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2020 Sundance Film Festival

Festival Predictions

2020 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Adam Leon, Benh Zeitlin, Jim Cummings, Sara Colangelo

2020 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Adam Leon, Benh Zeitlin, Jim Cummings, Sara Colangelo

Untitled Adam Leon Project
Gimme the Loot (2012) and Tramps (2016) filmmaker Adam Leon hasn’t made a jump to Sundance yet, but that could very well change with a project that is being kept under wraps. Closely worked on with actress Vanessa Kirby, production took place in March this year. Brett Jutkiewicz who worked on Safdie bros.’ early works is the cinematographer and Andrea Roa is among the producers.
Prediction: U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION

Untitled St. Vincent Project
An editor on Portlandia who made his first solo outing as a filmmaker, Bill Benz worked from a music themed drama co-written by Carrie Brownstein and Annie Clark in May. With the backdrop of Los Angeles, this mock documentary is about the making of a St. Vincent tour film being directed by Carrie Brownstein. Clark and Brownstein will play heightened versions of themselves in the untitled film, which will chronicle their interactions with assistants, bandmates, music journalists and, of course, fans.
Prediction: MIDNIGHT

The Violent Heart
Kerem Sanga felt the Sundance stardust when he premiered his third feature film, First Girl I Loved back in 2016. Four his fourth trip in the director’s chair, Sanga enlisted the likes of Jovan Adepo, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Lukas Haas, Grace Van Patten and Mary J. Blige for a Texas-based project set outside Ft. Hood. This centers on a college-bound senior on the cusp of graduation, and her budding relationship with a local mechanic named Daniel (Adepo), who himself dreams of becoming a Marine. As they fall for one another, the details surrounding Daniel’s tragic and violent past inevitably catch up with them.
Prediction: NEXT

Wander Darkly
A project that has had a bit of time to find itself in post, Tara Miele‘s fourth feature (which filmed in August of 2018) is about a couple struggles to navigate the aftermath of a devastating car crash. Starring Diego Luna and Sienna Miller, this was produced by veteran Lynette Howell and is scored by Fil Eisler.
Prediction: U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION

The Water Man
David Oyelowo, the actor has been at the festival countless number of times, but he might be heading back as a filmmaker with his directorial debut. Booking Rosario Dawson, Maria Bello and Alfred Molina for topline roles, this is about a boy who sets out on a quest to save his ill mother by searching for a mythic figure said to have magical healing powers. Filming took place in April.
Prediction: U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION

Wendy
With Fox Searchlight releasing assets and stamping this with a February release, it would be a major disappointment if Benh Zeitlin wasn’t part of the make-up of the festival where he made a name for himself (Beasts of the Southern Wild – 2012). Written by Benh and Eliza Zeitlin, lost on a mysterious island where aging and time have come unglued, Wendy must fight to save her family, her freedom, and the joyous spirit of youth from the deadly peril of growing up.
Prediction: PREMIERES

The Werewolf
Currently filming his third feature film The Beta Test, Jim Cummings had his sophomore which shot in Utah earlier in the year and got picked up by Orion Pictures. Grand Jury Prize winner at the festival for Thunder Road – the short, this horror genre item will likely be part of the Park City line-up.
Prediction: MIDNIGHT

What Is Life Worth
Sundance has been a supporter in three consecutive oeuvres in 2010’s Little Accidents (short), 2014’s Little Accidents (feature), and 2018’s The Kindergarten Teacher. Sara Colangelo is now in the big leagues with a project that went into production this past April with Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci and a Blacklist screenplay to boot. The story centers on Kenneth Feinberg’s acclaimed memoir, a powerful DC insider lawyer put in charge of the 9/11 Fund. In almost three years of pro bono work on the case, Feinberg fought off the cynicism, bureaucracy and politics associated with administering government funds to victim’s families — and in doing so, discovered what life is worth.
Prediction: PREMIERES

Work It
A producer (Sundance selected Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same, The Foxy Merkins), Laura Terruso has been also churning out directing efforts since 2006. Toplined by Singer-songwriter Sabrina Carpenter and produced by Alicia Keys, Carpenter will portray an awkward teenager who, after being rejected from her high school’s dance team, assembles a crew of misfits to compete against them in a national dance championship. The dance-themed comedy wrapped this summer and Netflix own the rights.
Prediction: PREMIERES

Zola
Janicza Bravo broke out big with Sundance preemed Lemon — and several indie folks took notice. Filming took place late in 2018 and was the Killer Films and A24 folks backed the project with Taylour Paige being surrounded by Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun, Colman Domingo and Jason Mitchell. Written by Bravo, Jeremy O. Harris, Andrew Neel and Mike Roberts and based on Wells’ life and the Rolling Stone magazine piece “Zola Tells All: The Real Story Behind the Greatest Stripper Saga Ever Tweeted,” this is the saga about a stripper (Paige) that took Twitter to vent.
Prediction: U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION

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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