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The Sundance Film Festival has been a staple of independent cinema since 1978. Films such as Manchester by the Sea, Whiplash, Blue Valentine, Moonstruck, and Little Miss Sunshine have all had their world premieres at the festival. And it’s a good indicator of quality, in terms of finding new and strong artistic voices in the field. While not all films in their line-up are Oscar winners, it’s always fascinating to see what upcoming voices are coming out of the international independent market. So let’s examine some of the most interesting premises in this year’s lineup. All of these films are getting their world premiere at Sundance with hopes of a high theatrical release later in the year.

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Don’t Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl

Coming from Brazil, Felipe Bragança (The Escape of the Monkey Woman) brings Don’t Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl to Sundance 2017! The story follows Joca (Eduardo Macedo), a thirteen year old Brazilian boy who falls in love with an indigenous Paraguayan girl (Adeli Benitez). In order to win her heart, he must face the violent past of his nation.

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Casting JonBenet

Twenty years later, the public asks itself “Who killed America’s beauty queen?” Casting JonBenet looks to examine the effects of public opinion surrounding the case, with a hybrid of a documentary and narrative feature. Director Kitty Green (Ukraine Is Not A Brothel) spent fifteen months working with the residents of the town of Boulder to create an ode to the modern myth of JonBenet Ramsey.

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Berlin Syndrome

Director Cate Shortland (Lore) helms this thriller, which is based on a novel by Melanie Joosten. Berlin Syndrome deals with Clare (Teresa Palmer), an Australian photographer who falls for Andi (Max Riemelt) just outside of Checkpoint Charlie. As they grow closer, Clare starts realizing her romantic entanglement with Andi is not what is seems.

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Thoroughbred

By first time writer/director Cory Finley, Thoroughbred deals with two teenage girls in suburban Connecticut who rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. As with all rekindling friendships, the girls learn that neither is what she appears to be with potentially dangerous results. The cast includes Olivia Cooke (Me, Earl and the Dying Girl), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), the late Anton Yelchin (Green Room), and Paul Sparks (Boardwalk Empire).

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Golden Exits

From writer/director Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up Philip) comes Golden Exits, an examination of two struggling families whose encounter with a foreign exchange student brings to light their imbalances and perpetual unhappiness. The cast is stacked with underrated performers like Emily Browning (Sleeping Beauty), Chloë Sevigny (Boys Don’t Cry), Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds), Lily Rabe (American Horror Story: Asylum) and Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore).

Curious to see what else makes the 2017 Sundance line-up? Be sure to check the Sundance Institute’s website for updates.

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