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Festival Predictions

2016 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special


Sundance missed out on the opportunity to present Shotgun Stories (2007) to the world (Berlin landed the film instead) but made up for it for it with Jeff Nichols films number two Take Shelter (2011) and three Mud (2012). The filmmaker originally from Little Rock, Arkansas lined up a major studio gig for Midnight Special, re-teamed with Michael Shannon and added Joel Edgerton, Adam Driver, Kirsten Dunst, young protag Jaeden Lieberher and Sam Shepard on the January shoot. Worth noting, that’s January of 2014. Unlike Take Shelter, a film that needed its own good dose of special effects, Warner Bros. has tried to figure out the best course of action to unveil this original piece. Tied with a March 18th, this is likely headed to SXSW (Dunst let slip out of the bag) but we’re thinking a special screening (Sundance’s way to incorporate a major studio film from auteurs working for big studio films) not unlike how WB’s Wachowski’s Jupiter Ascending could be in the cards. It’s a long shot, but a logical possibility.

Gist: What starts as a race from religious extremists and local law enforcement quickly escalates to a nationwide manhunt involving the highest levels of the Federal Government. Ultimately his father (Michael Shannon) risks everything to protect Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) and help fulfill a destiny that could change the world forever, in this genre–defying film as supernatural as it is intimately human.

Production Co./Producers: Sarah Green (Knight of Cups), Brian Kavanaugh-Jones. Executive producers: Glen Basner, Hans Graffunder, Christos V. Konstantakopoulos (Chevalier).

Prediction: A suitable “Secret Screening” slot at the Egyptian.

U.S. Distributor: Warner Bros.

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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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