Sundance NEXT FEST (August 10, 11, 12, 13) - The Theatre at Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles

by Oliver Carnay

Sundance NEXT FEST is a four-day weekend-long festival featuring talented new filmmakers and music artists on the verge of breaking out. The festival will present the Los Angeles premieres of some of the most talked-about independent films from the 2017 Sundance Film Festival yearly held in Park City, Utah, as well as a showcase of upcoming artists.


NEXT FEST Opening Night
presented by Acura

RESERVOIR DOGS - 25th anniversary screening

The Theatre at Ace Hotel, 929 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA
Thursday, August 10
7:30 p.m. Reservoir Dogs Screening on 35mm | Supported by Cinespia
9:30 p.m. After Dark Party

Kicking-off NEXT FEST is the special 25th anniversary screening of Reservoir Dogs on 35mm print and the presentation to Quentin Tarantino with Sundance Institute's VANGUARD LEADERSHIP AWARD, honoring his distinguished career in filmmaking and advocacy of independent voices. Once the sun sets on Reservoir Dogs, take the festival outside for the After Dark opening night party presented by Acura to enjoy music, drinks, food, games, and more—all while supporting the not-for-profit Sundance Institute’s year-round mission to cultivate the next generation of storytellers.


Friday, August 11 at 8 p.m. (followed by a performance by “Lizzo”)

Supported by Cinefamily

Isaac Lachmann has seen better days. His acting career is tanking, while his colleagues succeed; his blind girlfriend of 10 years plans to leave him; and his own family singles him out as a constant disappointment at their latest reunion. Even as he takes a chance on new romance, Isaac struggles to define his place in a world that has seemingly turned against him.
Director Janicza Bravo (Gregory Go Boom, 2014 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Jury Award winner) returned to the Sundance Film Festival in 2017 with her description-defying debut feature that promises to delight and unsettle audiences in equal measure with its unique brand of discomforting humor. Bravo unflinchingly strips down her stellar lead and co-writer, Brett Gelman, to appalling levels of vulnerability, emphasized by idiosyncratic supporting turns from Michael Cera, Judy Greer, Nia Long, Martin Starr, and Gillian Jacobs. Bursting with meticulous unease and loving contempt, Bravo questions what it means to truly unravel.

Director: Janicza Bravo
Screenwriter: Janicza Bravo
Cast: Brett Gelman, Judy Greer, Michael Cera, Nia Long, Shiri Appleby, Fred Melamed

The screening will be followed up by a performance by Lizzo

Tossing her hair, flashing a confident smile, and “feelin’ good as hell,” Lizzo wields the kind of voice that’s right at home in soul, pop, hip-hop, R&B, rock, and gospel. The vivacious and versatile vocalist’s impassioned delivery and dynamic range bond the six tracks on her critically acclaimed major-label debut EP, Coconut Oil (Nice Life Recording Company/Atlantic Records), achieving what she refers to as a “genre-less style.”


Saturday, August 12 - 12:00 p.m. (will be followed by a musical performance - TBA)


Seven characters deal with the effects of change in LA’s Boyle Heights. Bicultural millennials and old-school business owners hustle to create spaces that celebrate their Latino identities—even while faced with rent hikes, a housing crisis, and a steady stream of outsiders threatening to gentrify their barrio.

All seven episodes of the first season of this series will be screened.

Director: Marvin Lemus
Screenwriters: Marvin Lemus, Linda Yvette Chavez
Cast: Edsson Morales, Victoria Ortiz, Rafael Sigler, Alicia Sixtos, Salvador Velez Jr., America Ferrera


Saturday, August 12, 4:00 p.m. (will be followed by a musical performance - TBA)

Supported by Giant Robot

Winner of the NEXT Audience Award at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival
It’s 1992 in Los Angeles and Eli and Daniel, two Korean American brothers, struggle to keep their father’s shoe store afloat. They’re the unlikely pals of Kamilla, a sassy, 11-year-old African American girl from the neighborhood, who ditches school to secretly hang out at their store. When Kamilla’s brother Keith discovers that she’s spending time with “those gooks,” he plots revenge on them. Meanwhile, on the day of the announcement of the Rodney King verdict, larger acts of violence loom as the LA riots move closer to their world.

Gook could be an independent film from the early 1990s, but the perspective on and insight into race relations between Korean Americans and African Americans in Los Angeles are more relevant than ever, 25 years after the fact. With humor, heart, and scrappy immediacy,
writer/director/lead actor Justin Chon re-centers this moment in history to tell a story about a first generation of Korean Americans amid the chaos and complexity of a multiracial LA, where everybody is looking to survive on their own terms and their own values.

Director: Justin Chon
Screenwriter: Justin Chon
Cast: Justin Chon, Simone Baker, David So, Curtiss Cook Jr., Sang Chon, Ben Munoz


August 12, Saturday - 8 p.m. (will be followed by a musical performance by “Sleigh Bells” after the screening of “Bitch”)


Jill, a lonely, distraught housewife with four unruly children, paces on her dining room table with a belt around her neck, contemplating a desperate end to her wretchedness. Her husband, Bill, focused on his identity as breadwinner and an affair with a lusty co-worker, is as oblivious to Jill’s growing terror that she will do something destructive as he is to the panic at his unraveling company. Meanwhile, dogs bark and howl through the night, as one persistent mutt continually stalks the family’s yard. When Jill’s psyche finally breaks, she takes on a vicious new canine persona.

Marianna Palka (who returned to the Sundance Film Festival in 2017 after 2008’s Good Dick) writes, directs, and stars in this provocative film. She balances a whip-smart, deeply unsettling take on the horrors of a crumbling nuclear family with a palpable sensitivity for her character’s plight and perfectly timed comedic flourishes. Jason Ritter delivers a beautifully tragicomic performance as Bill, who’s transformed by bizarre crisis from an indifferent hound of a man entirely untethered from his family to their unexpected emotional anchor.

Director: Marianna Palka
Screenwriter: Marianna Palka
Cast: Jason Ritter, Jaime King, Marianna Palka, Brighton Sharbino, Rio Mangini, Kingston Foster

Following the screening is the musical performance of SLEIGH BELLS

After getting off the ground in 2009, Sleigh Bells released three blistering records in four years. Ready for a break from the road, they then took their time to push their music even further in Jessica Rabbit, their intense, vulnerable, uncategorizable fourth LP.


Sunday, August 13 - 12:00 p.m. (Following the screening, the creators will sit down for a conversation with a special guest of their choosing. Past guests have included Catherine Hardwicke, Nicolas Refn, Aubrey Plaza, Robert Townsend, and Werner Herzog.)


Winner of the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival

Dina, an outspoken and eccentric 49-year-old in suburban Philadelphia, invites her fiancé Scott, a Walmart door greeter, to move in with her. Having grown up neurologically diverse in a world blind to the value of their experience, the two are head-over-heels for one another, but shacking up poses a new challenge. Scott freezes when it comes to physical intimacy, and Dina, a Kardashians fanatic, wants nothing more than to share with Scott all she’s learned about sensual desire from books, TV shows, and her previous marriage. Her increasingly creative forays to draw Scott close keep hitting roadblocks—exposing anxieties, insecurities, and communication snafus while they strive to reconcile their conflicting approaches to romance and intimacy.

Filmmakers Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini construct seamless vérité scenes that lovingly frame Dina and Scott’s vulnerable, yet matter-of-fact romance. Whether at the local nail salon, the warm beaches of Ocean City, Dina’s racy bachelorette party, or on honeymoon in the Poconos, Dina captures the cadences and candid conversations of a relationship that reexamines the notion of love on-screen.

Directors: Dan Sickles, Antonio Santini
Cast: Dina Buno, Scott Levin


August 12 - Sunday, 4:00 p.m. (Following the screening, the creators will sit down for a conversation with a special guest of their choosing. Past guests have included Catherine Hardwicke, Nicolas Refn, Aubrey Plaza, Robert Townsend, and Werner Herzog.)


Nick has settled into a safe existence in a small pocket of Brooklyn, where he currently toils on an archival project for his father-in-law. Soon, 20-something Naomi arrives from Australia to assist Nick for the semester. She has no acquaintances in the city beyond a loose family connection to Buddy, a music producer who lives in the same neighborhood. For the few months she spends around Nick, Buddy, and their families, Naomi's presence upsets the unpleasant balance holding these two households together.

Writer/director Alex Ross Perry (2014’s Listen Up Philip) returned to the Sundance Film Festival in 2017 with another acerbic ensemble, this time exploring the personal torment belying domesticated oblivion. His impressive cast embraces both the dramatic and darkly comedic faces of despair intertwining throughout the incisive script. As with his previous works, Golden Exits is impeccably designed by Perry's regular collaborators: cinematographer Sean Price Williams, editor Robert Greene, and composer Keegan DeWitt.

Director: Alex Ross Perry
Screenwriter: Alex Ross Perry
Cast: Emily Browning, Adam Horovitz, Mary-Louise Parker, Lily Rabe, Jason Schwartzman, Chloë Sevigny


August 13 - Sunday, 8:00 p.m.


Annette might be judgmental, critical, and a total perfectionist—but only of the most charming variety. When she suddenly perceives that her relationship with her boyfriend, Elliot, is inferior to all the happy coupledom she sees among her friends, she decides they need to break up. Launched into the LA dating scene, where film industry jobs, old school bars, and elitist consumerism are the norm, Annette begins to realize that maybe meeting some cool new guy isn’t going to lead her to personal fulfillment. When unsettling revelations about her friends and their “ideal” relationships surface, Annette is further forced to reexamine her theories.

In this aesthetically pleasing world created by writer/director/lead actor Michelle Morgan (whose short film K.I.T. played at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival), L.A. Times is a contemporary comedy of manners where West Coast meets Whit Stillman, and sweetness rules over cynicism. Morgan delights in language—witticisms and pithy observations roll off the tongues of her endearing characters who, despite their seemingly perfectly curated lives, manage to complicate things in the most human of ways.

Director: Michelle Morgan
Screenwriter: Michelle Morgan
Cast: Michelle Morgan, Dree Hemingway, Jorma Taccone, Kentucker Audley, Margarita Levieva, Adam Shapiro

The screening will follow by a performance by ELECTRIC GUEST

The LA-based duo Asa Taccone and Matthew Compton recently released their adventurous electronic R&B album Plural. Rolling Stone called their Mondo “a Beck-ian journey into L.A. slacker soul,” and they’ve been named an MTV Artist To Watch and NME Band Of The Week.