Sundance-Supported Films to Watch in July, from ‘The Fight’ to ‘Palm Springs’

By Dana Kendall

The slate of Sundance Institute–supported films available in July includes powerful political documentaries that shine a spotlight on critical issues. The Fight follows heroic ACLU lawyers in four historic cases over essential rights in abortion, immigration, LGBTQ+ issues, and voting, while the award-winning Boys State looks at the state of American politics through the unlikely lens of an annual mock election among the best and brightest of Texas’s young men. And She Could Be Next documents the women of color who claimed their power by running for office during the historic 2018 midterm elections—including women like Rashida Tlaib and Stacey Abrams who are transforming politics from the ground up.

As we continue celebrating Pride well beyond June, we’re rewatching Sam Feder’s documentary Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen. Featuring figures like Laverne Cox, Lilly Wachowski, and Yance Ford, the film traces the history of transgender portrayals in the media, intersecting deeply with issues of race and gender. And the new release Mucho Mucho Amor highlights the gender-nonconforming burst of positivity known as Walter Mercado, the beloved Puerto Rican TV astrologer and icon who showed generations of Latinx viewers the power of being their authentic selves.

If you didn’t catch our June releases, make sure to check out the powerful leading ladies in both Miss Juneteenth, Channing Godfrey Peoples’s directorial debut about a pageant queen turned struggling single mom, and the award-winning Clemency, starring Alfre Woodard as a prison warden facing a crisis of ethics surrounding her duties on death row.

Here’s the full list of Sundance Institute–supported films with release dates in June and July.

June Releases

And She Could Be Next (
Directed by Grace Lee and Marjan Safinia

Supported by Sundance Institute’s Catalyst Forum and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Grant

And She Could Be Next follows a defiant movement of women of color as they transform politics from the ground up. Filmed during the historic 2018 midterm elections, the series features organizers and candidates (including Rashida Tlaib and Stacey Abrams) as they fight for a truly reflective government, asking whether democracy can be preserved—and made stronger—by those most marginalized.

And Then We Danced (VOD)
Directed by Levan Akin

In the conservative confines of modern Tbilisi, Merab, a competitive dancer, is thrown off-balance by the arrival of Irakli, a fellow male dancer with a rebellious streak.

Be Water (ESPN)
Bao Nguyen

In 1971, after being rejected by Hollywood, Bruce Lee returned to his parents’ homeland of Hong Kong to complete four iconic films. Charting his struggles between two worlds, this portrait explores questions of identity and representation through the use of rare archival interviews with loved ones and Bruce’s own writings.

Clemency (Hulu)
Directed by Chinonye Chukwu

Years of carrying out executions has taken a toll on prison warden Bernadine Williams. As she prepares to execute another death-row inmate, she confronts the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, which ultimately connect her to the man she is sanctioned to kill.

Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen (Netflix)
Directed by Sam Feder

An investigation of how Hollywood’s fabled stories have deeply influenced how Americans feel about transgender people and how transgender people have been taught to feel about themselves.

The Last Tree (VOD)
Directed by Shola Amoo

Femi is a British boy of Nigerian heritage who, after a happy childhood in rural Lincolnshire, moves to inner London to live with his mum. Struggling with the unfamiliar culture and values of his new environment, teenage Femi has to figure out which path to adulthood he wants to take.

Miss Juneteenth (VOD)
Directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples

Turquoise, a former beauty queen turned hardworking single mother, prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the Miss Juneteenth Pageant, hoping to keep her from repeating the same mistakes in life that she did. Read more.

Shirley (Hulu)
Directed by Josephine Decker

A young couple moves in with famed author Shirley Jackson and her Bennington College professor husband, Stanley Hyman, in the hope of starting a new life but instead find themselves fodder for a psychodrama that inspires Shirley’s next novel. Read more.

Welcome to Chechnya (HBO)
Directed by David France

This searing investigative work shadows a group of activists risking unimaginable peril to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ+ pogrom raging in the repressive and closed Russian republic. Unfettered access and a remarkable approach to protecting anonymity exposes this underreported atrocity—and an extraordinary group of people confronting evil.

July Releases

July 8

Mucho Mucho Amor (Netflix)
Directed by Cristina Costantini and Kareem Tabsch

Once the world’s most famous astrologer, Walter Mercado seeks to resurrect a forgotten legacy. Raised in the sugarcane fields of Puerto Rico, Walter grew up to become a gender-nonconforming, cape-wearing psychic whose televised horoscopes reached 120 million viewers a day for decades before he mysteriously disappeared. (Read more.)

July 10

Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets (VOD)
Directed by Bill and Turner Ross

In the shadows of the bright lights of Las Vegas, it’s last call for a beloved dive bar known as the Roaring 20s. A document of real people in an unreal situation facing an uncertain future: America at the end of 2016.

Palm Springs (Hulu and drive-ins)
Directed by Max Barbakow

When carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honor Sarah have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated the next morning when they find themselves unable to escape the venue, themselves, or each other. (Read more.)

Relic (VOD and drive-ins)
Directed by Natalie Erika James

When Edna, the elderly and widowed matriarch of the family, goes missing, her daughter Kay and granddaughter Sam travel to their remote family home to find her. Soon after her return, they start to discover a sinister presence haunting the house and taking control of Edna. (Read more.)

We Are Little Zombies (VOD)
Directed by Makato Nagahisa

Their parents are dead. They should be sad, but they can’t cry. So instead they form a kick-ass band. This is the story of four 13-year-olds in search of their emotions.

July 17

Sunlit Night (VOD)
Directed by David Wnendt

Between New York City and the far north of Norway, an American painter and a Russian émigré find each other in the Arctic Circle. Together, under a sun that never sets, they discover a future and family that they didn’t know they had.

July 23

Impetigore (Shudder)
Directed by Joko Anwar

An out-of-luck woman decides to go back to her secluded home village in hopes of inheritance. Little does she know, the villagers have been waiting for her, because she has what they need to lift off a plaguing curse.

July 24

Amulet (VOD)
Directed by Romola Garai

Tomaz, an ex-soldier now homeless in London, is offered a place to stay at a decaying house, inhabited by a young woman and her dying mother. As he starts to fall for Magda, Tomaz cannot ignore his suspicion that something insidious might also be living alongside them.

July 31

Boys State (select theaters; AppleTV+ on Aug. 14)
Directed by Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss

In an unusual experiment, one thousand 17-year-old boys from Texas join together to build a representative government from the ground up.
(Read more.)

The Fight (Theaters and VOD)
Directed by Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, and Eli Despres

At this defining moment in American history, The Fight follows a scrappy team of heroic ACLU lawyers in an electrifying battle over essential rights in abortion, immigration, LGBTQ+ issues, and voting.
(Read more.)


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