10 Best Breakout Sundance Films

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Sundance Film Festival

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival is currently in full swing and filmgoers unable to make it to Utah for film’s most important film festival are eagerly waiting to hear what this year’s breakout Sundance hits will be. Founded in 1978 by Sterling Van Wagenen, the head of Robert Redford’s company Wildwood, the Sundance Film Festival we know now had its first festival in 1984 and has grown exponentially every year since. And as the festival has grown, so too has the submission rate; this year, the festival received over 4,000 feature-length submissions from which it selected 120 films to screen.

But the biggest question, as it is every year, is what will be the film to blast out of the Sundance Film Festival into mainstream cinemas. Last year, Fruitvale Station was the big winner to hit the ground running after the festival ended; the year before, it was Beasts of the Southern Wild. Additionally, both films would go on to earn additional award attention outside the independent film scene, successfully competing against the best Hollywood had to offer (although Fruitvale Station was notably snubbed at the Oscars).

This year, it looks like Whiplash could become the next in a long line of Sundance breakout hits. From newcomer Damien Chazelle, Whiplash tells the story of a Manhattan kid with a passion for jazz drumming who is pushed to the brink by an intense teacher. According to reports, the film is being described as “Full Metal Jacket in the jazz world” — interesting to say the least.

But with the possibility of surprise hits as the festival continues, it’s too early to crown any film as the top breakout candidate. For now, let’s take a look at some of the biggest hits in the festival’s history to get a sense of what winning at the Sundance Film Festival means. Here are the 10 best breakout films from the Sundance Film Festival.

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