What to Watch at the 2022 Festival: Films for Music Lovers

By Lucy Spicer

Music: It transcends borders, classes, and generations. From serenades to anthems to dirges to diss tracks, there’s a song for just about every mood and purpose. The 2022 Sundance Film Festival lineup celebrates music in its multifaceted glory, with stories about music and musicians screening across multiple categories.

Read on for a selection of films from the 2022 lineup that focus on music. From rap to thrash metal, these movies cover a variety of musical genres, but their subjects all have something in common: an inspiring, irrepressible drive to put music out into the world.

jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy (Premieres) — At Jermaine Dupri’s birthday party in 1998, a Chicago public access TV host named Coodie interviewed an enthusiastic 21-year-old hip-hop producer. The young up-and-comer was none other than Ye (formerly known as Kanye West), whose rise to global icon Coodie would spend years capturing on film. Clarence “Coodie” Simmons and Chike Ozah, the team behind the music video for “Through the Wire,” compiled years of footage to create a sweeping three-film documentary that depicts West like you’ve never seen him before.

Meet Me In The Bathroom (Midnight) — Inspired by Lizzy Goodman’s 2017 book of the same name, Meet Me In The Bathroom shows a music scene and a city in flux. A new sound reverberated in New York City around the turn of the millennium, a sound shaped by groups like The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and LCD Soundsystem. Returning to the Sundance Film Festival after their concert film Shut Up and Play the Hits in 2012, directing duo Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace bring together audio interviews and never-before-seen archival footage for a snapshot of New York in the early 2000s and the bands that defined an era of music. 

Mija (NEXT) — In Isabel Castro’s emotional debut feature, American-born Doris Muñoz enters the music talent management business at age 23 in order to showcase Latinx artists. When her rising career takes an unexpected turn, Doris meets a young singer named Jacks Haupt. The two bond over the shared responsibility they feel toward their undocumented family members, whose green card paperwork would undoubtedly be processed more quickly with the help of financial success.

Nothing Compares (World Documentary) — Sinéad O’Connor emerged from an abusive childhood with an undeniable talent and a refusal to conform to the social and religious boundaries of predominantly Roman Catholic Ireland. Kathryn Ferguson’s debut feature-length documentary focuses on O’Connor’s life in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the musician was building her career and establishing herself as a voice on issues such as abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, sexism, abortion rights, and racism. Archival footage and exclusive interviews paint a powerful portrait of the artist.

Sirens (World Documentary) — Lilas Mayassi and Shery Buchara are the founders and guitarists of Slave to Sirens, the first and only all-woman thrash metal band in the Middle East. In Beirut, where political unrest has made protests and explosions commonplace, the two young women use music as a means to express themselves. Director Rita Baghdadi follows Mayassi and Buchara as they navigate band dynamics, families, societal expectations, and their relationship with each other.