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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 IONCINEMA.com, 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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