Here We Go… Sundance 2015!

sundance-film-festival-2015-featured-imageSundance is HERE! Park City is buzzing with excited film goers ready for the festival to begin. This is going to be an amazing year.

The 2015 Sundance Film Festival kicks off  tonight with the world premier of the film “What Happened, Miss Simone?” followed by the opening night  Artist at the Table dinner ( sold out!) I happen to know the Director Liz Garbus, an amazing woman, and I am so happy for her in securing this prestigious spot. Friday morning is the first full day of films.


Each year I have put together a list of all the films that I am scheduled to see. Will I see all of these? Likely not, but I will give it a shot. There were so many others I wanted to see but the trick is finding the films, at the right time, in the right location. It is challenging  getting around Park City, especially during the opening weekend. What I have not included are the various amazing panels and parities, but I will include the highlights in my festival recap. If I am making you very sad that you are not here you can watch 13 amazing events on line by clicking here.   For more info on all the films click here. Love for you to follow me on Twitter @jackizehner as I tweet my way through the festival! Happy Sundancing to all!

  1. What Happened, Miss Simone? – Classically trained pianist, dive-bar chanteuse, black power icon, and legendary recording artist Nina Simone lived a life of brutal honesty, musical genius, and tortured melancholy. This astonishing epic interweaves never-before-heard recordings and rare footage, creating an unforgettable portrait of one of our least understood, most beloved artists. Director Liz Garbus
  2. 99 Homes– A father struggles to get back the home that his family was evicted from by working for the greedy real-estate broker who’s the source of his frustration. Director Ramin Bahrani Cast Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, Laura Dern, Tim Guinee, Cullen Moss, J.D. Evermore
  3. The Mask You Live In– Is there a “boy crisis” in America? Is our male population suffering due to our emphasis on power, dominance, and aggression? THE MASK YOU LIVE IN explores how our narrow definition of masculinity is harming our boys, men, and society at large and unveils what we can do about it. Director Jennifer Siebel Newsom
  4. The Hunting Ground – From the makers of THE INVISIBLE WAR comes a startling exposé of rape crimes on U.S. campuses, their institutional cover-ups, and brutal social toll. Weaving together verite footage and first-person testimonies, the film follows survivors as they pursue their education and justice — despite harsh retaliation, harassment, and pushback.  I am honored to be an Executive Producer of this film. Director Kirby Dick
  5. Ten Thousand Saints– Based on the acclaimed novel, Ten Thousand Saints follows three lost kids and their equally lost parents as they come of age in New York’s East Village in the ear of CBGB, yuppies and the tinderbox of gentrification that exploded into the Tompkins Square Park Riot of 1988. Director Robert Pulcini, Shari Springer Berman Cast Ethan Hawke, Asa Butterfield, Emily Mortimer, Julianne Nicholson, Hailee Steinfeld, Emile Hirsch
  6. Racing Extinction – Academy Award-winner Louie Psihoyos (THE COVE) assembles a unique team to show the world never-before-seen images that expose issues surrounding endangered species and mass extinction. Whether infiltrating notorious black markets or exploring humans’ effect on the environment, RACING EXTINCTION will change the way you see the world. Director Louie Psihoyos
  7. DOPE– Malcolm is carefully surviving life in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles while juggling college applications, academic interviews, and SAT. A Change invitation to an underground party leads him into an adventure that could allow him to go from being a geek. Being dope, to ultimately being himself. Director Rick Famuyiwa Cast Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Blake Anderson, Zoë Kravitz, A$AP Rocky
  8. Mistress America – Tracy, a lonely college freshman in New York, is rescued from her solitude by her soon-to-be stepsister Brooke, an adventurous gal about town who entangles her in alluringly mad schemes. Mistress America is a comedy about dream-chasing, score-settling, makeshift families, and cat-stealing. Director Noah Baumbach. Cast Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke
  9. Mississippi Grind – Gerry is a talented poker player whose habit is getting the best of him. He convinces younger player Curtis to join him on a road trip, and they begin gambling their way towards a high-stakes game in New Orleans. During their journey, true motivations are revealed, and the two bond. Director Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden. Cast Ryan Reynolds, Ben Mendelsohn, Sienna Miller, Analeigh Tipton, Alfre Woodard, Robin Weigert
  10. Me and Earle and the Dying Girl – Greg is coasting through senior year of high school as anonymously as possible, avoiding social interactions like the plague while secretly making spirited, bizarre films with Earl, his only friend. But both his anonymity and friendship threaten to unravel when his mother forces him to befriend a classmate with leukemia. Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon Cast Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon
  11. I Smile Back – All is not right in suburbia. Laney Brooks, a wife and mother on the edge, has stopped taking her meds, substituting recreational drugs and the wrong men. With the destruction of her 6 family looming, Laney makes a last, desperate attempt at redemption. Director Adam Salky Cast Sarah Silverman, Josh Charles, Thomas Sadoski, Mia Barron, Terry Kinney, Chris Sarandon
  12. The Stanford Prison Experiment – Basted on the actual events that took place in 1971, Stanford professor Dr. Philip Zimbardo created what became one of the most shocking and famous social experiments of all time. Director Kyle Patrick Alvarez Cast Billy Crudup, Ezra Miller, Michael Angarano, Tye Sheridan, Johnny Simmons, Olivia Thirlby
  13. Brooklyn – 1950s Ireland: Eilis must confront a terrible dilemma- a heartbreaking choice between two men and two countries, between duty and true love. Director John Crowley Cast Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters
  14. Going Clear: (Oscar Winning Filmmaker) – they said don’t miss Going Clear intimately profiles eight former members of the Church of Scientology, shining a light on how they attract true believers and the things they do in the name of religion. Director Alex Gibney
  15. Censored Voices – One week after the 1967 Six-Day War, renowned author Amos Oz and editor Avraham Shapira recorded intimate conversations with soldiers returning from the battlefield. The Israeli army censored the recordings, allowing only a fragment of the conversations to be published. Censored Voices reveals these recordings for the first time. Director Mor Loushy
  16. Most Likely to Succeed – Our current education system is attempting to teach and test skills, that even when mastered, leaves graduates woefully unprepared for the 21st century. This feature-length documentary examines what sort of educational environment is most likely to prepare students for a world changing exponentially. Director Greg Whiteley
  17. Zipper – Sam Ellis is a man on the rise- a hot-shot federal prosecutor on the cusp of a bright political future. But what was meant to be a onetime experience with an escort turns into a growing addiction. A new demon threatening to destroy his life, family and career.  Director Mora Stephens Cast Lena Headey, Richard Dreyfuss, Ray Winstone, John Cho, Dianna Agron, Patrick Wilson
  18. Prophet’s Prey – When Warren Jeffs rose to prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he bridged the gap between sister wives and ecclesiastically justified rape, befuddling the moral compass of his entire congregation. Director Amy Berg
  19. Don Verdean Biblical archaeologist Don Verdean is hired by a local church pastor to find faith-promoting relics in the Holy Land. But after a fruitless expedition, he is forced to get creative in this comedy of faith and fraud. Director Jared Hess Cast Sam Rockwell, Jemaine Clement, Amy Ryan, Danny McBride, Leslie Bibb, Will Forte
  20. True Story – When disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel meets accused killer Christian Longo- who has taken on Finkel’s identity- his investigation morphs into an unforgettable game of cat and mouse. Basted on actual events, Finkel’s relentless pursuit of Longo’s true story encompasses murder, love, deceit, and redemption. Director Rupert Goold. Cast Jonah Hill, James Franco, Felicity Jones
  21. I Am Michael – The controversial true story of a gay activist who rejects his homosexuality and becomes a Christian pastor. Director Justin Kelly. Cast James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Emma Robert.
  22. Dark Horse – Dark Horse is the inspirational true story of a group of friends from a workingman’s club who decide to take on the elite “sport of kings” and breed themselves a racehorse. Director Louise Osmond
  23. Grandma – Self-described misanthrope Elle Reid has her protective bubble burst when her 18-year old granddaughter, Sage, shows up needing help. The two of them go on a daylong journey that causes Elle to come to terms with her past and Sage to confront her future. Director Paul Weitz. Cast Lily Tomlin, Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, Laverne Cox, Sam Elliott
  24. Lila And Eve – Lila, a grief-stricken mother reeling from her son’s murder, attends a support group where she meets Eve, who urges her to take matters into her own hands to track down her son’s killers. They soon embark on a journey of revenge, but also recovery. Director Charles Stone III Cast Viola Davis, Jennifer Lopez, Shea Whigham, Julius Tennon, Ron Caldwell, Aml Ameen
  25. Hot Girls Wanted – HOT GIRLS WANTED is a first-ever look at the realities inside the world of the amateur porn industry and the steady stream of 18- and 19-year-old girls entering into it. Director Jill Bauer, Ronna Gradus
  26. Last Days in the Dessert – Ewan McGregor is Jesus — and the Devil — in an imagined chapter from his 40 days of fasting and praying in the desert. On his way out of the wilderness, Jesus struggles with the Devil over the fate of a family in crisis, setting himself up for a dramatic test. Director Rodrigo Garcia Cast Ewan McGregor, Tye Sheridan, Ciarán Hinds, Ayelet Zurer

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