Naturally, as the counterpart to Sundance, Slamdance aims to highlight the work of independent filmmakers debuting feature-length films made with budgets less than $1 million that haven't been distributed in the United States. And for the upcoming 2020 festival, it looks like it's gearing up to be yet another exciting voyage into the wonderful world of independent film.

Slamdance has officially announced the lineup of its 26th annual Narrative and Documentary Feature Film Competition programs, as well as the Breakouts section. 

After receiving a record-breaking 8,231 submissions this year, Slamdance alumni chose a lineup of 11 narrative, nine documentary, and three Breakout features -- and that lineup includes a total of 16 world, North American, and U.S. premieres.

Here are the Slamdance 2020 competition features:

Narrative Features


(Germany, Belarus) North American Premiere

Director/ Screenwriter: Lothar Herzog

While Elena repeatedly has to drive into the "forbidden zone" of Chernobyl in order to make deals for her father, her life seems more and more contaminated by a destructive force...

Cast: Daria Mureeva, Evgeni Sangadzhiev, Vitali Kotovitski, Alexei Filimonov, Helga Filippova, Alexei Kravchenko

A Dog's Death

(Uruguay, France, Argentina) North American Premiere

Director: Matías Ganz

Veterinarian Mario and his wife Silvia enjoy a bourgeois life in Montevideo but two events will disturb their tranquility. A dog surgery goes wrong for Mario and Silvia discovers retirement. They will be dragged from paranoia to violence and from violence to nonsense.

Cast: Guillermo Arengo, Pelusa Vidal, Soledad Gilmet, Lalo Rotaveria, Ruth Sandoval, Ana Katz

Beware of Dog

(USA, Russia, Germany) World Premiere

Director/ Screenwriter: Nadia Bedzhanova

Three young adults experience parallel struggles with mental health and identity. In Moscow a woman struggles with severe OCD, while her cousin in Berlin tries to build a romantic relationship ignoring her own mental condition.

Meanwhile in New York City, a heartbroken boxer faces addiction and lack of self worth in the aftermath of a break-up.

Cast: Marina Vasileva, Buddy Duress, Paula Knüpling, Marina Prados, Kevin Iso, Pavel Tabakov

Beware_of_dog'Beware of Dog'



Director/ Screenwriter: Heather Young

While performing community service at an animal shelter, an older woman begins compulsively adopting pets to ease her loneliness.

Cast: Shan MacDonald


(Bosnia i Herzegovina, USA) North American Premiere

Directors: Kouros Alaghband, Drew Hoffman

Screenwriters: Kouros Alaghband, Drew Hoffman, Adnan Omerović

After stalking a broken family through the night in the war-torn city of Sarajevo, Adnan snaps into an altered state of consciousness where his identity becomes entangled in the lives he is following.

Cast: Adnan Omerović, Dina Hebib, Barry Del Sherman, Nela Baždar, Emil Ivancic, Mel Flanagan


(USA) World Premiere

Director/ Screenwriter: Merawi Gerima

A young filmmaker returns home after many years away to write a script about his childhood, only to find his neighborhood unrecognizable and his childhood friends scattered to the wind. 

Cast: Obinna Nwachukwu, Dennis Lindsey, Taline Stewart


(USA) World Premiere

Director/ Screenwriter: Xia Magnus

When a mild Filipina nurse is hired by an elderly woman declining into dementia, the walls between this world and the next crumble as she uncovers her employer’s shocking family secret.

Cast: Aina Dumlao, Justin Arnold, Jayne Taini, Jon Viktor Corpuz 


Shell and Joint

(Japan) North American Premiere

Director/ Screenwriter: Isamu Hirabayashi 

A wild ride into a world of ideas, alternately profound, shallow, funny and horrific, conveyed by outspoken characters in powerful static compositions, in and around a capsule hotel.

Cast: Mariko Tsutsui, Keisuke Horibe, Kanako Higashi, Aiko Sato, Hiromi Kitagawa, Atsuko Sudo, Ayano Kudo, Naoto Nojima


(USA) World Premiere 

Director: Olivia Peace

At the funeral for a Hebrew school classmate who took her own life, two best friends find themselves distracted by the teenage complications of lust, social status, and wavering faith.

Cast: Rachel Sennott, Madeline Grey DeFreece, Shlomit Azoulay, Daniel Taveras, Bernadette Quigley

Tahara'Tahara'Credit: Instagram


(Canada) US Premiere 

Directors/ Screenwriters: Milos Mitrovic, Fabian Velasco

A hypochondriac, a failed comedian, a loner and two naive stoners seek an escape from their pitiful and mundane existence.

Cast: Adam Brooks, Alex Ateah, Milos Mitrovic, Sam Singer, Stephanie Berrington, Jennifer Mauws, Julie Simpson, Sandro Dibari

Thunderbolt in Mine Eye

(USA) World Premiere 

Director: Sarah Sherman, Zachary Ray Sherman

Screenwriters: Jason Loftus, Caylan Ford

A brainy fourteen-year-old embarks on an awkward but heartfelt first love relationship with her brother's best friend while exploring her budding feminism and a gender double standard at their high school.

Cast: Anjini Taneja Azhar, Quinn Liebling

Thunderbolt_in_mine_eye'Thunderbolt in Mine Eye'

Documentary Features

An Ordinary People

(South Africa, Eswatini, Namibia) World Premiere

Director: Ernest Nkosi

Born out of crime and largely marginalized by mainstream society emerges the story of Car Spinning in South Africa.

Ask No Questions

(Canada) World Premiere 

Directors: Jason Loftus, Eric Pedicelli 

A former Chinese state TV insider is held in a brainwashing camp and compelled to accept the official narrative on a fiery public suicide, which he believes was a government plot.

Bastards' Road


Director: Brian Morrison

Coming home from war is just the beginning.

Big Fur


Director: Dan Wayne

If World Champion taxidermist Ken Walker can't find Bigfoot, he'll make one.

Higher Love

(USA) World Premiere

Director: Hasan Oswald

A blue-collar father tries to rescue his pregnant, heroin-addicted girlfriend from the dangerous streets of Camden, NJ. Once their son is born, a new journey begins for the fate of the baby and the family's sobriety that may split them apart forever.

Jasper Mall

(USA) World Premiere

Directors: Bradford Thomason, Brett Whitcomb

A year in the life of a dying shopping mall.

Higher_love'Higher Love'



Director: Elke Margarete Lehrenkrauss

Along the country roads of rural Germany, prostitutes from foreign countries work in old caravans when mysteriously one woman is murdered and fear begins to spread into an already dark and surreal world. 


(USA, Peru) 

Director: Claudia Sparrow

A multi-billion-dollar corporation meets their match in a fearless Indigenous woman who remains uncowed after years of violent intimidation.

Queen of the Capital


Director: Joshua Davidsburg 

DC Bureaucrat by day, drag queen by night, Muffy Blake Stephyns follows her dream of leading a group of vibrant drag performers on a crusade for the community.

Breakout Features

Close Quarters

(Mexico) North American Premiere

Director/Screenwriter: Andres Clariond

In a time in which it is essential to question gender roles, this film explores, confronts and breaks apart man’s darkest insecurities and vices.

Cast: Paulina Gaitan, Jose Pescina, Jorge Jimenez

The Penny Black

(USA) World Premiere

Director: Joe Saunders

The estranged son of a con man fights temptation, paranoia, and his own nefarious legacy as he searches for the rightful owner of a mysterious, million-dollar stamp collection.

The_penny_black'The Penny Black'

The Wind. A Documentary Thriller

(Poland, Slovakia) 

Director/ Screenwriter: Michal Bielawski 

"The Wind" is a multi-thread story on a clash between people and the forces of nature, woven into a documentary thriller.

Which films are you most excited to see? Let us know down in the comments.

Source: Slamdance