Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown appear in Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul.
By Vanessa Zimmer
Ah, September. When summer surfers, tent campers, and backpackers start looking beyond the next wave and the farthest hill for some indoor entertainment.
Whether you’re seeking an outing on the town or taking shelter in the TV room at home, we have just the thing: the September release of Sundance Film Festival fare. This month, we have a diverse offering, including a satire on religion, strong turns by actors Teresa Sánchez and Thandiwe Newton, and some thought-provoking documentaries — among them, a film on the death of the American dream and the true story of a fake town built to train law enforcement and military personnel to put down the civil disturbances in 1960s America.
Six films from the 2022 Festival open to wider audiences, in theaters and/or online, in September. Whether it’s date night or an evening at home, sit back and enjoy. Remember, school may be back in session, but there’s no homework in cinema!
Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. — Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown portray married couple Trinitie and Lee-Curtis Childs, who are attempting to rebuild the congregation of their Southern Baptist church. Wander to Greater Paths temporarily closed due to a scandal involving Pastor Childs. The dark satirical comedy, partially shot in faux-documentary style, was written and directed by Adamma Ebo. Available in theaters and streaming on Peacock on September 2.
Dos Estaciones — In the highlands of the Mexican state of Jalisco, strong-willed Maria Garcia (Teresa Sánchez) runs the family’s artisanal tequila factory, long the pride and joy of her community but now struggling against foreign competition. Sánchez won the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for her performance in this film, co-written and directed by Juan Pablo González. Opens in New York City on September 9 before expanding across the country.
RIOTSVILLE, USA — This documentary, composed from archival footage, tells the story of Riotsville, a model town built in 1967 by the government to train the military and law enforcement to respond to civil disturbances in America. “Amid today’s shifting reckonings on power and identity, technology companies consolidating power, and a new generation’s coming-of-age, [director Sierra] Pettengill delivers insight from a time similar to our own, urging us to understand how the machine of institutional power manages to rumble on,” according to the Festival Film Guide. Releases in theaters September 16.
God’s Country — Thandiwe Newton turns in a powerful performance as Sandra, a Black woman at a university in the Mountain West who is tired of dealing with the racism and sexism in her community. When she dares to ask a couple of hunters not to park on her property for access to some prime hunting ground, a battle begins — and Sandra reacts with calm, cold anger. Releases in theaters September 16.
Speak No Evil — A Danish family and a Dutch family meet by chance on holiday and hit it off, precipitating an invitation by the Dutch family to visit their country home. But then things start to unravel. Lest there be no misunderstanding, this intense film, written by brothers Mads and Christian Tafdrup, and directed by the latter, played the Festival’s Midnight section. Available September 16 on Shudder, AMC’s streaming service for thrillers, horror and supernatural thrillers.
The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales — In this documentary, co-directors Kathleen Hughes and Abigal E. Disney, the latter of the famous Disney family, look at Disneyland and beyond to explore the gap between the haves and the have-nots. Why is it that many workers at the California amusement park relied on food banks to feed their families, while the Disney CEO was approaching billionaire status? And why is that happening in businesses all over the country? The film enters limited theatrical release September 16, followed by video on demand on September 23.
Sirens — The founders of the Middle East’s first and only all-woman thrash metal band struggle through friendship, sexuality, and the political unrest of Beirut as they maneuver through young adulthood and the complexities of life in pursuit of stardom. The documentary gets a limited theatrical release beginning September 30, followed by a digital run.
Sharp Stick — This Lena Dunham film is about 26-year-old Sarah Jo, who lives in a Los Angeles apartment with her mother and sister. Eager to lose her virginity, Sarah Jo becomes involved with an older man, the father of the intellectually disabled child she tends. The film is available to rent.
Babysitter — After losing his job over a sexist prank, Cédric embarks on a therapeutic journey to cure himself of sexism and misogyny. A mysterious babysitter is involved. Director Monia Chokri also plays Cédric’s girlfriend in this comedy. Available on Mubi.
The Earth Is Blue as an Orange — Mira, the eldest of four children living with their mother in war-torn Ukraine, wants to be a cinematographer, so the family pitches in as she begins documenting their life in a war zone. Director Iryna Tsilyk followed along, in the process winning the Directing Award in the World Cinema Documentary category at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Available on Vudu, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, and Google Play.
Dinner in America — A young woman (Emily Skeggs) comes to the rescue of a punk rocker (Kyle Gallner) — not knowing that he is the lead singer of her very favorite band. The adventure is only beginning, in this 2020 quirky comedy. Available to rent.