Science Films at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival

The 2024 Sundance Film Festival, taking place in Park City, Utah from January 18-28 and online January 25-28, celebrates its 40th anniversary in just a few weeks. Among the program’s 14 sections are the science or technology-themed projects outlined below, with descriptions excepted from the festival. These 19 films include documentaries, narrative works, and interactive projects that deal with themes ranging from artificial intelligence’s potential as a tool to manage grief (Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck’s ETERNAL YOU) to the stunning biodiversity of moths (Anirban Dutta and Anupama Srinivasan's NOCTURNES.)

The annual Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize will be awarded to the post-apocalyptic romance LOVE ME. Written and directed by Sam and Andy Zuchero, the filmmaking pair’s feature-length debut stars Kristen Stewart and Steven Yeun.

Sloan Science & Film will be covering Sundance, so check back for updates once the festival begins.

U.S. Dramatic Competition

LOVE ME. Dir. Sam Zuchero, Andy Zuchero. “Long after humanity’s extinction, a buoy and a satellite meet online and fall in love.”

SUNCOAST. Dir. Laura Chinn. “A teenager who, while caring for her brother along with her audacious mother, strikes up an unlikely friendship with an eccentric activist who is protesting one of the most landmark medical cases of all time. Inspired by a semi-autobiographical story.”

U.S. Documentary Competition

EVERY LITTLE THING. Dir. Sally Aitken. “Amid the glamour of Hollywood, Los Angeles, a woman finds herself on a transformative journey as she nurtures wounded hummingbirds, unraveling a visually captivating and magical tale of love, fragility, healing, and the delicate beauty in tiny acts of greatness.”

LOVE MACHINA. Dir. Peter Sillen. “Futurists Martine and Bina Rothblatt commission an advanced humanoid AI named Bina48 to transfer Bina’s consciousness from a human to a robot in an attempt to continue their once-in-a-galaxy love affair for the rest of time.”

World Cinema Documentary Competition

ETERNAL YOU. Dir. Hans Block, Moritz Riesewieck. “Startups are using AI to create avatars that allow relatives to talk with their loved ones after they have died. An exploration of a profound human desire and the consequences of turning the dream of immortality into a product.”

IBELIN. Dir. Benjamin Ree. “Mats Steen, a Norwegian gamer, died of a degenerative muscular disease at the age of 25. His parents mourned what they thought had been a lonely and isolated life, when they started receiving messages from online friends around the world. Benjamin Ree (THE PAINTER AND THE THIEF, 2020) returns to the festival with a heartwarming and adventurous journey through the breadth of Mats Steen’s digital life and his profound impact on a community.”

NOCTURNES. Dir. Anirban Dutta and Anupama Srinivasan. “. . . Deep in the pitch-black forest, a few hundred moths are drawn by a single source of illumination to a piece of hung canvas. Only through this intimate examination can their existence, and the happenings of their world, be made visible. Though moth life spans are measured in hours and represent only a small amount of the immense biodiversity of their species, in these small beings lies a history of our planet. . .”

Still from NOCTURNES. Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival.

THE BATTLE FOR LAIKIPIA. Dir. Daphne Matziaraki, Pete Murim. “Unresolved historical injustices and climate change raise the stakes in a generations-old conflict between Indigenous pastoralists and white landowners in Laikipia, Kenya, a wildlife conservation haven.”


SEEKIING MAVIS BEACON. Dir. Jazmin Renée Jones. “Launched in the late ’80s, educational software Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing taught millions globally, but the program’s Haitian-born cover model vanished decades ago. Two DIY investigators search for the unsung cultural icon, while questioning notions of digital security, AI, and Black representation in the digital realm.”

Still from SEEKING MAVIS BEACON. Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival.


GIRLS STATE. Dir. Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss. “Teenage girls from wildly different backgrounds across Missouri navigate a week-long immersive experiment in American democracy, build a government from the ground up, and reimagine what it means to govern.”

THE OUTRUN. Dir. Nora Fingscheidt. World Premiere. “After living life on the edge in London, Rona (Saoirse Ronan) attempts to come to terms with her troubled past. She returns to the wild beauty of Scotland’s Orkney Islands — where she grew up. . . Grounded in local lore and rich with Liptrot’s journalistic digressions on the land and its life-forms, THE OUTRUN artfully ties Rona’s healing to her growing environmental stewardship. . .”

THELMA. Dir. Josh Margolin. “When 93-year-old Thelma Post gets duped by a phone scammer pretending to be her grandson, she sets out on a treacherous quest across the city to reclaim what was taken from her.”

New Frontier

BEING (THE DIGITAL GRIOT). Dir. Dr. Rashaad Newsome. “In this innovative participatory experience, Being, an artificial intelligence digital griot, asks the audience to engage in unifying and challenging discussions. It features a soundscape and movement informed by a dataset from Black communities, theorists, poets, and activists, including bell hooks, Paulo Freire, Dazié Grego-Sykes, and Cornel West.”

Still from BEING (THE DIGITAL GRIOT). Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival.

ENO. Dir. Gary Hustwit. “Visionary musician and artist Brian Eno — known for producing David Bowie, U2, Talking Heads, among many others. . . reveals his creative processes in this groundbreaking generative documentary: a film that’s different every time it’s shown. Filmmaker Gary Hustwit brings to the Sundance Film Festival the first career-spanning documentary about visionary musician. . . This innovative bio-doc also elevates the documentary form to become an evergreen, algorithmic performance.”

Family Matinee

OUT OF MY MIND. Dir. Amber Sealey. “Melody Brooks is navigating sixth grade as a nonverbal wheelchair user who has cerebral palsy. With the help of some assistive technology and her devoted, exuberant allies, Melody shows that what she has to say is more important than how she says it.”

Short Film Program

MATTA AND MATTO. Dir. Bianca Caderas, Kerstin Zemp. “In a time when all interpersonal closeness is forbidden, the hourly hotel Vaip offers wondrous rooms where guests snuggle up to devices built with great skill and let themselves fall into the perfect illusion of human touch.”

MIISUFY. Dir. Liisi Grünberg. “Digital pet cat Miisu gets tired of her owner and starts to revolt. Inspired by Tamagotchi — observing the world through the eyes of digital pets.”

Still from MIISUFY. Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival.

TERRA MATER. Dir. Kantarama Gahig. “Technology and waste in our lands, our systems, our bones. Wandering our spaces, she cannot help but wonder, where is the space for healing?”

Special Screenings

WAR GAME. Dir. Jesse Moss, Tony Gerber. “A bipartisan group of U.S. defense, intelligence, and elected policymakers spanning five presidential administrations participate in an unscripted role-play exercise in which they confront a political coup backed by rogue members of the U.S. military, in the wake of a contested presidential election.”

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