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2017 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Eliza Hittman’s Beach Rats

Now that Ana Lily Amirpour has delivered The Bad Batch at Venice and TIFF, and The Babadook‘s Jennifer Kent might not be ready until ’18, NYC filmmaker Eliza Hittman carries the torch for the most anticipated sophomore film from a female filmmaker to have gotten her start at Sundance. On paper, Beach Rats might pack a wallop and we say amen to that, but we also expect this portrait to carry the filmic sensibility and youth portrait sensitivity from her debut feature, I Felt Like Love. Out of the 2015 January Screenwriters Lab projects, Beach Rats is the first out of the gate with lensing taken place over the summer with we the bottled energy of using non-professional actors. For the critics who discovered her gem at Sundance, or joined the bandwagon as the coming-of-ager landed furthermore accolades, this might be a great bet for a comp berth.

Gist: An aimless teenager on the outer edges of Brooklyn, Frankie is having a miserable summer. With his father on his deathbed and his mother wanting him to find a girlfriend, Frankie escapes the bleakness of his home life by causing trouble with his delinquent friends and flirting with older men online. When his chatting and webcamming intensifies, he finally starts hooking up with guys at a nearby cruising beach while simultaneously entering into a cautious relationship with a young woman. As Frankie struggles to reconcile his competing desires, his decisions leave him hurtling towards irreparable consequences.

Production Co./Producers: Animal Kingdom’s David Kaplan (Tramps)

Prediction: U.S. Dramatic Comp appears to be the most logical next step.

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 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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