Twelve European films in competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival
by Kaleem Aftab
- The Utah-based gathering will showcase movies on its digital platform and at satellite venues across the United States, showing off exciting new European efforts to American audiences
Six European co-productions are playing in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, while a further six European co-productions will appear in the World Cinema Documentary Competition, as 2021 begins with the coronavirus mutating and spreading quickly throughout the world.
Consequently, the Sundance Film Festival will take place digitally via a feature-rich, Sundance-built online platform and in person at satellite screens across the United States (public health conditions permitting) from 28 January-3 February 2021. Additionally, festival attendees will be able to gather in virtual waiting rooms, participate in live Q&As and congregate in new, inspired online environments to interact in a range of ways both new and familiar.
The 2020 Sundance Film Festival was one of the last to take place before lockdowns and social distancing became the new normal. This year, the full programme will comprise just 72 features, 50 shorts, four indie series and 14 New Frontier projects.
The European (co-)productions appearing in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition are Amalia Ulman’s El Planeta (USA/Spain), a comedy about eviction set amidst the devastation of post-crisis Spain; Blerta Basholli’s Hive (Kosovo/Switzerland/North Macedonia/Albania), about a mother whose husband has been missing since the war in Kosovo; Ronny Trocker’s Human Factors (Germany/Italy/Denmark), which sees a robbery cause the breakdown of a European family; Ninja Thyberg’s Pleasure (Sweden/Netherlands/France), in which a 20-year-old girl moves from Sweden to LA to work in the adult-film industry; Alex Camilleri’s Luzzu (Malta), which is about a struggling Maltese fisherman turning to the black market to survive; and Jakub Piątek’s Prime Time [+see also:
film profile] (Poland), which takes place on the final night of the 20th century, as a young man decides to take two people hostage in a television studio.
There is an equally mouth-watering line-up of European projects in the World Cinema Documentary Competition, including Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s animated doc Flee (Denmark/France/Sweden/Norway), about a man who arrived in Denmark as an unaccompanied minor from Afghanistan and who is carrying a big secret to his wedding day; Sam Hobkinson’s Misha and the Wolves (UK/Belgium), about Misha Defonseca’s controversial Holocaust memoir; Kristina Lindström’s The Most Beautiful Boy in the World (Sweden), which shows how Swedish actor-musician Björn Andresen's life was forever changed at the age of 15, when he played Tadzio, the object of Dirk Bogarde's obsession in Death in Venice; Camilla Nielsson’s President (Denmark/USA/Norway), which looks at a pivotal election in Zimbabwe; Hogir Hirori’s Sabaya (Sweden), which shows the efforts to save Yazidi women and girls being held by ISIS as "Sabaya" (abducted sex slaves); and, rounding off the competition, Salomé Jashi’s Taming the Garden [+see also:
film profile] (Switzerland/Georgia/Germany), a poetic ode to the rivalry between man and nature.
World premieres of European features appearing in other sections include Ben Wheatley’s In the Earth [+see also:
film profile] (UK), Edgar Wright’s music doc The Sparks Brothers (UK), Prano Bailey-Bond’s Censor (UK), which is opening the festival, Frida Kempff’s Knocking (Sweden), and Lenny Guit and Harpo Guit’s Mother Schmuckers (Belgium).
Here is the full list of titles in Sundance 2021’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition and World Cinema Documentary Competition:
World Cinema Dramatic Competition
The Dog Who Wouldn't Be Quiet – Ana Katz (Argentina)
El Planeta – Amalia Ulman (USA/Spain)
Fire in the Mountains – Ajitpal Singh (India)
Hive – Blerta Basholli (Kosovo/Switzerland/Macedonia/Albania)
Human Factors – Ronny Trocker (Germany/Italy/Denmark)
Luzzu – Alex Camilleri (Malta)
One for the Road – Baz Poonpiriya (China/Hong Kong/Thailand)
The Pink Cloud – Iuli Gerbase (Brazil)
Pleasure – Ninja Thyberg (Sweden/Netherlands/France)
Prime Time [+see also:
film profile] – Jakub Piątek (Poland)
World Cinema Documentary Competition
Faya Dayi – Jessica Beshir (Ethiopia/USA)
Flee – Jonas Poher Rasmussen (Denmark/France/Sweden/Norway)
Inconvenient Indian – Michelle Latimer (Canada)
Misha and the Wolves – Sam Hobkinson (UK/Belgium)
The Most Beautiful Boy in the World – Kristina Lindström (Sweden)
Playing With Sharks – Sally Aitken (Australia)
President – Camilla Nielsson (Denmark/USA/Norway)
Sabaya – Hogir Hirori (Sweden)
Taming the Garden [+see also:
film profile] – Salomé Jashi (Switzerland/Germany/Georgia)
Writing With Fire – Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh (India)
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