Sundance 2023: The Excitement Begins

A still from Under G-d by Paula Eiselt, an official selection of the U.S. Shorts program at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Solzy at the Movies will be running on the ground during the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and there’s no shortage of films to see.

It’s hard to believe that I was flying to Park City for my first Sundance Film Festival on this date in 2018. It’s hard to believe that it has already been five years! Maybe it’s because March 2020 was a gazillion months long but it certainly doesn’t feel like five years.

I’ve got some coverage already scheduled but first and foremost, my interview with Under G-d filmmaker Paula Eiselt will be running on Thursday morning at 8 AM CT. Eiselt’s newest film went on my Sundance 2023 schedule as soon as the short film lineup was announced. It’s not only a must-watch documentary short but one of the most important films of the year. Christian legislators need to stop forcing their beliefs on people of other faiths. Whether you’re attending the festival in person or watching from home, make sure Under G-d is on your schedule. I’ll have more to say about the film–which focuses on the Jewish response to the Dobbs decision–following the world premiere on Sunday. The film is screening in-person only with the Documentary Shorts Program.

Flora and Son
A still from Flora and Son by John Carney, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

John Carney will premiere his newest film, Flora and Son, on Sunday afternoon. The new film was a late announcement as it joined the lineup hours before press selected tickets. As such, my schedule changed immediately. John Carney can do no wrong in my book. Eve Hewson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt lead the cast. For the time being, it’s a film that will exclusively be available for in-person attendees at Sundance 2023. With the amount of titles being offered virtually, it’s an incentive to be attending in person. Anyway, this screening is why I will not be attending the Jew in the City panel about Jewish representation on screen. That’s a subject that I will have plenty to say about at another time.

Sundance 2023, 2023 Sundance Film Festival
Key artwork for the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Things are different on my end this year. After three years of having an all-access/express pass, I’m going into the festival with a Press Flex Pass. What this means is that I have 10 public screening tickets, access to P&I screenings on the ground, and virtual access. In previous years, I stuck to as many public screenings as possible when it came to putting together my schedule on the ground. This year, it’s an initial 10 tickets plus whatever I’m able to get from publicists. Unless something changes, the backend of my fest will be heavy on virtual access. Press can also submit requests for one film per day depending on the remaining ticket inventory. We’ll see which requests get fulfilled.

Outside of Flora and Son, my confirmed screenings include the following films:

  • Sometimes I Think About Dying
  • The Pod Generation
  • Earth Mama
  • Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie
  • Fair Play
  • You Hurt My Feelings
  • A Little Prayer
  • King Coal
  • Eileen
  • Theater Camp

If everything works out, I’ll be watching the following films through either in-person P&I screenings or virtual access:

  • Little Richard: I Am Everything
  • Judy Blume Forever
  • Cat Person
  • Magazine Dreams
  • Shortcomings
Henry Winkler and Aleeza Chanowitz appear in a still from Chanshi.
Henry Winkler and Aleeza Chanowitz appear in a still from Chanshi by Aleeza Chanowitz, Aaron Geva and Mickey Triest, an official selection of the Indie Episodic program at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

A number of titles are premiering in the Indie Episodic section. I’ll be watching the Chanshi episodes as soon as I’m up and caffeinated on Thursday morning. According to the Sundance synopsis, the series is about an Orthodox Jewish woman from Brooklyn who uses a friend’s wedding in Israel to escape her conservative bubble and fiancé. The Willie Nelson series is a bit on the long side and I regret that I didn’t get to the press screeners before leaving for Sundance. Attending the Critics Choice Awards over the weekend took a good chunk out of my prep time for the festival. I didn’t get as much taken care of on Tuesday as I would have liked.

Among the short films piquing my interest are Mirror Party, Help Me Understand, and BurgerWorld. Mirror Party is Bridey Elliott’s fourth film (short or feature) to premiere at Sundance). Help Me Understand is produced by Paul Feig and Laurie Fischer’s PowderKeg Media. Finally, BurgerWorld comes from Maddie Brewer and Bento Box Entertainment.

Other Sundance titles to keep an eye on include:

  • Blueback
  • Kokomo City
  • Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls
  • Plan C
  • Mutt

Outside of this, it’s also going to depend on the buzz or schedule. January 24 is Baseball Hall of Fame Election Day so my schedule that day will be revolving around the BBWAA election results. It’ll also give me a day to just work on writing reviews.

The 2023 Sundance Film Festival runs January 19-29 in Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Please subscribe to Solzy at the Movies on Substack.

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.