Which Chicago Films Are Heading to Sundance?

Which Chicago Films Are Heading to Sundance?

Sundance 2020 is almost here and there are a number of Chicago films and filmmakers making the trip to Park City next month. Here's a quick rundown:


Oscar nominee and DeKalb, IL native Richard Jenkins headlines the dramatic feature THE LAST SHIFT. Producers include Highland Park native Alex Lipschultz (MENACHE, COMPUTER CHESS) and Chicago native Albert Berger, best known for producing Oscar nominee NEBRASKA, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, ELECTION, and as co-executive producer on the HBO series THE LEFTOVERS.

THE LAST SHIFT filmed in and around the Chicagoland area, including the suburb or River Grove, this past summer. This story centers on Stanley (played by Richard Jenkins), an aging fast food worker, preparing to work his final graveyard shift after 38 years. When he’s asked to train his replacement, Jevon, Stanley’s weekend takes an unexpected turn. Jenkins is joined by Shane Paul McGhie, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Birgundi Baker, Allison Tolman, and Ed O’Neill.


The legendary Steve James returns to Park City once again, this time with the indie episodic CITY SO REAL. James was last at Sundance in 2018 with AMERICA TO ME, his 10-part docuseries which was picked up by Starz. This year James offers an impressionistic mosaic portrait of current-day Chicago which delivers a deep, multifaceted look into the soul of America’s third-largest city, set against the backdrop of its history-making 2019 mayoral campaign. If you are new to Steve James' work, take a look at Oscar nominated films HOOP DREAMS and ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL.

“Authenticity and independent voices resonate across formats — and that’s evident across the full spectrum of this year’s Indie Episodic slate,” Kim Yutani, the director of programming for the festival, said in a statement. “Defined by distinctive voices and enlightening viewpoints, these are riveting projects that find inspiration in the urgent stories and extraordinary individuals of our times.”


Paula Froehle and Steve Cohen and their Chicago Media Project have supported a wide range of documentaries in recent years, and they have a whopping six CMP-supported films in Sundance 2020. The sextet includes: ASSASSINS, Directed by Ryan White; CRIP CAMP, Directed by Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham; SPACESHIP EARTH, Directed by Matt Wolf; US KIDS, Directed by Kim A. Snyder.

Also on the CMP slate is the highly anticipated UNTITLED KIRBY DICK/AMY ZIERING FILM, directed by Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering, Sara Newens, where a brilliant former hip hop executive grapples with whether to go public about her rape by one of the most powerful men in the music industry.

Rounding out the lineup is FEELS GOOD MAN, directed by Arthur Jones, whose producers include Chicago filmmakers Caryn Capotosto and Aaron Wickenden. In FEELS GOOD MAN, when indie comic character Pepe the Frog becomes an unwitting icon of hate, his creator, artist Matt Furie, fights to bring Pepe back from the darkness and navigate America’s cultural divide. CMP founders Steve Cohen and Paula Froehle are Executive Producers on the film, as is CMP member Susan Morrison.

Click here for the full Sundance 2020 lineup, festival passes, and more.