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Festival Predictions

2016 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Deb Shoval’s AWOL


With one of last year’s Sundance intoxicatingly cute natured discoveries in Lola Kirke (from Noah Baumbach’s Mistress America) toplining, the reasonable five-year morphing phase into a larger feature film canvas, and the welcomed addition of actress Breeda Wool who got to work with the same character, we could easily see this slice of LGBT grab a coveted spot. While it might have the queer factor working for it, AWOL, the feature film version actually stems from a 2011 Sundance premiered short of the same title. Production took place at the very beginning of the year with major thumbs up support from Tribeca Film Festival where the film (not yet finished) landed the IWC Filmmaker Award and this past summer, Deb Shoval‘s feature debut was submitted to Champs-Elysées Film Festival’s US in Progress. Chosen for Film Independent’s Fast Track and IFP’s Narrative Completion Lab, Shoval has benefitted from a lot of grant-like support and will be ready leave its post early next year.

Gist: For Joey (Lola Kirke), the only way out of rural Pennsylvania is the Army; but before deployment she falls for a married woman and plots to go AWOL.

Production Co./Producers: Laura Teodosio (Thank You for Being Honest), Jessica Caldwell (Electrick Children), Michel Merkt (Zama).

Prediction: U.S. Dramatic Competition is a definite possibility.

U.S. Distributor: Rights Available. 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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