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2023 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Cronenberg, Bynum, Trengove, Alaoui, Song

In the second portion of our Sundance prognostications, we find Sundance alumni whether it be short film filmmakers vying for a spot for their feature or those who have presented the long form in the past. Infinity Pool / Canada (Director: Brandon Cronenberg) Production was completed way back in September of 2021 and we recently heard the Neon are indeed prepping the film for its eventual release. Seeing that Sundance preemed Possessor (2020), there is a better than average chance that Brandon Cronenberg returns to the fest with a portrait of James (Alexander Skarsgård) and Em (Cleopatra Coleman) --- they are young, rich, in love, and on vacation. Their all-inclusive resort boasts island tours and gleaming beaches. But outside of the hotel gates waits something much more dangerous and seductive, beyond the edge of paradise. Producers include Karen Harnisch, Andrew Cividino, Noah Segal, Christina Piovesan and Rob Cotterill. PREDICTION: Midnight. Jamojaya / U.S.A. (Director: Justin Chon) After premiering his last film on the Croisette's Un Certain Regard section (Blue Bayou), 2023 could be a homecoming for Gook director Justin Chon. A project that shot in August of 2021 in Hawaii, this music drama follows a rapper with a rising career, who hires a U.S manager and label, taking over from his father who has steered it to date. Rapper Rich Brian toplines the project produced by Peter Luo and Chris Lee. PREDICTION: Premieres. Joika / New Zealand (Director: James Napier Robertson) Diane Kruger and Talia Ryder tag-team in a tale about elite American ballet dancer Joy Womack (Ryder). Kruger will play her tough but inspirational mentor Volkova, a former ballet dancer and the head of the Bolshoi’s training academy. Production on James Napier Robertson's fourth feature film in February in Poland. Producers include Four Knights Film's Napier Robertson and Tom Hern, Madants’ Klaudia Smieja-Rostworowska, Belindalee Hope and Paul Green. PREDICTION: World Cinema Dramatic Competition. Jules / U.S.A. (Director: Marc Turtletaub) Veteran indie producer, Sundance alumni and now Gods Behaving Badly and Puzzle director Marc Turtletaub landed Ben Kingsley, Jane Curtin, Harriet Harris and Zoë Winters for the tale about an unusual and unexpected visitor who brings together several people living in a small city in rural Western Pennsylvania. Producers include Debbie Liebling, Andy Daly, Michael B. Clark, Alex and Marc Turtletaub. PREDICTION: Premieres. Late Bloomers / U.S.A. (Director: Lisa Steen) Supported by Sundance via the 2020 Creative Producing Lab Fellows, production on Lisa Steen's directorial debut went into production this past summer in Brooklyn with Karen Gillan toplining and leading Margaret Sophie Stein, Jermaine Fowler, Kevin Nealon and Talia Balsam. This centers on Louise (Gillan), an aimless millennial who drunkenly breaks her hip, landing her in physical therapy. There, she makes an elderly Polish BFF (Stein) who speaks no English. And it’s this unlikely friendship that gives her the courage to face what she’s been running from all along: Her mother’s early-onset Alzheimer’s. Steen's short films Sundowners and Stepdaddy both preemed in Park City. This is produced by We’re Doin’ Great's Alexandra Barreto and Park Pictures' Taylor Feltner. PREDICTION: U.S. Dramatic Competition. Lilly / U.S.A. (Director: Rachel Feldman) With production taking place in October of '21 we got a definite finished project in our hands in this feature debut. Josh Lucas, Patricia Clarkson, Thomas Sadoski joined in the biopic of Lilly Ledbetter, the Alabama woman for whom President Obama named his first piece of legislation—The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act of 2009—the film explores the psychological cost of putting one’s life on the line for justice. At the heart of the social justice drama is a love story between Lilly (Clarkson) and her husband Charles (Lucas), a man who stood by his wife despite life-threatening challenges and significant family strife. Rachel Feldman is a veteran director working in television since the 90s. Producers include a mini army in Feldman, Kelly E. Ashton, Kerianne Flynn, J. Todd Harris, Julie Kaufman, Jyoti Sarda, Christine Schwarzman. PREDICTION: Premieres. Little Brother / U.S.A. (Director: Sheridan O’Donnell) For his directorial debut, Sheridan O'Donnell the familiar backdrop of New Mexico for a tale staring Philip Ettinger, Daniel Diemer and JK Simmons - this follows Jake (Diemer), as he drives his older brother Pete (Ettinger), home for a family intervention after his most recent suicide attempt. Production took place in August of 2021. O'Donnell, Made By Limbo's Chris Dodds and Inspirado's Keagan Karnes, Circa 1888's Dylan Matlock, Brent Morris and J.P. Ouellette produce. PREDICTION: NEXT. Magazine Dreams / U.S.A. (Director: Elijah Bynum) Production on Elijah Bynum's sophomore film began in May of this year in Los Angeles with the likes of Taylour Paige, Haley Bennett and Jonathan Majors. A 2020 Black List ranked screenplay, this takes place in the world of bodybuilding and tells the tale of an amateur bodybuilder who struggles to find human connection in this exploration of celebrity and violence. Producers include Jennifer Fox, Dan Gilroy, Jeffrey Soros and Simon Horsman. PREDICTION: U.S. Dramatic Competition. Maggie Moore(s) / U.S.A. (Director: John Slattery) Shot in October of last year, actor turned director John Slattery (who saw his debut God's Pocket premiere at Sundance in 2014) lassoed Mad Men fellow actor Jon Hamm along with Tina Fey for a tale that takes place in a dusty desert town where nothing ever happens, as a police chief is suddenly faced with the back-to-back murders of two women with the same name. Slattery produced with Cary Woods, Vincent Newman, Dan Reardon and Santosh Govindaraju. PREDICTION: Premieres. Manodrome / U.S.A. (Director: John Trengove) John Trengove made a splash in Park City back in 2017 with The Wound and we wouldn't be surprised if he makes his return there with his sophomore feature and actors Jesse Eisenberg, Adrien Brody, and Riley Keough in tow. The acquisitions friendly title is the South African director’s English-language debut and is pitched as a nihilistic thriller that follows Ralphie (Eisenberg), an Uber driver and aspiring bodybuilder who is inducted into a libertarian masculinity cult and loses his grip on reality when his repressed desires are awakened. Producers include Felix Culpa's Riley Keough + Gina Gammell + Ryan Zacarias, Rainmaker Entertainment's Ben Giladi. PREDICTION: Premieres. Marmalade / U.S.A. (Director: Keir O’Donnell) If rushed (production took place during the summer), Keir O’Donnell -- an actor turned director for this heist romantic drama feature debut starring Joe Keery, Camila Morrone, Aldis Hodge could make the finish line. This follows a man in jail who narrates the colorful tale of a romantic bank heist to his cunning cellmate to escape and reunite with the alluring love of his life. Cinematographer Polly Morgan is in the mix here. Producers include Tea Shop Productions’ James Harris + Mark Lane, Signature Films' Sarah Gabriel + Marc Goldberg, Jason Shapiro. PREDICTION: NEXT. Matria / Spain (Director: Alvaro Gago) For his directorial debut, Alvaro Gago might make the journey back to Park City - the lieu where his 2018 short on which this is based on won the Grand Jury Prize. Filming took place at the beginning of the year - it is set in a coastal town and shows how Ramona (María Vázquez), who in the short hardly exchanges a word with her husband, but manages her household and her job – a punishing daily routine – and yet still manages to have a life . afforded by her relationship with her daughter and grandchild which endow her with some emotional dignity. PREDICTION: World Cinema Dramatic Competition. Mother's Milk / U.S.A. (Director: Miles Joris-Peyrafitte) Nope it's not a biopic on RHCP, but perhaps Miles Joris-Peyrafitte returning to the fest that put the spotlight on his 2016 debut As You Are. For his third feature he enlists Olivia Cooke, Jack Reynor and Hilary Swank for a tale about a journalist who, after the murder of her estranged son, forms an unlikely alliance with his pregnant girlfriend to track down those responsible for his death. Together, they confront a world of drugs and corruption. Producers include Siena Oberman, Shaun Sanghani, Emma Tillinger Koskoff. PREDICTION: Premieres. Next Goal Wins / U.S.A. (Director: Taika Waititi) A perennial favorite of the festival we couldn't quit understand why Taika Waititi's latest was MIA but we came to understand that there was a professional overlap and a bit of erasing involved. Searchlight will put the film out in April. This follows the infamously terrible American Samoa soccer team, known for a brutal 2001 FIFA match they lost 31-0. Michael Fassbender, Elisabeth Moss, Kaimana, Rachel House, Rhys Darby and Will Arnett. Production took place in November of 2019 and it’s based on a 2014 documentary of the same name by Mike Brett and Steve Jamison. Producers include Garrett Basch, Jonathan Cavendish, Taika Waititi. PREDICTION: Premieres. Paint / U.S.A. (Director: Brit McAdams) An IFC Films pick-up that appeared a little out of nowhere, the Blacklist ranked screenplay also directed by Brit McAdams features Owen Wilson in the role of Carl Nagle, Vermont’s No. 1 public television painter who is convinced he has it all: a signature perm, custom van, and fans hanging on his every stroke… until a younger, better artist steals everything (and everyone) Carl loves. Peter Brant and Sam Maydew produce. PREDICTION: U.S. Dramatic Competition. Parmi Nous (Among Us) / Morocco (Director: Sofia Alaoui) Sofia Alaoui broke out big at Sundance in 2019 with her short Qu'importe si les bêtes meurent winning the biggest prize of it all. We were expecting her feature debut to premiere this past year but this is likely going to Park City and/or Berlin. This revolves around 22-year-old Itto, a newlywed who’s living with her husband at her in-laws’ home while pregnant. As her pregnancy nears its end, a supernatural event turns their daily lives upside down. Oumaïma Barid, Mehdi Dehbi, Fouad Oughaou and Souad Khouyi star. Thomas Carillon produces. PREDICTION: World Cinema Dramatic Competition. Past Lives / U.S.A. (Director: Celine Song) An A24 project that went into production in late 2021, Celine Song's directorial debut features Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, and John Magaro. This is about Nora and Hae Sung, two deeply connected childhood friends, are wrestled apart after Nora's family emigrates from South Korea. 20 years later, they are reunited for one fateful week as they confront notions of love and destiny. Producers 2AM's David Hinojosa, Killer Films' Christine Vachon + Pamela Koffler are onboard. PREDICTION: U.S. Dramatic Competition. Polite Society / United Kingdom (Director: Nida Manzoor) The creator behind the We Are Lady Parts moved into her feature film debut with the London shot, action comedy. Priya Kansara toplines as Ria - she witnesses her big sister Lena give up on her dreams by dropping out of art school and getting engaged, Ria’s world is shaken. She believes she must save her sister from the shackles of marriage in the only way she knows how, by enlisting the help of her friends and attempting to pull off the most ambitious of all wedding heists in the name of freedom and sisterhood. Nida Manzoor was just named as one of Variety's 10 Directors to Watch for 2023, this will be distributed by Focus in April. Producers include Working Title’s Tim Bevan + Eric Fellner, Parkville Pictures’ Olivier Kaempfer. PREDICTION: Premieres. Providence / U.S.A. (Director: Potsy Ponciroli) For his third outing, Potsy Ponciroli (who was feted in Venice with his last picture Old Henry landed an ensemble that includes Lily James, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tim Blake Nelson, Traci Lords, Himesh Patel, Joey Lauren Adams, Simon Rex, Uzo Aduba, Jim Gaffigan and Nina Arianda. This follows the residents of a small island town who must navigate a sensational murder and the discovery of a million dollars, a series of increasingly bad decisions upend the once peaceful community. Production took place in May in North Caroline. Producers include David Boies, Kevin M. Brennan, Hideout Pictures' Shannon Houchins, Chris Parker, Zack Schiller, Dylan Sellers. PREDICTION: Premieres. Robots / U.S.A. (Director: Ant Hines / Casper Christensen) We thought this had a chance last year, but a bit more work was required for a project by the co-directing team comprised of Ant Hines (best known for writing Sacha Baron Cohen’s feature film projects) and Casper Christensen (2010’s Klown). Production took place in August of last year in New Mexico with Shailene Woodley and Jack Whitehall in double perfs. Set in a near future America and follows a womanizer, Charles and a gold digger, Elaine, who trick people into relationships with illegal robot doubles of themselves. When they unwittingly use this scam on each other, their robot doubles fall in love and elope, forcing Charles and Elaine to team up to hunt them down before the authorities discover their secret. Producers include Company Films’ Cassian Elwes and and Stephen Hamel. PREDICTION: Midnight. , Scrapper / United Kingdom (Director: Charlotte Regan) A Sundance Ignite Fellow who showcased her short Fry-Up at the fest in 2018, for her directorial debut, Charlotte Regan uses a dramedy with magical realist twist template which follows Georgie, a dreamy 12-year-old girl, lives happily alone in her London flat, filling it with magic. Suddenly, her estranged father turns up and forces her to confront reality. Lola Campbell, Alin Uzun and Harris Dickinson star. Theo Barrowclough produces. PREDICTION: World Cinema Dramatic Competition. September 17th / U.S.A. (Director: Brittany Snow) Actress Brittany Snow moves behind the camera for her directorial debut with Courtney Eaton (her big screen debut was in Mad Max: Fury Road) toplining as Riley, who has been released from rehab after struggling with her addictions to food and body image. She will meet Ethan and finds herself navigating the line between love and a new addiction. Thomas Mann, Kid Cudi, Francesca Reale, Gina Rodriguez, Joel McHale, Kathryn Gallagher, Jennifer Westfeldt complete the cast. Production took place in June. Producers include Yale Entertainment's Jordan Yale Levine + Jordan Beckerman, The Space Program's Lizzie Shapiro. PREDICTION: Midnight. Sharper / U.S.A. (Director: Benjamin Caron) For his directorial debut, Benjamin Caron worked from a Black List ranked screenplay was flanked by thesps Julianne Moore, Sebastian Stan, Justice Smith and Briana Middleton for this A24/Apple project that will receive its theatrical launch in February of next year. Production began in September of 2021, this follows a con artist, played by Moore, set in the world of Manhattan’s billionaire echelon. Producers include Moore and hubby Bart Freundlich, Brian Gatewood, Alessandro Tanaka, Erik Feig and Picturestart's Jessica Switch. PREDICTION: Premieres. She Came To Me / U.S.A. (Director: Rebecca Miller) It should be a big 2023 for Prod co. Killer Films and actress Anne Hathaway especially with the long awaited return of Rebecca Miller as her last trip behind the camera in fiction form was Maggie's Plan. Her latest was filmed in New York City in the autumn of 2021 with the likes Tahar Rahim, Marisa Tomei, Joanna Kulig and Matthew Broderick. This follows a composer suffering from writer’s block who rediscovers his passion after an adventurous one-night stand, a couple of gifted teenagers who fight to prove to the parents that their young love is something that can last forever, and a woman who seemingly has it all for whom love arrives in the most unexpected places. PREDICTION: Premieres. Sometimes I Think About Dying / U.S.A. (Director: Rachel Lambert) Based on the Sundance short of 2019 (directed by Stefanie Abel Horowitz) and the play Killers written by Kevin Armento, Rachel Lambert plunged into third feature film outing which went into production late in 2021 in Oregon. With Daisy Ridley toplining and Dave Merheje, Meg Stalter, Bree Elrod, Brittany O’Grady and Parvesh Cheena supporting, this follows Fran who likes to think about dying. It brings sensation to her quiet life. When she makes the new guy at work laugh, it leads to more: a date, a slice of pie, a conversation, a spark. The only thing standing in their way is Fran herself. Producers include Ridley, fifty-four pictures' Alex Saks, Dori Rath, Lauren Beveridge and Brett Beveridge. PREDICTION: U.S. Dramatic Competition.

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