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Festival Predictions

2015 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Dee Rees’ Bessie

While HBO Films have yet to date the TV movie (according to a recent interview they’d be aiming for early ’15) they’d definitely use some of the Sundance swagger in a pre-television premiere launchpad. The Sundance Institute and the festival are the lieus where Dee Rees first explored and then successfully launched her career with the critically acclaimed Pariah back in 2011. Production began this summer in Atlanta on Bessie, which was formerly known as “Blue Goose Hollow”. A dream role/project reality for Queen Latifah, a part she has been gunning for years; the supporting cast is made up of Michael K. Williams, Khandi Alexander, Mike Epps, Tika Sumpter, Tory Kittles, Oliver Platt, Bryan Greenberg, Charles S. Dutton and Mo’Nique. Worth noting, is the detail that Rees put into the project – a color palette that transforms and informs the given timeline.

Gist: The story of legendary blues performer, Bessie Smith, who rose to fame during the 1920s and ’30s.  It will debunk many of the myths that have circulated about her since her untimely death in 1937.

Production Co./Producers: Ron Schmidt, HBO, The Zanuck Company, Shelby Stone Productions and Latifah’s Flavor Unit Entertainment.

Prediction: Premieres category.

U.S. Distributor: HBO Films. TBD (domestic). TBD (international)

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist and critic at (founded in 2000). Eric is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member 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 served as a New Flesh Comp for Best First Feature at the 2022 Fantasia Intl. Film Festival. Current top films for 2022 include Tár (Todd Field), All That Breathes (Shaunak Sen), Aftersun (Charlotte Wells).

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