Sundance 2019 Line-Up is Woke but Lacking in Big Names


The just-announced 2018 Sundance Film Festival slate has a competition slate that is 53% female (nine of the 17 directors). It looks like another progressive-minded festival edition is on tap again this year. I have no problem with that, especially if it means the same quality as last year's films, which was an abundance of riches that included stuff like "Eighth Grade," "Hereditary," "Leave No Trace," "Sorry to Bother You," "Won't You Be My Neighbor," "Mandy," "The Tale," "Wildlife," "Three Identical Strangers," "Private Life," "Tully," "The Guilty," "The Kindergarten Teacher," and "RBG." What a great edition. 
This year looks a little less interesting, but Sundance has always relied on the surprise-factor. You go into most of the films not knowing much about them. It's a going-back-to-the-roots experience for cinephiles. However, if it's big-name directors you are looking for then they nowhere to be found this year. Unless you think Dan Gilroy fits into that category.  If that's your thing then the biggies this year are Gilroy reuniting with his "Nightcrawler" star Jake Gyllenhaal for "Velvet Buzzsaw," there's also director Gavin Hood's UK/US intelligence community indictment "Official Secrets," and screenwriter extraordinaire Scott Z. Burns' directing debut "The Report."  The docs look great, a Sundance specialty, and include world premieres of new projects by Nick Broomfield and Alex Gibney.