Every January, film fans brave freezing Park City temperatures in the name of glorious art! For decades, the Sundance Film Festival has been a vital springboard for independent storytelling, and one of the things that makes this venerable fest so appealing is that it’s all about discovery. Sure, there are numerous A-list stars on hand, and there are always plenty of movies made by filmmakers with name recognition. But what truly makes for an exciting Sundance experience is finding that diamond in the rough, and there’s never a shortage of such movies at this iconic annual gathering of cinephiles. What’s more, there isn’t generally a lot of buzz going into the Sundance Film Festival, because the majority of the films playing are being shown to the public for the first time. In essence, those attending will ultimately be responsible for the buzz.

What does the 2017 Sundance Film Festival have in store for attendees? As it turns out, plenty. As expected, we’ll offer up plenty of coverage right here at the Independent throughout the festival (Jan. 19-29), but while you wait, enjoy a look at five noteworthy films gracing screens at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

For detailed Sundance Film Festival information including film line-up and ticket info, click here. 

“Band Aid”

The Sundance Film Festival has a proud history of bringing independent musicals to the mainstream (see “Once,” “Whiplash,” and “Sing Street”), but director Zoe Lister-Jones takes a slightly different approach to the movie/musical with this story of a bickering couple who form a band and attempt to solve their many issues through the majesty of song. If this concept doesn’t sound awesome already, then perhaps the inclusion of “Portlandia” star Fred Armisen is extra incentive to see “Band Aid.”

“City of Ghosts”

This documentary follows a handful of anonymous activists who band together after their homeland is taken over by ISIS. With rare and personal insight, this harrowing tale of courage follows these individuals as they wage war with one of the most deadly threats the world has ever known. “City of Ghosts” was directed by Matthew Heineman, the Oscar-winning filmmaker behind “Cartel Land.”

“The Discovery”

Charlie McDowell (“The One I Love”) returns to the Sundance Film Festival with this provocative story that imagines a world in which the afterlife has scientifically been proven. At the heart of the film is a respected physicist (Robert Redford), his troubled son (Jason Segel), and a mysterious woman looking for answers. “The Discovery” sounds like quite an intriguing ride. It features a great cast, and if any of you have seen “The One I Love,” you know that McDowell loves to inject a bit of a “Twilight Zone” vibe into his work. Yes, please.

“Mudbound”

Dee Rees returns to the Sundance Film Festival for her first time since bringing “Pariah” to the fest back in 2011. “Mudbound” features Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell, Jason Clarke, Jonathan Banks, and Garrett Hedlund and weaves its story around two men who return home to rural Mississippi after World War II only to enter a battlefield of an entirely different ilk. As demonstrated in “Pariah,” Rees has a true knack for gritty, honest storytelling, and with a solid cast in tow, “Mudbound” looks to be a powerful motion picture experience. As a sidenote, “Mudbound” was executive produced by Kyle Tekiela who won top honors at southern Utah’s DocUtah International Documentary Film Festival back in 2012 for his emotionally charged “A Sister’s Call.”

“Wind River”

What a couple of years Taylor Sheridan has had! He wrote the exceptional screenplay for “Sicario” in 2015 and then followed that up with a fantastic script for 2016’s outstanding “Hell or High Water.” With “Wind River,” Sheridan tries his hand at directing for the first time in the form of a mystery revolving around the discovery of a dead body on a Wyoming Reservation at the peak of a harsh winter. This thriller stars Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, and Jon Bernthal. If Sheridan directs with even half the confidence with which he writes, it’s safe to say that “Wind River” is going to be a winner.

Other noteworthy titles at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival

“Beatriz at Dinner,” “Fun Mom Dinner,” “Rememory,” “The Last Word,” “The Polka King,” “78/52,” “Bad Day For the Cut,” “The Little Hours,” “XX,” “Thoroughbread,” “Reservoir Dogs” (25th anniversary screening), “Brigsby Bear,” “Crown Heights,” “Golden Exits,” “Landline,” “The Hero,” “The Yellowbirds,” “Casting JonBenet,” “Nobody Speak,” “Long Strange Trip,” “Oklahoma City,” “Rumble,” “Tokyo Idols,” “Wilson,” “Raw,” “Bushwick,” “The Big Sick,” “A Ghost Story,” and “Where is Kyra?”

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