“Saved!” and “Rudo y Cursi” Among Films With May Anniversaries

Diego Luna’s character Beto aims to play professional soccer in Carlos Cuarón’s film “Rudo y Cursi.”

By Lucy Spicer

Can you believe we’re almost at the midpoint of 2024? Before summer arrives (and flies by in what will surely feel like mere moments), why not take some time to look back on what this year has brought into your life so far? Our monthly ritual of commemorating anniversaries for Sundance-supported film releases may leave us feeling old (how has it already been 20 years since Mandy Moore threw a Bible at Jena Malone in Saved!?), but it also reminds us that our favorite films have had a hand in shaping our lives.

This month’s batch of films includes a tale about a persistent (and hilarious) Australian family, a love story set in a small Chinese village, a religious satire that doubles as a teen film, a comedy-drama where two brothers compete on the soccer field, and a documentary about one of the world’s largest parties for electronic dance music.

The Castle (1999) — Tow-truck driver Darryl Kerrigan (Michael Caton) has a distinctly working-class lifestyle with his loving family in their home located directly adjacent to the airport. But to the Kerrigans, their house is their castle and they couldn’t be happier. The family’s unconventional paradise is threatened when the government sends them a notice of compulsory acquisition — their house will be sacrificed so that the airport can expand. Unwilling to relinquish their precious home, the Kerrigans take their claim of unlawful eviction all the way to the highest court in the country. Directed by Rob Sitch and shot in only 11 days on Super 16 mm film, The Castle has become an icon of Aussie cinema. The extremely quotable comedy opened in Australia in 1997 before screening at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and releasing in U.S. theaters the following year. Check here for viewing options.

The Road Home (2001) — When narrator Luo Yusheng (Sun Honglei) hears that his father has died, he departs for the village where he grew up — and where his father served as a teacher for 40 years — to help his mother prepare for the funeral. The film’s present-day black-and-white scenes serve as a frame for the narrator’s parents’ epic love story, recounted in vibrant color. Directed by Zhang Yimou, The Road Home was adapted for the screen by Bao Shi based on his novel Remembrance. The film screened at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the World Cinema Audience Award. Check here for viewing options.

Saved! (2004) — Teenage Mary (Jena Malone) is living her best life as an Evangelical Christian: She’s entering her senior year at a good Christian school, she’s a member of a girl group led by super-Christian Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore), and she’s dating Dean (Chad Faust), the ideal Christian boyfriend. When Dean admits that he might be gay, Mary’s world turns upside down. Her efforts to “help” Dean go awry, but even as Mary begins to question everything she’s built her life on, she discovers friendship and acceptance in unexpected places. Director Brian Dannelly’s tongue-in-cheek satire premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and features an ensemble cast that includes Macaulay Culkin, Patrick Fugit, Eva Amurri, Mary-Louise Parker, and more. Check here for viewing options.

Rudo y Cursi (2009) — Brothers Beto (Diego Luna) and Tato (Gael García Bernal) have big dreams: Beto wants to play professional soccer, while Tato yearns for success as a singer. For now, they’re stuck harvesting bananas in their farming village. That is, until a talent scout (Guillermo Francella) notices them playing for their local soccer team. Though impressed by both, the scout can only take one brother with him to Mexico City for the chance to play with a big team. Tato scores the deciding penalty shot, setting off a series of events that thrust the brothers into new territory and increasing competition with each other. Writer-director Carlos Cuarón’s comedy-drama had its U.S. premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Check here for viewing options.

Under the Electric Sky (2014) — Launched in the 1990s to cater to a few thousand fans of electronic dance music, Electric Daisy Carnival has grown into a sprawling multiday event and one of the world’s largest showcases for EDM. The 2013 edition of the festival is the subject of this music documentary, which gains insight into the unique lives of the fest’s devotees and goes behind the scenes to reveal the scope of a production that would draw some 350,000 attendees. Co-directed by Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz, this neon-soaked, high-energy music doc premiered in the Park City at Midnight section of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Check here for viewing options.

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