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The star-studded indie films to check out at this year’s Sundance

Satanist death metal starring Sky Ferreira, Chloë Sevigny as an axe murderer, Abra’s acting debut – here’s what’s coming up in 2018

Sundance is where many of the best indie movies are premiered to unsuspecting audiences. 12 months ago, it was Get OutA Ghost Story and Call Me By Your Name; in previous years, it’s been TangerineMistress America and Fruitvale Station. That said, Sundance can also be a bit of gamble. Whereas the Park City festival focuses on up-and-coming filmmakers and top-quality cinema in general, it’s also notorious for high-profile flops (remember Me and Earl and the Dying Girl?) and similar-looking dramedies that you’ll eventually be scrolling past on Netflix.

To help you out, we’ve scrutinised Sundance’s upcoming line-up and have picked out 10 must-see films that we’ll be obsessing over throughout 2018. Chloë Sevigny as Lizzie Borden, Robert Pattinson doing slapstick, and Armie Hammer as an evil cokehead in a suit – this year’s got it all.

LORDS OF CHAOS (Jonas Åkerlund)

The early 90s were, let’s say, eventful for Norwegian heavy metal. At the centre was Mayhem, a group whose singer, called Dead, committed suicide in 1991, and whose surviving band members were later involved with church burnings and a high-profile murder case. So with a cast of Rory Culkin (everyone’s favourite Culkin), Sky Ferreira and Emory Cohen, Lords of Chaos promises to be a chilling delve into a transgressive subculture and what happens when misfits discover the marketability of Satanism. At the helm is Åkerlund, a music video veteran whose credits range from “Smack My Bitch Up” to Lemonade.


It’s the ultimate 21st century nightmare: what if every embarrassing detail of your digital life was leaked online? Of course, when it comes to siding with four teen girl victims or some anonymous hackers, the choice is obvious, but Assassination Nation goes further with its stellar cast of Hari Nef, Suki Waterhouse, Odessa Young and, in her acting debut, Abra. Judging by the early images, Levinson’s thriller will be this year’s Green Room, and its Salem setting hints towards parallels with The Crucible – just with more references to Snapchat and internet shaming.


Gus Van Sant can often be hit or miss, but the wordy title of his latest suggests a return to his idiosyncratic instincts. Based on a memoir of the same name, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot stars Joaquin Phoenix as John Callahan, a cartoonist whose reckless drinking leads to a car accident and a lifetime in a wheelchair. Subsequently, Callahan turns to art, gallows humour and befriending a string of characters played by Jonah Hill (unrecognisable here), Jack Black, Rooney Mara, Carrie Brownstein and Kim Gordon. At the very least, it can’t be worse than Restless.


A comedy sci-fi and a racial satire, Sorry to Bother You looks set to be another breakout hit like Get Out. Unfolding in a Black Mirror version of Oakland, Boots Riley’s directorial debut stars the ever-reliable Lakeith Stanfield as a black telemarketer who rises up the job ladder by making his voice “whiter”. As a further catch, he’s employed by WorryFree, a company that sells literal slave labour. The rest of the ensemble comprises Tessa Thompson, Steven Yeun, and Armie Hammer as a coked-up CEO with pretensions as an evil scientist. If that’s not enough, Tune-Yards is on scoring duty.

DAMSEL (David Zellner, Nathan Zellner)

What else can Robert Pattinson do to scrub Edward Cullen from our collective memories? His next move is a slapstick comedy with Mia Wasikowska, and from that alone, we’re in. In Damsel’s zany premise, Pattinson plays Samuel, a horse-riding alcoholic who navigates the Wild West in his quest to wed Wasikowska. The pair, both indie superstars, are known for choosing their projects wisely, which indicates the Zellner bros (Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter) must have one hell of a script. Not only does it grant R-Patz a rare chance to flex his funny bones, but he’s also singing and playing guitar. Expect some cringey YouTube tributes.

SKATE KITCHEN (Crystal Moselle)

The Skate Kitchen is a multiracial group of young female skateboarders in New York City. And they’re very cool. So cool, in fact, Crystal Moselle, director of The Wolfpack, documented them in a short film for Miu Miu, and has followed it up with a full-length feature. Starring the real gang themselves, Skate Kitchen centres around Camille (Rachelle Vinberg), a lonely teen who discovers like-minded female skaters via Instagram and risks it all for a fling with a rival (Jaden Smith). As Vinberg told us: “The Skate Kitchen serves as an affirmation for people who aren’t sure if they can join the skate scene.”

EIGHT GRADE (Bo Burnham)

Bo Burnham may be a comedian who rose to fame through YouTube, but don’t hold that against him. A prolific stand-up with numerous specials at 27, the viral star’s director-writer debut is a coming-of-ager backed by Scott Rudin and A24, meaning you’ll be hearing about it a lot whether you want to or not. The film itself stars Elsie Fisher as a socially anxious 13-year-old who uploads supportive videos to YouTube aimed at fellow introverts – so no Logan Paul business here. If done correctly, it could be Burnham’s Lady Bird.


It’s 1993 and high schooler Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) is scoring some action with the prom queen when she’s caught by her Christian aunt. But instead of receiving a high five, Cameron gets sent to a gay conversion camp known as Promise. On one hand, Cameron faces various humiliating treatments designed to “cure” her lesbianism. But in doing so, she befriends the therapy centre’s other gay teens, including Jane Fonda (Sasha Lane). The subject matter may be tragic and rooted in reality (look up Zack Stark on Google) but Akhavan’s prior film, Appropriate Behaviour, suggests some wry humour can be expected.

LIZZIE (Craig William Macneill)

The case of Lizzie Borden is one of the great whodunnits of our time (OK, it was 1860, but we’re still obsessed with it) and it’s been brought to life as a psychological thriller starring Chloë Sevigny and Kristen Stewart. According to Borden, 32 that year, she returned home one day to find her mother and stepfather had been sliced to pieces with an axe. But complications arise when taking into account a fractured relationship with her religious parents and a rumoured romance with the young, Irish maid. Whatever Lizzie decides really happened, it promises to a lush, gothic romance that everyone can argue about for hours afterwards.

MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. (Stephen Loveridge)

“Count me out. Would rather than die than work on this,” Stephen Loveridge wrote, in 2013, regarding Interscope’s willingness to meddle with his M.I.A. documentary. It’s taken a while but Loveridge, still alive, has completed his film charting the rapper’s rise from Justine Frischmann’s one-time flatmate to a politically engaged, trendsetting musician. A leaked trailer from a few years ago featured contributions from Spike Jonze, Kanye West and, erm, Julian Assange, so it’ll be interesting to see what’s made the final cut. Plus, for once, it won’t be overkill to include “Paper Planes” on a soundtrack.