Release Rundown: What to Watch in May, From “I Saw the TV Glow” to “Power”

Owen (Justice Smith) and Maddy (Brigette Lundy-Paine) develop an eerie connection to a supernatural TV show in Jane Schoebrun’s “I Saw the TV Glow.” 

By Lucy Spicer

There’s a special kind of excitement in the air at Sundance Institute in the lead-up to summertime. Lab season has officially kicked off with this year’s Native Lab (check out the announcement of the 2024 fellows for the Native Lab as well as the Directors and Screenwriters Labs here), and we can’t wait to see the unique stories being developed by these emerging independent artists. But, in the meantime, we’re celebrating the projects at international events like Sundance Film Festival CDMX 2024 and the upcoming edition of Sundance Film Festival: London. And, of course, we’re heading to theaters (or to fire up streaming services from the couch) to check out the newest batch of Sundance-supported releases.

This month’s theater offerings include three creative takes on the horror genre, an atypical love story, and a comedy noir from Richard Linklater based on the unbelievable true tale of a fake hit man. Documentary fans can enjoy three new releases from the comfort of home: an innovative meditation on hearing and sound, a visual essay on the history of policing in the U.S., and a three-part series about the history and impact of the legendary Lollapalooza music festival.

I Saw the TV Glow — Were you obsessed with a certain TV show as a kid? We joke about pieces of media “becoming our whole personality” during our youth, but how often do we consider the identity-shaping consequences of immersing ourselves in a fictional world? The unsettling power of fandom and nostalgia drives writer-director Jane Schoebrun’s new decade-spanning horror film, which premiered in the Midnight section of the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Owen (portrayed by Ian Foreman and Justice Smith) is trudging through childhood in suburbia when older classmate Maddy (Brigette Lundy-Paine) introduces him to a late-night supernatural TV show that changes his life. In the years that follow, Owen’s and Maddy’s memories of the show bring up questions about what was real and what was fiction. Arriving in theaters May 3.

Slow — When sign language interpreter Dovydas (Kęstutis Cicėnas) meets dancer Elena (Greta Grinevičiūtė), their connection is instant. The pair’s chemistry only grows as they get to know one another. When their relationship approaches new territory, Dovydas reveals that he is asexual, throwing free-spirited Elena for a loop. Unwilling to relinquish their newfound connection, Dovydas and Elena explore what emotional intimacy means for them. Writer-director Marija Kavtaradzė’s poetic and insightful story won her the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Arriving in select theaters May 3.

Power — Academy Award–nominated director Yance Ford returned to the Sundance Film Festival in 2024 with a timely essay film chronicling the history of policing in the U.S., including how the American model has traveled to other parts of the world. Ford’s idea for the documentary originated in 2020, when the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer triggered widespread protests against police brutality. Combining meticulous research with expert interviews and footage from bodycams, training videos, propaganda films, and more, Ford’s film paints an unflinching portrait of three centuries of ever-expanding police power. Streaming on Netflix May 17.

The Tuba Thieves — Inspired by a string of tuba thefts from high school classrooms in Southern California between 2011 and 2013, filmmaker and visual artist Alison O’Daniel created a unique meditation on what it means to listen. The director’s feature-length debut is an immersive experience for all audiences — whether they’re d/Deaf, hearing, or somewhere in between. O’Daniel’s innovative approach to the documentary genre premiered in the NEXT section at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Making its broadcast premiere on PBS’ “Independent Lens” May 20.

LOLLA: THE STORY OF LOLLAPALOOZA — What was conceived in 1991 as a farewell tour for rock band Jane’s Addiction would quickly become a generation-defining festival that changed the music industry forever. Directed by Michael John Warren (and co-produced by Lollapalooza co-founder and Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell), the three-part series LOLLA: THE STORY OF LOLLAPALOOZA traces the history of the iconic festival, complete with an abundance of archival footage from both the audience and band perspectives. The first two parts of this immersive series screened in the Episodic section of the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Streaming on Paramount+ May 21.

Hit Man — Sundance regular Richard Linklater returned to the 2024 Festival to screen Hit Man — co-written with leading man Glen Powell — in the Spotlight section. Loosely based on the true story of a fake Houston hit man, Linklater’s noir comedy stars Powell as Gary Johnson, a mild-mannered professor with a peculiar talent for impersonating a killer for hire. Donning disguises and adopting various identities, Gary gains his clients’ trust — and their explicit request for a murder — in time for the cops to intervene. Complications arise when Gary falls for a mysterious woman (Adria Arjona) who hires him to kill her husband. Arriving in select theaters May 24; streaming on Netflix June 7.

Handling the Undead — On a seemingly ordinary summer day in Oslo, the recently deceased rise from the grave. Families whose loved ones return must reckon with a new, unexpected layer of grief — the dear departed are back, but they haven’t come back the same. Renate Reinsve and Anders Danielsen Lie (last seen at Sundance in The Worst Person in the World) star in this unique approach to horror, which won the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Original Music at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Adapted by director Thea Hvistendahl and John Ajvide Lindqvist from Lindqvist’s novel of the same name, this isn’t your typical zombie movie. Arriving in select theaters May 31.

In a Violent Nature — This isn’t your typical slasher flick. The die-hard horror movie fan might think they’ve seen everything when it comes to undead villains hunting down unsuspecting victims in the woods, but writer-director Chris Nash’s film offers a new perspective — literally. Audiences who sit down to In a Violent Nature, which premiered in the Midnight section at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, will find themselves sharing the point of view of the killer. Arriving in theaters May 31.

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