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2023 Sundance Film Festival

Film Festivals

2023 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: 75 Predictions!

2023 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: 75 Predictions!

The majority of the films to be presented at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival will be identified next Wednesday and for our regular readers, we continue our tradition here of making some prognosticates. New this year: we’ve simplified matters. Instead of 75 profile pages, we’ll put out three days of simplified, condensed metrics. Enjoy part I in our three-parter!

A Different Man / U.S.A. (Director: Aaron Schimberg)
A psychological thriller by the filmmaker who gave us Chained for Life, this follows Edward, an outcast who is seeking a new life and fresh start. After he undergoes facial reconstructive surgery, he becomes fixated on a man starring as him in a stage production based on his former life. Production took place in July in New York City and stars the international cast of Sebastian Stan, Renate Reinsve and Adam Pearson. While A24 have a glut of items, Aaron Schimberg’s third outing as a director could sneak into the comp. Producers include Killer Film’s Christine Vachon + Gabriel Mayers, Grand Motel Films’ Vanessa McDonnell, Jason Reif.
PREDICTION: U.S. Dramatic Competition.

A Thousand And One / U.S.A. (Director: A.V. Rockwell)
The film follows Inez, who kidnaps six-year-old Terry from the foster care system. Holding onto their secret and each other, mother and son set out to reclaim their home, as well as their identity and stability, in a rapidly changing New York City. Teyana Taylor toplines what could be major breakout perf of the fest. In the can for a good year, prior to filming her directorial debut, the singer-songwriter, actress, dancer, choreographer A.V. Rockwell attended both of the Directors and Screenwriters labs in 2019. Focus Features release this in March. Producers include Sight Unseen’s Eddie Vaisman + Julia Lebedev, Hillman Grad Productions’ Lena Waithe + Rishi Rajani, Makeready’s Brad Weston.

All Dirt Roads Taste Of Salt / U.S.A. (Director: Raven Jackson)
Toplined by Sheila Atim, this is a decades-spanning exploration of a woman’s life in Mississippi and an ode to the generations of people, places, and ineffable moments that shape us. Shot on film by cinematographer Jomo Fray (Selah and the Spades), Raven Jackson’s debut is an A24 project. Producers include Pastel’s Barry Jenkins + Adele Romanski, Maria Altamirano.
PREDICTION: U.S. Dramatic Competition.

At Midnight / U.S.A. (Director: Jonah Feingold)
Starring Diego Boneta in what is described as a rom-com that follows two people who have made the “safe” choice not to fall in love. Alejandro lives a predictable life that is going according to his well-thought-out plan. Grace is a movie star on the rise with an unreliable celebrity boyfriend. All this changes when fate brings them together. A surprising turn for Jonah Feingold who quickly hit paydirt after his Tribeca preemed Dating & New York, this is a Paramount Plus project that even includes Michel Franco as an executive producer. Producers include Three Amigos’ Diego Boneta, Teorema’s Eréndira Núñez Larios, Fred Berger, Josh Glick, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones.
PREDICTION: Premieres.

Beth and Don / U.S.A. (Director: Nicole Holofcener)
Pretty much home away from home, Nicole Holofcener would return to Sundance for the umpteenth time and tagging along again is Julia Louis-Dreyfus. This is about Beth – is a New York novelist in an unbelievably happy marriage to Don, who loves her and supports her in every way. One day, when Beth overhears him admitting that he hasn’t liked her writing in years, it threatens to undo all that’s good in their lives. Filmed in New York City in April, this stars Louis-Dreyfus, Tobias Menzies, Michaela Watkins, Arian Moayed, Owen Teague, Jeanne Berlin, Bill Camp and Elizabeth Marvel. Producers include Likely Story’s Anthony Bregman + Stefanie Azpiazu, Louis-Dreyfus and Holofcener.
PREDICTION: Premieres.

BlackBerry / Canada (Director: Matt Johnson)
This past summer, Operation Avalanche (Sundance preemed) director Matt Johnson took on biopic material for his third outing – and perfect Sundance splash material. The IFC Films pic stars Jay Baruchel, Glenn Howerton, Cary Elwes and Martin Donovan inn the the rise and fall of the once-ubiquitous device as its Canadian parent company Research in Motion floundered in legal disputes and eventually lost its market advantage to competitors such as Apple and Samsung. At the heart of the story is the business relationship between co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie. Producers include Rhombus Media’s Niv Fichman + Fraser Ash + Kevin Krikst, and Matthew Miller.

Bottoms / Canada (Director: Emma Seligman)
Coming off a mega-hit (remarkably even during pandemic times) Shiva Baby, Emma Seligman quickly got back into the director’s chair for her sophomore feature — one that follows two unpopular queer girls who start a fight club to have sex before their high school graduation. An Orion Pictures release, Seligman reteams with Rachel Sennott who co-writes and stars in the film. Production took place in New Orleans this past May. Brownstone Productions’ Max Handelman + Alison Small produce.

Cassandro / U.S.A. (Director: Roger Ross Williams)
Roger Ross Williams has a lot on his plate – and so it came as no surprise that we didn’t see Gael García Bernal in what will be a very special wrestling movie on the fest circuit in ’22. This is the true story of Saúl Armendáriz, a gay amateur wrestler from El Paso who rises to international stardom after he creates the “exotico” character Cassandro, the “Liberace of Lucha Libre,” and in the process upends not just the macho wrestling world but also his own life. An Amazon project, Escape Artists’ Todd Black, Motto Pictures’ Julie Goldman, Gerardo Gatica González, Ted Hope produced.
PREDICTION: Premieres.

Cat Person / U.S.A. (Director: Susanna Fogel)
A new project based on a New Yorker short story, Susanna Fogel‘s third feature as a director sees Nicholas Braun and Emilia Jones in a tale about horrors of dating. It tells the brief relationship between Margot, a twenty-year-old sophomore college student, and Robert, an older man who is a regular at the movie theater where Margot works. Michael Gandolfini, Hope Davis, Isabella Rossellini and Geraldine Viswanathan are part of the supporting cast in what was coined as a potential “Promising Young Woman”. This filmed in New York City in October of last year and is definitely ready for a prime time slot. Helen Estabrook and Jeremy Steckler produce.
PREDICTION: Premieres.

Cora Bora / U.S.A. (Director: Hannah Pearl Utt)
Making a splash with her directorial debut Before You Know It – (Sundance 2019), we could see Hannah Pearl Utt‘s sophomore film also break into the Park City fun. Featuring Ayden Mayeri, Manny Jacinto, Thomas Mann and Heather Morris, this follows Cora, who feels that her relationship is not going well. She goes back home to win her girlfriend back but she will realize that it’s much more than her love life that needs salvaging. Producers include Simon Horsman, Mallory Schwartz, Jeffrey Soros.
PREDICTION: Premieres.


Cuckoo / Germany (Director: Tilman Singer)
It’s a sophomore feature with little info to go on, but Tilman Singer did assemble quite the team for a horror project backed by the Neon folks. Production took place back in April (plus its on 35mm) with the likes of Hunter Schafer, Dan Stevens, Jessica Henwick, Marton Csókás, Jan Bluthardt, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey and Greta Fernández. Dated for a theatrical domestic release in Germany for September – it’s not impossible that it nabs an important spot at some international fest if this is not Park City material. Producers include Waypoint Entertainment’s Ken Kao + Josh Rosenbaum, Fiction Park’s Markus Halberschmidt + Maria Tsigka, Thor Bradwell, Ben Rimmer.

Drift / U.S.A. (Director: Anthony Chen)
Filmed this summer in Greece, Anthony Chen adapts the novel A Marker to Measure Drift for his debut English language project and he has major actress clout in Cynthia Erivo and Alia Shawkat who topline the project. This follows a young Liberian refugee named Jacqueline (Erivo) who has barely escaped her war-torn country to a Greek island. She offers massages to tourists in exchange for one or two euros to battle her hunger, while her daily struggle for survival keeps the memories that haunt her at bay. She meets an unmoored tour guide (Shawkat) and the two become close as they each find hope in the other. Producers include Edith’s Daughter’s Cynthia Erivo + Solome Williams, Giraffe Pictures’ Anthony Chen, Paradise City’s Emilie Georges and Cor Cordium’s Peter Spears.
PREDICTION: Premieres.

Earth Mama / U.S.A. (Director: Savannah Leaf)
It’s not everyday we talk about Olympians on this film related website, but Savannah Leaf shot her directorial debut over this past summer on an A24 backed project. Featuring Tia Nomore, Erika Alexander, Doechii, Sharon Duncan Brewster, Dominic Fike and Bokeem Woodbine, this tells the tale of Gia, a young mother reaching the end of her third pregnancy, struggles with the uncertain future of her unborn child, her other two children having already been taken from her by Child Protective Services. Cinematographer Jody Lee Lipes was part of the fold, and the producers include Academy Films’ Shirley O’Connor + Medb Riordan, Park Pictures’ Cody Ryder + Sam Bisbee.
PREDICTION: U.S. Dramatic Competition.


Eileen / U.S.A. (Director: William Oldroyd)
William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth had a wonderful release that began in Toronto, hitting San Sebastian, Zurich, London just before to its US premiere at Sundance. Oldroyd had a lot of projects to choose from but opted for, of all place, a New Jersey backdrop in an under-the-radar item featuring Thomasin McKenzie, Anne Hathaway, Shea Whigham and Marin Ireland. Cinematographer Ari Wegner was onboard the tale of Eileen (McKenzie) who is a peculiar young woman – aloof and unfazed by the gloomy nature of her job at the local youth prison. But something in her changes the day that the new counselor, Dr. Rebecca St. John (Hathaway) arrives. She is instantly captivated by Rebecca’s glamorous, enigmatic presence. Producers include Likely Story’s Anthony Bregman, Stefanie Azpiazu, Peter Cron, Omniscient Productions’ William Oldroyd, Luke Goebel, Ottessa Moshfegh.
PREDICTION: Premieres.

Empire Waist / U.S.A. (Director: Claire Ayoub)
With her directorial debut Claire Ayoub proposes a body-positive, coming-of-age dramedy featuring the likes of Mia Kapla, Rainn Wilson, Missi Pyle, Jemima Yevu and Jolene Purdy. A winner of the 2020 Cassian Elwes Independent Screenwriting Fellowship, production took place last September 2021 in New York. This follows a group of teens who overcome societal bias and through inclusive fashion design and friendship. Producers include Justin Baldoni, Andrew Calof and Crystal Collins.
PREDICTION: Premieres.

Explosions In The Heart / Norway (Director: Yenni Lee)
Music video and short film director Yenni Lee moved into her feature film debut in 2021 with Victoria Carmen Sonne and Silvana Imam sharing the lead. It follows a young woman who falls madly in love but then finds herself and the relationship put to the test on discovering that the object of her desire and devotion is polyamorous, someone who has multiple love affairs at the same time. Producers are Oslo Pictures’ Renée Mlodyszewski and Thomas Robsahm (they produced The Worst Person in the World).
PREDICTION: World Cinema Dramatic Competition.

F*cking Identical Twins / U.S.A. (Director: Larry Charles)
An A24, R-rated musical comedy based on a two-man stage show with a title you can’t forget, production on Borat helmer Larry Charles‘ latest took place all the way in February with the likes of Aaron Jackson, Josh Sharp, Nathan Lane, Megan Mullally, Bowen Yang and Megan Thee Stallion. It apparently puts a “subversive spin on “The Parent Trap.” This follows two business adversaries who realize they’re identical twin brothers. They decide to switch places in order to reunite their divorced parents and become a family again.
PREDICTION: Premieres.

Fancy Dance / U.S.A. (Director: Erica Tremblay)
Featuring Lily Gladstone as a hustler who, following the disappearance of her sister, kidnaps her niece (Isabel Deroy-Olson) from the child’s white grandparents and sets out for the state powwow in hopes of keeping what’s left of their family intact, production on Erica Tremblay‘s directorial debut took place sometime this summer in Cherokee Nation of Tulsa County, Oklahoma. Supported by the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, Directors Lab, Creative Producing Lab and Indigenous Intensive this was produced by Tremblay, Deidre Backs, Heather Rae, Significant Productions’ Nina Yang Bongiovi, Confluential Films’ Tommy Oliver.
PREDICTION: U.S. Dramatic Competition.

Flamin’ Hot / U.S.A. (Director: Eva Longoria)
If included, she would probably be among the rare directors (perhaps only) to premiere in back to back years of ’22 and ’23. Eva Longoria had her docu La Guerra Civil preem last January and she would be welcomed with this Searchlight Pictures comedy about yes, the junk food that turns fingers orange. Filmed in July of 2021 in Los Angeles, this is the story of Richard Montañez, the Frito Lay janitor who channeled his Mexican American heritage and upbringing to turn Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into a snack that disrupted the food industry and became a global phenomenon. Jesse Garcia toplines and these comedy bag includes Tony Shalhoub, Dennis Haysbert and Matt Walsh. DeVon Franklin produced the film.
PREDICTION: Premieres.

Frybread Face and Me / U.S.A. (Director: Billy Luther)
A Sundance alumni dating back to 2007’s docu Miss Navajo, Billy Luther might return to the fest with a project he first workshopped at the 2020 Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Labs before moving into production in July of last year. This is about two adolescent Navajo cousins from different worlds bond during a summer herding sheep on their grandmother’s ranch in Arizona while learning more about their family’s past and themselves. Chad Burris is the sole producer surrounded by an army of executive producers including Charles D. King, Bill Pohlad and Taika Waititi.
PREDICTION: U.S. Dramatic Competition.

Golda / U.S.A. (Director: Guy Nattiv)
A Bleecker Street project that was eyeing a late 2022 showing (now slated for a March release) might break into Sundance with a wrecking ball biopic portrait that focuses on the intensely dramatic and high-stakes responsibilities and decisions that Golda Meir, also known as the ‘Iron Lady of Israel’ faced during the Yom Kippur War. Helen Mirren toplines the project which also features Liev Schreiber and Camille Cottin. Guy Nattiv association with the fest dates back to 2003 with his short, Strangers which was then made into a feature and also presented at the fest in 2007. Producers here include Michael Kuhn and Jane Hooks.
PREDICTION: Premieres.

Hoard / United Kingdom (Director: Luna Carmoon)
A 2019 Sundance Ignite Fellow, production on Luna Carmoon began production on her directorial debutback in April. Enlisting the likes of Laura Lightfoot Leon, Joseph Quinn and Hayley Squires, this drama set in the 1980s and 90s focuses on the close bond between a mother and daughter. This was produced by Erebus Pictures’ Helen Simmons, Delaval Film’s Loran Dunn and Anti-Worlds’s Andy Starke.
PREDICTION: World Cinema Dramatic Competition.

I Saw the TV Glow / U.S.A. (Director: Jane Schoenbrun)
Jane Schoenbrun broke out big in the Sundance selected We’re All Going to the World’s Fair, and this past June she follows this up with A24 and a who’s who of talents from both the film and music seen. This follows two teenage outcasts who bond over their shared love of a scary television show, but the boundary between TV and reality begins to blur after it is mysteriously canceled. Justice Smith, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Helena Howard, Danielle Deadwyler, Amber Benson, Ian Foreman, Michael Maronna, Conner O’Malley, Emma Portner, Danny Tamberelli, Phoebe Bridgers, Lindsey Jordan, Fred Durst, Haley Dahl and Kristina Esfandiari star. Producers include Fruit Tree’s Emma Stone + Dave McCary + Ali Herting, Smudge Films’ Sam Intili, Sarah Winshall.
PREDICTION: U.S. Dramatic Competition.

I Used to Be Funny / Canada (Director: Ally Pankiw)
Formerly titled Brooke & Sam, with her feature debut, video (Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalea, Janelle Monae) and high end commercials director Ally Pankiw promises a comedy with some bite. Rachel Sennott toplines as Sam, a young stand-up comedian and au pair struggling with PTSD, who is weighing whether or not to join the search for Brooke, a missing girl she used to nanny. The story exists between the present, where Sam tries to recover from her trauma with the help of her friends in the comedy community, and the past, where memories of Brooke make it harder and harder to ignore the teen’s disappearance; and harder and harder to get back on stage. This also stars Olga Petsa and Jason Jones. Production took place in October of ’21. Producers include Barn 12’s James Weyman, Jason Aita, and Breann Smordin.
PREDICTION: World Cinema Dramatic Competition.

Ibelin / Norway (Director: Benjamin Ree)
Always difficult to calculate when the docs are ready, but we’re hoping that the The Painter and the Thief Norwegian helmer Benjamin Ree makes a return to the fest with a look at a young Norwegian man who died at the age of 25 from DMD (Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy), a rare genetic disorder that causes muscle degeneration. The film is named after the “World of Warcraft” avatar belonging to Mats Steen. Its package with what will be some heartbreaking elements. Producer Ingvil Giske rejoins Ree.
PREDICTION: World Cinema Documentary Competition.

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).

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