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Ethan Hawke's Blaze

Festival Predictions

2018 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Ethan Hawke’s Blaze

2018 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Ethan Hawke’s Blaze

Yet to be invited to the Sundance ball with his trio of films as a director Chelsea Walls (2001), The Hottest State (2006) and Seymour: An Introduction (2014) all receiving preems at other prestige fests, Ethan Hawke‘s Blaze might altogether follow a different festival narrative. Shot in Louisiana and Mississippi this past January, the ensemble film includes Alia Shawkat, Steve Zahn, Sam Rockwell, Wyatt Russell, Josh Hamilton, the late Kris Kristofferson, longtime collaborative pal Richard Linklater (appeared in all of Hawke’s films to date) and newbie actor/singer Ben Dickey in the lead role (see video interview). Hawke certainly got comfortable with the musician biopic format playing Chet Baker in 2015’s Born to Be Blue, and co-writing with the musicians’ wife on which the memoir is based certainly helped carve this into what could be an engrossing, certainly personal portrait (perhaps close in DNA to Margaret Brown’s Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt – both musicians were friends). Hawke was editing the drama this summer, so this is ready to get out of the gate and hopefully will play better than the I Saw the Light types.

Gist: Based on Sybil Rosen’s memoir Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze, this is about the unsung songwriting legend of the Texas Outlaw Music movement that spawned the likes of Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. Ben Dickey plays the accomplished songwriter and musician, plays the title role. Alia Shawkat plays Rosen, and Rosen (the other co-screenwriter) portrays her mother.

Production Co./Producers: Under The Influence’s Ethan and Ryan Hawke, Jake Seal (Born to Be Blue), Cinetic’s John Sloss (Last Flag Flying).

Prediction: Premieres section and could do the Boyhood route of Sundance then Berlin or, this will be kept until a TIFF showcase.

U.S. Distributor: Rights Available. Cinetic (domestic). TBD (international)



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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