Surprises from the 2015 Sundance Film Festival

Unfortunately for the more than 30 movies that premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, the surprise appearance of Brad Pitt for the debut of “True Story” was the biggest headline of the weekend. He spent time with the cast of the movie and then answered questions from the crowd. For those of you who want to know more about the movies that surprised, both good and bad, the people who attended the festival, check out the list below.

Jupiter Ascending

In one of the bad surprises of the festival, Warner Bros debuted “Jupiter Ascending” in a secret screening. Despite all of the hype of the screening, many seats remained empty and some festival attendees even walked out during the movie. The most common complaint was that it was not the type of movie people expected to see at the festival and that it tried to be too many types of movies rolled into one. It is rare that a movie planned as a summer blockbuster makes its debut at Sundance so this probably hurt the reviews, too.


In another surprise, this time a good one, the movie “Brooklyn” is one that people loved. Because the director had a very impressive first movie, he was expected to do big things. However, his next three movies were considered by critics to be flops and “Brooklyn” was expected to be the same. Instead, viewers enjoyed the movie and gave it high marks as they exited the debut.


This low budget feature was not expected to be a standout, but when festivals goers realized that none other than Spike Lee was the producer, they were excited to see the premiere. The director has not even graduated from film school, yet, and “Cronies” showed a lot of promise to be a big boost to his directing career. It is the story of three teenage friends and their struggle to grow up in St. Louis.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

So many coming-of-age movies premiere at the festival that few stick in the minds of festival attendees. The time period of the movie “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” the 1970s, is one reason many people were surprised by it, but also because the teenage girl in the movie is having an affair with her mother’s boyfriend. An amazing cast was brought together and the storyline is edgier than most movies of this type. This was definitely a pleasant surprise for the many people who got to see the premiere.

I am Michael

“I am Michael” was another pleasant surprise at the Sundance Film Festival. It is the story of a gay activist who renounced homosexuality and became a Christian pastor. Because it is a real-life story, the subject touched many people and the controversy drew many people to the premiere. Several big name stars, including James Franco and Zachary Quinto, are part of the cast. Many believed this could be a flop for these stars, but happily, it appears this movie is better than expected.

If nothing else, the Sundance Film Festival is the place for unknown and under-budget movies to make their big premiere. Movies that are loved by the critics at the festival often do much better when they are released later in the year. However, every year has pleasant and not so pleasant surprises for the people who attend.