Five films from Sundance 2019 already slated for UAE release

Local indie distributor Front Row has been busy picking favourites before the festival even starts

Zac Efron, Macie Carmosino and Lily Collins appear in <i>Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile</i> directed by Joe Berlinger, an official selection of the Premieres program the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Brian Douglas.

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The line up for January's Sundance Film Festival was announced yesterday, and already Dubai-based distributor Front Row Films has picked up an impressive five films from the world's leading indie cinema festival for regional distribution.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Vile and Evil is a biopic of the serial killer Ted Bundy, starring Zac Efron as Bundy, and Lily Collins as his girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer, who struggled to accept the truth about her bloodthirsty beau. John Malkovich and Kaya Scodeliaro are among an impressive supporting cast.

From the festival's World Cinema section comes Joanna Hogg's The Souvenir, a British drama about a film student who meets a mysterious, but charismatic stranger, and finds things get weirder the closer she gets to him. Martin Scorsese executive produces.

The festival's popular midnight horror slot is represented in Front Row's selections too. Lee Cronin's Irish shocker The Hole in the Ground follows a young single mother who is convinced her son has been transformed by something sinister coming from the depths of a hole in the ground, while Lupita Nyongo'o heads up an unlikely team of zombie slayers in Abe Forsythe's Little Monsters.

Finally, and perhaps most intriguingly, Front Row has delved into the documentary section of the festival for Untouchable. Ursula MacFarlane's doc finds Harvey Weinstein making an unexpected return to Sundance, though only as the subject of this film charting the very public rise and fall of the much-accused former movie mogul, once a ubiquitous presence at the Utah festival.

With none of the films having even premiered yet, Front Row were unable to give too much information regarding release dates, but you can expect to see all five in UAE cinemas over the course of next year. Front Row chief Gianluca Chakra added that he was “proud” to be representing all five films in the region, and that he expects more films to be added to the list once the festival gets underway.

The five films are part an impressive line up of 112 movies from all around the world. This year's line up features a particularly strong showing for Asian-American films following the success of this year's Crazy Rich Asians – that film's star, the rapper Awkwafina, appears in the cast of two films at the festival, including Lulu Wang's debut The Farewell, while Justin Chon follows up 2017's Gook with Ms Purple.

There's also a powerful female presence at this year's event – for the first time ever, more than half of the films in the festival's US Dramatic competition are from female directors. Particularly hotly anticipated is Alma Har'el's Honey Boy, which sees Shia LeBeouf play his own father in his autobiographical story of his complicated relationship with LeBeouf senior.

Elsewhere, Chiwetel Ejiofor directs and stars in his directorial debut The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, while other films will see the likes of Connie Britton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Toni Collette, Adam Driver, Julianne Moore, Jim Parsons, Michelle Williams, Jon Hamm, Rose Byrne, Keira Knightley, Viola Davis, and Allison Janney back on screen at Sundance.

Sundance Festival runs in Park City, Utah, from January 24 to February 3.