In less than one week, people from all over the world will descend on the snowy streets of Park City, Utah for the annual pilgrimage that is the Sundance Film Festival. Founded by Robert Redford, the Sundance Film Festival invites audiences to discover the new work and original voices, and to join a community dedicated to independent storytelling. This year brings new and exciting must-see movies for literature lovers everywhere including big book adaptations from the likes of huge names like Stephen King and Jane Austen as well as familiar faces in the literary world like author/actor James Franco, “Twilight” alums Kristen Stewart and Anna Kendrick, and even an appearance by Harry Potter. Read on for the ten must-see festival movies for literature lovers:
1. The Fundamentals of Caring
Considered to be one of the hottest titles at this year’s festival, “The Fundamentals of Caring” centers on Ben (Paul Rudd) who becomes a caregiver to earn money after suffering a tragedy. His first client, Trevor (breakout Craig Roberts), is an 18-year-old with muscular dystrophy. One paralyzed emotionally, one paralyzed physically, Ben and Trevor hit the road, finding hope, friendship, and Dot (Selena Gomez) in this funny and touching inspirational tale. The film made our literary list for two reasons: (1) it’s based on Jonathan Evison’s 2013 novel “The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving” and (2) it stars Selena Gomez. Gomez is big news in the Young Adult book world because Netflix is in final negotiations to adapt Jay Asher’s best-selling young adult novel “13 Reasons Why” as a 13-episode series with Gomez set to exec produce. Premieres January 29.
2. Swiss Army Man
Harry Potter stars in “Swiss Army Man.” Okay, okay, so it’s actually Daniel Radcliffe but he’ll always be Harry Potter to us. Alone on a tiny deserted island, Hank has given up all hope of ever making it home again. But one day everything changes when a dead body washes ashore, and he soon realizes it may be his last opportunity to escape certain death. Armed with his new “friend” and an unusual bag of tricks, the duo go on an epic adventure to bring Hank back to the woman of his dreams. Premieres January 22.
“The Hunger Games” actress Gena Malone makes her Sundance appearance in “Lovesong.” The film follows Sarah (Riley Keough), a young mother, raising her precocious daughter in their country home while feeling abandoned by her husband, who perpetually travels for work. When Sarah’s old friend Mindy (Malone) comes to visit, they decide to take a road trip, and after an alcohol-infused heart-to-heart, a long unspoken intimacy emerges between the longtime friends. Later Sarah is unable to articulate her thoughts about her husband or Mindy, and Mindy makes the decision to leave the trip and go home. Three years later, the two women are reunited for Mindy’s wedding, and Sarah is forced to reconcile the reality of her feelings. Premieres January 25.
4. Certain Women
“Twilight” alum Kristen Stewart stars in this film based on Maile Meloy’s award-winning book of short stories “Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It.” “Certain Women” drops us into a handful of intersecting lives across Montana. A ranch hand (Lily Gladstone) forms an attachment to a young lawyer (Stewart), who inadvertently finds herself teaching a twice-weekly adult education class, four hours from her home. A lawyer (Laura Dern) tries to diffuse a hostage situation and calm her disgruntled client (Jared Harris), who feels slighted by a workers’ compensation settlement. And married couple (Michelle Williams and James Le Gros) break ground on a new home but exposes marital fissures when they try to persuade an elderly man to sell his stockpile of sandstone. Premieres January 24.
5. The Hollars
This one packs a literary two-punch as it stars another popular “Twilight” alum –Anna Kendrick—and also because it depicts the life of a graphic novelist. John Krasinski’s big-hearted family comedy takes a touching look at the ties that bind. Krasinski plays John Hollar, a frustrated graphic novelist anxiously awaiting the birth of his baby with girlfriend, Rebecca (Kendrick). When his mother, Sally (Margo Martindale), is diagnosed with a brain tumor, John flies back home, where denial runs deep in the family tree. While his loving but fractured family pulls together to prepare Sally for surgery, John takes a second look at the life he left behind. Premieres January 29.
Two of the most venerated storytellers working today, J.J. Abrams (“Star Wars”) and the beloved horror writer Stephen King, join forces with prolific indie literary force, author and actor James Franco to create a gripping time travel tale that is thoroughly entertaining. “11.22.63” is an adaptation of King’s bestselling novel which follows Jake Epping, an ordinary high school teacher who is presented with the unthinkable mission of traveling back in time to prevent the assassination of JFK. Jake is willing to live in the past in order to solve what is perhaps the greatest mystery of the twentieth century. As he tries to rewrite history, he discovers that the past does not want to be changed, and it will do anything to stop him. Sundance will debut the two-hour pilot of the nine-hour event series which lands at Hulu on Presidents Day 2016. Premieres January 28.
7. Yoga Hosers
MTV’s popular book adaptation “The Shannara Chronicles” star Austin Butler makes an appearance in this Kevin Smith helmer about 15-year-old yoga-nuts Colleen Collette and Colleen McKenzie love their smart phones and hate their after school job at Manitoban convenience store Eh-2-Zed. But when an ancient evil rises from beneath Canada’s crust and threatens their big invitation to a Grade 12 party, the Colleens join forces with the legendary man-hunter from Montreal named Guy Lapointe to fight for their lives with all seven Chakras, one Warrior Pose at a time. Depp, Depp the younger and Smith the younger are returning in the roles they created for TUSK. Premieres January 24.
8. Author: The JT Leroy Story
New York magazine’s October 2005 issue sent shockwaves through the literary world when it unmasked “it boy” wunderkind JT LeRoy, whose tough prose about his sordid childhood had captivated icons and luminaries internationally. It turned out LeRoy didn’t actually exist. He was dreamed up by 40-year-old San Francisco punk rocker and phone sex operator, Laura Albert. “Author: The JT LeRoy Story” is a documentary following the fascinating tale of how Laura Albert—like a Cyrano de Bergerac on steroids—breathed not only words, but life, into her avatar for a decade. Albert’s epic and entertaining account plunges us into a glittery world of rock shows, fashion events, and the Cannes red carpet where LeRoy becomes a mysterious sensation. Premieres January 22 .
Based on the Philip Roth bestselling book by the same name, “Indignation” stars book adaptation darling Logan Lerman (“The Perks of Being a Wallflower, “Percy Jackson,”). In 1951, Marcus Messner escapes the perils of the Korean War draft and the obsessive fears of his overbearing kosher-butcher father in New Jersey with his admission to college in Ohio. Upon arriving at the strictly Christian school, ardent atheist Marcus rejects the assumption that he should integrate into the small Jewish population there, eventually butting heads with the exacting Dean Caudwell over his reluctance to attend chapel and his budding relationship with a beautiful but troubled classmate. As his outrage mounts, Marcus finds himself yearning to shake off his long-held persona of hardworking boy and dutiful son. Premieres January 24.
10. Love & Friendship
This film is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s unpublished early novella “Lady Susan.” Set in the opulent drawing rooms of eighteenth-century English society, “Love & Friendship” focuses on the machinations of a beautiful widow, Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale), who, while waiting for social chatter about a personal indiscretion to pass, takes up temporary residence at her in-laws’ estate. While there, the intelligent, flirtatious, and amusingly egotistical Lady Vernon is determined to be a matchmaker for her daughter Frederica—and herself too, naturally. She enlists the assistance of her old friend Alicia (Chloë Sevigny), but two particularly handsome suitors (Xavier Samuel and Tom Bennett) complicate her orchestrations. Premieres January 23.
Sundance runs from January 21-31, 2016. For more information on the festival and its films visit the Sundance Film Festival’s homepage.