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2023 Sundance Film Festival

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2023 Sundance: Leaf’s Earth Mama, Song’s Past Lives & Gavin’s Beyond Utopia Added to Line-up

2023 Sundance: Leaf’s Earth Mama, Song’s Past Lives & Gavin’s Beyond Utopia Added to Line-up

In a usual move, the 2023 Sundance Film Festival with have what they call Encore Special Screenings – giving four recent award-winning films one extra in-person showcase (one that they did not receive during pandemic). CODA, Klondike, Navalny, Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) will be presented in Park City with post-screening Q&A’s. But the five major additions to the line-up include a pair that we had high up in our predictions. Savanah Leaf’s Earth Mama and Celine Song’s Past Lives are acquisition-friendly directorial debuts titles that will be featured in non-competitive categories – we guess it was up to the producers to figure out whether they wanted the films to debut their film festival life in the manner. One docu item has been added to the U.S. Documentary Comp – and if history serves us right it’s usually a big deal title. Madeleine Gavin’s Beyond Utopia might just be that title. John Carney and Peter Nicks return to Park City with their more recent works – we got  Flora and Son and docu Stephen Curry: Underrated (produced by Fruitvale’s Ryan Coogler) inserted in the Premieres and Special Screenings sections. At this point this is the entire programme for 2023 – unless they add a Secret Screening.

Beyond Utopia / U.S.A. (Director: Madeleine Gavin, Producers: Jana Edelbaum, Rachel Cohen, Sue Mi Terry) — Hidden camera footage augments this perilous high-stakes journey as we embed with families attempting to escape oppression, ultimately revealing a world most of us have never seen. World Premiere. Available online.

Earth Mama / U.S.A (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Savanah Leaf, Producers: Cody Ryder, Shirley O’Connor, Medb Riordan, Sam Bisbee) — A pregnant single mother with two children in foster care embraces her Bay Area community as she fights to reclaim her family. Cast: Tia Nomore, Erika Alexander, Doechii, Sharon Duncan Brewster, Dominic Fike, Bokeem Woodbine. World Premiere. Fiction.

Flora and Son / U.S.A, Ireland (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: John Carney, Producers: Anthony Bregman, Peter Cron, Rebecca O’Flanagan, Robert Walpole) — Single mom Flora is at war with her teenage son, petty thief Max. Encouraged by the police to find Max a hobby, she rescues a beat-up guitar from a dumpster and finds that one person’s trash can be a family’s salvation. Cast: Eve Hewson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Orén Kinlan, Jack Reynor. World Premiere. Fiction.

Past Lives / U.S.A (Director and Screenwriter: Celine Song, Producers: Christine Vachon, Pamela Koffler, David Hinojosa) — Nora and Hae Sung, two deeply connected childhood friends, are wrest apart after Nora’s family emigrates from South Korea. Two decades later, they are reunited in New York for one fateful week as they confront notions of destiny and love, and the choices that make a life. Cast: Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, John Magaro. World Premiere. Fiction.

Stephen Curry: Underrated / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Peter Nicks, Producers: Ryan Coogler, Erick Peyton) — Stephen Curry is one of the most influential, dynamic, and unexpected players in the history of basketball. Intimate cinematic video, archival footage, and on-camera interviews reveal Curry’s rise from an undersized college player to a four-time NBA champion. World Premiere. Documentary.

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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