the 10 best shouts from sundance film festival

The go-to festival for films hoping to make a splash in 2015 starts tomorrow. Here are i-D’s ones to watch out for…

by Colin Crummy
22 January 2015, 11:10am

Dope sees b-boy geek Malcolm sport an impressive high-top fade, Cross-Colours and Z. Cavariccis, while dreaming of attending Harvard. In the meantime, he's stuck in Inglewood, California and the roughest, toughest and worst named neighbourhood around, The Bottoms. Determined to avoid the drugs, crime and violence vortex that could befall a boy there, Malcolm starts a punk hip-hop band with two of his crew (we say two, but that's the extent of this particular posse). Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori and Kiersey Clemons star as the three besties. Zoe Kravitz, A$AP Rocky and Tyga are in support, while executive producing, presumably in a very big hat, is Pharrell.

Fresh Dressed
Or, how a South Bronx B Boy trend took over the world, in Sacha Jenkins' documentary on why Fresh style became a cultural force. In between the adidas trainers, Kangol hats and Puma tees this oral and visual history of hip hop couture features Kanye, Andre Leon Tally and Riccardo Tisci in its bid to trace the culture from the plantations to the catwalk. Oh, and the music's pretty fresh too.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
After The Fault in Our Stars YA fiction continues to prove fertile ground for the big screen treatment. So you can expect a whole host of films that run the gauntlet of cry-face emotions. This adaptation of Jesse Andrews' 2013 book Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has as its hero Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann), a shy student who spends his time making wacky versions of classic films with his only friend Earl. Greg's mother tries to make her son more social, forcing him to befriend Rachel (Olivia Cooke), a classmate recently diagnosed with leukemia. It's not the most thought through mom plan ever.

Stockholm, Pennsylvania
Another perennial Hollywood trope - the kidnapping - takes a contemporary spin in Stockholm, Pennsylvania. Saoirse Ronan stars as Leia, a young woman reunited with her parents after abduction 17 years previously. But years of captivity in the basement of her abductor Ben has made Leia developmentally stunted and she finds it difficult to acclimatize to her new life. Caught between captor and parents she hardly knows, the Stockholm of the title might give you a clue as to where Leia she might lean.

The Bronze
Superhuman athlete turns super bitter, superbitch in The Bronze, a cautionary comedy about putting talent on a pedestal. Hope Ann Greggory is a local gymnast heroine who came third in the 2004 Games but is now down-and-out, living in her father's basement. Her only chance of medal glory now is if swearing became an Olympian sport. Hope's not a happy gal - a situation complicated by the fact that a promising new talent's popped up in her hometown. This limber naïve girl wants Hope to train her. Will the elder athlete take on her protégé with grace or take the little shit down with force? The opening drama of Sundance, The Bronze, stars Melissa Rauch as the former heroine turned deadbeat.

Diary of a Teenage Girl
Phoebe Gloeckner's 2002 graphic novel gets the live action/animation treatment in which the diary of the title recounts an adolescent's affair with his mother's boyfriend. Diary of a Teenage Girl stars British newcomer Bel Powley as Minnie Goetze, a San Fran teenager who puts all of her angst into drawings and recordings that begin to take on a troublesome slant when they document her dalliance with her mum's fella, played by True Blood's Alex Skarsgard. Should have put a lock on that journal, babe.

The Stanford Prison Experiment
Not the first film to explore the real life research of Dr Philip Zimbardo (there was a recent take on it in the 2010 film The Experiment) but The Stanford Prison Experiment looks a more high-minded interpretation at the work. In 1971 Zimbardo launched a study into the psychology of imprisonment using 24 consenting male undergraduates to take on either prisoner or guard roles. And whattyaknow, the 'actors' begin to play to type: prisoner as underdogs, guards as ruthless power brokers with the research team becoming unwittingly embroiled in the experiment. Billy Crudup stars as the professor with support from Ezra Miller in the lock up.

Hot Girls Wanted
A strong US documentary strand includes this snapshot of the thousands of young American women who enter the online porn industry in a bid for digital notoriety. Hot Girls Wanted follows the fate of one young woman who leaves her small town and A Grades for the fame and freedom porn purports to offer. At first, she finds herself en vogue as a next-door-girl to get your kicks from. But there's plenty more willing to expose themselves in a bid for social kudos in a digital age. Producer Rashida Jones (Parks & Recreation) teams up with the Kinsey Institute for Sex Research to delve into the unchecked amateur porn pool and the clothes shedding, cock-sucking quest for validation in a digital age.

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck
An intriguing, fully authorised look at the late great Nirvana frontman, executive produced by his offspring, Francis Bean. Courtney Love first approached director Brett Morgen (The Kid Stays in the Picture) with armfuls of unseen video footage but creative control has since been handed to her daughter, Courtney deemed too part of the narrative to handle steering it. Good thinking. The documentary blends that personal archive with interviews from those closest to Cobain to produce an authentic reading of the artist's life. Whether Courtney and Francis Bean play nice at the premiere at Sundance is another thing.

I am Michael
James Franco is gay again in this thorny drama based on real life gay activist Michael Glatze. In 2007, after a brush with the grim reaper, the prolific gay youth voice disavowed his homosexuality, took to Christianity and abandoned his old life and friends. In a series of interviews and online diatribes Michael denounced homosexuality. It's a path easily mocked; the film takes another route, looking to find a sympathetic way of telling his tale of conversion.

Sundance Festival is on 22nd January to 1st February.


Text Colin Crummy
Images courtesy of Sundance Institute

diary of a teenage girl
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck
ones to watch
fresh dressed
hot girls wanted
The Stanford Prison Experiment
me and earl and the dying girl
the bronze
I Am Michael
sundance 2015