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2016 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Benedict Andrews’ Una

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Sundance has always been a great launching pad for new breakout talents. Rooney Mara saw her first major part in film was as a supporting player in James C. Strouse’s The Winning Season which premiered at the fest, and veteran actor Ben Mendelsohn had his true breakout moment in Park City for David Michod’s Animal Kingdom. Perhaps the stars will for this highly anticipated directorial debut from an already established talent. First-time director Benedict Andrews is award-winning Australian theatre director who works out of Iceland and London, and judging from his body of work likely made the comfortable leap to this new set of damaged characters with Una – (formerly Blackbird) a screenplay by playwright David Harrower. Principal photography took place this past summer and the film is definitely in the editing phase. There is a small window of opportunity for a feature that will surely yield some emotionally strained characters that are all to well informed by the past.

Gist: Adapted by David Harrower from his Olivier Award winning play of the same title, two people who once had a passionate affair meet again fifteen years later. Ray is confronted with his past when Una arrives unannounced at his office, and they are forced to revisit their relationship. Ray has made a new life for himself. Una is looking for answers. What follows in this emotional thriller is an unflinching excavation of damaged love. The consequences are shattering.

Production Co./Producers: Jean Doumanian Productions’ Jean Doumanian and Patrick Daly (August: Osage County), WestEnd Films’ Maya Amsellem (The Invisible Woman). Co-producer: Celia Duval (Testament of Youth). Executive producers: Jason Cloth (The Childhood of a Leader), Bron Studios’ Aaron L. Gilbert (I Saw the Light), Sharon Harel, Kevin Loader, Eve Schoukroun.

Prediction: This is a definite festival film but Sundance might be a long shot. Premieres or U.S. Dramatic Comp.

U.S. Distributor: Rights Available. TBD (domestic).WestEnd 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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