The 2020 Sun Valley Film Festival (SVFF),announced its honorees – Amy Poehler, Winston Duke, Eliza Hittman and Druyan along with the film line-up for its ninth annual event, taking place March 18-22, 2020. The festival will open on March 18 with a special presentation of the documentary RUTH – Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words with Oscar®-winning director and Sun Valley part-time resident, Freida Lee Mock attending, and close on March 22 with The Last Shift, director Andrew Cohn attending for Q&A following the screening.
Amy Poehler will receive a Vision Award, which is presented to an industry icon whose contributions to the art of entertainment have changed the industry for the better. She recently wrapped on directing her newest feature film called Moxie, which is based on Jennifer Mathieu’s feminist young adult novel and has multiple projects in the works as part of her successful production company Paper Kite Productions.
Actor Winston Duke will receive the SVFF Rising Star Award on Thursday, March 19, in recognition of his breakthrough talent in the film industry. His recent film Nine Days premiered at Sundance and will be a special screening at SVFF.
Award-winning filmmaker Eliza Hittman will receive the Pioneer Award, presented by Varietyon Friday, March 20, in recognition of her work as an industry innovator that embodies the trailblazing spirit. Her latest film Never Rarely Sometimes Always, starring Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder, premiered in the US Dramatic Competition section at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival where it received a special jury prize and will screen at the festival. Focus Features will release the film this spring.
Ann Druyan, creator of COSMOS, will receive the National Geographic Further Award on Saturday March 21, which recognizes a leader whose work is uniquely innovative, timely, and impactful – someone who has boldly pushed the boundaries of his or her field, and who serves as an outstanding ambassador for that breakthrough work.
FILM SLATE – NARRATIVE FEATURES
At a remote lake house in the Adirondack Mountains, a couple entertains an out-of-town guest looking for inspiration in her filmmaking. The group quickly falls into a calculated game of desire, manipulation, and jealousy, unaware of how dangerously convoluted their lives will soon become in the filmmaker’s pursuit of a work of art, which blurs the boundaries between autobiography and invention.
Writer/Director: Lawrence Michael Levine
Producers: Julie Christeas, Jonathan Blitstein, Richard J Bosner, Aubrey Plaza, Lawrence Michael Levine, Sophia Takal, Jai Khanna, Marina Grasic
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Abbott, Sarah Gadon
The seemingly separate lives of an anxious, disillusioned teen girl and a troubled, alienated man converge fatefully in this haunting exploration of womanhood, isolation, and toxic masculinity, set in 1980s Newfoundland.
Writer/Director: Nicole Dorsey
Producers: Mark O’Neill, Michael Solomon
Cast: Ella Ballentine, Ryan McDonald
* Filmmaker in Attendance – Nicole Dorsey
On the outskirts of Houston, a teen reeling from her mom’s incarceration and an aging bullfighter struggling to keep a foothold in the rodeo circuit, form an unlikely bond and attempt to right their own paths.
Director: Annie Silverstein
Writers: Annie Silverstein, Johnny McAllister
Producers: Monique Walton, Bert Marcus, Heather Rae, Ryan Zacarias, Audrey Rosenberg
Cast: Robert Morgan, Amber Havard
* Filmmakers in Attendance – Heather Rae, Monique Walton
DINNER IN AMERICA
An on-the-lam punk rocker and a young woman obsessed with his band unexpectedly fall in love and go on an epic journey together through America’s decaying Midwestern suburbs.
Writer/Director: Adam Carter Rehmeier
Producers: Ben Stiller, Nicholas Weinstock, Ross Putman, David Hunter, John Covert, Sam Slater
Cast: Kyle Gallner, Emily Skeggs, Griffin Gluck, Pat Healy, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Lea Thompson
* Filmmakers in Attendance – Adam Carter Rehmeier
THE LAST SHIFT – CLOSING NIGHT FILM
An aging fast-food worker most train his young new replacement before he can retirefrom 38 years of working the graveyard shift.
Writer/Director: Andrew Cohn
Producers: Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, Sam Bisbee, Alex Lipschultz, Bert Kern
Cast: Richard Jenkins, Shane Paul McGhie, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Birgundi Baker, Allison Tolman, Ed O’Neill
* Filmmakers in Attendance – Andrew Cohn
LINA FROM LIMA
The issue of migrant labour gets a winningly light touch in this musical comedy — and debut fiction film — from documentarian María Paz González, about a Peruvian woman working as a domestic helper for a wealthy Chilean family who prepares for a trip home to visit the son she left behind.
Writer/Director: María Paz González
Producers: Giancarlo Nasi, Maite Alberdi
Cast: Magaly Solier, Emilia Ossandón
MAKING SENSE – A Special Work-In-Progress Screening
An aging neuroscientist teams up with a group of young graduate students to prove his hypothesis that individuals with disabilities hold the key to unlocking a sixth sense before his past catches up with him.
Director: Gregory Bayne
Writers: Doug Cole, Gregory Bayne
Producers: Gregory Bayne, Doug Cole
Cast: Jessi Melton, Richard Klautsch, Miguel Ayala, Makenzie Ellsworth, Mike Barnett, Nyk Fry, Taylor Gonzalez
*Filmmakers in Attendance – Gregory Bayne, Doug Cole
Directed by Peter Cattaneo and starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan, MILITARY WIVES centers on a group of women in England whose partners are away serving in Afghanistan. Faced with the men’s absences, they form a choir and quickly find themselves at the center of a media sensation and global movement.
Director: Peter Cattaneo
Writers: Rosanne Flynn, Rachel Tunnard
Producers: Ben Pugh, Rory Aitken, Piers Tempest
Cast: Kristin Scott Thomas, Sharon Horgan, Jason Flemyng
NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS
Written and directed by Eliza Hittman, Never Rarely Sometimes Always is an intimate portrayal of two teenage girls in rural Pennsylvania. Faced with an unintended pregnancy and a lack of local support, Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) and her cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder) embark across state lines to New York City on a fraught journey of friendship, bravery and compassion.
Writer/Director: Eliza Hittman
Producers: Sarah Murphy, Adele Romansky
Cast: Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder, Théodore Pellerin, Ryan Eggold, Sharon Van Etten
* Filmmakers in Attendance – Eliza Hittman
NINE DAYS – Special Screening
In a house distant from the reality we know, a reclusive man interviews prospective candidates — personifications of human souls — for the privilege that he once had: to be born.
Writer/Director: Edson Oda
Producers: Jason Michael Berman, Mette-Marie Kongsved, Matthew Linder, Laura Tunstall, Datari Turner. Trevor Groth
Cast: Winston Duke, Zazie Beetz, Bill Skarsgard, Benedict Wong, Tony Hale, Arianna Ortiz, David Rysdahl
* Filmmakers in Attendance – Edson Oda, Winston Duke, Jason Berman, Trevor Groth
ONCE UPON A RIVER
After her father’s violent death, Native American teenager Margo Crane flees down Michigan’s Stark River in search of her estranged mother. On the way, she encounters allies, enemies, danger, and the beauty of nature, all while coming to grips with her past and her own identity. A Midwestern Gothic coming-of-age fable set along the riverbanks, Chicago musician-filmmaker Haroula Rose’s debut feature is an evocative marriage of Winter’s Bone and Huckleberry Finn.
Writer/Director/Producer: Haroula Rose
Executive Producers: Heather Rae, David Macias
Cast: Kenadi Delacerna, John Ashton, Tatanka Means, Lindsay Pulsipher, Ajuawak Kapashesit
* Filmmakers in Attendance – Haroula Rose
A teenage girl suddenly finds herself struggling to take care of herself and her younger brother.
Director: Sarah Gavron
Writer: Theresa Ikoko, Claire Wilson
Producer: Ameenah Ayub Allen, Faye Ward
Cast: Bukky Bakray, Kosar Ali, D’angelou Osei Kissiedu, Shaneigha-Monik Greyson, Ruby Stokes, Tawheda Begum, Anastasia Dymitrow, Afi Okaidja, Sarah Niles
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Determined to become the leader of the Dominion of Canada, a young W.L. Mackenzie King rises to power.
Writer/Director: Matthew Rankin
Producers: Gabrielle Tougas-Fréchette, Ménaïc Raoul
Cast: Dan Beirne, Sarianne Cormier, Mikhaïl Ahooja, Catherine St-Laurent, Seán Cullen, Trevor Anderson
FILM SLATE – DOCUMENTARY FEATURES
The sensational winner of the Grand Jury Prize for documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival is a wildly entertaining and continually revealing immersion into a week-long annual program in which a thousand Texas high school seniors gather for an elaborate mock exercise: building their own state government. Filmmakers Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine closely track the escalating tensions that arise within a particularly riveting gubernatorial race, training their cameras on unforgettable teenagers like Ben, a Reagan-loving arch-conservative who brims with confidence despite personal setbacks, and Steven, a progressive-minded child of Mexican immigrants who stands by his convictions amidst the sea of red. In the process, they have created a complex portrait of contemporary American masculinity, as well as a microcosm of our often-dispiriting national political divisions that nevertheless manages to plant seeds of hope. An Apple release.
Directors: Jesse Moss, Amanda McBaine
Producers: Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss
Executive Producers: Lauren Powell Jobs, Davis Guggenheim, Jonathan Silberberg, Nicole Stott
COSMOS: POSSIBLE WORLDS – “THE SEARCH FOR INTELLIGENT LIFE”
A hidden underground network – a collaboration of four kingdoms of life – is revealed. Explore a true first-contact story between humans and beings who communicate with a symbolic language and have maintained a representative democracy for tens of millions of years.
Director: Brannon Braga
Writers: Ann Druyan, Brannon Braga
Executive Producers: Seth MacFarlane, Jason Clark, Kara Vallow, Brannon Braga, Ann Druyan
Host: Neil deGrasse Tyson
* Filmmakers in Attendance – Ann Druyan
Told in the cinematic tradition of classic westerns, “COWBOYS – A Documentary Portrait” is a feature-length film that gives viewers the opportunity to ride alongside modern working cowboys on some of America’s largest and most remote cattle ranches. The movie documents the lives of the men and women working on these “big outfit” ranches – some of which are over one million acres – and still require full crews of horseback mounted workers to tend large herds of cattle.
Directors: Bud Force, John Langmore
Producers: Bud Force, John Langmore, Felicitas Funke, Jeffrey Brown
* Filmmakers in Attendance – Bud Force, Felicitas Funke
THE DONUT KING
The rise, fall, and rise again of a Cambodian refugee who escaped genocide and overcame poverty to build a life for himself — and hundreds of other immigrant families – by baking America’s favorite pastry and building an unlikely empire of donut shops. Everything you thought you knew about the donut begins with Ted Ngoy.
Director: Alice Gu
Writer: Carol Martori
Producer: José Nuñez
Executive Producers: Ridley Scott, Freida Lee Mock
* Filmmakers in Attendance – Alice Gu
A meticulous reconstruction of the 1979-1980 crisis, when Iranian revolutionaries held 52 American citizens hostage at the US Embassy in Tehran. What emerged was a secret rescue mission. Desert One chronicles that operation with details and archives that have never before been revealed. The crisis culminated in Carter’s landslide loss to Ronald Reagan in 1980.
Director: Barbara Kopple
Producers: Barbara Kopple, David Cassidy, Eric Forman
Executive Producers: Zachary Behr, Eli Lehrer
JANE GOODALL: THE HOPE
Jane Goodall: The Hope follows the inspirational activist and leader throughout her never-ending travels, capturing her relentless commitment and determination to spread a message of hope.
Directors: Elizabeth Leiter, Kim Woodward
LOST ON EVEREST – WORLD PREMIERE
On June 8, 1924, at just 800 vertical feet from the summit of Mount Everest, British explorers George Leigh Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine were swallowed by a storm cloud and never seen again. LOST ON EVEREST attempts to find Irvine’s remains and the camera he is believed to have carried that final day, as the film inside could rewrite history. Armed with a team of elite climbers who have new intel on the location of Irvine’s body, the daring special sets out to solve one of exploration’s greatest mysteries.
Director: Renan Ozturk
Producers: Drew Pulley, Aimee Tetreault
Executive Producer: Taylor Rees
* Filmmakers in Attendance – Renan Ozturk
MUCHO MUCHO AMOR
Every day for decades, extravagant Puerto Rican astrologer, psychic, and gender nonconforming legend Walter Mercado charmed the world with his televised horoscopes. Equal parts Oprah, Liberace, and Mr. Rogers, Walter reached over 120 million viewers at his peak, enthralling the Latin world with sequined capes, opulent jewelry and horoscopes that shared a message of love and hope to his devoted viewers. Then, he mysteriously disappeared.
Directors: Cristina Costantini & Kareem Tabsch
Producers: Cristina Costantini, Alex Fumero & Kareem Tabsch
Executive Producers: Darren Foster, Lisa Leingang, Mona Panchal & Jeffrey Plunkett
* Filmmakers in Attendance – Jeffrey Plunkett
OUR GORONGOSA, A PARK FOR THE PEOPLE
Our Gorongosa, it’s a story of an African park in Mozambique that recognized that to thrive in today’s world, protecting the animals is only half the battle. Gorongosa National Park is working towards empowering communities with a focus on women to lift them out of poverty and achieve their full potential. This is a new vision for conservation in the 21st Century, where people and animals must coexist, to the benefit of them all.
Narrator: Dominique Gonçalves
Writers: James Byrne, Gráinne Keegan, Carla Rebai, Jared Lipworth
Producers: James Byrne, Sean B. Carroll, Jared Lipworth
Executive Producers: James Byrne, Gráinne Keegan, Carla Rebai
* Filmmakers in Attendance – Greg Carr
On the morning of Nov. 8, 2018, a devastating firestorm engulfed the picturesque city of Paradise, California. By the time the Camp Fire was extinguished, it had killed 85 people, displaced 50,000 residents and destroyed 95% of local structures. It was the deadliest U.S. fire in 100 years -and the worst ever in California’s history. In REBUILDING PARADISE, Academy Award winning director RON HOWARD led a filmmaking team to the city and would go on to spend a year with Paradise residents, documenting their efforts to recover what was lost. The Camp Fire and its overwhelming aftermath became a de facto lesson in what we all must do: protect our environment, help our neighbors, plan for future dangers and remember to preserve the traditions that unite us.
Director: Ron Howard
Producers: Brian Grazer, Sara Bernstein, Justin Wilkes, Xan Parker, Lizz Morhain
Executive Producers: Carolyn Bernstein, Ryan Harrington
* Filmmakers in Attendance – Justin Wilkes
A Special Presentation of “RUTH – JUSTICE GINSBURG IN HER OWN WORDS” – OPENING NIGHT FILM
The film tells the improbable story of how Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who couldn’t get a job despite tying first in her graduating law class and making Law Review at Harvard and Columbia Law Schools, became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. It also reveals both the public and private sides of a resilient, resourceful woman who has survived the hostility of the profoundly male universe of government and law to become a revered Justice and icon for gender equality and women’s rights.
Director/Producer: Freida Lee Mock
Writers: Freida Lee Mock, Mike Aguilar
Executive Producers: Geralyn Dreyfous, Regina K. Scully, Barbara Dobkin, Sandra Lee, Danielle Mark, Cara Kennedy-Cuomo
Associate Producer: Meghan Hooper
* Filmmakers in Attendance – Freida Lee Mock, Lili Haydn
TRAFFICKED WITH MARIANA VAN ZELLER – WORLD PREMIERE
Mariana van Zeller embarks on a harrowing road trip from Los Angeles to Sinaloa, Mexico to uncover how a lethal supply chain of American firearms is arming the cartels and fueling violence throughout Mexico.
Director: Eric Strauss
Correspondent: Mariana Van Zeller
Producers: Rodrigo Gonzales, Eric Strauss
Executive Producers: Jeffrey Plunkett, Darren Foster, Ben Selkow, Mariana Van Zeller
* Filmmakers in Attendance – Mariana Van Zeller, Jeffrey Plunkett
WE ARE AS GODS
“We are as gods and might as well get good at it,” Stewart Brand wrote in ‘68. The legendary pioneer of LSD, cyberspace, futurism, and modern environmentalism now urges people to use our god-like powers to fight extinction by reviving lost species.
Directors: David Alvarado & Jason Sussberg
Composer: Brian Eno
* Filmmakers in Attendance – David Alvarado
FOR WALTER AND JOSIAH
A small native community in rural Montana experienced a cluster suicide epidemic (22 suicides in a single year) – two of these deaths were members on the same basketball team, Walter and Josiah.
Director: Jamie Elias
Producer: Trent Cooper
Executive Producers: Kristen Klabin, Alex Klabin
Co-Producers: Jamie Elias, Addison Neville
* Filmmakers in Attendance – Jamie Elias
Soaring above the chaotic spectacle of ‘80s and ‘90s Los Angeles, a young couple revolutionized breaking news with their brazen helicopter reporting. Culled from this news duo’s sprawling video archive, WHIRLYBIRD is a poignant L.A. story of a family in turbulence hovering over a city unhinged.
Director: Matt Yoka
Producer: Diane Becker
Featuring: Zoey Tur, Marika Gerrard, Katy Tur & James Tur
Composer: Ty Segall
* Filmmakers in Attendance – Matt Yoka