Harris Dickinson and Lola Campbell play an estranged father-daughter duo in Charlotte Regan’s feature directorial debut, “Scrapper.”
By Lucy Spicer
It’s been a big summer for movie theaters, and it’s not over yet! August brings with it a new crop of Sundance Film Festival–screened releases. And what a list — among them are five Festival award winners, including two Grand Jury Prize winners from the 2023 Festival.
There’s something for everyone in the varied titles coming to the big screen this month. Lighter fare includes a sci-fi rom-com about pregnancy and a screen adaptation of an acclaimed graphic novel, while a real-life love story interrupted by Alzheimer’s disease is a guaranteed tearjerker. A new take on a classic horror story, an experimental look at Central Appalachia, a toxic love triangle tale, and more await your remaining summer nights.
Draft up your late summer screening schedule — and maybe take a chance on an unfamiliar genre — with these 12 Sundance Film Festival selections.
KLONDIKE — Set on the Ukrainian-Russian border at the onset of the conflict in 2014, this striking portrait of resilience and futility centers on pregnant Irka (Oksana Cherkashina), who refuses to move her family from their home even after armed forces take over the village and the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashes nearby. Written and directed by Maryna Er Gorbach, this shattering drama won the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Coming to select theaters August 4.
Passages — Tomas (Franz Rogowski), a German filmmaker living in Paris, surprises himself by embarking on a steamy affair with Agathe (Adèle Exarchopoulos). This development also comes as a surprise to Martin (Ben Whishaw), Tomas’ husband. Tomas is of the mind that he can have it all, but his attempts at navigating the choppy waters of this love triangle threaten to leave only wreckage behind. Directed by Ira Sachs. Arriving in select theaters August 4.
Shortcomings — Ben (Justin H. Min) is stubbornly adrift. When he’s not managing a struggling art house theater, he’s hanging out in diners with his best friend, Alice (Sherry Cola), rewatching movies, and finding things to complain about. But when his girlfriend, Miko (Ally Maki), departs for an internship in New York, Ben takes the chance to pursue the type of woman he thinks he’s always wanted. Adrian Tomine scripted Randall Park’s film directorial debut, based on Tomine’s graphic novel of the same name. Arriving in theaters August 4.
The Eternal Memory — When Augusto Góngora — a prominent journalist, documentary producer, and TV host in Chile — was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at age 62, his wife — actress, academic, and politician Paulina Urrutia — adjusted her daily life so that she could always be at his side. Writer-director Maite Alberdi traces their remarkable love story in a poignant documentary that was awarded the World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Opening in select theaters August 11.
King Coal — Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning director Elaine McMillion Sheldon contemplates the intrinsic nature of coal in Central Appalachia, a place she calls home. This experimental and lyrical documentary captures the mountainous region in its all natural majesty while also examining the history and identity that communities cling to in coal mining towns. Coming to select theaters August 11.
The Pod Generation — In a future where you can 3D-print your breakfast and artificial intelligence measures your “bliss index,” Rachel (Emilia Clarke) and Alvy (Chiwetel Ejiofor) explore the latest approach to pregnancy — detachable artificial wombs known as “pods.” Writer-director Sophie Barthes’ satirical sci-fi rom-com thoughtfully and humorously explores a high-tech society that begs the question, “What counts as ‘natural’?” The Pod Generation was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Arriving in theaters August 11 and on demand August 29.
Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out — Teenage Itsy (Emma Tremblay) is not a fan of the small town she and her family have moved to. A writing competition for a summer internship in New York City offers a glimmer of hope, but Itsy needs the right subject for her exposé. Enter Calvin (Jacob Buster), her strange — but endearing — classmate who wears a spacesuit to school and earnestly believes his parents were abducted by aliens years ago. Directed by Jake Van Wagoner. Arriving in theaters August 18.
birth/rebirth — Celie (Judy Reyes) is a maternity nurse and single mother to spirited 6-year-old Lila. Rose (Marin Ireland) is a pathologist who would rather spend time with cadavers than the living. After Lila dies unexpectedly from a sudden illness, the two women’s paths collide via Rose’s passion project: reanimating the dead. Laura Moss’ feature directorial debut is a chilling new take on Mary Shelley’s legendary Frankenstein that examines the intersection of motherhood and mortality. Coming to select theaters and streaming on Shudder August 18.
Landscape With Invisible Hand — Growing up is hard enough. Growing up in a post-alien-takeover society where only the wealthiest live comfortably requires some real enterprise. Adam (Asante Blackk) and Chloe (Kylie Rogers) decide to broadcast their teenage courtship for profit (the aliens are intrigued by human romance). But high school relationships aren’t exactly rock solid, and the fallout has severe — and bizarre — consequences. Writer-director Cory Finley’s coming-of-age sci-fi feature is based on M. T. Anderson’s novel of the same name. Arriving in theaters August 18.
Mutt — Feña (played by Lío Mehiel, winner of the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Acting at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival) is a young trans guy just trying to get through a busy day in New York City. Besides the inconvenient — unreliable transportation, getting locked out of an apartment, etc. — he also navigates encounters with his father, his younger sister, and his ex-boyfriend, all of whom are still adjusting to Feña’s recent transition. Written and directed by Vuk Lungulov-Klotz. Arriving in theaters August 18.
Fremont — Donya used to work with the U.S. government as an Afghan translator, but these days, she’s an employee at a fortune cookie factory in Fremont, California. And after she clocks out, her nights are ruled by insomnia. When a promotion gives her the opportunity to write the cookie fortunes, Donya (played by real-life Afghan refugee Anaita Wali Zada) decides to send her own message out into the world. Directed by Babak Jalali. Coming to select theaters August 25.
Scrapper — Plucky 12-year-old Georgie (Lola Campbell) has life figured out. She’s been on her own since her mother died, but she’s still got their London-outskirts flat, her friend Ali (Alin Uzun), and a resourceful attitude that helps her hoodwink social workers and steal bikes for money. Her routine is disrupted when a stranger shows up on her doorstep — his name is Jason (Harris Dickinson), and he says he’s Georgie’s father. Writer-director Charlotte Regan’s feature debut was awarded the World Cinema Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Arriving in theaters August 25.
The 2023 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour is underway! Traveling to all corners of the United States and beyond in the following months, the 90-minute program features seven short films selected from the 2023 Festival. Check here for dates and venues; see below for dates in August.
- Stamford, Connecticut, August 2–8, Avon Theatre
- Honolulu, Hawai‘i, August 4–27, Honolulu Museum of Art
- Worcester, Massachusetts, August 10, Cinema Worcester
- Hanover, New Hampshire, August 19, Hopkins Center for the Arts
- Portland, Maine, August 20–21, Space Gallery
- Howell, Michigan, August 25–31, Historic Howell Theater