7 Sundance Films Make Their LA Debut

The Summer’s Boldest Indie Films Premiere in LA.

Straight from Salt Lake City, seven Sundance films made their West Coast debut this past weekend bringing the heat to an already steamy Downtown LA. From a documentary rom-com to a multicultural, locally rooted web series, there was something for everyone. Daring, colorful and perfectly produced, these independent filmmakers are anything but aspiring. They’re thriving. Team UpCast was lucky to attend, so we thought we’d share a short blurb from each film to help you plan out the rest of your summer movie-going plans.

Lemon. Janicza Bravo’s debut feature is a dramatic examination of one man’s life spiraling downward. At once amusing and anxiety-inducing, Lemon is unpredictable and leaves you contemplating your own idiosyncrasies.  

It’s funny, and it’s really, really, dark. And it’s awkward and it’s stressful. –Janicza Bravo

Gente-Fied. Marvin Lemus consulted the Boyle Heights community to weave together a story of seven characters grinding to keep their Latino identities alive. Even if it weren’t the world premiere of the entire series, we know we would have binge watched all seven webisodes. Read highlights from the conversation with Executive Producer, America Ferrera, and the team’s thoughts on changing the narrative of Boyle Heights here.

Me telling my story doesn’t mean you can’t tell your story. –America Ferrera

Gook. Justin Chon reminds us of the 1992 LA riots with his heartfelt story of race relations. Shot in black and white and told from the perspective of a Korean-American family, the small cast gives a politically pertinent issue new energy. 

What I’m starting to realize after having made a film and selling it is, there is room. There is an appetite, and people just want compelling, great stories. That’s the magic of cinema: You can watch someone that’s not your skin color or your ethnicity, and you can relate to them. –Justin Chon

Bitch. Marianna Palka writes, directs and stars in this outrageous indie feature. Palka plays a neglected housewife who hits a breaking point with her husband, and metamorphoses into a vicious dog. Funny, fearless and flawless against-type performances – Palka challenges her audience to consider whether patriarchal family politics might be the demise of the American dream.

I love acting and directing at the same time. I find it really cohesive, and there’s something about it that’s easier because I don’t have to communicate with the actress who’s playing my character –Marianna Palka

Dina. Documentary filmmakers Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini thoughtfully bring the story of an engaged autistic woman, Dina, to the screen. Dina is perseverant in going after the life she’s always wanted while gracefully satisfying her fiance’s desires. The couple’s raw, on-screen romance speaks to the universality of marriage – particularly what makes one successful: balance.

Every time that [Dina] invited us to [her] house to shoot, every time we would drive back to New York we were having conversations in the car going, ‘Oh wow, this is what we learned from Dina today’. And then for our next trip back to [her] house we were coming back with that idea and trying to finish that sentence, keep it going. Every trip for us, with [Dina], we just wanted to go further and further and further into the relationship that [she] was letting us watch. –Antonio Santini

Golden Exits. Alex Ross Perry gives us a provocative peek into the cracked-up worlds of three New York households. When newcomer Naomi, 20-something and unapologetically coquettish, collides with two married men, we are faced with a tension between the romantic dissatisfaction of the committed and the allurement of the free spirited. Unique score, beautiful frames, and intoxicatingly ambiguous sentiments.

In Golden Exits, nobody is outright hostile and then because of that, the rule had to be that nobody ever says what is truly on their mind. So now the film is primarily about people who conceal their true thoughts and feelings from their loved ones… –Alex Ross Perry

LA Times. Writer, director and lead actor, Michelle Morgan paints a picture perfect LA world where the characters have everything they could possibly want, yet still want what they don’t have. The film explores being single in Hollywood – a place where dating is constantly pitted against a happy ending.

I think that if you’re going to make a movie and you’re going to star in it, you should poke fun at yourself, and I tried to do that. –Michelle Morgan