The Buzz – Sundance Film Festival 2023

This year’s Sundance marked a return to indie roots for the festival. While smaller crowds turned out this year, excitement was at an all-time high. Industry stalwarts turned out as always, but this year was less about the A-listers present and more about the featured films. Back in person in Utah, with a modified online component, attendees were treated to some of the most exciting independent films featuring storylines from a diverse group of artists. 

2023 Sundance Logo

Ben Takeaways

Having been criticized for a lack of diversity in previous years, the lineup for this go round was noticeably different. Of the 101 feature-length films shown, 53% were directed by women and 45% had directors of color. This progress follows the festival’s September announcement of its first Latino director, Eugene Hernandez. 

Eugene Hernandez is also director of the New York Film Festival.

Theater Camp, a mockumentary with lots of buzz, sold to Searchlight Pictures for $8 million. This is the feature-length directorial debut of Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman and Searchlight has promised a theatrical release. 

Cast from Theater Camp at Sundance Film Festival
The cast of Theater Camp at Sundance Film Festival.

Already getting Oscar buzz, the drama A Thousand and One received the Grand Jury Prize and will be released by Focus Features in March. The Marakesh Films dramedy, The Persian Version, brought home the Audience Award. 

Still from the film, A Thousand and One
Teyana Taylor in A Thousand and One.

Documentaries that made a splash include Little Richard: I Am Everything from director Lisa Cortes; Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie; the timely 20 Days in Mariupol; and, two different takes on the journey to Mars: Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project and The Longest Goodbye. 

Little Richard: I Am Everything

Other films that were acquired include: 

  • The thriller Fair Play was acquired by Netflix for $20 million. Set in the financial world and featuring Phoebe Dynevor and Alden Ehrenreich, this was the biggest deal of the festival. 
  • Coming in just under $20 million was the acquisition of Flora and Son by Apple TV+, which is the same company that acquired the Oscar-winning CODA at the 2021 Sundance. 
  • Talk to Me, an Australian horror film, was acquired by A24. 
  • The much-talked-about film Run Rabbit Run was acquired by Netflix.  

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