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Follow Your Favorite Filmmakers to the 2022 Festival With These Films to Watch

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By Vanessa Zimmer

Are you one of those readers who encounter a book, maybe even an obscure title, and are so taken, so enamored, that you ferret out every other book you can find by that author?

Well, the same thing happens with movies and their makers. Maybe you like the unflinching edge of Lena Dunham or the emotional dynamics of a Kogonada film. 

Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a guide to the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, based upon the previous work of some of the featured directors. We are here to make sure you’ve got no holes in your director-specific watch lists.

C’mon, let’s play!

If you liked TINY FURNITURE, the 2010 Lena Dunham feature in which Dunham writes and directs herself as a flawed recent college grad (who is also post-breakup), as she returns home to the Tribeca loft of her successful artist mother to figure out life…

Check out SHARP STICK (in Premieres)

Dunham works her magic again in a humorous and provocative story about a naive young woman. This time out, the young woman lives in a Los Angeles apartment with her mother and sister. Anxious to lose her virginity, she embarks on an affair with an older man — only to find herself on a journey of self-discovery. 

If you liked LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM, the Oscar-nominated 2014 documentary that featured dramatic footage of the last-minute helicopter evacuation of South Vietnamese and U.S personnel from a rooftop before the fall of Saigon…

Check out DOWNFALL: THE CASE AGAINST BOEING (in Premieres)

The filmmaker daughter of Bobby and Ethel Kennedy, Rory Kennedy takes on the corporate world’s handling of two airplane crashes that took 346 lives in 2018 and 2019. The Sundance Festival program guide describes the documentary as “at once a chilling portrait of a crumbling corporate culture and a fierce indictment of Wall Street’s corrupting influence.”

If you liked CODED BIAS, a 2020 documentary following research by MIT doctorate student Joy Buolamwini that suggests facial recognition technology is biased in regard to race and gender…

Check out TIKTOK, BOOM. (in U.S. Documentary)

Director Shalini Kantayya scrutinizes the popular TikTok app and cultural phenomenon by talking to digital natives, journalists, and experts. According to the Sundance Festival program guide: “This film seeks to answer, ‘Why is an app best known for people dancing the target of so much controversy?’ ” 

If you liked THE SPECTACULAR NOW, the 2013 story of two teens, one a hard-partying, live-in-the-moment type (Miles Teller), the other a science-fiction reader with plans for the future (Shailene Woodley), and their unlikely relationship…

Check out SUMMERING (in Kids)

In this film written and directed by James Ponsoldt, four BFFs set out to make the most of their final days of summer before starting the life-changing existence of middle school — a work described by Kim Yutani, director of programming at Sundance, as somewhat reminiscent of Stand by Me.

If you liked THE ORDER OF MYTHS, Margaret Brown’s 2008 documentary on the separate white and Black celebrations of Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama…

Check out DESCENDANT (in U.S. Documentary)

Forty years after slave trading became a capital offense, a ship called Clotilda, carrying African slaves, arrived in Alabama. It was quickly burned, and its existence denied. But descendants of the survivors began to speak out a century later.

If you liked 52 TUESDAYS, the title referring to the days 16-year-old Billie will visit with her mother during the older woman’s gender transition  — and a film for which Sophie Hyde won a directing award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival…

Check out GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE (in Premieres)

Retired schoolteacher Nancy Stokes (Emma Thompson) is on a search for sexual pleasure, so she hires a young sex worker, Leo Grande. Suffice to say, it’s “Emma Thompson like you’ve never seen before,” according to Sundance programmer Heidi Zwicker. 

If you liked KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE, Rachel Lears’ 2019 Audience Award winner in the documentary category at the Festival, which takes a look at the campaigns of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and three other women driven to topple incumbents in the 2018 Congressional elections…

… Check out TO THE END (in Premieres)

Lears returns to the political arena to tell the story of four women of color (once again including Ocasio-Cortez) and their fight for the New Green Deal to end climate change.

If you liked COLUMBUS, a 2017 film that explores the modernist architecture of Columbus, Indiana, as well as the journeys of two young people — Jin, in town because his estranged architect father is hospitalized in a coma, and Casey, who watches over her recovering-addict mother at the expense of following her love of architecture to a fulfilling career…

Check out AFTER YANG (in Spotlight)

Director and screenwriter Kogonada returns with another emotional project, a quiet futuristic film about a father and daughter endeavoring to save the life of their beloved family robot.

If you liked WE LIVE IN PUBLIC, the 2009 documentary by Ondi Timoner — her second doc to win the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival — about the unpredictable internet pioneer Josh Harris who, among other exploits, conducted experiments in which people consented to essentially living all parts of their lives on camera…

Check out LAST FLIGHT HOME (in Special Screenings)

On an unremarkable suburban street, we find Eli Timoner in his final days and discover an extraordinary life, one filled with wild achievements, tragic loss, and above all, enduring love from his incredibly close-knit family. Last Flight Home shares a heart-wrenching and stunning verité account of a family courageously facing both life and death.

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