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2018 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Justin Kelly's Welcome the Stranger

Festival Predictions

2018 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Justin Kelly’s Welcome the Stranger

2018 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Justin Kelly’s Welcome the Stranger

With a breakneck pace output, filmmaker Justin Kelly hasn’t wasted much time between features since premiering his debut feature at I Am Michael (review) at the 2015 edition of the Sundance Film Festival. Kelly moved towards another era throwback in 2016’s King Cobra, followed that with a pair of overlapping projects that have yet to be released in provocateur material Welcome the Stranger and JT Leroy. For the latter, he began lensing in Cannes during the fest this past May for what would be a recreation of the buzz associated to the launch of The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, and that film is currently in post getting ready for a 2018 drop. After programming the docu Author: The JT LeRoy Story at the fest back in 2016, Sundance programmers certainly have it on their wishlist (check out the profile from W Magazine), but the first out of the gate with be a feature with more misfits and mischievous activity in the shape of Abbey Lee (The Neon Demon), Caleb Landry Jones and Riley Keough in Welcome the Stranger. Pegged as a mystery, perhaps in the same cesspool-like three-person fun we saw in last year’s Sundance selected Thoroughbred by Cory Finley, production began in July of 2016 in Kingston, New York. In what will be a great deluge of 2018 film premieres for the actress, this counts as Keough’s first producer credit.

Gist: Alice (Abbey Lee) arrives unannounced at her estranged brother Ethan’s house in an attempt to reconcile, but bizarre visions, the return of his strange girlfriend (Riley Keough) and Alice’s paranoia and suspicion force the siblings to cling onto reality amidst mysterious circumstances.

Production Co./Producers: Yale Productions’ Jordan Yale Levine and Scott Levenson (King Cobra), Thor Bradwell, Felix Culpa’s Gina Gammell and Riley Keough, Justin Kelly.

Prediction: Could be a Park City at Midnight selection.

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



Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, 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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