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What to Watch at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival: Projects Set in the ’90s and 2000s to Fuel Your Nostalgia

By Kathleen Grant

Join Sundance Film Festivalgoers by returning to the ’90s and 2000s, a period filled with unforgettable moments that still hit home today. It’s no surprise that films set in the recent past are on the rise as today’s pop culture is embracing fashion and music trends of the era. The 2024 Sundance Film Festival lineup features a range of genres set in those years, from shorts such as Essex Girls where it is not uncommon to see a BlackBerry or two and documentaries like one that delves into the early days of Lollapalooza. Additionally, voices from across the globe resonate this year through films set in Peru, the Himalayas, and beyond.

If you’re longing for the recent past, look no further — we’ve got you covered. Read on to discover seven Festival projects that capture the ups and downs of an unforgettable era.

Don’t forget to book your tickets today!

A still from LOLLA: THE STORY OF LOLLAPALOOZA. The still shows a shirtless musician in blue-tinted lighting lifting his arms up.

LOLLA: THE STORY OF LOLLAPALOOZA (Episodic) — “Too much money destroys art,” laments Perry Farrell, the ’90s icon who fronted the bands Jane’s Addiction and Porno for Pyros. As the episodic series LOLLA: THE STORY OF LOLLAPALOOZA recounts, Farrell was the creator of the Lollapalooza concert series, transforming how we experience live music forever. The epic Lollapalooza music festival, first held in the summer of 1991, played a significant role in youth counterculture during the ’90s. The 2024 Sundance Film Festival is screening two episodes out of the three-part documentary series directed by Michael John Warren, which explores Lollapalooza through the perspectives of various bands, such as Jane’s Addiction and Nine Inch Nails. Available in person and online

Reinas (World Cinema Dramatic Competition) — Set in Lima, Reinas portrays a family’s search for a safer place. Through this lens, Swiss-Peruvian artist, writer, and director Klaudia Reynicke explores the idea that strength and loss are inevitable parts of life. Reynicke transports us to Lima in the ’90s, where we follow a family’s plan to move to the United States. Available in person and online

Dìdi (弟弟) (U.S. Dramatic Competition) — In the summer of 2008, a 13-year-old Taiwanese American boy learns important life lessons before starting high school. Writer-director Sean Wang’s feature directorial debut serves as a space to learn a first-generation teenager’s perspective on adolescent struggles during the rise of our social media era. Winner of the Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic and the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Ensemble. Available in person and online

Suncoast (U.S. Dramatic Competition) — Step into writer-director Laura Chinn’s world of Suncoast, where a delicately narrated coming-of-age tale unfolds against the vibrant backdrop of St. Petersburg, Florida, in 2005. A teenager (Nico Parker, winner of the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance) juggling the responsibilities of caring for her brother and her mother forms an unexpected bond with an activist protesting a groundbreaking medical case. Available in person and online

Go Fish (40th Edition Celebration Screenings) — Before Bottoms, Rose Troche’s Go Fish offered an inside look at lesbian life in the ’90s. The 1994 Sundance Film Festival premiered this edgy women-centered story that holds an important place in the canon of New Queer Cinema, and 30 years later, the 2024 Festival is screening a digitally restored version of the iconic film. Available in person

Girls Will Be Girls (World Cinema Dramatic Competition) — Shuchi Talati, a first-time feature director, explores the journey of adolescence through 16-year-old Mira’s rebellious awakening. Set in the Himalayas in the 1990s, the drama delves into the nature of empowerment and female agency amid mother-daughter struggles and teenage desires. Preeti Panigrahi’s performance as Mira won her the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting, while the film also took home the Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic. Available in person and online

Out of My Mind (Family Matinee) Out of My Mind is a touching portrayal of teenage girlhood in the early 2000s, highlighting the challenges of living with disability. Director Amber Sealey explores the concepts of belonging and disability, as Melody (Phoebe-Rae Taylor) navigates the world around her as a nonverbal wheelchair user with cerebral palsy coupled with the challenges of life as a sixth grader. Available in person