Sundance Selections to Watch in May, from ‘Ema’ to ‘Infiltrators’ and ‘Spaceship Earth’

Dana Kendall

Film lovers are getting a rare treat in May, with free access to Pablo Larraín’s Ema on streaming platform MUBI on May 1—offered as a one-day sneak preview ahead of the wide release later this year. With elegant choreography and masterful performances from Mariana Di Girolamo and Gael García Bernal, the 2020 Sundance Film Festival selection is an intoxicating window into family dysfunction. Alongside Ema in this month’s release lineup is Rashaad Ernesto Green’s artful coming-of-age portrait from 2019, Premature, full of breakout talent including co-writer and breakout lead Zora Howard.

In Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera’s riveting documentary The Infiltrators (coming to virtual cinemas ahead of the VOD release in June), two brave young immigrants purposely get put in a for-profit detention center in order to help other immigrants get out—but things don’t go according to plan. And on the stranger-than-fiction side of documentary film, Spaceship Earth tells the story of a 1991 experiment that sealed eight people into a self-sustaining, airtight terrarium in the Arizona desert for two years to test the feasibility of colonizing Mars. Along with streaming, Spaceship Earth is embracing the lack of a theatrical release head-on, and it will also be playing on drive-in screens and special pop-up projections in select cities.

Check out the full list of new releases supported by Sundance Institute.

May 1

Ema (Free on MUBI for 24 hours only)

Streaming FREE on MUBI for 24 hours only; RSVP at

After a shocking incident upends her family life and marriage to a tempestuous choreographer, Ema, a reggaeton dancer, sets out on an odyssey of personal liberation, in this incendiary story of art, desire, and the modern family.

Bull (VOD)

Fourteen-year-old Kris, struggling with the incarceration of her mom, forms an unlikely bond with her neighbor, an aging bull fighter.

The Infiltrators (In virtual cinemas May 1; VOD June 2)

A ragtag group of undocumented youth—Dreamers—deliberately get detained by border patrol in order to infiltrate a shadowy, for-profit detention center.

May 8

Spaceship Earth (Hulu)

In 1991, a group of countercultural visionaries built an enormous replica of Earth’s ecosystem called Biosphere 2. When eight “biospherians” lived sealed inside, they faced ecological calamities and cult accusations. Their adventure is a cautionary tale but also a testament to the power of small groups re-imagining the world.

May 22

The Painter and the Thief (Hulu)

An artist befriends the drug addict and thief who stole her paintings. She becomes his closest ally when he is severely hurt in a car crash and needs full-time care, even though her paintings are not found. But then the tables turn. Read more.

Premature (Hulu)

The summer before she leaves for college, Ayanna meets handsome and mysterious outsider Isaiah; her entire world is turned upside down as she navigates the demanding terrain of young love, against a changing Harlem landscape.

Top End Wedding (Hulu)

Lauren and Ned are engaged, they are in love, and they have just 10 days to find Lauren’s mother (who has gone AWOL somewhere in the remote far north of Australia), reunite her parents, and pull off their dream wedding.

May 27

On the Record (HBO Max)

A brilliant former hip-hop executive grapples with whether to go public about her rape by one of the most powerful men in the music industry. A gripping and profound examination of race, gender, intersectionality, and the toll sexual abuse takes on survivors and on society at large.

I’m No Longer Here (Netflix)

Following the death of his older brother, a teenage Mexican boy is forced by his mother to migrate to New York City. When he arrives, he quickly realizes that the violence plaguing his home is nothing compared to the feelings of alienation and loneliness he experiences in America.

Already Streaming

Thousand Pieces of Gold

This 1987 Directors Lab project was based on the true 1880s story of a young Chinese woman who gets sold into slavery, ends up in an Idaho mining town, and is won in a poker game by Charlie (Chris Cooper), whom she slowly learns to trust. Thousand Pieces of Gold was recently restored and is now being re-released in virtual cinemas. Find showtimes.

Imaginary Order

The sexual, psychological, and moral unraveling of an obsessive-compulsive suburban mom.


The Israeli Jewish side of his family calls him Avram. The Palestinian Muslim side Ibrahim. His first-generation American agnostic lawyer parents call him Abraham. But the 12-year-old kid from Brooklyn who loves food and cooking prefers, well, Abe. Just Abe.


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