The Sundance Film Festival concluded Jan. 28, and the 10-day, Utah-based competition saw a number of familiar faces making their debuts as directors.
Bo Burnham, Idris Elba and Paul Dano all made news as they brought their debut films as directors to the festival, where potential buzz for next year’s cinema begins.
Burnham, a famed stand-up comedian and performer who appeared in last year’s The Big Sick, brought his first feature film as a director, Eighth Grade, to Sundance. The movie stars a cast of mostly unknowns, new to film, like Burnham. According to the IMDb description, the movie focuses on a young girl’s experience at the end of middle school.
With Burnham’s biting wit and writing technique, it’s sure to be a hilarious movie with some hard-hitting moments of depth. Early reviews seem promising, and Burnham’s voice is a welcome and needed one.
Elba’s first foray into helming a film is Yardie, which is an adaptation of a 1993 novel of the same name. The crime film focuses on a Jamaican man and is set largely in London. It sounds like an interesting take on British crime movies, and early previews seem to show more vibrant color than you might expect from the genre.
While Elba’s debut hasn’t been met with as much acclaim as Burnham’s, he’s an actor who brings an intensity to performances, and some of those skills are sure to transfer. And it’s only his first film — which means he has plenty of time to grow as a director.
Dano, known for movies like There Will be Blood and Swiss Army Man, made his directorial debut with Wildlife. Also based on a novel, the movie stars Carrie Mulligan and was co-written by Zoe Kazan, who also starred in The Big Sick.
The films Dano stars in are seemingly all film festival types, so his experience at Sundance indicates he knows his audience well, which could certainly transition well to theaters and future films.
So far, none of the movies have a theatrical release date, but they’re more than likely to premiere within the next year. Keep an eye out for these new directors’ films and other potential award winners from this year’s Sundance festival.