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2015 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Craig Zobel’s Z for Zachariah

We can still feel the heat generated from Craig Zobel’s Compliance. His sophomore film, which was made on a dime (his directorial debut Great World of Sound was made for a nickel and was also showcased at Sundance), got under the skin of select imbecile auds at its Park City premiere, but in the same token it intellectually tickled the critical masses. Adept in human discord in its purest form, this quality surely got infused on his third directing outing, Z for Zachariah, which is large scale humanity in crisis. You don’t often see Blacklist scripts (ranked #26th in 2009) break into Sundance, but in a Take Shelter scheme of things, this shot in New Zealand production benefitting from a plethora of producers on board could fit a sci-fi mold of Duncan Jones’ Moon. Despite the presence of A listers such as Chris Pine and Chiwetel Ejiofor, conceivably, big ideas made within a modest budget range means there is a small window of a chance for a acquisitions friendly premiere. Production Designer Matthew Munn reunites with Zobel, while David Gordon Green’s righthand man Tim Orr was the cinematographer.

Gist: Based on the novel by Robert C. O’Brien and written by Pall Grimson and Nissar Modi, this focuses on a young, small-town girl named Ann Burden (Margot Robbie) who survives a nuclear war in a small American town.

Production Co./Producers: Sophia Lin (Compliance), Material Pictures’ Tobey Maguire and Matthew Ploffe with Zik Zak Kvikmyndir’s Skuli Malmquist, Thor Sigurjonsson and Joni Sighvatsson (Killer Elite). Gary Ross and Stephen Bannatyne will exec produce with Claudia Bluemhuber and Lotus’ Jim Seibel and Bill Johnson.

Prediction: Premieres Category.

U.S. Distributor: Rights Available. TBD (domestic). Lotus Entertainment (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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