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2020 Sundance Film Festival

Festival Predictions

2020 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Claudia Llosa, Alice Wu, Radha Blank

2020 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Claudia Llosa, Alice Wu, Radha Blank

False Positive
Working mostly in television with the only exception being Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, John Lee grabbed the director’s chair for the March New Orleans shoot — an A24 horror film toplined by actress Ilana Glazer. Plot details are unknown but the supporting cast includes Justin Theroux, Pierce Brosnan, Zainab Jah, Gretchen Mol, Sophia Bush, and Josh Hamilton.
Prediction: MIDNIGHT

The Father
Based on scribe and first time filmmaker Florian Zeller‘s stage play of the same name, filmed in May this sees Anthony Hopkins stars in the eponymous role, a mischievous and highly independent man who, as he ages, refuses all assistance from his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman). Yet such help has become essential, following Anne’s decision to move to Paris with her partner. As Anne’s father tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality. Rufus Sewell, Imogen Poots, Mark Gatiss and Olivia Williams co-star.
Prediction: PREMIERES

Fever Dream
Peruvian Claudia Llosa has had a special rapport with Sundance having presented 2006’s Madeinusa, 2015’s Aloft. Production on her fourth feature took place in Chile at the beginning of the year and stars María Valverde, Dolores Fonzi and Guillermo Pfening. This is based on the novel by Samanta Schweblin and tells the the haunting story of broken souls, toxins, looming environmental and spiritual catastrophes, and the ties that bind a parent to a child.
Prediction: PREMIERES

First Cow
Kelly Reichardt surprised plenty of folks when she premiered First Cow at the Telluride Film Festival (it was followed by a showcase at NYFF). A24 have set a limited March 6th release and so it’s not inconceivable for the filmmaker to go for one more round of press prior to – especially at a fest that has showcased the majority of her films. This is about a cook (John Magaro) who has traveled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon Territory, though he only finds connection with a Chinese immigrant (Orion Lee). The men collaborate on a business, although its longevity is reliant upon the participation of a wealthy landowner’s prized milking cow.
Prediction: SPOTLIGHT

The 40-Year-Old Version
It might be an off year at the festival with very few former Sundance Lab folks introducing their film projects at the fest, but Radha Blank (class of 2017 Screenwriters Lab) stands a better than average shot at presenting her debut (filmed this summer in NYC) with her in the titular role. The comedy about a down-on-her-luck playwright who thinks the only way she can salvage her voice as an artist is to become a rapper…at 40. Lena Waithe is among the producers.
Prediction: NEXT

With production coming to a close in early 2019, it was still surprising that a film premiere this year did not materialize for a biopic that centers on Al Capone (Tom Hardy) after his 11 year sentence in Federal prison as he wrestles with dementia, and comes to be haunted by his violent past. Also starring Linda Cardellini, Matt Dillon and Kyle MacLachlan, Josh Trank‘s third feature film would be a highly tipped acquisitions title for the fest.
Prediction: PREMIERES

The Glorias
A film more suited for the fall festival circuit but the progressive stance of the festival might actually work as a megaphone type of launchpad for this latest Julie Taymor film which went into production this past January 2019 in Savannah, Georgia. Alicia Vikander, Julianne Moore, Bette Midler, Timothy Hutton and Janelle Monáe appear at two different junctures in the activists’ life. Based on Steinem’s best selling memoir, My Life on the Road, this tells the story of her itinerant childhood’s influence on her life as a writer, activist and organizer for women’s rights worldwide.
Prediction: PREMIERES

Good Joe Bell
Sundance and the state of Utah has become a true family affair for the Greens. Reinaldo Marcus Green premiered his feature debut in 2018 with Monsters and Men, while his brother Rashaad Ernesto Green followed suit with Premature. Working from a screenplay by screenwriters Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry, Reinaldo went into production on the father-son portrait in April in Utah with Mark Wahlberg, Connie Britton and youngling Reid Miller. Wahlberg will play real-life Oregonian father Joe Bell, who sets out on a walk across the United States with his son, Jadin (Miller).
Prediction: PREMIERES

The Half of It
It’s been sixteen long years since her last (and first) feature film debut at TIFF (and Sundance ’05) with 2004’s Saving Face. Alice Wu finally pushes forward with her sophomore film – which is based on a 2018 Black List script and found the backing of the Netflix folks. Production took place on the teen romance last April with Leah Lewis, Alexxis Lemire and Daniel Diemer toplining. This shy, introverted, Chinese-American, straight-A student finds herself helping the school jock woo the girl they both secretly love. In the process, each teaches the other about the nature of love as they find connection in the most unlikely of places. Veteran indie producer Anthony Bregman backed the project.

Harry Haft
A project that could have easily shored up during the fall festival season but is perhaps aiming to launch with a more homegrown audience, veteran filmmaker Barry Levinson makes it a second biopic in a row after Paterno (2018). Production took place in Hungary and in the U.S. with Ben Foster in the shoes and boxing gloves and the boxer. The film is set post-World War II and sees Haft, a boxer who fought fellow prisoners in the concentration camps to survive. Haunted by the memories and his guilt, he attempts to use high-profile fights against boxing legends like Rocky Marciano as a way to find his first love again. Danny DeVito, Billy Magnussen, John Leguizamo, Peter Sarsgaard and Vicky Krieps co-star.
Prediction: PREMIERES

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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