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2014 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash

If Whiplash breaks into the line-up, I believe we’re in for a treat. It’ll have meant that Damien Chazelle, who broke out with 2009’s Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, won’t have slept much since he began lensing back only in August/September. Based on the unusually energetic, expertly edited, Full Metal Jacket-like in a classroom 18-minuter that was presented at Sundance ’12 edition (see image above), Chazelle lined up Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now) and J.K. Simmons (who steals the show in the short) for the lengthened version of the same name. Filmed in Los Angeles, Whiplash is a definite 2014/15 release to look out for.

Gist: Simmons portrays a brutal jazz orchestra teacher who unloads his frustrations on a novice drummer (Teller) who begins to lose his humanity in his quest to become the core skins pounder of the top jazz orchestra in the country.

Production Co./Producers: Nicholas Britell, Right of Way Films’ Helen Estabrook (Labor Day), Blumhouse Productions’ Couper Samuelson (Two Lovers).

Prediction: If he breaks into the line-up, not really any other options than the U.S. Dramatic Competition. Perhaps TIFF later down the road. Perhaps Sundance 2015.

U.S. Distributor: Rights Available

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).


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