Sundance Film Festival received a record number of submissions this year — 14,259 submissions from 152 countries — and on Wednesday, organizers announced the full-length features that made the cut.
There are currently 112 full-length features slated for the festival, which runs Jan. 24-Feb. 3 in Park City, Salt Lake City and Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah.
The selections show an increased focus on diversity, with 40 percent of the selections being directed by women, 36 percent by a filmmaker of color and 13 percent by filmmakers who identify as LGBTQ+. Those percentages increase slightly in the festival’s four competition categories: 42 percent female, 39 percent people of color and 23 percent LGBTQ+.
Here are nine films that caught our attention:
“Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile”: This profile of killer Ted Bundy, who killed multiple women in Utah, has been receiving buzz for a while. Former “High School Musical” star Zac Efron plays Bundy, and the film takes the perspective of Bundy’s longtime girlfriend Liz, who didn’t accept the truth about him for years. (And for you Metallica fans, frontman James Hetfield plays Robert Hayward, the trooper who arrested Bundy.)
“Them That Follow”: Jim Gaffigan in a snake-handling Appalachian church — what’s not to like? The comedian continues to take on more dramatic roles, and in “Them That Follow,” he plays Zeke, whose faith is tested when his son Augie (Thomas Mann) is bitten. Gaffigan is actually in three Sundance films this year: “Them That Follow,” “Troupe Zero” and “Light From Light.”
“Late Night”: Longtime TV director Nisha Ganatra (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Transparent,” “The Last Man on Earth”) teams up with Mindy Kaling, who wrote the film’s script and also stars in the film. In “Late Night,” an accomplished late-night talk show host (Emma Thompson) hires her only female staff writer (Kaling) mostly as a diversity hire. The two women bond over their love of comedy.
“I Am Mother”: Underground in a dystopian future where humankind is nearly extinct, a teenage girl is raised by a robot named “Mother,” who’s tasked with repopulating the earth. A stranger arrives with some surprising news, though, which threatens the bond between bot and teen.
“The Report”: Boasting an all-star cast — Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm — “The Report” follows Daniel Jones, the lead investigator for the U.S. Senate’s damning investigation into the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. Scott Z. Burns, who wrote the films “Contagion,” “The Informant” and “The Bourne Ultimatum,” helms writing and directing duties for “The Report.”
“Mike Wallace Is Here”: One of broadcast journalism’s true legends, Mike Wallace’s career took him all over the world. The “60 Minutes” anchor did his share of interrogating, and “Mike Wallace Is Here” interrogates him back, mostly through archival footage, unpacking his troubled personal life and examining how broadcast journalism has changed.
“Hail Satan”: The Satanic Temple, a religious and political activist group based in Salem, Massachusetts, has made headlines since its founding in 2012. The group’s satanic imagery, combined with its seemingly non-satanic calls for empathy, benevolence and egalitarianism, has been a head-scratching development in public discussions about religious activism. “Hail Satan” examines the movement and whether its leaders really mean what they say.
“Bedlam”: Billed as a “personal and intense journey into the world of the seriously mentally ill,” “Bedlam” follows a psychiatrist who visits ERs, jails and homeless camps to profile those who are suffering.
“Untouchable”: For years, Harvey Weinstein’s presence loomed large at Sundance — his company was a longtime heavy hitter in bidding wars for Sundance films. As news broke of his sexual misconduct, the festival came under scrutiny for its possible complicity. In “Untouchable,” director Ursula Macfarlane tells the inside story of the movie mogul’s rise and fall.
For the full 2019 Sundance Film Festival lineup, visit sundance.org.