2023 Slamdance Film Festival Lineup Announced

The 2023 Slamdance Film Festival has announced its initial lineup ahead of the hybrid festival’s return to Park City in January.

The 29th Slamdance Film Festival, the premiere film festival and organization “by filmmakers, for filmmakers,” today announced its lineup for Narrative Features Competition, Documentary Features Competition, Breakouts, Unstoppable, and Spotlight Screenings. With titles hailing from all over the globe and jam-packed with premieres, the 2023 Slamdance Film Festival estival continues its legacy of discovering fresh and influential new voices. Dedicated to providing accessible programming both in-person and online, the 2023 hybrid festival will return this year with events in Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah from January 20th to 26th and online on the Slamdance Channel from January 23rd to 29th.

“From the streets of Seattle to the psychedelic skies of a unicorn-run dystopia, our filmmakers are transporting audiences to new dimensions with stories that explore the nuance of disability, immigration and gender. This year’s lineup represents a generation of new directors who are breaking boundaries and redefining what filmmaking looks like in 2023,” stated Festival Manager Lily Yasuda.

This year’s Slamdance lineup was chosen from over 7,600 total submissions, 1,522 of which were features. All films selected in the Narrative Features and Documentary Features competition categories are directorial debuts without U.S. distribution, with budgets of less than $1 million USD – a feature that has been unique to Slamdance since its founding in 1995. While Slamdance’s main competition remains exclusive to first-time directors, the Breakouts program – launched in 2019 – is designed to serve directors beyond their first films who maintain distinct visual styles and a unique cinematic voice.

Slamdance is global. In the spirit of bringing audience members a diverse and colorful array of stories, this year’s lineup represents projects from 13 different countries from around the world with projects hailing from The Netherlands, Japan, South Korea, Serbia, Poland, Germany, Laos, India, and the Philippines among others. A collection that defies convention and categorization, this year’s lineup offers experimental and exciting films that will introduce audiences to unique and spirited voices they can’t experience anywhere else.

In addition to Slamdance’s Opening Night Film Moby’s PUNK ROCK VEGAN MOVIE, the festival will also showcase two additional Spotlight Feature Screenings – DOWNWIND (dir. Mark Shapiro and Douglas Brian Miller) and the festival’s Closing Night Film FREE LSD (dir. Dimitri Coats). Narrated by Martin Sheen featuring Lewis Black and Michael Douglas – DOWNWIND is a must-see documentary about nuclear fallout in the United States – specifically in the region of Utah. The film includes members of the Shoshone Nation whose sacred land, despite a treaty, continues to be cordoned off as a nuclear test site, where, for 40 years, large-scale atomic weapons obliterated the landscape and exposed people (Downwinders), the environment and livestock to deadly fallout.

Continuing in the punk rock spirit is the World Premiere of FREE LSD which is this year’s Closing Night feature. Featuring appearances from Keith Morris and Jack Black, FREE LSD follows one man’s inter-dimensional journey where, after using an experimental drug to cure a personal problem, he is provided a glimpse into a parallel universe where he is not only the singer of the band OFF!, but also the target of an evil alien species that will stop at nothing to prevent the group from making a new album which holds the key to an awakening of human consciousness. In concert with Moby’s PUNK ROCK VEGAN MOVIE, FREE LSD will ensure that music-themed films bookend the 29th edition of the DIY festival.

Whether onsite or online, Slamdance 2023 remains committed to accessibility throughout the festival. Not able to travel to Park City for the festival? No problem. The full array of Slamdance’s titles are available on the Slamdance Channel which can be accessed worldwide on Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, and Apple TV. Subscriptions are $7.99 per month and grant access to the festival’s full lineup. More information about the Slamdance Channel can be found online at slamdancechannel.com.

In addition to the festival’s online offerings, its in-person programming is also committed to accessibility with the Unstoppable program will be held for the first time in person at the Student Union Theater at the University of Utah from January 23rd to 25th and will be free to the public. Founded in 2021, the Unstoppable Program includes a showcase of new films by creators with visible and non-visible disabilities.

“For Slamdance Unstoppable 2023, our programmers are excited to present a dynamic lineup of films that span not just different genres but also various time periods, cultural groups, stages of life, and modes of expression. Our community contains multitudes and this year’s films reflect that! The vigor and spirit of the filmmakers in our program prove that no attempt to marginalize disabled people will ever defeat our human capacity and drive for storytelling, or stop us from authentically being ourselves.” Said Beth Prouty, Unstoppable Co-Captain and Programmer.

The remainder of the Slamdance Film Festival’s 2023 programming including the Animated, Experimental, Unstoppable, Narrative, and Documentary Shorts programs as well as the Digital, Interactive and Gaming (DIG) and Episodes lineup will be announced on December 12th.

In-person passes and Slamdance Channel subscriptions can be purchased now at https://slamdance.com/passes. Individual tickets will begin going on sale from December 12th at https://slamdance.com.

Spotlight Feature Screenings

Downwind (United States) World Premiere
Directors: Mark Shapiro and Douglas Brian Miller; Screenwriters: Warren Etheredge and Mark Shapiro; Producers: Matthew Modine, Adam Rackoff, Mark Shapiro
Hiroshima. Nagasaki. Mercury, Nevada? The latter was the site for the testing of 928 nuclear weapons on American soil from 1951 to 1992. The fallout is still lethally impacting Americans today. Martin Sheen narrates this harrowing exposé of the United States’ disregard for everyone living… DOWNWIND. Downwind is topical and global in context — but it’s also very deeply tied to Utah and the American West. The film includes members of the Shoshone Nation whose sacred land, despite a treaty, continues to be cordoned off as a nuclear test site, where, for 40 years, large-scale atomic weapons obliterated the landscape and exposed people (Downwinders), the environment and livestock to deadly fallout. Despite a moratorium, the Nevada Test Site remains operational and testing could even resume.Cast: Michael Douglas, Lewis Black, Ian Zabarte, Darlene Graham, Mary Dickson, Claudia Peterson.
Free LSD (United States) World Premiere – CLOSING NIGHT FILM
Writer / Director: Dimitri Coats
Producers: Kurt Kittleson, Dimitri Coats, Inge De Bruyn
Keith, a defeated adult store owner, falls for a younger woman who visits his shop looking for a gift. When their relationship turns physical, Keith’s failure to perform leads him to a strange doctor who offers hope in the form of a new experimental drug. The experience gives Keith much more than renewed manhood. It also provides a glimpse into a parallel universe where he is not only the singer of the band OFF!, but also the target of an evil alien species that will stop at nothing to prevent the group from making a new album which holds the key to an awakening of human consciousness.
Cast: Keith Morris, Dimitri Coats, Autry Fulbright II, DH Peligro, David Yow, Chelsea Debo, Jack Black, James Duval, Dana Gould, Barry Del Sherman, Chloe Dykstra, Chris D., E.R. Ruiz, Davey Havok, Gill Gayle, S.A. Griffin, Don Nguyen, Angelo Moore, Zander Schloss, Don Bolles, Bree Essrig, Sydnie Mancini, Nathaniel Moore. Cody Renee Cameron, Aleshya Uthappa, Heidi Luo, Jeffrey Damnit, Trent Haaga, Rob Zabrecky, Pete Weiss, Kyle Vogt, Kelly Nugent, Laura James, Chris Hernandez

Narrative Feature Competition

The Girl Who Was Cursed – (The Netherlands) North American Premiere
Director: Zara Dwinger; Screenwriter: Zara Dwinger; Producers: Layla Meijman & Maarten van der Ven
Stoner girl Gizem spends most of her day smoking weed on the couch while spying on her neighbors through binoculars. When the quirky boy across the street disappears, she has to get out of her comfortable cloud of smoke to find out where he is. She gets caught up in a strange quest.
Cast: Sinem Kavuz, Victor Ijdens, Frieda Barnhard, Ilker Delikaya
Love Dump – (United States) U.S. Premiere
Director: Jason Avezzano; Screenwriters: Leila Gorstein and Jesse Kendall; Producers: Emily Diego, Matt Mahaffey, Leila Gorstein, Jesse Kendall
Trash-filled love ensues when a quirky antique shop owner searches for her missing father, and falls for a determined dog lawyer along the way.
Cast: Leila Gorstein, Jesse Kendall, Rob Grabowski, EJ Cameron, Zoe Agapinan, George Elrod, Lauren Summers, Tyler Davis
MiND MY GOOFiNESS: The Self Portrait – (United States) World Premiere
Director: Alex Michel; Screenwriter: Alex Michel; Producer: Alex Michel
A strange dream; favors for friends; the end of the world. It’s just one of those days for Alex as he runs errands he never needed to, all while making sense of a recurring deja vu throughout the journey of his day.
Cast: Alex Michel, Duante Wingham, Symone Holmes, Rob Rice, Perry Goeders, Ian Peterson, Juice Wood, Emara Vee
Mad Cats – (Japan) World Premiere
Director: Reiki Tsuno; Screenwriter: Reiki Tsuno; Producers: Daisuke Urano, Reiki Tsuno, Takahiro Fukuya
Taka, a shiftless young man, sets off on a quest to find his brother Mune. Teaming up with a quirky new friend and an edgy, mysterious young girl along the way, Taka finds himself taking on a pack of vicious monster cats determined to execute unscrupulous pet shop owners.
Cast: Sho Mineo, Yuya Matsuura, Ayane, Michael Aaron Stone, So Yamanaka
New Religion – (Japan) North American Premiere
Director: Keishi Kondo; Screenwriter: Keishi Kondo; Producer: Keishi Kondo
Miyabi lost her only daughter in an accident. One day, she meets a strange man. The man demands that she let him take a picture of her spine.
Cast: Kaho Seto, Ryuseigun Saionji, Satoshi Oka
Nut Jobs – (Canada) U.S. Premiere
Director: Alexandre Leblanc; Screenwriter: Alexandre Leblanc; Producer: Alexandre Leblanc
Benjamin tells his ex-girlfriend, Angie, that he joined a cell of left-wing terrorists to get revenge on her former boss, who owns a right-wing radio station. His story blends conceptual artists, amateur theater troupes, hallucinogenic vinyl record and other magical powers. All that nonsense leave Angie wondering if he made that up only to win her back.
Cast: Jean-Sébastien Courchesne, Sophie Desmarais, Benoit Bourbonnais, Annie St-Pierre, Richard Fréchette, Mathieu Bourque
A Perfect Day for Caribou – (United States) North American Premiere
Director: Jeff Rutherford; Screenwriter: Jeff Rutherford; Producers: Kyra Bailey, Joseph Longo, Jeff Rutherford
An estranged father and son spend the day ambling around a cemetery, wandering the wilderness, searching for family, and stumbling through disharmony and heartache.
Cast: Charlie Plummer, Jeb Berrier, Oellis Levine, Dana Millican, Wrick Jones, Rachael Perrell Fosket, Connor Brenes
Stars in the Ordinary Universe – (South Korea) World Premiere
Director: Bowon Kim; Screenwriter: Bowon Kim; Producers: Han Jung, Minji Kim, Dongho Shin
Three stories from three different earths in the multiverse…
Cast: Seoyoon Park, Gyoho Shim, Dongmin Oh
Unicorn Boy – (United States) World Premiere
Director: Matt Kiel; Screenwriter: Matt Kiel; Producer: Neil Garguilo p.g.a.
When a heartbroken young artist is sucked into a unicorn-run alternate dimension, they must help conquer a dark force in order to bring peace to the kingdom and themselves.
Cast: Matt Kiel, Patton Oswalt, Maria Bamford, Harold Perrineau, Sarah Natochenny, Katie Leclerc, Brett Davern, Parvesh Cheena
Waiting for the Light to Change – (United States)
Director: Linh Tran; Screenwriters: Linh Tran, Jewells Santos, Delia Van Praag; Producers: Sam Straley, Jake Rotger, Jewells Santos
Over the course of a week-long beachside getaway, Amy, having recently undergone dramatic weight loss, finds herself wrestling between loyalty to her best friend Kim and her attraction to Kim’s new boyfriend.
Cast: Jin Park, Joyce Ha, Qun Chi, Sam Straley, Erik Barrientos
Where the Road Leads – (Serbia) World Premiere
Director: Nina Ognjanović; Screenwriter: Nina Ognjanović; Producer: David Jovanović
Jana runs to save a life of a foreigner who can take her far away from her home town.
Cast: Jana Bjelica, Zlatan Vidović, Vladimir Maksimović, Ninoslav Ćulum, Igor Filipović, Svetozar Cvetković, Branislava Stefanović, Eva Ras

Documentary Feature Competition

Cash Cow – (United States) World Premiere
Director: Matt Barats; Screenwriter: Matt Barats; Producers: Whit Conway & Matt Barats
In the Fall of 2020, a financially struggling actor camps and explores early Mormon historical sites as he anxiously awaits national broadcast for his Domino’s Pizza commercial.
Cisco Kid – (United States) U.S. Premiere
Director: Emily Kaye Allen; Producers: Shannon Fitzpatrick, Elise McCave
In a queer portrait of the contemporary American West, Eileen–a young, solitary maverick–forges a life among the discarded remnants and lingering memories of a desert ghost town called Cisco.
The Mad Writer – (United States) World Premiere
Director: Zach Kashkett; Screenwriter: Zach Kashkett; Producers: Jon Webb, Zach Kashkett, Trevor Metscher, Katherine LeBlond, James Haygood, Michael Raimondi, Michael Tolle
With his star on the rise, Hip Hop phenom, L’Orange, confronts a stunning diagnosis that threatens both his hearing and his burgeoning career.
Motel Drive – (United States) World Premiere
Director: Brendan Geraghty; Screenwriter: Brendan Geraghty; Producers: Brendan Geraghty. Josh Polon.
Within a community of motels infamous for illicit activity, the Shaw Family grapples with housing insecurity and addiction while trying to raise their young son. When California’s High-Speed Rail Project displaces them, a glimpse of stability appears within reach. A vérité, street level vantage of post-industrial America, documented over eight years, on one city block.
Silent Love – (Poland, Germany) U.S. Premiere
Director: Marek Kozakiewicz; Screenwriter: Marek Kozakiewicz; Producers: Agnieszka Skalska, Alex Tondowski, Ira Tondowski
After their mother’s death, 35-year-old Aga has to take care of her teenage brother, Milosz. There is one thing she isn’t telling him about: her ongoing relationship with Maja. An unconventional family is being born in a small, conservative Polish village.
Space Happy: Phil Thomas Katt and The Uncharted Zone – (United States) World Premiere
Director: Louis Crisitello; Producers: Louis Crisitello, John Nobbs, Rose Crisitello, Mike Castronova
Space Happy: Phil Thomas Katt and The Uncharted Zone is a feature-length documentary about a group of ragtag artists making “so bad it’s good” music and videos in Pensacola, Florida under the direction of the eccentric Phil Thomas Katt. Spanning over five decades of footage, Space Happy is a portrayal of creative minds pursuing art against all odds — and talent.
Starring Jerry as Himself – (United States) World Premiere
Director: Law Chen; Screenwriters: Jerry Hsu and Law Chen; Producers: Jonathan Hsu, Law Chen
A family documents how their immigrant father Jerry, a recently divorced and retired Florida man, was recruited by the Chinese police to be an undercover agent.
Sweetheart Deal – (United States)
Directors: Elisa Levine & Gabriel Miller; Screenwriter: Karen KH Sim; Producers: Peggy Case, Elisa Levine
Four sex workers caught in the spiral of addiction turn to a self-proclaimed healer offering friendship and a path to salvation from the streets inside his roadside RV. But just as they begin to rebuild their lives, a shocking betrayal comes to light that will change them all.
With Peter Bradley – (United States) World Premiere
Director: Alex Rappoport; Producer: Alex Rappoport
Seventy-nine years old and overlooked since the 1970’s, abstract artist Peter Bradley reflects on life and shares his artistic process on the cusp of his rediscovery.

Breakouts

The Art of Silence – (Switzerland, Germany)
Director: Maurizius Staerkle Drux; Screenwriter: Maurizius Staerkle Drux; Producers: Aline Schmid, Adrian Blaser, Carl-Ludwig Rettinger, Maurizius Staerkle Drux
The first feature documentary about the legendary pantomime Marcel Marceau. He inspires several generations of artists, among them his grandson and family, who cast a new light on his life’s work. As a child, Marceau experiences the execution of his Jewish father by the Nazis. A trauma that motivates him to join the French resistance and spurs his deep conviction in the art of silence.
Cast: Marcel Marceau, Anne Sicco, Camille Marceau, Aurélia Marceau, Louis Chevalier, Rob Mermin, Georges Loinger, Daniel Loinger, Christoph Staerkle
Fuzzy Head – (United States) U.S. Premiere
Director: Wendy McColm; Screenwriter: Wendy McColm; Producers: Rhianon Jones, Frank Oz, Santiago Cervantes, Cooper Oznowicz
Insomnia-ridden Marla is on the run after the murder of her mother. Now, Marla must confront her everlasting void to find out the truth of what really happened and at last, undo all that’s been done.
Cast: Alicia Witt, Wendy McColm, Jonathan Tolliver, Numa Perrier, Fred Melamed, Cassidy Butler, Richard Riehle, and Rain Phoenix
Mascot – (The Netherlands, Belgium) World Premiere
Director: Remy van Heugten; Screenwriter: Gustaaf Peek; Producers: Joram Willink, Piet-Harm Sterk, Bart van Langendonck, Robert Kievit
With his radical behavior, teenager Jerry endangers not only himself but his entire family.
Cast: Liam Jeans, Maartje Remmers, Leopold Witte, Geert van Rampelberg, Frederike van Oordt, Mouad Nineb, Joes Brauers
Onlookers – (United States, Laos) World Premiere
Director: Kimi Takesue; Producers: Kimi Takesue, Richard Beenen, Sophie Luo
ONLOOKERS offers a visually striking, immersive meditation on travel and tourism in Laos, reflecting on how we all live as observers. Traversing the country’s dusty roads and tranquil rivers, we watch as elaborate painterly tableaus unfold, revealing the whimsical and at times disruptive interweaving of locals and foreigners in rest and play.
The Underbug – (India) World Premiere
Director: Shujaat Saudagar; Screenwriters: Shujaat Saudagar, Abas Dalal, Hussain Dalal; Producers: Vikesh Bhutani, Shujaat Saudagar, Aman Mann
As India is ravaged by sectarian violence on the eve of its Independence Day, two rioters take refuge in an abandoned house. An eerie presence in the house, however, haunts the men to the edge of sanity.
Cast: Ali Fazal, Hussain Dalal, Areenah fatima
What is the Lie? – (Philippines) World Premiere
Director: Quark Henares; Screenwriters: Quark Henares, John Bedia; Producers: Armi Rae Cacanindin, Pauline Zamora, Bianca Balbuena-Liew, Ian Monsod
Hopeless romantic Janzen Torres finds another chance at love when she matches with the handsome and seemingly perfect Theo Balmaceda on a dating app. Unfortunately, on the day of their meet-up, Theo ghosts her, leading Janzen into an intricate web of deceit, lies, and catfishing led by sociopathic mastermind Beanie Landridos.
Cast: Maris Racal, EJ Jallorina, Royce Cabrera

Unstoppable Features

American Pot Story: Oaksterdam – (United States) World Premiere
Director: Dan Katzir & Ravit Markus; Screenwriter: Dan Katzir; Producers: Ravit Markus, Dan Katzir, Yael Katzir, Lati Grobman, Rick Rosenthal, Dahlia Guigui, Asher Alkoby, Eviatar Dotan, Ayal Nitzan
American Pot Story: Oaksterdam tells the unknown origin story of how a handful of underdogs risked everything to spark the current worldwide revolution in cannabis policy. Reflecting Oakland, California’s rich history of civil resistance, they opened the first ever cannabis college, Oaksterdam University, and got Prop 19 – a measure to legalize cannabis – on the ballot in California, thus bringing this taboo topic to the mainstream and opening a conversation on its social justice impact.
Cast: Dale Sky Jones, Richard Lee, Jeff Jones, Salwa Ibrahim, Governor Gavin Newson
OKAY! (The ASD Band Film) – (Canada)
Director: Mark Bone; Screenwriters: Greg Rosati, Andrew Simon; Producers: Andrew Simon, Tamara Sulliman, David Bodanis
Four performers on the autism spectrum form a band and take on the challenge of writing and performing their first album of original songs.
Cast: Ron Adea, Jackson Begley, Rawan Tuffaha, Spenser Murray, Maury LaFoy
Sexual Healing – (Netherlands) U.S. Premiere
Director: Elsbeth Fraanje; Screenwriter: Elsbeth Fraanje; Producers: Nienke Korthof, Willem Baptist
Evelien (53), spastic from birth, yearns for intimate contact and recognition for who she is. Sexual Healing follows her courageous quest for intimacy: touching, funny, sensual and rewarding. Naughty in all the nice ways. Sexual Healing is a tough, yet ligth-hearted universal film about the necessity of intimate contact for all of us human beings.
Sign the Show – (United States)
Director: Cat Brewer; Producers: Cat Brewer, Matt Maxey, Waka Flocka, Sara Hirsh Bordo, Claudia Lin Cunningham

 Sign the Show immerses the viewer in conversations with entertainers (includingKelly Clarkson, D.L. Hughley and André 3000), the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, and popular American Sign Language interpreters to discuss the DEI & Accessibility movement at live music, comedy, and theater performances in a humorous, heartfelt, and insightful way.

Cast: Waka Flocka, Kelly Clarkson, André 3000, D.L. Hughley, Camryn Manheim, Matt Maxey, Nyle DiMarco, Camryn Manheim
Wisdom Gone Wild – (United States)
Director: Rea Tajiri; Screenwriter: Rea Tajiri; Producers: Rea Tajiri, Sian Evans
In this moving and original reflection on aging, mortality, and transformation, Rea Tajiri partners with her mother, Rose Tajiri Noda, to create a film about the final sixteen years of Rose’s life as a person living with dementia.
Cast: Rose Tajiri, Rea Tajiri

The 2023 Slamdance Film Festival will run January 20-26, 2023 in Utah and and online on the Slamdance Channel from January 23-29, 2023.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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