There's a reason that, every January, film producers, film distributors, film critics, film lovers and miscellaneous film folks who'd never be caught dead on a snowboard descend upon Park City, Utah, looking for the next big thing courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival. That term might apply to the young director who shows up with a DCP hard drive and leaves the fest with a deal (or, if you're a dude, a chance to helm whatever franchise the powers that be plan on rebooting over the next few years). It could mean the new bleeding-edge multimedia technology that's on display in the New Frontier section. It may be the semi-unknown actor who goes there a "nobody" and, several buzzed-about screenings later, leaves a star — the Jennifer Lawrence or Bel Powley syndrome. Or it might simply mean your own personal NBT: that little movie that, two hours later, has changed your life.
Hope spring eternal, and there's no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to film festivals — but we're confident, and genuinely excited, about catching these 25 films playing at Sundance 2016. There are rock docs and mock docs, gritty dramas, coming-of-age parables ranging from potentially hilarious to possibly hellish, midnight movies, portraits of artists ranging from Robert Mapplethorpe to JT Leroy, O.G. directorial statements and DIY debuts on this list, any of which could be a boom or a bust. (Talk to us in a few weeks after our 10 Best Things We Saw list goes up and see what makes it on there.) But all of these titles have us stoked for hitting the snowy ground in Utah and seeing what happens once the lights go down.