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.
'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.
'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.
'Fairyland'Credit: Courtesy of Sundance InstituteChloe 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.
'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.
'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.
'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 CITYis 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
'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.
'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.
'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.
'Polite Society'Credit: Courtesy of Sundance InstituteWhat filmmaker or film are you excited to see from Sundance 2023? Let us know in the comments below!
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