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2015 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Zachary Sluser’s The Driftless Area

With a trio of short films under his belt, Zachary Sluser hit indie film pay dirt with a measuring cup full of Sundance vets for his directorial debut. Starring Anton Yelchin, Zooey Deschanel, John Hawkes and supporting perfs from Alia Shawkat, Aubrey Plaza, Frank Langella and Ciaran Hinds, The Driftless Area wouldn’t be out of place at the fest as it is being tipped as a neo-noir dark romantic dramedy. Production began this past May in Vancouver, Canada with cinematographer Fjord Daniel Voldheim (Ragnarok) collaborating with a score supplied by Saunder Jurriaans & Daniel Bensi (Enemy).

Gist: Based on the novel of the same title by Tom Drury who co-wrote the screenplay with Sluser, this tells the story of a young man by the name of Pierre Hunter (Yelchin) who falls in love with a mysterious woman named Stella (Deschanel) and finds himself in a game out of cat and mouse with a somewhat idiotic but nonetheless capable and violent criminal named Shane (Hawkes) in a story that is equal parts about fate, love, coming-of-age, and life in a small-town.

Production Co./Producers: Unified Pictures’ Keith Kjarval (Rudderless), Bron Studios’ Aaron L. Gilbert (Kill Me Three Times). Executive Producer: Anonymous Content’s Nicole Romano.

Prediction: U.S. Dramatic Competition or Premieres category.

U.S. Distributor: Rights Available. CAA (domestic). Radiant Films (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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