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Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love
Kurt and Courtney in Montage of Heck

What to watch: Sundance edition

Rehabilitated sex offenders in Pervert Park and the authorized Kurt Cobain biopic round out our top picks

This year’s awards season dust is far from settling, and already a new crop of films are set to kick off next year’s race amidst the glistening peaks of Park City, Utah. The 2015 Sundance film festival gets underway today, and boasts a diverse roster of little movies that are about to become really, really big. Here are ten titles that will have us talking all year long.  


Instead of the LA Raiders’ silver and black that coated classic hood movies like Boyz N The Hood and Friday, director Rick Famuyawi’s fresh take on the black youth urban experience is drenched in the bright neons worn by his young protagonist, a 90s hip-hop head whose weapon of choice is a joystick, not a glock. Newcomer Shameik Moore stars as the self-proclaimed ghetto geek, who must navigate his way through a gang-infested landscape with the help of his fellow Inglewood outsiders. Zoe Kravitz, Tony Revolori, Chanel Iman, and rappers Tyga and A$AP Rocky also star in this early frontrunner for the festival’s top prize.


One of the scariest things about parenthood is realising that the life you’ve left behind drifts further away with each passing, sleepless night and diaper changed. In director Patrick Brice’s buzzy new comedy, Adam Scott (Parks & Recreation) and Taylor Schilling (Orange is The New Black) play a stuck-in-neutral couple who become infatuated with their younger, Silver Lake hipster counterparts, played by Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godreche). At Sundance, tales of middle class family dysfunction like this one have become synonymous with the term “crowd pleaser,” which means The Overnight should leave both audiences and buyers drooling.


What would a trip to Park City be without a James Franco-led exploration of sexual identity? After giving us Kink and Interior. Leather Bar in years past, Hollywood’s most prominent polymath is back as real life gay rights activist Michael Glatze, who renounced his homosexuality and found God. Zachary Quinto stars as Glatze’s ex-boyfriend in the film, while Seth Rogen stars as Franco’s current boyfriend IRL.


No, this tiny indie drama isn’t about what happens when an IKEA moves into the bucolic town of Milford, PA. Instead, it examines a family faced with a startling reality, when their daughter (Saoirse Ronan) is returned to them after being held captive for 17 years, and the word “home” takes on a terrifying new meaning.


Every Sundance features at least one comedian trying on their sad face for the very first time. This year’s honour goes to Sarah Silverman, who’ll attempt to carry her first movie in Adam Salky’s intimate study of boozy housewife whose promiscuous ways threaten to derail her marriage. You’ve already made us cry laughing Sarah, now just make us cry.


While Alex Gibney’s Scientology doc Going Clear is already causing all kinds of shit, Frida and Lasse Barkfors’ piercing study of Florida Justice Transitions — a notorious trailer park that houses recently freed sex offenders — might wind up being the most polarising doc of the festival. Though the lurid title doesn’t do them any favors, the husband and wife duo will attempt to humanize their subjects by uncovering what makes them tick, and how their reintegration into society might curb the sexual violence epidemic that threatens to swallow us whole.


There’s been no lack of rockumentaries made about Nirvana’s fallen frontman, which begs the question: What else is there left to say about Kurt Cobain? A lot, apparently. Director Brett Morgan’s doc is the first to be made with the full cooperation of the Cobain family (daughter Frances Bean is the executive producer), which means never before seen sculptures, photography, poetry and of course, unreleased music. Commence geeking out now.


When the first photos emerged of a shaggy-haired, do-ragged Jason Segel channeling madcap author David Foster Wallace for this adaptation of David Lipsky’s memoir, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace, they were met with a chorus of LOLs from Internet trolls and DFW diehards alike. But, one of the marks of a good director is their ability to make inventive casting choices, and after proving his chops with the back-to-back Sundance hits Smashed and The Spectacular Now, we’re willing to follow Ponsoldt anywhere. Even if it means buying the dude with the dick from Forgetting Sarah Marshall as our generation’s greatest writer.


Before Ye became the Louis Vuitton Don, RUN DMC rapped “My Adidas.” Before Jay rhymed “I don’t pop Molly, I rock Tom Ford”, LL Cool J turned Kangol into must-haves. Find out how we got from there to here in this sprawling documentary produced by Nas and featuring interviews with some of the biggest names in the game.


Chile’s resident enfant terrible and perennial Sundance darling Sebastian Silva steps in front of the camera for this, his fifth feature. In it, he plays one half of a Brooklyn-based gay couple who enlist the help of their best friend to play surrogate to their unborn child, much to the dismay of some stiff-necked neighbors. Silva’s other half? TV on the Radio frontman Tunde Adebimpe. Their best friend? Kristen Wiig. Us? Totally there.