Hard to believe that we’re a little over a month away from Sundance, a film festival so sprawling that the announcement of its lineup is staggered over several days. Along with the rest of Team HitFix, I’ll once more be braving the cold to give you the first word on eagerly awaited heavyweights and undiscovered gems alike. But not everything at the Sundance Film Festival is shiny and new — some premieres from other fests are too exciting not to be cherry-picked, which brings us to the Spotlight section.
This year’s selection of eight Spotlight titles includes films initially premiered at Cannes, Venice and Toronto, among others — some of which perhaps didn’t get the attention they deserved in the initial festival rush, and some of which certainly did.
By this point, “Stranger by the Lake” is not hugely in need of a profile boost: French director Alain Guiraudie’s sexually explicit gay serial-killer thriller got people hot and bothered at Cannes, where it won Best Director in the Un Certain Regard section, and the critical superlatives have flowed from there. France’s leading film magazine Cahiers du Cinema voted it the best film of 2013; Sight & Sound among the year’s Top 10. Strand is releasing it Stateside on January 24, so this is something of a festival victory lap.