This year our annual Hollywood road trip will begin with the famed Sundance Film Festival, one of the most respected film festivals in the world. The 2017 festival will present 120 feature-length films, representing 32 countries and 37 first-time filmmakers, including 20 in competition. These films were selected from 13,782 submissions.

Some actors appearing in films screening this year include Mahershala Ali, Nia Long, Mary J. Blige, Rob Morgan, Jason Mitchell and Sanaa Lathan.

Here are the films we suggest you keep an eye on this year at Sundance 2017:


“Burning Sands”

Director: Gerard McMurray

Cast: Trevor Jackson, Alfre Woodard, Steve Harris, Tosin Cole, DeRon Horton, Trevante Rhodes.

Fraternity’s Hell Week drama.

“Crown Heights”

Director and screenwriter: Matt Ruskin

Cast: Lakeith Stanfield, Nnamdi Asomugha, Natalie Paul, Bill Camp, Nestor Carbonell, Amari Cheatom.

When Colin Warner is wrongfully convicted of murder, Colin’s best friend, Carl King, devotes his life to proving Colin’s innocence.

“Roxanne Roxanne”

Director and screenwriter: Michael Larnell

Cast: Chanté Adams, Mahershala Ali, Nia Long, Elvis Nolasco, Kevin Phillips, Shenell Edmonds.

At age 14, hustling the streets to provide for her family, Roxanne Shanté was well on her way to becoming a hip-hop legend.

The most feared battle MC in early 1980s New York City with the weight of the world on her shoulders.



Director: Jonathan Olshefski

For more than a decade, this portrait of a North Philadelphia family and the creative sanctuary offered by their home music studio was filmed with vérité intimacy. The family’s 10-year journey is an illumination of race and class in America, and it’s a testament to love, healing and hope.


Director: Amanda Lipitz

The senior year of a girls’ high school step team in inner city Baltimore is documented as they try to become the first in their families to attend college. Told against the backdrop of social unrest in their troubled city.


“The Wound”

Director: John Trengove

Cast: Nakhane Touré, Bongile Mantsai, Niza Jay Ncoyini. 

Xolani, a lonely South African factory worker, travels to the rural mountains with the men of his community to initiate a group of teenage boys into manhood.



Director: Pascale Lamche

A look at Winnie Mandela’s life.


“The Incredible Jessica James”

Director and screenwriter: Jim Strouse

Cast: Jessica Williams, Chris O’Dowd, Lakeith Stanfield and Noël Wells.

Jessica James, an aspiring New York City playwright, is struggling to get over a recent breakup. She sees a light at the end of the tunnel when she meets the recently divorced Boone. Together, they discover how to make it through the tough times while realizing they like each other—a lot.


Director: Dee Rees

Screenwriters: Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

Cast: Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Mary J. Blige, Rob Morgan, Jason Mitchell and Garrett Hedlund.

In the post-World War II South, two families are pitted against a barbaric social hierarchy and an unrelenting landscape as they simultaneously fight the battle at home and the battle abroad. This epic pioneer story is about friendship, heritage and the unending struggle for and against the land.


“Shots Fired”

Creators: Gina Prince-Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythewood

Cast: Sanaa Lathan, Stephan James, Helen Hunt, Richard Dreyfuss, Stephen Moyer and Mack Wilds.

After racially charged shootings in a North Carolina town, an investigator digs into the cases alongside a special prosecutor. Together they seek justice while navigating the ensuing media attention and public unrest threatening the divided town. The festival will premiere two episodes of this 10-hour series, followed by an extended Q&A.

“Time: The Kalief Browder Story”

Director: Jenner Furst

Executive producers: Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, Harvey Weinstein, David C. Glasser, Nick Sandow, Julia Willoughby Nason, Michael Gasparro and Jenner Furst.

After his arrest at age 16, Kalief Browder fought the system and prevailed, despite unthinkable circumstances. He became an American hero. The festival will debut the first two episodes of this in-depth, humanizing look at a broken justice system, followed by an extended Q&A.