Sundance Films Screening in THE BLOCKS Worth Checking Out

It’s that time of year again when New York and L.A. pay an annual visit to Utah as part of the Sundance Film Festival. But contrary to the images sure to take over your social media feeds over the next ten days, Sundance does not take place in Park City exclusively.
In fact, there are many ways you can get in on the action swirling around Sundance right here in THE BLOCKS

But for those purists who like to focus on the reason for this season—the movies—following are five festival entries that will screen in downtown Salt Lake worth heading out in January to see. 



As one of the hottest tickets of the 2020 Festival, tickets will admittedly be almost impossible to come by for the Hulu docuseries Hillary (screening at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 Broadway, on Sunday, January 26, 12:30 p.m.), but we’re so excited about this event, we decided to mention it anyway. Director Nanette Burstein was granted unprecedented access to the former U.S. Secretary of State and First Lady, Hillary Clinton, and probed her closest allies and biggest directors with the same intensity. The result is an unflinching look at one of the world’s most prominent political figures. All four episodes of this four-part series will screen, with an intermission in between, followed by a Q&A with Burstein and Clinton. Hillary releases on Hulu in March. 

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

Since it premiered its kids’ program several years ago, the Sundance Film Festival has become a multigenerational affair. One of this year’s kids program standouts is sure to be Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made (screening at the Salt Lake Main Library, 210 E. 400 South, on Saturday, January 25, 3 p.m.). Based on the bestselling books by Stephan Pastis, this film follows the crime-fighting adventures of Timmy Failure, president and CEO of the Total Failure, Inc. detective agency.  While Failure is on a case, the “Failure Mobile” (his mother’s off-limits Segway scooter and his main source of transportation) disappears. Interpreting the theft as part of a secret plan devised by his adversaries, he begins a search that leads him through a series of misadventures that ultimately threaten the existence of his agency. Scheduled for release on Disney+ starting February 7, 2020. 

Dream Horse

Sundance is known for films that take a hard look at difficult subjects. But, Dream Horse (screening at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 Broadway, on Friday, January 24 at 8 p.m. and Friday, January 31 at 9:30 p.m.) is thankfully not one of them. Based on a true story featured in the 2015 Sundance Film Festival documentary, Dark Horse, this funny and warm underdog dramatic film features Toni Collette as Jan Voke, who recruits neighbors and local barflies to contribute to a community fund and breed a racehorse. After a rocky start, Dream Alliance—the horse and the syndicate—is born. After the horse wins one race after another, the syndicate’s success enriches the lives of all its members, giving them a sense of purpose they had never imagined before. Scheduled for nationwide release on May 1, 2020.


Any list of Sundance recommendations would not be complete without a documentary. One that looks particularly interesting to us is Aggie (screening at the Broadway Theatres on Monday, January 27 at 9:45 p.m.), a glimpse at art collector and philanthropist Agnes “Aggie” Gund, a woman who unfailingly upends what’s expected her. In 2018, Gund sold her Roy Lichtenstein painting, Masterpiece, which had hung in her Park Avenue apartment for more than 40 years, for an impressive $165 million. But even more impressive was how Gund spent the proceeds: to create the Art for Justice Fund, an organization focused on reforming the penal system and reducing mass incarceration. This film chronicles the creation of Art for Justice, as well as Gund’s lifetime spent dispelling the stereotype that all rich people are selfish.   


Finally, one of this year’s most apropos films—considering Sundance’s Utah home—is Downhill (screening at Salt Lake Community College’s Grand Theatre, 1575 State St, on Sunday, February 2 at 3:15 p.m.). (Yes, we know that this film’s Salt Lake City screening is not in THE BLOCKS, we’ll wager it’s worth venturing a little farther afield to see.) This film follows the general storyline of the relatively somber 2014 dramatic movie, Force Mejeure, about a family’s emotional fallout after a close call with an avalanche while on a ski vacation. But with lead actors Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell, you know that Downhill is sure to include plenty of dry humor along with merciless truths that anyone who’s been on a family vacation can relate to. If you miss it at Sundance, don’t worry. Downhill is scheduled for nationwide release on February 14, 2020.

There’s still time to get Sundance tickets online or at the box office (Trolley Square, 602 S. 700 East, second floor). Or if you’re the last-minute type, use Sundance’s convenient eWaitlist     

By Melissa Fields