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2020 Sundance Film Festival

Festival Predictions

2020 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Stephen Karam, Jon Stewart, Eric Wareheim, Miranda July

2020 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Stephen Karam, Jon Stewart, Eric Wareheim, Miranda July

Horse Girl
Can Jeff Baena make it four for four? Having presented 2014’s Life After Beth, 2016’s Joshy and 2017’s The Little Hours at the fest, this Netflix/Duplass Bros/ Mel Eslyn production rolled out this summer in Los Angeles with not much info available beyond co-writting duties being split between Alison Brie and Baena.
Prediction: PREMIERES

The Humans
The Tony Award-winning author wrote the film adaptations of The Seagull and shortly after was the chosen one for an A24, Scott Rudin project starring Beanie Feldstein, Jayne Houdyshell, Richard Jenkins, Amy Schumer and Steven Yeun. Stephen Karam worked with cinematographer Lol Crawley on a tale set during pre-war duplex in downtown Manhattan — it follows the course of an evening in which the Blake family gathers to celebrate Thanksgiving. As darkness falls outside the crumbling building, mysterious things start to go bump in the night and family tensions reach a boiling point.
Prediction: U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION

The Hunt
Chances are slim, but Sundance have always been a hospitable premiere lieu for Blumhouse and the filmmaker in question could possibly insert a studio film in their “off” line-up selections. Craig Zobel saw all three of his directing efforts in Great World of Sound, Compliance, Z for Zachariah premiere at the fest — and perhaps there is a larger conversation to be had about censorship and gun violence as a whole. Starring a large ensemble that includes Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, Emma Roberts and Hilary Swank, this is based on a 1924 short story.
Prediction: SECRET SCREENING

I Used To Go Here
Production on Kris Rey‘s fourth feature film began sometime this summer in Chicago with the likes of Gillian Jacobs, Jemaine Clement and Kate Micucci joining the comedy. She premiered Unexpected at Sundance back in 2015, and appears to once again tap into female-driven growing pains. Kate Conklin (Jacobs) is in a rut. Her engagement is called off, her first book isn’t doing so hot, and all her friends are having babies. Out of nowhere she gets a call from her old professor, David Kirkpatrick (Clement), asking her to come back to her alma mater to do a reading.
Prediction: PREMIERES

Ironbark
Dominic Cooke first broke out with On Chesil Beach at TIFF in 2017, and quickly followed this with the production back in November of 2018. Lassoing a cast comprised of Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel Brosnahan, Jessie Buckley (Sean Bobbitt serves as the cinematographer here), this Cuban Missile Crisis drama is a weighty acquisitions-friendly project.
Prediction: PREMIERES

Irresistible
Proving that 2014’s Rosewater was not a one off project, it was a pleasant surprise to see that Jon Stewart back at it. Filming took place in Atlanta, Georgia this past April with the likes of Chris Cooper, Steve Carell and Rose Byrne in a tale about a democrat strategist helps a retired veteran run for mayor in a small, conservative Midwest town. Focus Features have not dated the drama – but perhaps they’ll want to grab a spot during political season.
Prediction: PREMIERES

Jonty
A24 are great at keeping their cards close to their chest (recent Sundance premieres of A Ghost Story, The Eighth Grade are primo examples of films that were coasting along production off-the-radar. Eric Wareheim was apparently getting ready to film this past April with Michael Cera in NYC but there haven’t been any updates since. Did the film go into production? This is about a coddled kid who joins forces with an old friend to produce a terrible Broadway play.
Prediction: NEXT

Kajillionaire
With 2005’s Me and You and Everyone We Know and 2011’s The Future both premiering at the fest, Miranda July finds herself in a safe place at Sundance and with plenty of time to work on the film in post (lensing began in March of 2018), it is highly likely this third entry will follow suit. Evan Rachel Wood, Gina Rodriguez, Debra Winger and Richard Jenkins are part of a project that details how a woman’s life is turned upside down when her criminal parents invite an outsider to join them on a major heist they’re planning. Megan Ellison, Dede Gardner, Youree Henley, Jeremy Kleiner, Brad Pitt produced the film.
Prediction: U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION

Kung Fury 2
Anyone keeping tabs on David Sandberg‘s off-the-wall project knows that it attracted the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Fassbender, Alexandra Shipp, David Hasselhoff and Jorma Taccone and they also know that… there was no part one (unless you count the short film). The story will focus on Kung Fury’s universe with no real connection to the short movie other than the lead character. We doubt that this has a real chance at premiering at the fest — but it would indeed be the perfect spot for it.
Prediction: SECRET SCREENING

The Last Thing He Wanted
A surprise no-show during the fall festival season, the next logical conclusion is for Dee Rees to return to the festival that has supported her since 2011’s Pariah. Production began in Puerto Rico in June of 2018 Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck and Willem Dafoe as the main trio of players. Based on Joan Didion’s 1996 novel, this centers on a hardscrabble journalist, Elena McMahon (Hathaway), who inherits her father’s position as a dealmaker — an arms dealmaker. She soon finds herself on dangerous ground as the Iran-Contra Affair’s arms-for-drugs plot reaches its tipping point. This is another Netflix project.
Prediction: PREMIERES

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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