sundancing

The 2023 Sundance lineup is going to be gay AF. Here’s what’s screening…

(clockwise) ‘Shortcomings,’ ‘Passages,’ ”Little Richard: I Am Everything,’ Cassandro’ | Image Credits: Sundance

We’ve still got our hands full catching up with all the great movies 2022 has had to offer, but the Sundance Film Festival already has its eyes on the future, announcing today the initial slate of premieres for its 2023 fest.

The largest and most well-known independent film festival in the country, Sundance has long been a platform for emerging voices in cinema, giving audiences their first peeks at “the next big thing” with an emphasis on first-time filmmakers and talent everyone will be talking about for years to come.

That’s especially true of LGBTQ+ films, which have a long history of making their debut at the festival, held every year in Park City, Utah. This year’s lineup is no different, boasting a mind-boggling selection of queer stories from queer filmmakers—it might even be the gayest Sundance yet!

Films screening at the Sundance Film Festival 2023 include a comedic look at theater camp written by fiancés Ben Platt and Noah Galvin, documentaries about music world trailblazers Little Richard and The Indigo Girls, a flashy portrait of one of the first out gay professional wrestlers, the dramatic acting debut of Adam Lambert, a boundary-pushing Pakistani film that’s already making headlines, and a special, uncensored presentation of an early work from one of our most prominent queer filmmakers. And that’s barely scratching the surface!

And you don’t even have to trek to Park City to see them! Many of the films announced will be made available to the public via the festival’s virtual program, so you can watch from the comfort of your own home.

Read on below for a list of all the queer and queer-adjacent films that will be playing Sundance in 2023. All the films listed below will be available to screen virtually, with the exception of any marked by an asterisk…

Bad Behaviour (dir. Alice Englert)

The directorial debut of queer actor Alice Englert, Bad Behaviour tells the story of Lucy, a former child actor, seeks enlightenment at a retreat led by spiritual leader Elon while she navigates her close yet turbulent relationship with her stunt-performer daughter, Dylan. Starring Jennifer Connelly, Ben Whishaw, Alice Englert, Ana Scotney, Dasha Nekrasova, Marlon Williams.

Image Credit: ‘Cassandro,’ Sundance

Cassandro* (dir. Roger Ross Williams)

Gael García Bernal stars as Saúl Armendáriz, a gay amateur wrestler from El Paso, who rises to international stardom after he creates the character Cassandro, the “Liberace of Lucha Libre.” In the process, he upends not just the macho wrestling world, but also his own life. Starring Gael García Bernal, Roberta Colindrez, Perla De La Rosa, Joaquín Cosío, Raúl Castillo. 

Related: That time one of cinema’s greatest bromances became something more

The Deepest Breath* (dir. Laura McGann)

A champion freediver and expert safety diver seemed destined for one another despite the different paths they took to meet at the pinnacle of the freediving world. A look at the thrilling rewards — and inescapable risks — of chasing dreams through the depths of the ocean. DOCUMENTARY

Image Credit: ‘The Doom Generation,’ Sundance

Doom Generation* (dir. Gregg Araki)

A special uncensored director’s cut presentation of queer filmmaker Gregg Araki’s seminal 1995 feature. Jordan White and Amy Blue, two disenfranchised suburban teens, pick up a mysterious drifter, Xavier Red. Together, the trio embark on a sex-filled joyride through a surreal American wasteland of QuickieMarts and ultraviolence. Starring James Duval, Rose McGowan, Johnathan Schaech, Perry Farrell, Heidi Fleiss, Christopher Knight, Skinny Puppy, Julie Tewes, Cress Williams.

Related: Queer director Gregg Araki remembers the sex scene that shocked and angered audiences, 30 years on

Drift* (dir. Anthony Chen)

Jacqueline, a young refugee, lands alone and penniless on a Greek island where she tries to survive, then to cope with her past. While gathering her strength, she begins a friendship with a rootless tour guide and together they find the resilience to forge ahead. Starring Cynthia Erivo, Alia Shawkat, Ibrahima Ba, Honor Swinton Byrne, Zainab Jah, Suzy Bemba.

Eileen (dir. William Oldroyd)

Set during a bitter 1964 Massachusetts winter, young secretary Eileen becomes enchanted by the glamorous new counselor at the prison where she works. Their budding friendship takes a twisted turn when Rebecca reveals a dark secret—throwing Eileen onto a sinister path. Based on Ottessa Moshfegh’s award-winning novel. Starring Thomasin McKenzie, Anne Hathaway, Shea Whigham, Marin Ireland, Owen Teague. 

Image Credit: ‘Fairyland,’ Sundance

Fairyland* (dir. Andrew Durham)

Set against the backdrop of San Francisco’s vibrant cultural scene in the 1970s and ’80s, chronicling a father-daughter relationship as it evolves from an era of bohemian decadence to the heartbreaking AIDS crisis. Based on the best-selling memoir Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father by Alysia Abbott. Starring Scoot McNairy, Emilia Jones, Geena Davis, Cody Fern, Adam Lambert, Maria Bakalova.

Fancy Dance (dir. Erica Tremblay)

Following her sister’s disappearance, a Native American hustler kidnaps her niece from the child’s white grandparents and sets out for the state powwow in hopes of keeping what is left of their family intact. Starring Lily Gladstone, Isabel Deroy-Olson, Ryan Begay, Shea Whigham, Audrey Wasilewski.

Girl (dir. Adura Onashile)

Eleven-year-old Ama and her mother, Grace, take solace in the gentle but isolated world they obsessively create. Ama’s growing up threatens the boundaries of their tenderness and forces Grace to reckon with a past she struggles to forget. Starring Déborah Lukumuena, Danny Sapani, Le’Shantey Bonsu, Liana Turner.

Going To Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Story (dir. Joe Brewster, Michèle Stephenson)

Intimate vérité, archival footage, and visually innovative treatments of poetry take us on a journey through the dreamscape of legendary queer poet Nikki Giovanni as she reflects on her life and legacy. DOCUMENTARY

Related: The queerest movies and TV shows coming to streaming in December 2022

Gush (dir. Fox Maxy)

An embodied rumination of both male and female power, healing and haunting, all within an apocalyptic world. A transformation that courses through unknown terror to untamed collective joy. Starring Michel Sayegh, Ruth Fish, Sergio Mejia, Littlebear Sanchez, No’aash Iswut Peltier, Suavitel Paper. 

Invisible Beauty* (dir. Frédéric Tcheng, Bethann Hardison)

Fashion revolutionary Bethann Hardison looks back on her journey as a pioneering Black model, modeling agent, and activist, shining a light on an untold chapter in the fight for racial diversity. DOCUMENTARY

Is There Anybody Out There? (dir. Ella Glendining)

While navigating daily discrimination, a filmmaker who inhabits and loves her unusual body searches the world for another person like her, and explores what it takes to love oneself fiercely despite the pervasiveness of ableism. DOCUMENTARY

Image Credit: ‘It’s Only Life After All,’ Sundance

It’s Only Life After All (dir. Alexandria Bombach)

Blending 40 years of home movies, film archives, and intimate present-day vérité, a poignant reflection from Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of iconic folk rock duo Indigo Girls. A timely look into the obstacles, activism, and life lessons of two queer friends who never expected to make it big. DOCUMENTARY

Joyland (dir. Saim Sadiq)

As the Ranas, a happily patriarchal joint family, yearn for the birth of a baby boy to continue the family line, their youngest son secretly joins an erotic dance theater and falls for an ambitious trans starlet. Their impossible love story illuminates the entire family’s desire for a sexual rebellion. Starring Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gilani, Sania Saeed, Salmaan Peerzada. 

Related: The “highly objectionable” queer romance that was nearly banned in Pakistan finally hits theaters

Kokomo City (dir. D. Smith)

Four Black transgender sex workers explore the dichotomy between the Black community and themselves, while confronting issues long avoided. DOCUMENTARY

L’Immensita (dir. Emanuele Crialese)

Clara has relocated to Rome with Felice and their three children. From their new apartment, Clara sees a city in transition: an old society washed away by an emerging middle class. The paint is fresh, the appliances are new, but expectations around family, desire, and gender remain traditional as ever. Starring Penélope Cruz, Vincenzo Amato, Luana Giuliani, Patrizio Francioni, Maria Chiara Gorett, Penelope Nieto Conti. 

Image Credit: ‘Little Richard: I Am Everything,’ Sudnance

Little Richard: I Am Everything (dir. Lisa Cortés)

A celebration of Little Richard reveals the Black queer origins of rock ’n’ roll, finally exploding the whitewashed canon of American pop music. Through archival and performance footage, the revolutionary icon’s life unspools with all of its switchbacks and contradictions. DOCUMENTARY

Related: Elton John posts beautiful tribute to Little Richard

Mamacruz (dir. Patricia Ortega)

With the help of her newly emigrated daughter, a religious grandmother learns how to use the internet. However, an accidental encounter with pornography poses a dilemma for her. Starring Kiti Mánver. 

Milisuthando (dir. Milisuthando Bongela)

Set in past, present, and future South Africa — an invitation into a poetic, memory-driven exploration of love, intimacy, race, and belonging by the filmmaker, who grew up during apartheid but didn’t know it was happening until it was over. DOCUMENTARY

Mutt (dir. Vuk Lungulov-Klotz)

Over the course of a single hectic day in New York City, three people from Feña’s past are thrust back into his life. Having lost touch since transitioning from female to male, he navigates the new dynamics of old relationships while tackling the day-to-day challenges of living life in between. Starring: Lío Mehiel, Cole Doman, MiMi Ryder, Alejandro Goic.

My Animal* (dir. Jacqueline Castel)

Heather, an outcast teenage goalie in a small northern town, falls for newcomer Jonny, an alluring but tormented figure skater. As their relationship deepens, Heather’s growing desires clash with her darkest secret, forcing her to control the animal within. Starring Bobbi Salvör Menuez, Amandla Stenberg, Stephen McHattie, Heidi von Palleske, Cory Lipman, Joe Apollonio.

Image Credit: ‘Passages,’ Sundance

Passages* (Ira Sachs)

An intimate examination of attraction and emotional abuse between men and women. Starring Franz Rogowski, Ben Whishaw, Adèle Exarchopoulos

Persian Version (dir. Maryam Keshavarz)

When a large Iranian-American family gathers for the patriarch’s heart transplant, a family secret is uncovered that catapults the estranged mother and daughter into an exploration of the past. Toggling between the United States and Iran over decades, mother and daughter discover they are more alike than they know. Starring  Layla Mohammadi, Niousha Noor, Kamand Shafieisabet, Bella Warda, Bijan Daneshmand, Shervin Alenabi.

Rotting In The Sun* (dir. Sebastian Silva)

After filmmaker Sebastian Silva goes missing in Mexico City, social media celebrity Jordan Firstman begins searching for him, suspecting that the cleaning lady in Sebastian’s building may have something to do with his disappearance. Starring Jordan Firstman, Catalina Saavedra, Sebastian Silva.

Related: Meet the hunky gay thirst trap joining the Marvel Universe

Image Credit: ‘Shortcomings,’ Sundance

Shortcomings (dir. Randall Park)

The feature directorial debut of Fresh Off The Boat‘s Randall Park, Shortcomings follows Ben, Miko, and Alice as they navigate a range of interpersonal relationships and traverse the country in search of the ideal connection. Starring Justin H. Min, Sherry Cola, Ally Maki, Debby Ryan, Tavi Gevinson, Sonoya Mizuno.

Smoke Sauna Sisterhood (dir. Anna Hints)

In the darkness of a smoke sauna, women share their innermost secrets and intimate experiences, washing off the shame trapped in their bodies and regaining their strength through a sense of communion. DOCUMENTARY

Stroll (Dir. Kristen Lovell, Zackary Drucker)

The history of New York’s Meatpacking District, told from the perspective of transgender sex workers who lived and worked there. Filmmaker Kristen Lovell, who walked “The Stroll” for a decade, reunites her community to recount the violence, policing, homelessness, and gentrification they overcame to build a movement for transgender rights. DOCUMENTARY

Image Credit: ‘Theater Camp,’ Sundance

Theater Camp (dir. Molly Gordon, Nick Leiberman)

Newly engaged actors Ben Platt and Noah Galvin co-wrote and star in this story of the eccentric staff at a run-down theater camp in upstate New York who must keep the camp afloat after its beloved founder falls into a coma, and are forced to band together with the founder’s crypto-bro son. Starring

Molly Gordon, Ben Platt, Noah Galvin, Jimmy Tatro, Patti Harrison, Ayo Edebiri.