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Sundance 2024: Kristen Stewart, Saoirse Ronan and Steven Yeun lead lineup

<span>Composite: Getty Images</span>
Composite: Getty Images

New films starring Kristen Stewart, Saoirse Ronan and Steven Yeun will premiere at next month’s Sundance film festival, celebrating its 40th year.

The lineup for the Utah-based festival boasts an array of film and TV premieres that highlight the “vitality of independent storytelling” with almost half coming from first-time directors.

Stewart, who has previously been at the festival for 2016’s Certain Women and 2018’s Lizzie, will return with 80s-set romantic thriller Love Lies Bleeding from the Saint Maud director Rose Glass. The Oscar-nominee will play a gym manager who falls in love with a bodybuilder, played by The Mandolorian’s Katy O’Brian, with violent consequences.

The actor will also star opposite Steven Yeun in Love Me, a film that tells of the unusual romance between a satellite and a buoy who meet online after humanity is no more. “It’s hard to explain,” Stewart said to Entertainment Weekly when the project was initially announced in 2021. “I hope I don’t botch it because it’s a really revolutionarily written script.”

The film will be part of the main dramatic competition alongside the Searchlight-backed drama Suncoast starring Laura Linney and Woody Harrelson, Exhibiting Forgiveness starring André Holland as a painter reconciling with his addict father and Between the Temples, an “anxious comedy” led by Jason Schwartzman and the Triangle of Sadness star Dolly de Leon. The Filipino actor will also be at the festival in Ghostlight, a riff on Romeo and Juliet from Saint Frances writer Kelly O’Sullivan.

Four-time Oscar nominee Ronan will also return to Sundance after bringing the romantic drama Brooklyn to Park City back in 2015. She headlines The Outrun, an adaptation of Amy Liptrot’s memoir, playing a woman returning home to the Orkney Islands to confront her troubled past. The Guardian’s Will Self called Liptrot’s account of rehabilitation and recovery “brave but vulnerable”.

Chiwetel Ejiofor returns behind the camera with the fact-based drama Rob Peace about an inner-city Newark kid who makes it to Yale but when he returns home, his life descends into tragedy. It stars Jay Will, Camilla Cabello and Mary J Blige. His last film as director was 2019’s The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

Steven Soderbergh will also bring his new film Presence to the festival, a haunted house thriller starring Lucy Liu and Julia Fox. Details are under wraps but the film is written by David Koepp who last collaborated with Soderbergh for the pandemic-era thriller Kimi.

The festival, which has previously premiered horror titles such as Saw, Hereditary and Get Out, will also see a number of other genre titles launch this year such as the Emma Stone-produced I Saw the TV Glow from the We’re All Going to the World’s Fair director Jane Schoenbrun. The plot follows teenagers whose grasp on reality starts to slip after their favourite show is cancelled. It stars Justice Smith who will also be at the festival in the satire The American Society of Magical Negroes, about a secret society of Black people who dedicate their lives to helping white people.

Other premieres include the psychological thriller A Different Man starring Sebastian Stan as a man with neurofibromatosis who becomes obsessed with the actor starring as him in a play about his life; the 80s-set anthology Freaky Tales from the Half Nelson directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck starring Pedro Pascal and Normani; the Margot Robbie-produced comedy My Old Ass starring Aubrey Plaza; and Winner, a second narrative film about Reality Winner starring Coda’s Emilia Jones.

Documentaries at the festival will include Girls State, a follow-up to 2020’s Sundance award winner Boys State, the Strong Island director Yance Ford’s Power, about American policing, and Will and Harper, which follows Will Ferrell on a road trip with his close friend who is coming out as a trans woman. There will also be documentaries focused on Frida Kahlo, Christopher Reeve, the new wave band Devo and the Amazon Labor Union (ALU).

“From the first edition in 1985, Sundance film festival has aimed to provide a space to gather, celebrate and engage with risk-taking artists that are committed to bringing their independent visions to audiences – the Festival remains true to that goal to this day,” said Robert Redford, the founder and president of the Sundance Institute. “It continues to evolve, but its legacy of showcasing bold work that starts necessary conversations continues with the 2024 program.”

Of the 82 films announced so far, 46% were directed by one or more film-makers who identify as women and 45% were directed by one or more film-makers who identify as people of color.

Next year’s festival takes place from 18 to 28 January.