Sundance ’24 | Top Ten Films

by Tim Gordon

The 40th Anniversary of the Sundance Film Festival concludes this weekend and after ten days of watching films, we’ve highlighted on our Top Ten Films of the festival.

There were over 17,000 films submitted to this year’s edition of the festival and 91 played during both the in-person and virtual festivals. After viewing over 25 features and documentaries and another 10 shorts, these are our Top Ten Films:

10. Daughters
This emotional story of a group of felons who sign up for the Fathers/Daughters dance held in jail reunites many of the prisoners with their daughters with whom they have had little or no contact. Each participant must participate in a ten-week counseling session to prepare them for the interaction. The documentary co-directed by the project’s founder, Angela Patton is highly emotional and introspective and highlights the need for the importance of fathers in young girls’ lives.

9. Freaky Tales
This four-part anthology of stories centered in the Bay Area in 1987 spotlights a group of people trying to protect their club from racist skinheads, hip-hop duo Danger Zone going up against Bay Area hip-hop legend Too Short, a man looking to avenge his wife’s death and a basketball star who suffers a lost during the game and tries to make it right. The anthology is thrilling, funny, and has a “grindhouse” feel and it is bolstered by narration from Too Short and some exciting and unexpected cameos that add to the fun.

8. The Greatest Night in Pop
The compelling story of the making of the song, We Are the World takes center stage in this story featuring many of the principals of that special night, who describe their experiences as 46 of the biggest and most influential artists in music create the supergroup, USA for Africa to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. A group of superstars including Michael Jackson, Lionel Ritchie, Stevie Wonder, Harry Belafonte, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and countless others under the guidance of Quincy Jones not raise their voices but their participation in this special event continues to live as a testament to humanity.

7. Hit Man
The story of a college professor who moonlights as a special advisor to the New Orleans Police Department but is forced to take center stage when his police colleague is suspended and he must take on the persona of a fake hitman. Everything changes when a beautiful woman and prospective e transform how he sees his job. Glenn Powell (Devotion) and Adria Arjona have great chemistry in Richard Linklater’s wonderfully executed action comedy.

6. Sue Bird: In the Clutch
The story of arguably the greatest player in WNBA, Sue Bird takes front and center in this informative story of a sports icon. The story which highlights Bird from her childhood through her 21-year career with the Seattle Storm, also spotlights her high-profile relationship with Megan Rapinoe and her activism within the LGBTQ+ movement. Over her historic record-breaking career, Bird won four WNBA championships, five Olympic gold medals, two NCAA Championships and four FIBA World Cups.

5. Rob Peace
This inspirational and tragic story follows a young brilliant man from Newark, New Jersey who ascended to the highest heights of academia only to succumb to the very streets his community wanted him to escape. Directed by Chiwetel Ejiofor, the film is both a cautionary tale and story of wasted potential. Based on the biography The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs, Ejiofor’s film is a triumphant and also introduces the world to an exciting new leading man, Jay Will.

4. Handling the Undead
Three families are surprised when after their love ones, they find out they are alive, again. The feeling of relief soon disipates when their love ones don’t come back exactly as they departed in director Thea Hvistendahl’s horror mystery marvel. This film from the team who brought you Let the Right One In, features amazing tension and suspense as well as a palatable sense of dread that keeps you both emotionally and literally on the edge of your seat.

3. Soundtrack to a Coup d’Etat
This transformative documentary that juxtaposes Cold War politics, the United Nations and Jazz in this historical period piece. The story centers on the United States involvement in the assasination of Former Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba and the involvement of jazz artists Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach along with other artists who amplify the killing in front of the UN. The film also talks about the efforts of the two superpowers to thwart the rise of the United States of Africa.

2. Luther: Never Too Much
The incredible life of singer, writer, and vocal arranger Luther Vandross is celebrated in this awe-inspiring documentary from award winning director Dawn Porter and producers Jamie Foxx and Daktari Turner. Largely told in his own words, Luther: Never Too Much chronicles his life from childhood through superstardom, featuring his triumphant highs and constant and consistent search fo the one thing that always eluded him – love. The doc features many of his family and friends, who shine a light on a once-in-a-generation artist who left us way to soon but made sure to leave us a treasure trove of music to enjoy.

1. Exhibiting Forgiveness
This tender and thoughtful feature about a tortured painter who channels his years of emotional abuse from his father into transformative paintings. As he is trying to cope with his wife and family, his long-lost father returns and all of his feelings of dread all rush back to the forefront and despite his mother’s urgings, he is reluctant to reconcile or forgive him. The directorial debut of painter Titus Kaphar, the film is a revelation and features a tremendous leading performance from Andre Holland and John Earl Jelks, with stellar support from award winner Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor and Andra Day.