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2020 Sundance Film Festival

Festival Predictions

2020 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Maimouna Doucoure, Laura Baumeister, Nicholas Jarecki & Autumn de Wilde

2020 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Maimouna Doucoure, Laura Baumeister, Nicholas Jarecki & Autumn de Wilde

Cuties
French filmmaker Maïmouna Doucouré already has deep ties to the Sundance Film Festival. She won the Global Filmmaking Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017 for the screenplay of her first feature, and Maman(s) – claimed the Grand Jury Prize in 2015. Co-written by Alice Winocour, Nathalie Saugeon and Valentine Milville, pre-teenager Amy discovers in her new elementary school a group of dancers called: “Les Mignonnes”. Fascinated, she begins a sexy dance, the twerk, hoping to join their band and escape a family upheaval.
Prediction: WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION

Da 5 Bloods
Logically we’d think that Spike Lee would want to return to Cannes – after the acclaim and prizing BlacKkKlansman received, but this new venture is a Netflix film. Starring Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Giancarlo Esposito and Norm Lewis, production took place in March on a tale of four African American Vietnam veterans who return to Vietnam. They are in search of the remains of their fallen squad leader and the promise of buried treasure. These heroes battle forces of man and nature while confronted by the lasting ravages of the immorality of the Vietnam War.
Prediction: PREMIERES

Daughter of Rage
Laura Baumeister cleaned up 2019 San Sebastien Film Fest’s In-Progress claiming three awards and perhaps it’ll bee-line much like Lucía Garibaldi The Sharks did one year earlier. La hija de todas las rabias looks at 11-year-old María, who seethes with rage at her mother’s abandonment of her at a garbage dump in Managua, Nicaragua’s capital. Joining a gang of other abandoned children who work at the dump’s recycling factory in return for food and water, she sets out find her mother crossing a city rocked by violent protests.
Prediction: WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION

The Devil All The Time
Having presented his previous pair of features in Simon Killer (2012) and Christine (2016), it’s entirely possible that Antonio Campos shores up with this highly anticipated Netflix project. Featuring Tom Holland, Sebastian Stan, Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, Eliza Scanlen, Bill Skarsgard, Jason Clarke, Riley Keough, Haley Bennett, Harry Meling, Douglas Hodge and Jason Collett, this is set in post World War II in the 1960s in Ohio, the film follows a non-linear storyline of various disturbed people who suffer from the damages of the post-war.
Prediction: PREMIERES

Downhill
Production on remake of Ruben Ostlund’s Force Majeure took place back in January — so this slopes friendly comedy might find it more fitting to present in a Park City backdrop. Nat Faxon and Jim Rash presented their debut directorial effort The Way, Way Back at the fest in 2013, and so they’ll be looking to do the same with their sophomore pic. Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus star as the couple who deal with a narrow avalanche escape during a ski vacation in the Alps which throws a seemingly picture-perfect family into disarray as they are forced to reevaluate life, and how they truly feel about each other.
Prediction: PREMIERES

Dreamland
Nicholas Jarecki debuted his directorial debut Arbitrage back at the fest in 2012, and chose the Montreal wintery backdrop for his follow up feature in March (with a weighty cast in Gary Oldman, Armie Hammer, Evangeline Lilly, Greg Kinnear, Michelle Rodriguez, Lily-Rose Depp and Luke Evans) for a tale on the opioid crisis. This follows three colliding stories: A drug trafficker (Hammer) arranges a multi-cartel Fentanyl smuggling operation between Canada and the U.S.; an architect (Lilly) recovering from an OxyContin addiction tracks down the truth behind her son’s involvement with narcotics; and a university professor (Oldman) battles unexpected revelations about his employer, a drug company with deep government influence bringing a new “non-addictive” painkiller to market.
Prediction: U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION

El Tonto
Actor Charlie Day needs no introduction but we’re looking forward in seeing how he applies his funny-bone here. Day plays a mute simpleton who upon stepping off the bus for the first time in Los Angeles is thrust into stardom, only to ultimately lose it all. Production began in October of 2018 in Los Angeles – with Kate Beckinsale, Travis Fimmel, Jillian Bell, Adrien Brody, Ray Liotta, Dean Norris, Jason Sudeikis, John Malkovich, and Edie Falco onboard in supporting player roles.
Prediction: PREMIERES

Ema
With the exception of a Spotlight screening of his fourth feature film (No – which had its world premiere in Cannes) Pablo Larrain has stuck to the holy grounds of Cannes or Venice/TIFF to launch his works. Starring Mariana Di Girolamo and Gael García Bernal, Ema was a Venice and TIFF selection but it could use a bit more love stateside with a unique film from the scenic seaport city of Valparaíso.
Prediction: SPOTLIGHT

Emma
Known for her commercial and video work, Autumn de Wilde‘s made he directorial debut back in March with the likes of Anya Taylor-Joy, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth, Callum Turner and Gemma Whelan. Focus Features have dated the release for February 21st – so this would be a high value premiere much like how Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s Mustang was presented at the fest in 2019. This is an adaptation of the Jane Austen novel, ‘Emma’.
Prediction: PREMIERES

The Evening Hour
Taking about seven years in between fiction features, Braden King will likely return to Sundance after having premiered his debut feature HERE there in 2011. Filmed in October of 2018 in Kentucky, this book to film project includes players Philip Ettinger, Stacy Martin and Lili Taylor. Written by Elizabeth Palmore, this is an adaptation of Carter Sickels’ 2012 novel and follows Cole Freeman, a young man who maintains an uneasy equilibrium in his rural Appalachian town, looking after the old and infirm in the community and selling their excess painkillers to local addicts. Declan Quinn (who shot Jonathan Demme’s films) is the cinematographer.
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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