Sundance heralds a new season of storytelling, with insights into what’s concerning filmmakers at present, and what artistic innovations may be on the horizon. As with every film festival, there were spooky coincidences and intersecting themes, whether it was a proliferation of pandemic-era stories, or extraordinary portraits of women working through grief (Land, Hive, The World to Come), or the incredible serendipity of the festival’s ‘1969 trilogy’, covering pivotal moments in Black American history: Summer of Soul (…Or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Judas and the Black Messiah and the joyful Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street.
The hybrid model of this year’s Sundance meant more film lovers across the United States—a record number of you, in fact—‘attended’ the prestigious indie showcase. Our Festiville team (Gemma Gracewood, Aaron Yap, Ella Kemp, Selome Hailu, Jack Moulton and Dominic Corry) scanned your Letterboxd reviews and compared them with our notes to arrive at these seventeen feature-length documentary and narrative picks from Sundance 2021. There are plenty more we enjoyed, but these are the films we can’t stop thinking about.