Connect with us
2020 Sundance Film Festival

Festival Predictions

2020 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Lawrence Michael Levine, Malik Vitthal & Michael Dowse

2020 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Lawrence Michael Levine, Malik Vitthal & Michael Dowse

Black Bear
Gabi on the Roof in July (2010) and 2014’s Wild Canaries (review) filmmaker Lawrence Michael Levine landed the likes of Sarah Gadon, Aubrey Plaza and Christopher Abbott for an Adirondacks shoot this past July. His fourth feature centers on an expecting couple (Gadon and Abbott) who are confronted with an out-of-town guest Abigail (Plaza), a filmmaker suffering from writer’s block who seeks solace in the woods but finds herself at the center of a twisted love triangle. Significant other in filmmaker Sophia Takal (Black Christmas) is a producer on the pic.
Prediction: MIDNIGHT

Dabbling once again in sci-fi elements, Another Earth (2011) and I Origins (2014) helmer Mike Cahill took on some television projects in the interim before taking off to Croatia (and backyard Los Angeles) for an Amazon Studios backed project with the likes of Salma Hayek, Nesta Cooper and Owen Wilson. This is about a recently-divorced guy falls for an enchanting woman’s theory that they live in a harsh, alternative world simulation inside of a beautiful, blissful reality.
Prediction: PREMIERES

Body Cam
Moving from low-budget 2014’s Imperial Dreams (Sundance NEXT section selection was the Audience winner) to a studio backed (Paramount Players) sophomore horror project, Malik Vitthal enlisted the likes of Nat Wolff, Mary J. Blige, Theo Rossi and Anika Noni Rose in August of 2018 for a New Orleans shoot. Written by Nick McCarthy and John Ridley, this follows several LAPD officers who are haunted by a malevolent spirit that is tied to the murder of a black youth at the hands of two white cops — all of which was caught on a body cam video that was destroyed in a cover-up. Blige will portray a police officer in “Body Cam” who begins seeing visions and starts to investigate the cover-up.
Prediction: MIDNIGHT

Breaking News In Yuba County
It’ll be quite the 2020 for helmer Tate Taylor as he has the Jessica Chastain actioner Ava ready to premiere and this Mississippi-brewed thriller dramedy featuring an iconoclast-ish crew of Mila Kunis, Awkwafina, Allison Janney, Juliette Lewis and Ellen Barkin. Written by Amanda Idoko, this is about a woman catches her husband in bed with another woman, causing him to die of a heart attack. She buries his body and takes advantage of the growing celebrity status that comes from having a missing husband. However, she soon finds herself in over her head, dodging cops and criminals, all while trying hide the truth. Nine Stories Productions and The Black List produced the project and could technically wait until TIFF to premiere.
Prediction: PREMIERES

Broken Diamonds
Peter Sattler broke out at the festival with Camp X-Ray back in 2014, and appears to have been super selective on what he might take on for his second time out. Filming on the originally titled Love & Oatmeal occurred back in mid May of 2018. Starring Ben Platt, Lola Kirke, and Yvette Nicole Brown, in the wake of his father’s death, a twenty-something writer sees his dream of moving to Paris put in jeopardy when he’s forced to temporarily take in his wildly unpredictable, mentally ill sister. Keegan Dewitt scored the pic.

Swedish auteur Amanda Kernell couldn’t have asked for a better film festival Cinderella story — her debut Sami Blood premiered at Venice, TIFF, Sundance and Rotterdam. Production on her sophomore film began at the beginning of the year. Sverrir Gudnason, Eva Melander, Ane Dahl Torp star in a drama about 40-year-old Alice, who is in danger of losing custody of her children, so she decides to abduct them and embark on a charter trip to the Canary Islands.

Chemical Hearts
Richard Tanne first broke out at Sundance with 2016’s Southside With You and quickly followed up with the Amazon Studios backed book-to-film project. Based on the beloved novel Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland, this is about a high school transfer student finds a new passion when she begins to work on the school’s newspaper. Production took place in June in New Jersey with thesps Sarah Jones, Lili Reinhart and Austin Abrams.

The Climb
Michael Angelo Covino left his tire marks in Park City with the short version (2018) of what would turn out to be a practise run for his breakout feature debut. Premiering at mega fests such as Cannes, Telluride and TIFF, there is no reason why prior to its March 20th release via Sony Pictures Classics that it doesn’t circle back to Sundance much in the same way Chloé Zhao’s The Rider did. This looks at the friendship between two guys that spans over many years.
Prediction: SPOTLIGHT

Coffee & Kareen
A Blacklist screenplay backed by the folks at Netflix, Michael Dowse (who saw his debut film Fubar land at the festival back in 2002) landed Ed Helms and Tiffany Haddish for an April shoot in Vancouver. A police drama, Helms will portray a Detroit cop and Henson will play his girlfriend. He reluctantly teams with her 11-year-old son to clear his name and take down the city’s most ruthless criminal.
Prediction: PREMIERES

Best described in her own words for the 25 New Faces of Independent Film 2018 profile as a sci-fi hybrid feature doc set in the world of SoundCloud rap, Marnie Ellen Hertzler will undoubtably be launching her directorial debut on the fest circuit in 2020 and there could be a wide range of interested programmers as her 2018 short film Hi I Need to be Loved was featured at Locarno and Rotterdam.
Prediction: NEXT

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).

Click to comment

More in Festival Predictions

To Top