The Sundance Film Festival has released its competition lineups for its 30th edition in January, and as the Bagger’s colleague Brooks Barnes reports here, though the programmers largely opted for films along themes they know well — race and family — they also took an unusual turn into horror. “Over all, we’re seeing films that are of much higher quality,” John Cooper, Sundance’s director, said. “We think a lot of that is coming from technology, which has freed filmmakers from limitations, including financial ones. You can do special effects now.”

Here are the lineups in the U.S. dramatic and documentary and world cinema feature and documentary categories, as well as the slate in the Next section for “forward-thinking” films. The summaries provided by the festival:


Camp X-Ray (Director and screenwriter: Peter Sattler) — A young woman is stationed as a guard in Guantánamo Bay, where she forms an unlikely friendship with one of the detainees. Cast: Kristen Stewart, Peyman Moaadi, Lane Garrison, J.J. Soria, John Carroll Lynch.

Cold in July (Director: Jim Mickle, Screenwriters: Jim Mickle, Nick Damici) — After killing a home intruder, a small-town Texas man’s life unravels into a dark underworld of corruption and violence. Cast: Michael C. Hall, Don Johnson, Sam Shepard, Vinessa Shaw, Nick Damici, Wyatt Russell.

Dear White People (Director and screenwriter: Justin Simien) — Four Black students attend an Ivy League college where a riot breaks out over an “African-American” themed party thrown by White students. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film explores racial identity in postracial America while weaving a story about forging one’s unique path in the world. Cast: Tyler Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, Brandon Bell.

Fishing Without Nets (Director: Cutter Hodierne, Screenwriters: Cutter Hodierne, John Hibey, David Burkman) — A story of pirates in Somalia told from the perspective of a struggling young Somali fisherman. Cast: Abdikani Muktar, Abdi Siad, Abduwhali Faarah, Abdikhadir Hassan, Reda Kateb, Idil Ibrahim.

Read it at NY Times.