Top 5 Highlights of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival

by Guy Frum

The 2022 Sundance Film Festival was supposed to be a hybrid of physical and virtual components, but due to the emergence of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, the in-person components were scrubbed, and the festival became fully virtual, held online for the second conservative year. The festival was held for ten days between January 20-30.

So, from the debut of a sophomore to the middle ground, not-so-amazing movies that everyone somehow loved, the Sundance Festival was filled with many exciting new movies and performances. In no particular order, below are five of the best.  

Cha Cha, Real Smooth and Cooper Raiff

Filmmaker Cooper Raiff both directed and acted in his feature film, Cha Cha Real Smooth, considered a fan’s favourite and bagged the Audience Award in the U.S. Dramatic film category, with Apple recently securing the rights to the movie in a $15 million deal.

The movie is a romantic comedy about Andrew (Cooper Raiff), who is just out of college but has no clue as to what to do with his life. He gets a job as a bar mitzvah host, which brings him to Domino (Dakota Johnson) and her autistic teenage daughter.

Andrew is immediately attracted to the older woman who doesn't want to pursue anything because she is still engaged to a busy lawyer. The movie showed the travails of young men trying to find themselves, showing us to think differently about age differences when it comes to love.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande.

Directed by Sophia Hyde, the movie is about a lonely old woman who hires a prostitute to fulfil her emotional and sexual desires. The movie was a hit.

Searchlight Pictures immediately snatched up the U.S. rights to the movie with about 7.5 million dollars. The comedy would be made available on Hulu but the release date is yet to be announced.

Mimi Cave’s Fresh

It was a blend of romance, horror, thriller and drama. First-class directing from Mimi Cave combined with stunning acting from Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan made this into a very fun movie.

Bashfully awkward Noa (Edgar-Jones) meets her perfect man, Steve (Stan) in a grocery store after a string of awful online dates. He is everything she hoped for, and whatever they had moved along fast and sometime later, she is on her way to his vacation home.

That is where everything unravels as we find out that Steve is actually a cannibal who lures women with his cute-guy personality only to kidnap them and sell them for parts.

The horror and humour are adequately balanced at the same time, explaining the rigours and dangers of online dating. Audiences can now look forward to it as it debuts on Hulu on March 4.

Clones, Duels and Dual.

Imagine having a terminal illness. Death is coming fast, and your loved ones are devastated. It's a dystopian world, and there is the option of having a clone of yourself, so your death won’t be felt.
As with Dual, directed by Riley Stearns, there are developments. Karen Gillan acting as Sarah in the movie makes a miraculous recovery. Now there are two Sarahs out in the world, the original and her clone. The government mandates they should fight to the death for who gets to stay.

How would it feel fighting a clone that knows you just as much as you know yourself? It’s an intriguing concept, and Dual delivered accordingly.

Deals, Deals and More Deals

The film festival was online, but that didn't stop the deals from coming in for both the producers, directors and organizers.

The megadeal for this year was for Cha Cha Real Smooth. Apple shelled out a whopping 15 million dollars for worldwide rights of the movie. The deal is almost a thousand times the budget of Cooper Raiff’s first movie.

Searchlight Pictures got the U.S. rights of Sophia Hyde’s directed movie for seven and a half million dollars.
Global rights of Participant’s feature documentary Descendant, which also got the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Creative Vision, have also been obtained by Netflix. To take it a step further, former U.S. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama's production house will present the film along with Netflix.