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2014 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Joe Swanberg’s Happy Christmas

While Baumbach and Payne got conformable shooting in B&W (see Frances Ha, Nebraska), Joe Swanberg convinced swag-collecting thesps Anna Kendrick to reteam with him again and added Melanie Lynskey, Lena Dunham and Mark Webber to test out 16mm format for a holiday comedy titled Happy Christmas. in Chicago in the non-wintery month of May. Belonging to the likes of Francois Ozon, Woody Allen and Michael Winterbottom in his year in/year out output, Swanberg was only recently included in the Sundance family with 2011’s Uncle Kent and 2012’s V/H/S, and yet despite SXSW officially being the Swanberg home (Drinking Buddies was there last March) I’m thinking this hot potato of a film could easily find itself in Park City and Austin, and count as Cinematographer Ben Richardson’s return to the fest where he broke out with his work in Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Gist: This is about a young couple (played by Lynskey and Swanberg) whose lives are interrupted by the arrival of an unwelcome house guest, a sister (Anna Kendrick) who moves into their basement.

Production Co./Producers: Joe Swanberg

Prediction: The quality of the format means this could bounce from Premieres to NEXT section. A SXSW showing is almost assured.

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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