V's Guide To Sundance 2021

V's Guide To Sundance 2021

V's Guide To Sundance 2021

In case you run out of films to watch in quarantine.

In case you run out of films to watch in quarantine.

Text: Lauren Gruber

Like everything else this year, the Sundance Film Festival was held virtually. Luckily, all film-goers needed was a screen to enjoy the largest celebration of indie movies — Sundance previously launched the careers of household names like Quentin Tarantino, Darren Aronofsky, Rami Malek, and Tessa Thompson. Here's our guide to all the can't-miss moments of this year's festival.

Best Period Piece - Passing

English actress Rebecca Hall makes her directorial debut with "Passing," an intimate story of race, gender, and the intricacy of female friendship in 1920s New York. Shot in black and white. the film follows the intense relationship between reacquainted friends Irene (Tessa Thompson), a Black woman, and her white-passing Black friend Clare (Ruth Negga) — an identify even her husband isn't privy to. "Passing" is poignant exploration of identity, gifted with some of Thompson's finest acting to date.

Best Female Gaze - Pleasure

Originally slated for last year's cancelled Cannes Film Festival, Swedish drama "Pleasure" explores the world of sex work through the eyes of the protagonist, an LA transplant under the pseudonym Bella Cherry (Sofia Kappel). Director Ninja Thyberg offers a dynamic, distinctly human point of view as Cherry navigates her way through the adult film industry. While some viewers might find some scenes too graphic to stomach, "Pleasure" touches on themes of dignity and the complexity of consent.

Best Fantasy - Eight For Silver

Werewolf movies — you either love them or hate them. In director Sean Ellis' case, "Eight For Silver" gives the campy topic a stylish update. Going the folkloric route, Ellis centers his film around a wealthy but cursed family in gothic Victorian France . The thriller has enough historic plotline to add depth, along with plenty of heart-stopping gore.

Best Acting - Mass

While the topic is largely avoided by filmmakers, director Fran Kanz tackles the delicate, emotionally laden story of a school shooting. The film follows two couples who have lost children in the aftermath of a devastating high school shooting — a victim's parents (Martha Plimpton and Jason Isaacs), and the shooter's (Ann Dowd and Reed Birney). Gut-wrenching and deeply empathetic, all four actors give brilliant performances that confront the collateral damage of America's tragic history.

Credits: All images courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

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