Sundance 2020!

An Overview of My Sundance Film Festival Experience


In December 2019, I had a crazy thought on my morning commute to work. My best friend, Alyssa, and I were riding the T when one of my favorite actors (Alec Secareanu) posted on Instagram, announcing that he was going to be at the premiere of his new film Amulet at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

“If he’s going, I’m going, too,” I told Alyssa. That day, I emailed Sundance’s press coverage team, and within four days I had an application form in my inbox. One month later, I was at the film festival of my dreams.

I interviewed Alec before Amulet’s premiere (dreams do come true), and I also got to see some incredible films:


Photo Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Amulet takes typical horror conventions and flips them on their head. We first find Tomaz (Alec Secareanu) standing solitary guard in a forest, when a distressed woman (Angeliki Papoulia) appears, pleading for help. Fast forward in the timeline, and Tomaz is living in a shelter in London, suffering from unexplained PTSD. A kindly nun (Imelda Staunton) introduces him to the housebound caretaker Magda (Carla Juri). Tomaz moves in to help around Magda’s house and quickly realizes that there is something sinister lurking in the walls. Can Tomaz fight his own demons and help Magda in her time of need? (Read the full review here!)

Awkward Family Photos

Photo Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Take a look at your most awkward family photo. What’s the story there? Were you mad at your sister, so you hit her with a Twizzler while making the family gingerbread house (I’m looking at you, Timmy)? Were you the teen goth and black sheep of the family, standing on the beach in full goth garb, next to your preppy sisters in bikinis? Awkward Family Photos takes these photos and recreates them in modern day, while exploring family dynamics and the painful, funny, and loving memories that come with them. 


Photo Courtesy of Sundance Institute

A short film set to poet Olivia Gatwood’s “back-pedal” about what it means to be the only girl in a group of grizzly boys (“being the only girl means making yourself lose when you’ve won too much”) and the territory that comes with it. Gatwood’s words combined with director Dani Pearce’s imagery makes for a haunting, beautiful short. 

Beast Beast 

Photo Courtesy of Sundance Institute

A continuation of the short film Krista, this film intertwines the lives of three characters with a tragic fate. Nito (Jose Angeles), the new kid with a flair for daredevil pursuits, forms a blossoming relationship with Krista (Shirley Chen), the theater aficionado whose locker is right above his. Adam (Will Madden), Krista’s neighbor, adds a dangerous spin to his gun tutorial videos in a desperate attempt at YouTube fame. When Nito falls in with the wrong crowd, he and Adam have an encounter that changes all of their lives forever. From the very beginning, you know there isn’t going to be a happy ending — but the pain is worth it.

Come Away

Photo Courtesy of Sundance Institute

This is a fresh, albeit dark, take on the origin story of Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland. After the tragic death of their brother David, Peter and Alice are left to deal with grief on their own by entering their own fantasy worlds, as their parents (played by Angelina Jolie and David Oyelowo) are blinded by the loss of their child. It’s really a movie about siblings and grief, and how both have lasting, lifelong effects. 

The Father

Photo Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Based on director Florian Zeller’s award-winning play, The Father is an unflinchingly honest, thoughtful depiction of one man’s (Anthony Hopkins) descent into dementia, and how it affects his loved ones and those around him. The brilliant Olivia Colman plays his daughter, distraught and conflicted over how to take care of her father as he slips away before her eyes. How can she be there for him while maintaining her own life? 

Hey Lady!

Photo Courtesy of Sundance Institute

In this hilarious indie episodic, Jayne Eastwood plays Lady, a senior citizen who is chaotic with a capital c, and maybe just a tad cantankerous. Lady gets into shenanigans (like putting lipstick on a baby) that would land her in jail (and almost do) if it weren’t for her adult children bailing her out. Who sends snakes to their parole officer, honestly? 

Mucho Mucho Amor

Photo Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Walter Mercado was a gender nonconforming Hispanic astrologer, adorned in 15-pound decadent capes, who captivated television audiences around the world with his positive horoscopes and motivating speeches, until he disappeared from the television screen. Directors Christina Constantini and Kareem Tabsch searched for an answer to his disappearance, and got inside access to Mercado’s world, which was just as decadent and magical as you would hope. 

The Mole Agent

Photo Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Sergio is an 83-year-old widow with a mission: He’s been enlisted by Detective Romulo, a private investigator, whose agency has been hired by a client to check in on their mother, Sonia, for signs of neglect. Sergio must infiltrate the San Francisco nursing home, posing as a patient, and send Romulo updates every day. Sergio dutifully follows his assignment, but what he discovers is far more than anyone expected. (Read the full review here!)

The Ride

Photo Courtesy of Sundance Institute

An aspiring spiritual coach and Lyft driver, 40-year-old Wayne (Linas Phillips) imparts his advice on distraught riders who never asked for it in the first place. He has a horrible rating, and riders often say, “you can just drop me off here,” before they reach the designated spot, but Wayne learns from his riders as he sorts through his own issues in this six-episode series.


Watch this space for further reviews, interviews, and more from the Sundance front!

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