SALT LAKE CITY — There’s still time left to get your tickets to the Sundance Film Festival.
Though festival passes are always hotly contested and disappear the fall before the festival starts, Utah residents will be able to purchase up to 20 individual tickets on Jan. 14-15 starting at 10 a.m. This means we have an edge over the rest of the country, who don’t get the opportunity to purchase individual tickets until Jan. 19.
Still, seats always go quickly, so it’s good to have some idea of what you want going in. Choose a handful of top movies you want to go for first (check the available screening times and locations at sundance.org/schedule beforehand so you know exactly what showing to go for), and a few more for backup in case you don’t get one or more of your top choices. You don’t have to buy 20 tickets, but if you think you want that many it’s smarter to get them all at once.
Though the complete list of movies is enough to fill a book (you can spend a considerable amount of time happily lost in the online catalogue at sundance.org/festivals/sundance-film-festival/program), here are some potentially interesting highlights you might want to bookmark in advance.
“Swiss Army Man”
The dramatic competition is always one of the hottest tickets at Sundance, full of world premieres, big-name actors, and the source of a healthy amount of buzz. If you’re looking to get a taste of this year’s lineup, “Swiss Army Man” with Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe might be worth checking out.
A suicidal man stranded in the woods happens across a mysterious dead body, an opening that sounds like it should be the start of a mystery but apparently turns into a road trip where valuable life lessons are learned. Paul Dano is pretty much the king of quirk, and Daniel Radcliffe has proven to be a welcome surprise in his last few movies.
If you’re looking for something a little more serious, “Tallulah” might be worth a look. Also in the dramatic competition, it tells the story of a young woman with no ties who takes a child away from a negligent mother and passes the little girl off as her own in order to protect her. Ellen Page and Allison Janney are both excellent actresses, and the strong focus on ties between women can potentially satisfy a hunger that mainstream cinema isn’t great at satisfying. Tickets to the dramatic competition shows tend to go fast, so if you’re looking for tickets make sure they’re first on your list.
“Hunt for the Wilderpeople”
Director Taika Waititi is a longtime Sundance favorite, having most recently appeared at the festival with the well-received vampire mockumentary “What We Do in the Shadows.” Though he’s about to make the jump into big budget films with the upcoming “Thor: Ragnarok,” he’s taking one more trip to Sundance with “Hunt for the Wilderpeople.” The movie, about a kid who flees from his uncle while hiding out in the New Zealand bush (Waititi is a native New Zealander) is billed as a bittersweet comedic adventure. Translated, that usually means a few tearful moments in the middle of the laughter.
“Life, Animated”/ “Author: The JT Leroy Story”
Documentaries are often ignored by the average movie going audience, but the collection at Sundance can be both fascinating and fun. Two of the most appealing-looking candidates for this year are “Life, Animated,” where an autistic boy uses Disney movies to learn how to connect with the people around him, and “Author: The JT Leroy Story,” which traces the conception, rise and fall of a non-existent author that so many people fell in love with.
Tickets must be purchased online at sundance.org/festivals/sundance-film-festival/get-tickets (select the third option under the “Utah Locals” banner). A maximum of four tickets per screening can be purchased, and a Utah driver’s license or state ID must be presented when tickets are picked up.