Camilla Souza and Cícero Lucas appear in “Mars One (Marte Um)” by Gabriel Martins, a 2022 Sundance Film Festival entry.
By Vanessa Zimmer
Happy New Year of cinema! First of all, it might seem like a dream, but the 2023 Sundance Film Festival is just two weeks away! Ticket packages are on sale now, and sales of single film tickets are coming January 12, so make sure you don’t miss out.
Not only that, but straight from the annals of last year’s Festival come four fascinating films opening to wider audiences via theaters and streaming services. This month starts off with the story of a soccer-playing Brazilian youngster who’d really rather be an astrophysicist. It ends with Jesse Eisenberg’s first directorial effort, starring Julianne Moore and Finn Wolfhard. Not to be ignored, in between those two are a pair of Festival award–winning documentaries, one that captured the Grand Jury Prize, the other bestowed with a Directing Award.
So, as we anxiously wait for the 2023 Festival, let’s welcome these four films into the wider world.
Mars One (Marte Um) — A lower-middle-class Black family in Brazil finds its country at a critical juncture after the election of an extreme-right president — and their individual lives at a crossroads as well. The father pins his hopes on a soccer career for their son, Deivinho, who instead secretly wants to study astrophysics and help settle Mars. Meanwhile, daughter Eunice discovers her sexuality when she falls in love with a free-spirited young woman. “Writer-director Gabriel Martins weaves a tender and uplifting tapestry of a Brazilian family whose affection for each other is palpable in every frame, mining his delightful cast for authentic performances brimming with humor and charm,” according to the Festival Film Guide. The film debuts January 5 on select screens and on Netflix.
I Didn’t See You There — Director Reid Davenport explores the dichotomy of invisibility and of being gawked at like a “circus freak” as he shoots this documentary from his wheelchair. Capturing street scenes at a low angle, the buildings off horizontal, Davenport says he wants audiences to see what his life is like, without being seen himself. He won the Directing Award in the documentary category at the 2022 Festival. The film premieres January 9 on the PBS series POV.
The Exiles — After China’s Tiananmen Square massacre of pro-democracy protesters in 1989, film professor (and accomplished filmmaker) Christine Choy began filming the young leaders of the movement who escaped to the United States. The project was left unfinished. Initially intending to make a film about Choy herself, Violet Columbus and Ben Klein persuaded Choy to share her footage and track down those same dissidents to close the chapter. The resulting film won the Festival’s Grand Jury Prize in the documentary category. Available to rent on iTunes, Amazon Prime, Google Play, and Vudu on January 10.
When You Finish Saving the World — Evelyn (Julianne Moore) and son Ziggy (Finn Wolfhard) have a disconnect. Ziggy is preoccupied with his original folk-rock songs he streams on the internet, the social circles at his high school, and impressing a specific girl. Uptight Evelyn runs a shelter for domestic abuse survivors. “With gentle humor and pitch-perfect dialogue, When You Finish Saving the World reflects a moment of internet fame and youth activism, but it also recounts the timeless tale of parents and children struggling to connect across the generational chasm that separates them,” according to the Festival Film Guide. Jesse Eisenberg makes his directorial debut with this film. Opens in theaters on January 20.