Sundance Film Festival is launching its 45th edition online and offline between 20-30 January, 2022. Held in Utah, it is the largest independent film festival in the United States, and has kickstarted careers of independent directors from all over the world. This year, the New East is represented by 5 directors launching feature-length and short films — all perfect additions to your 2022 watchlist.
Co-directed by emerging Hungarian filmmakers Anna Eszter Nemes and László Csuja, Gentle is a bodybuilding drama centred around a female athlete, Edina. Despite her physical strength, Edina finds the psychological pressure of the upcoming world championships, as well as her relationship with coach Adam, simply too much to bear. She starts to seek a new outlet — leading her to discover the world of sex work, and surprising spiritual release.
Written, directed, and produced by Maryna Er Gorbach, Klondike is a war story with a strong female voice. Expectant mother Irka refuses to leave her home in a Donetsk village even as it becomes part of a conflict zone in the Donbas war. “As a real Ukrainian woman, [Irka] believes that she can stop the war,” Gorbach says in her interview for Sundance. An Odesa native, Gorbach captures the tensions inside Irka’s community and the brutal and disastrous ways in which geopolitics breaks into ordinary people’s lives. Ultimately, the 2014 crash of passenger flight MH17, which happens close to Irka’s home, is a metaphor for these tragic events.
A feature film debut of Macedonian-born and Australian-raised writer-director Goran Stolevski, You Won’t Be Alone stars Noomi Rapace as an avatar for a 19th-century witch. Taken from her mother as a child, the protagonist was gifted magical powers by an ancient spirit, and can now inhabit the bodies and souls of different people. In this transcendent shape-shifting form, she continues to live in her village, awaiting the return of the spirit that made her what she is. A striking supernatural horror story, You Won’t Be Alone is also a poetic reflection on life, loneliness, and the human condition.
Carina Gabriela Dașoveanu is still studying Film Directing at the National University of Theatre and Film I. L. Caragiale in Bucharest, but her second short, Love Stories on the Move, is already making noise. The film premiered at Cannes and was awarded 3rd Prize by Cinefondation. The story follows taxi driver Lili and her encounters with other couples as she tries to salvage her own marriage. You can watch the trailer here.
Made by award-winning documentary filmmaker Simon Lereng Wilmon, this documentary feature is set in Ukraine, where the Danish director has been shooting since 2015. Interested in the impact of the Donbas conflict on children and their forming identities, he centres A House Made of Splinters around three children who find themselves in a shelter near the frontline in eastern Ukraine. The film seems to evoke Iryna Tsilyk’s The Earth Is Blue as an Orange, the 2020 winner of the World Cinema Documentary at Sundance, with its focus on the human relationships that flourish despite the circumstances. As the filmmaker says himself: “The main core of the film is about friendship and strong new relationships.”