The Sundance Film Festival 2021 is local. While Fort Mason Flix live drive-in showings already are sold out, viewers still have access to most of the festival’s virtual screenings, being presented in collaboration with San Francisco’s Roxie theater from Jan. 28 through Feb. 3.
The festival includes more than 70 films, many premieres and by first-time filmmakers (selected from more than 3,500 feature-length entries), accompanied by online Q&A sessions, followed by second screenings offered on demand for 24 hours.
Here’s a brief look at the Roxie’s Sundance programming:
Writer-director Siân Heder’s film describes the journey of Ruby, a CODA, a child of deaf adults, who, as the only hearing person in her family, is torn between pursuing her own interest in music and helping her parents, whose business becomes threatened.
Son of Monarchs
Writer-director Alexis Gambis’ film is about a Mexican biologist living in New York who comes to terms with conflicts in his life as he returns to his hometown — in monarch butterfly forests of Michoacán — after his grandmother’s death.
Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It
The documentary by Mariem Pérez Riera tells the story of the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award winning Hispanic-American performer who has overcome stereotypes over her extraordinary 70-year career.
In The Earth
English director Ben Wheatley’s COVID-related horror film tells the story of a scientist and park ranger whose routine equipment in a forest run, at a time a virus is raging, turns into a “terrifying voyage through the heart of darkness.”
Director Pedro Kos’ documentary details the work of an unlikely group of Southern California nuns who stood up to the Catholic Church’s patriarchy in actions including marching in Selma in 1965 and in the Women’s March in 2018.
Co-writer and director Carey Williams reimagines Romeo and Juliet via cell phones in a production that’s a mash-up of Shakespearean dialogue and 21st century social media communications.
My Name is Pauli Murray
The documentary by Betsy West and Julie Cohen focuses on the non-binary Black individual who made strides as a lawyer, activist, poet and priest, and whose ideas touched civil rights arguments made by Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The premiere by writer-director Nikole Beckwith is about the unexpected connection that develops between two strangers: a single man in his 40s and the loner 20-something woman he hired to be a surrogate.
The film by Natalia Almada, winner of a MacArthur Fellowship, addresses the ever-increasing effects of technology on humanity as it considers the plight of a mother who uses a smart-crib to put her baby to sleep and wonders whether her son will love machines more than they love her.
Manuel Crosby and Darren Knapp’s coming-of-age dark comedy with thrills describes how a guy, who buys himself an old car to impress a girl on their first date, finds himself on a surrealistic adventure, targeted by criminals, police and a “crazy cat lady.”
Director Debbie Lum details the efforts of intrepid, academically-minded seniors at San Francisco’s Lowell High School, mostly Asian American, to get admitted into prestigious universities.
Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir
The documentary by the late James Redford looks at the life of the famed Bay Area-based Chinese-American novelist of “The Joy Luck Club” fame, who realizes that themes in her work are related to inherited trauma of generations of Chinese women who were concubines.