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30 Sun-Soaked Coming-of-Age Stories Summer Was Made For: A Watchlist

Ever wonder why so many of the best coming-of-age stories in cinematic history are set during the summer? We expect it might have something to do with the wistfulness we adults tend to have for the long, unstructured days and cool, breezy nights that made up the summers of our youth — the ideal backdrop for plenty of thoughtful reflection, personal growth, and memories of ill-advised adventures we treasure to this day.

While the Sundance Film Festival takes place at the peak of winter in snowy Utah every January, over the years, we’ve had plenty of must-see coming-of-age stories come through Park City to heat things up a bit. Today we’re rounding up some of those key titles in a watchlist packed with formative first loves, first heartbreaks, and first jobs, starting with Joyce Chopra’s beloved drama Smooth Talk from the 1986 Festival and spanning the way up to Lucia Garibaldi’s The Sharks, a prize-winning film that was released just last year.

Alexis Chikaeze as Kai in 'Miss Juneteenth,' coming to digital platforms June 19

Channing Godfrey Peoples on a Bittersweet ‘Miss Juneteenth’ Release and the Urgency of Portraying Black Humanity on Screen

After premiering at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, Channing Godfrey Peoples’s debut feature is hitting digital platforms this Juneteenth—the day for which the film is named and which is very close to the director’s heart. “I feel like I’ve been living Miss Juneteenth my whole life,” she says.
The June 19 holiday—which commemorates the day slavery was finally abolished in Texas (more than two years after the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation was issued)—is celebrated in her hometown of Fort Worth with a deep sense of reverence and community, with barbecues, a parade, and a scholarship pageant for young Black women.