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Erykah Badu, Tikka Sumpeter and Gabrielle Union among the cast for Sundance Film Festival choices for 2016

Erykah Badu, Tikka Sumpeter and Gabrielle Union among the cast for Sundance Film Festival choices for 2016

Offering a first look at the year ahead in independent film, culture and new ideas, Sundance Institute announced today the 65 films selected for the U.S. Competition, World Competition, and out-of-competition NEXT category set to premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, January 21-31 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. Films that have premiered in these sections include Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Blackfish, The September Issue, The Cove, An Education, Animal Kingdom, Precious, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Obvious Child, Tangerine and Escape from Tomorrow. The Festival is the centerpiece of the year-round public programs for the Institute, which also hosts 24 residency Labs for independent artists in theatre, film, new media and episodic content and grants more than $2.5 million to independent artists each year.

Robert Redford, President, and Founder of Sundance Institute, said, “From diverse backgrounds, places and perspectives, these independent artists are united by the power of their stories and vision. Their films will soon launch onto the global stage, beginning their journeys through our culture. A new year in independent film will start right here—on the mountain—in January.”

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, said, “At a time when big-budget blockbusters and free online content are ubiquitous, independent filmmakers continue to be extraordinarily creative, artful and inventive. Our mission remains to amplify these voices from outside the mainstream at the Festival and, through our year-round filmmaker Labs, programs, and events, to celebrate their truly independent passion and spirit.”

John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival, said, “Fueled by wild creativity, fresh perspectives and a deep understanding of the craft of storytelling, independent film is evolving. Our Festival continues to show that film has the power to inspire, challenge and surprise audiences in new ways.”

For the 2016 Festival, 120 feature-length films were selected, representing 37 countries and 48 first-time filmmakers, including 28 in competition. These films were selected from 12,793 submissions, including 4,081 feature-length films and 8,712 short films. Of the feature film submissions, 1,972 were from the U.S. and 2,109 were international. 98 feature films at the Festival will be world premieres.

Festival Director John Cooper and Director of Programming Trevor Groth will participate in a live chat on facebook.com/sundance today (December 2) at 3:00 p.m. PT to answer questions from independent film fans about the lineup.

The Midnight films have been announced, and more films will be announced soon; watch sundance.org/festival.

Films that are of interest to Sugarcane Magazine readers:

The Birth of a Nation / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Nate Parker) — Set against the antebellum South, this story follows Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner, accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. After witnessing countless atrocities against fellow slaves, Nat devises a plan to lead his people to freedom. Cast: Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, Mark Boone Jr. World Premiere

Southside With You / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Richard Tanne) — Southside With You is a chronicle of the summer afternoon in 1989 when the future president of the United States of America, Barack Obama, wooed his future First Lady on an epic first date across Chicago’s South Side. Cast: Tika Sumpter, Parker Sawyers, Vanessa Bell Calloway. World Premiere.

The Land / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Steven Caple Jr.) — Four teenage boys devote their summer to escaping the streets of Cleveland, Ohio, by pursuing a dream life of professional skateboarding. But when they get caught in the web of the local queen pin, their motley brotherhood is tested, threatening to make this summer their last. Cast: Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Moises Arias, Rafi Gavron, Ezri Walker, Erykah Badu, Michael K. Williams. World Premiere

Jacqueline (Argentine) / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Bernardo Britto) — A young French woman hires a man to document her self-imposed political asylum in Argentina after supposedly leaking highly confidential government secrets. Cast: Camille Rutherford, Wyatt Cenac, James Benson, Martin Anderson, Sarah Willis, Enrique Dura. World Premiere