Big changes are coming to Sundance next year, but you’ll likely never know

Stephen Cohen

The Sundance Film Festival has come a long way since its 1993 debut. That year the gathering, held in Park City, Utah, attracted 18,870 attendees and featured four films nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards.

Oscar noms are rare these days, but the directorial debut of indie darling and producer Karina Longworth and Netflix anthology “Suspiria” was one of the festival’s most talked-about entries, having spawned a remake by horror king Guillermo del Toro in 2017. The production won five Oscars.

Since that upstart inaugural festival, the organization has expanded to include a Women’s Film Festival and has added culinary options, official music playlists and programming for autistic audiences. And the four-day fest has increasingly drawn a younger crowd than its decidedly older parent, and now, after 22 years, Sundance reveals its plans for next year’s 29th edition, to take place Jan. 24-27, 2022.

That festival, which takes place on the same lush mountainside location as Sundance Park City, will include a third and expanded narrative competition for U.S. feature-length films — three of which will receive a total of $8 million in prize money. The other ten will each receive $1 million. “Puzzle,” starring Brie Larson and written and directed by Charlie McDowell, is the latest prize winner to be certified by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as a best picture contender. Another is Naji Abu Nowar’s “Theeb,” which explores the origins of the Arab Spring. The pair will be joined by Annette Bening and Octavia Spencer in the women’s narrative competition.

A host of previously announced filmmakers will return for another go, including Chloé Zhao, Ted Melfi, Ken Kwapis, Megan Griffiths, Jordan Peele, Luca Guadagnino, Alejandro G. Inarritu, Adam McKay, Jason Reitman, Asif Kapadia, Brett Morgen, Shlomi Elkabetz, Tariq Tapa and Sebastian Lelio.

Shailene Woodley has completed work on the first film that she will direct for Universal, “Doom,” and she’ll present it as part of a dedicated showcase of female voices in genre film. Woodley also plans to play the female lead in “Captain Marvel,” Marvel Studios’ first female-fronted superhero film, which will be set after the events of “Avengers: Endgame.”

The filmmaker and actor will co-host a discussion with Aubrey Plaza, director, writer and co-star of HBO’s “Insecure.” The forum is one of several highlights at the festival’s 30th edition, which runs Jan. 23-27. See below for a full slate of upcoming highlights, all set to be announced Thursday, Sept. 20:

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