10 Directorial Debuts from Sundance 2023 We Are Looking Forward To

Laurel Parmet BTS on 'The Starling Girl'Credit: Phil Parmet
Many great movies are debuting at Sundance this year, but these first-time directors just have something about them.  

Sundance kicks off later this week, and the film festival has a film lineup that is bigger and better than ever. After two years of virtual marketing, the fest is welcoming filmmakers, film lovers, and people looking to purchase a film or two back to Park City.

No Film School will be among the masses to talk with our favorite filmmakers, follow the trends in the community, and celebrate films. While we are all excited about the biggest and most anticipated films of the year, we want to celebrate the filmmakers who are getting ready to make their feature debuts.

In no particular order, here are the directorial debuts that we are looking forward to and what we hope the filmmakers can bring to the table at this year’s Sundance.

Top 10 Directorial Debuts from Sundance 2023

Danny and Michael Philippou, Talk to Me

The twin brothers return to filmmaking with their latest project, Talk to Me. Danny and Michael Philippou started their filmmaker career on their YouTube channel, RackaRacka, where they mastered the comedy horror genre. Their debut feature will send us into the surreal and grotesque nightmare realm by blending a ghost tale with more modern horror elements. We are excited to see how this talented duo comes together to elevate the horror genre while also providing a few good scares.

Directorial debuts we are looking forward to at Sundance 2023
'Talk to Me'Credit: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Adura Onashile, Girl

After writing and directing the BAFTA Scotland-nominated short, Expensive Shit, Adura Onashile is ready to debut her first feature, Girl. The delicate film explores the trauma of a young girl struggling to find her place in the world. The level of compassion and beauty Onashile brings to the screen through an intimate camera heightens the character's experiences while simultaneously caring for them. We are excited to see how Onashile balances the tones of her film through pacing, visuals, and blocking.

Directorial debuts we are looking for from Sundance 2023
'Girl'Credit: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Andrew Durham, Fairyland

After leaving television to pursue photography, Andrew Durham has returned to his love of filmmaking with his directorial debut, Fairyland. Based on Alysia Abbott’s memoir of the same name, Durham captures the father-daughter relationship against the background of 1970s and ‘80s San Francisco. Durham’s restless ‘70s Bohemian aesthetic crosses into a nostalgia point that is both comforting and unknown. It’s the feeling of looking back at photographs of your parents when they were younger. You’ll never know that moment, yet you feel a closeness to it that is undeniably powerful. 

Directorial debuts we are looking for from Sundance 2023
'Fairyland'Credit: Courtesy of Sundance Institute
Chloe Domont, Fair Play 

Writer-director Chloe Domont’s debut feature, Fair Play, showcases Domont’s ability to nail her themes. Her psychological thriller stares down the destructive gender dynamics that pit partners against each other. Domont’s unwavering camera points at the ugly truth and confronts it until we, as audience members, are forced to look at ourselves. Her confrontational style is sharp and smart, making her debut one to keep an eye on. 

Directorial debuts we are looking for from Sundance 2023
'Fair Play'Credit: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Savanah Leaf, Earth Mama

Former Olympian Savanah Leaf made the transition into filmmaking with her award-winning short film, The Heart Still Hums. Now, ready to make her feature debut, Leaf is ready to explore the complexities of motherhood once again in Earth Mama. Leaf’s intimate visual language builds empathy within the frame, allowing her subjects to flourish in subjectivity while guiding us through the emotional rollercoaster of her subject. 

Directorial debuts we are looking forward to from Sundance 2023
'Earth Mama'Credit: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Laurel Parmet, The Starling Girl

After completing her fellowship in the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program with The Starling Girl, Laurel Parmet is ready to step into the world of feature filmmaking with her “morally complex, sensitive coming-of-age story.” Parmet lends to the nostalgia of our teenage years, both the awkwardness and unruliness we all felt, and we can’t help but be enchanted by Parmet’s undeniable charm.  

Directorial debuts we are looking forward to from Sundance 2023
'The Starling Girl'Credit: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

D. Smith, KOKOMO CITY

D. Smith is bringing her skills from the music industry, where she is a Grammy-nominated producer, singer, and songwriter, and is embedding them into her stunning visual style. KOKOMO CITY is described by the Sundance Institute as “unfiltered, unabashed, and unapologetic,” as Smith fully displays her vision of the world through highly stylized shots. We can't help but look forward to Smith's raw authenticity on full display in her debut

Directorial debuts we are looking forward to from Sundance 2023
'Kokomo City'Credit: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Glorimar Marrero Sánchez, La Pecera (The Fishbowl)

In her debut feature, La Pecera, Glorimar Marrero Sánchez takes us through the nuances of the deep wounds of colonization that seeped into Puerto Rican life. Sánchez crafts a story that is quietly powerful, approaching a catharsis that lyrically unearths how mourning is not without hope.

Directorial debuts we are looking forward to from Sundance 2023
'La Pecera (The Fishbowl)'Credit: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, Mutt

One of our most anticipated films of Sundance, Mutt, also happens to be Vuk Lungulov-Klotz’s debut feature film. What has us excited about Lungulov-Klotz’s debut is his ability to capture the complexities of a transgender person's journey through an intersection of their life with tenderness. The fact that Lungulov-Klotz also does this all in the film’s single day is an impressive feat for any filmmaker. 

Directorial debuts we are looking forward to from Sundance 2023
'Mutt'Credit: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Nida Manzoor, Polite Society

British television writer-director Nida Manzoor is ready to make her feature debut with Polite Society. The film follows an Austenesque tale of two sisters attempting to fight for what they love. Manzoor’s ability to maneuver through a mashup of genres, from action comedy to heist to martial arts to Bollywood, and tells a refashioning of British storytelling through a Britian-Indian lens gets us excited to see Manzoor’s abilities as a feature filmmaker on full display. 

Directorial debuts we are looking forward to from Sundance 2023
'Polite Society'Credit: Courtesy of Sundance Institute
What filmmaker or film are you excited to see from Sundance 2023? Let us know in the comments below!      

No Film School's coverage of Sundance 2023 is brought to you by Adobe.

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