What to Watch at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival: Films Spotlighting the Gamut of Fatherhood Experiences

Girl holding dad

By Patty Consolazio

Regardless of our relationship with our father (if any), all the father figures in our lives play a pivotal role in our growth and even our fate. 

This year’s Sundance Film Festival brings fathers of all kinds to the big screens: committed, indulgent, estranged, abusive, misunderstood, grieving, oblivious, damaged, imprisoned, loving, doting, lawless — and sometimes these characteristics overlap in strange and unexpected ways. In all of these films, a common thread: For the better part of two hours, you’ll be pulled into their world and feel their experience and influence in some way. 

The online portion of the Festival is underway, and Single Film Tickets for select in-person screenings are still available, so make sure to add any compelling titles below to your Festival schedule while you can!

Veni Vidi Vici- Film Still- Girl flanked by two men

Veni Vidi Vici (World Cinema Dramatic Competition) — In this utterly disturbing satire directed by Sundance returnee Daniel Hoesl and Julia Niemann, the power of unending wealth and influence get examined, particularly as it compares to those who have nothing. Indeed, the Maynard family lives a utopian existence, enjoying abundance and freedom from consequence or conscience. At the center of this despicable empire stands patriarch Amon Maynard, who, when not doting on his family and swallowing companies whole, savors the great outdoors and hunting — but nothing winged or standing on four legs. His coming-of-age daughter yearns to join her father on the hunt, but father says she’s too young. Lucky for her, she’s already discovered her birthright of entitlement. Available in person and online.

Exhibiting Forgiveness- Still, Man and woman sitting in front of painting

Exhibiting Forgiveness (U.S. Dramatic Competition) — Successful artist and family man Tarell (André Holland) would seem to have it all, were it not for the recurring violent nightmares he awakens from as a result of his traumatic childhood. When his ailing mother seeks to reconcile him with his estranged father, he resists, then challenges, his father to make amends for past actions. Tarell’s gentle and resolute parenting skills can’t entirely shield his own son from history, as parental denial and lack of accountability block the path to resolving old hurts and breaking the shackles of intergenerational trauma. Directed by Oscar-shortlisted filmmaker Titus Kaphar. Available in person and online

Reinas- Two girls stand over their sleeping father

Reinas (World Cinema Dramatic Competition) — Amid a climate of political unrest, violence, and curfews, two daughters are preparing to leave Peru with their mother, who’s secured a job in the U.S. In order for them to leave, their shiftless estranged father must give consent. He puts off signing the papers and meanwhile gets to know his daughters, sneaking them to the beach and weaving tales of his work as a secret agent. As he draws them closer, we’re left wondering what dad’s intentions really are — and who he really is. Directed by Klaudia Reynicke. Available in person and online.

Girl holding dad

Daughters (U.S. Documentary Competition) — In one world, two dozen girls dress up in their finest; in another, their fathers step into borrowed suits. They’re coming together for a once-in-a-lifetime Daddy Daughter Dance — at a Washington, D.C. jail, where the men are serving time. This delicate film follows four girls as they cope with daily life separated from their dads. Meanwhile, we follow their dads’ attendance at group counseling sessions required in order to attend the dance. The girls and their fathers finally come together for a few fleeting hours of dancing, touch, laughter, and finally tears as they separate again to return to their respective worlds, but all forever changed. Directed by Angela Patton and Natalie Rae. Available in person and online.

Krazy House- Bloody man

Krazy House (Midnight) — Directors Steffen Haars and Flip van der Kuil created this trippy horror taking place on the set of sitcom Krazy House, complete with a derelict theme song and laugh track. Bumbling, wholesome, devout Christian dad Bernie (Nick Frost) knits religious sweaters for his family and tries to connect with his workaholic wife (played by Alicia Silverstone), distant teen daughter, and atheist-science-buff son through stale dad jokes and scripture. After snapping off a utility switch, Bernie hires three criminals posing as handymen to complete the repair. Bloody carnage ensues. Will Bernie hold true to his faith? Stay tuned… Available in person.

Ibelin- animated man and woman sit side by side

Ibelin (World Documentary Competition) — While this immersive life story directed by Benjamin Ree is actually about a son, it is his father and mother who allow his story to be told, often by them. When Mats Steen’s life gets cut short by a degenerative muscular disease, Robert and Trude Steen mourn their greatest sorrow: the opportunities that Mats never had — to make friends, experience romantic love, or make a difference in the world. As they log onto his computer after his death, they discover clues to Mats’ online social circle, so they post on his blog, letting any friends know of his passing. When the tributes start rolling in, they realize the body that imprisoned Mats couldn’t stop him. Through Mats’ eulogy, Robert shares the unexpected things he learned about his son’s life. Available in person and online.

In The Summers- Two girls and dad laughing

In The Summers (U.S. Dramatic Competition) — Dad gets his girls each summer. He loves them, but let’s just call him unreliable. Volatile. Reckless. Yet again and again, the two teen sisters drag their heavy suitcases into his life for the summer. They share brilliant moments as Dad coaxes them to mountaintop sunrises and starry nights in deserts to teach them about the universe. Other moments ring more disturbing, like a perilous game of “no stopping” in his speeding car. Each year, we watch the girls as they evolve and grow into adulthood and we begin to anticipate: Which version of Dad are we getting this summer? Directed by Alessandra Lacorazza. Available in person and online.

Sujo- Kids hugging adult

Sujo (World Cinema Dramatic Competition) — Is a boy destined to become his father? How about when the boy in question is the son of a cartel gunman? As we walk with thoughtful Sujo, who is surrounded by violence throughout his childhood in rural Mexico, we feel grateful for the people who are kind to him and sustain his humanity. But in the end, it’s difficult to ignore the powerful conflict between morals and destiny. Written, directed, and produced by Astrid Rondero and Fernanda Valadez. Available in person and online.

Good One- girl face among trees

Good One (U.S. Dramatic Competition) — Old friends Chris and Matt plan a weekend hiking trip in the Catskills and invite their teenage kids to join them. When Matt’s son bails on them, Sam gets stuck playing third wheel as her dad relegates her to the back seat for both the drive and the hike. While the dudes navigate a weekend full of competitive, ego-fueled friction, the story turns to Sam’s experience and her feelings about her dad, their relationship, and the value and cost of obedience. Directed by India Donaldson. Available in person and online.

Freaky Tales (Premieres) — Sundance alums Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden weave a veritable fever dream set in 1987 Oakland, California, that connects four live-wired stories of social and pop culture, anarchy, basketball, and horror, with a dose of supernatural just to give the underdogs a boost. The fathers in these stories offer up competing views on how to raise and save their families. Available in person.

News title Lorem Ipsum

Donate copy lorem ipsum dolor sit amet

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapib.