Michael J. Fox looks pensive in “Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie,” by Davis Guggenheim, a documentary at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)
By Vanessa Zimmer
A new movie starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and a documentary that allows Michael J. Fox to tell the story of his amazing career and his battle with Parkinson’s disease open in theaters and on Apple TV+, respectively, in May.
The two films are among the 2023 Sundance Film Festival alums opening to wider audiences this month. Also opening is The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future, a story of magical realism, family dynamics, and environmental destruction that premiered at the 2022 Festival. Plus, a Sundance Institute–supported episodic dramedy debuts on YouTube.
STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie — A young Canadian actor essentially comes out of nowhere to achieve superstar status in the 1980s with his roles as Alex P. Keaton on the television sitcom Family Ties and Marty McFly in the sci-fi comedy adventure film series Back to the Future. At the top of his game, at age 29, the affable and beloved actor Michael J. Fox is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, an incurable and degenerative brain disorder. He hides his condition for seven years before going public. This documentary tells Fox’s story through clips of his work and contemporary interviews that prove neither Fox nor his sense of humor will be defeated. Directed by Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth). The film releases on Apple+ on May 12.
The Starling Girl — Jem Starling (Eliza Scanlen), 17, is struggling to reconcile her joys and values within her fundamentalist Christian church community in rural Kentucky. She loves dancing, for example, but fears it may be sinful. Life only gets more complicated when she finds herself attracted to her church’s youth pastor (Lewis Pullman). Written and directed by Laurel Parmet. The film received Sundance Institute support through the Feature Film Program and Catalyst Forum. Producer Kara Durrett won the Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Award for Fiction. The film releases theatrically May 12.
L’Immensità — Director Emanuele Crialese delivers a semi-autobiographical story in this film set in 1970s Rome. Penélope Cruz plays Clara, married to an abusive and unfaithful husband, who turns her energy and focus on her three children — including her 13-year-old (Luana Giuliani), who has adopted the name Andrew and begun to identify as a boy. “While Penélope Cruz absolutely shines in the role of Clara, it is newcomer Luana Giuliani who demands the screen in this exuberant relationship story between mother and child,” according to the Festival Program Guide. The film begins rolling out in theaters May 12.
The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future — Magdalena bursts to the surface of a river in Chile, where she deliberately drove her motorcycle into the waters years ago and died. The same river is casting dead fish onto its shores, apparently affected by industrial discharges that are being ignored by the authorities. Magdalena wanders the countryside, aquatic creatures sing of dying, and the cows sing of being separated from their calves — weaving magical realism thoroughly into the story. “Following her award-winning short film And the Whole Sky Fit in the Dead Cow’s Eye (2017 Sundance Film Festival), Francisca Alegría’s feature debut continues her ruminative exploration of environmental tragedy, renewal, and resurrection,” according to the 2022 Festival Program Guide. The project received Sundance Institute support through screenwriting, directing, and producing labs; a grant; and Catalyst Forum. The film receives a limited New York release on May 19 and wider release in July.
Victim/Suspect — Investigative reporter Rae de Leon delves into the cases of young women reporting sexual assault who are instead bullied and charged with fabricating their allegations. “Victim/Suspect illuminates, with precision and focus, how local and nationwide systemic policing policies both motivate detectives to treat victims like suspects, and directly impact not only these vulnerable women’s cases, but also their lives,” according to the Festival Program Guide. Directed by Nancy Schwartzman. The documentary releases on Netflix on May 23.
You Hurt My Feelings — That gray area between being supportive of your loved ones and being fully honest with them about their work gets a nuanced and hilarious treatment in Nicole Holofcener’s newest comedy-drama. When author Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) overhears her husband, Don (Tobias Menzies), tell his brother-in-law that he doesn’t like her new book, she feels betrayed. He has been telling her all along that he loves the story. How can she ever trust him again? The Festival Program Guide describes the film as a “cleverly observed, witty film that delicately skewers its sharply drawn, imperfect characters’ insecurities, privilege, and narcissism.” The film opens in theaters on May 26.
Also opening in May is Good Boy, a proof-of-concept short film for an episodic dramedy about a Korean American designer trying to break into the streetwear industry. Writer-director William Yu developed the project, in part, at the Sundance Institute 2020 Episodic Makers Lab. The film features Young Mazino. The short drops May 1 on YouTube.