Eric P. Nelson's 2023 Sundance Picks

  • January 6, 2023
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Heading into my 12th Sundance Film Festival and it feels like the first time, all over again. I got pretty comfy in the screening shed over the past two virtual festivals, but now we're back to in-person screenings. The virtual, at-home, option is back, which is really nice. It was nice to be able to just wander into my backyard, hop in the screening shed, and enjoy movies all day.

I truly did miss the in-person experience, though. Getting excited about a film from a two sentence description and thumbnail picture, only to show up to a theater at Midnight on a Tuesday to be surrounded by other weirdos just as excited as I am by a horror movie nobody has ever seen, or maybe never will see. 

That's my Sundance goal. Seek out the stuff that might never be seen again. The weirder, the better. 


Here are a few films I'm excited to see, in no particular order. 

Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls
Category: MIDNIGHT
In Person SLC Screenings:
Thursday Jan. 26 9:00pm Broadway Center Cinema 6
Online screenings: Jan 24 8:00am - Jan 29 11:55pm 

Photo courtesy of the Sundance Institute

This was the first film in the program that I wrote down to see. Maybe because of the long name, but it also checked off a lot of my focus words: nefarious, monsters, dark ritual, occultist, the rest. Upon further reading I learned Onyx the Fortuitous is an online, viral video character. I'm not familiar with the videos, but the jump from viral short films to a feature film at Sundance is exciting. This should be fun.

Plus, Jeffrey Combs from Re-Animator makes an appearance! 

"Onyx joins a group of fellow occultists to attend a dark ritual at the mansion of their idol, Bartok. Suspecting Bartok’s nefarious intentions, Onyx is suddenly immersed in a world of monsters, mystery, and mayhem."

And now, a word from the creator.

Talk To Me
In Person SLC Screenings:
Sunday Jan. 22 9:45pm Broadway Centre Cinema 6
Saturday Jan. 28 10:00pm Megaplex Theaters at The Gateway 6

Photo courtesy of the Sundance Institute

Again, 'ancient embalmed hand that conjure spirits,'  clearly right up my alley. Sounds like a simple tale of finding something neat, and taking it too far, with spooky consequences. Also, once again, coming from some Youtubers. This is starting to seem like a common thread with filmmakers, which makes sense. Their videos have been watched by 1.5 billion people, does that make their stuff good? I'll be the judge of that. 

"When a group of friends discover how to conjure spirits using an ancient embalmed hand, they become hooked on the new thrill. Until one of them goes too far and opens the door to the spirit world. "

And now, a word from the creators. 

In Person SLC Screenings:
Saturday Jan. 21 9:45pm Grand Theater
Sunday Jan. 29 12:00pm Rose Wagner Center

Photo courtesy of the Sundance Institute

Juventud Guerrera, Rey Mysterio Jr, La Parka, Billy Kidman, Goldust. If these names aren't familiar to you, then you weren't paying attention to professional wrestling in the mid-90's. I was. Quite a lot. I thoroughly enjoyed the big characters and theatrics of it all, you know, soap operas for teenagers. This one's a true story, with Gael Garcia Bernal in the lead role, should be good.  

"Saúl Armendáriz, a gay amateur wrestler from El Paso, rises to international stardom after he creates the character Cassandro, the “Liberace of Lucha Libre.” In the process, he upends not just the macho wrestling world, but also his own life."

Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Kinda Feel Left Out
In Person SLC Screenings:
Friday Jan. 20 6:00pm Broadway Centre Cinema 6 (SUNDANCE PREMIERE!!)
Tuesday Jan. 24 6:15pm Grand Theater
Saturday Jan. 28 1:30pm Megaplex Theaters at The Gateway 6 
Online Screenings: Jan 24 8:00am - Jan 29 11:55pm

Photo courtesy of the Sundance Institute - Photo by Steve Olpin

I've never sat in on anything in the KIDS section at Sundance, it's hard to squeeze in a light-hearted kids movie in between two gore filled horror ones. This year I said, "I have some of those kids, I'll give it a try!" So, I signed up for this one, asked my son if he finally wants to watch a movie with me in the screening shed, and he promptly said, "No." We'll see if I can change his mind by the time of the premiere. (He doesn't know about all the pizza and snacks in the shed; I 100% know how creepy that sounds, but I promise, it's totally fine)

A kids movie about aliens abducting parents, with Will Forte, I'll watch it. Directed by Utahn Jake Van Wagoner and shot here in Utah, always fun to play "Where Are They?" in movies shot here. 

"Itsy is new in town and her life seems over until she meets her space-obsessed neighbor Calvin, who believes his parents were abducted by aliens. An aspiring journalist, Itsy decides to write an exposé on Calvin but ends up discovering much more."

Landscape With Invisible Hand
In Person SLC Screenings:
Sunday Jan. 29 8:30pm Megaplex Theaters at The Gateway 6

Photo courtesy of the Sundance Institute

As stated previously, if the description says 'aliens,' I'm in. I am intrigued by the premise, though. In this one, the aliens have already taken over, which I always want to see in film, what happens AFTER the monsters attack, or giant reptiles flatten your city, or Michael Myers' terrorize your neighborhood. In this movie, the aliens bring super new technology that only the rich people get to use and everyone else has to deal. We follow a pair of teenagers dealing. 

"When Earth is taken over by aliens who control the economy, a pair of teenagers come up with a plan to save their families."

Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis)
In Person SLC Screenings:
Saturday Jan. 21 3:30 Megaplex Theaters at The Gateway 6
Saturday Jan. 28 6:45pm Rose Wagner Center
Online Screenings: Jan 24 8:00am - Jan 29 11:55pm

Photo courtesy of the Sundance Institute

A not-so-heavy documentary at Sundance?! It's like that needle in a haystack. Have to check this out. Director Anton Corbijn tells the story of Hipgnosis, the art team behind some of music's most iconic album covers.  

"An inside look at the studio responsible for some of the most iconic and recognizable album covers of all time. From Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon to Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy, the studio ruled the ’70s."