice Girard) — France, 1963. Anne is a bright student with a promising future. But when she falls pregnant, she sees the opportunity to escape the constraints of her social background disappearing. With final exams approaching and her belly growing, Anne resolves to act, even if she must risk prison to do so. Cast: Anamaria Vartolomei, Kacey Mottet-Klein, Luana Bajrami, Louise Chevillotte, Pio Marmai. Fiction.


Cheryl Isheja appears in Neptune Frost by Anisia Uzeyman and Saul Williams, an official selection of the Spotlight section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Neptune Frost / U.S.A./Rwanda (Directors: Anisia Uzeyman, Saul Williams, Screenwriter: Saul Williams, Producers: Ezra Miller, Stephen Hendel, Dave Guenette, Maria Judice) — In an otherworldly e-waste dump camp, a subversive hacking collective attempts a takeover of the authoritarian regime exploiting the region’s natural resources — and its people. When an intersex runaway and an escaped coltan miner find each other through cosmic forces, their connection sparks glitches within the greater divine circuitry. Cast: Cheryl Isheja, Elvis Ngabo “Bobo”, Bertrand Ninteretse “Kaya Free”, Eliane Umuhire, Rebecca Muciyo, Trésor Niyongabo. Fiction.

Cover Photo provided by: 2018 Sundance Film Festival Atmosphere © Sundance Institute | photo by Jonathan Hickerson


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