The Sundance Film Festival turns 44 this year, and while one can experience some of the most vibrant new voices in cinema starting January 20, we look back at some of the most iconic films that debuted in Park City in years passed and some exclusive highlights from the 2021 edition. Tarnation (Jonathan Caouette), But I’m a Cheerleader (Jamie Babbit), Gook (Justin Chon), Chuck & Buck (Miguel Arteta), The Visitor (Thomas McCarthy), and Whirlybird (Matt Yoka) are just a handful of some of the breakouts from one of the most influential film festivals in the world, along with two films from Sundance ‘21 making their exclusive streaming premiere on MUBI, Luzzu (Alex Camilleri) and Taming the Garden (Salomé Jashi).
Taming the Garden – January 19
Exclusive Streaming Premiere
[Viewfinder] As part of New Voices in Georgian cinema, Taming the Garden by Salomé Jashi, follows a former prime minister who develops a uniquely bizarre hobby of collecting trees along the country’s coastline. Most remarkably, this is a documentary, and the visual sweep and how-can-this-be-real story must be seen to be believed.
Switzerland, Georgia / 2021 / 91 minutes / Color
Tarnation – January 20
Jonathan Caouette builds his part documentary, part narrative fiction out of hundreds of hours of old Super 8 footage, VHS videotape, photographs, and dramatic reenactments to tell his wrenching and remarkable family story and reconnect with his distant mother.
US / 2003 / 92 minutes / Color
Whirlybird – January 22
Exclusive Streaming Premiere
[MUBI Spotlight] A film that must be seen to be believed, Whirlybird follows partners Marika Gerrard and Zoey Tur who reported the news from a helicopter swirling above Los Angeles, including the 1992 riots and O.J. Simpson’s attempted escape from authorities. As part of Spotlight on Sundance, this film shows how the insatiable desire for breaking news, documented from a birds-eye view, can only happen in L.A., or rather, America.
US / 2020 / 103 minutes / Color
But I’m a Cheerleader – January 23
High school senior Megan is an all-American girl who loves cheerleading and dates a football player. Her suburban existence is turned upside-down when her family suspects her to be a lesbian, sending her to a ‘rehabilitation camp’ where she comes to question her own sexuality for the first time in this iconic ‘90s LGBT classic.
US / 1999 / 90 minutes / Color
Gook – Jaunary 24
A dramedy about two Korean-American brothers who have to defend their family’s shoe store while contemplating the future of their own personal dreams and the meaning of family during the first day of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots.
US / 2017 / 95 minutes / Black and white
Chuck & Buck – January 29
Chuck and Buck were friends when they were kids. Buck, emotionally stuck in adolescence and infatuated with his childhood friend, travels to Los Angeles to find Chuck, now a successful music producer and engaged, and attempts to rekindle their relationship. A landmark in ‘90s queer cinema, intimately shot on DV.
US / 2000 / 96 minutes / Color
Feels Good Man – January 28
[MUBI Spotlight] The trajectory of Pepe the Frog, once an innocuous feel-good comic that was co-opted by the fascist right and turned into a ubiquitous meme, is chronicled in Feels Good Man. Arguably one of the most essential documentaries of our time, it lays out in striking and human ways how we got here.
US / 2020 / 94 minutes / Color
The Visitor – January 30
When professor Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins) travels to New York for a lecture, he’s stunned to find squatters Tarek and Zainab living in his vacant apartment. In Tom McCarthy’s follow-up to his award-winning directorial debut The Station Agent, Walter is awakened to a new world and a new life.
US / 2007 / 103 minutes / Color