Gal Gadot, Ethan Hawke and Shaka King to be honored at 10th Sun Valley Film Festival
(l to r) Gal Gadot, Ethan Hawke and Shaka King to be honored at 10th Sun Valley Film Festival

The 2021 Sun Valley Film Festival (SVFF) announced the film lineup for its 10th annual event, SVFF Streaming, an all-virtual festival taking place April 14-18. SVFF celebrates the art of storytelling with a curated slate of films, moderated Q&As featuring emerging voices and inspiring visionaries, Sun Valley Screenwriters Lab, Future Filmmakers Forum and the return of the Ford Producers Grant with its $25,000 grand prize.

At the festival actors Gal Gadot and Ethan Hawke will both virtually receive Vision Awards, and Judas and the Black Messiah director and producer Shaka King will receive the Pioneer Award, presented by Variety. All three will participate in separate virtual Coffee Talks.

Additionally, Brian Skerry, renowned National Geographic Explorer and Photographer featured in the Disney+ original series Secrets of the Whales, will receive the National Geographic FURTHER AWARD.

2021 Sun Valley Film Festival Film Lineup


SVFF continues to be distinguished by compelling and unique films, a dozen of which this year were helmed by female directors, including many first-timers. SVFF 2021 will include the following films:

Stranded in a small village during Earth’s final days, a man seeks solace in the brief human connections he encounters.Writer, Director, Producer: Mylissa Fitzsimmons
Producers: Þórunn Guðjónsdóttir, Brenden Hubbard, Carolina Salas Munoz

On the last day on earth, one woman (Zoe Lister-Jones) goes on a journey through LA to make it to her last party before the world ends, running into an eclectic cast of characters along the way.
Writers, Directors, Producers: Zoe Lister-Jones, Daryl Wein
Cast: Helen Hunt, Zoe Lister-Jones, Nick Kroll, Lamorne Morris, Olivia Wilde, Finn Wolfhard

A teenage delinquent (Miya Cech) befriends a surly magician (Rhea Perlman) who helps her navigate her inner demons and dysfunctional family with sleight of hand magic. A coming of age comedy that touches on unlikely friendships, grief, and finding hope in the darkest moments.Writer, Director: Kate TsangProducer: Carolyn MaoCo-Producers: Allison Avery Jordan, Christa BoariniCast: Rhea Perlman, Miya Cech

A decade after abruptly breaking up with Naomi, Kris invites her to dinner to catch-up on their complicated lives, relationships, and Kris’ transition. Over the course of a one night encounter, they engage in a series of increasingly intimate and vulnerable conversations, before a shocking revelation is unveiled.
Writer, Director, Producer: Mari Walker
Producers: Matt Miller, Mari Walker, Mia Schulman, Kristen Uno
Co-Producer: Prabhu KTCast: Pooya Mohseni, Lynn Chen.

On the run, Marian returns to her hometown to hide out with her identical twin sister, Vivian, and in doing so alters the trajectory of both their lives.
Writer, Director: Erin Vassilopoulos
Producers: Grant Curatola, Ben Cohen, Patrick Donovan
Cast: Alessandra Mesa, Ani Mesa

In 1960’s San Francisco, a once-promising catholic school girl, Celina Guerrera (Lorenza Izzo), sets out to rise above the oppression of poverty and invest in a future for herself that sets new precedents for the time. Inspired by real women and the Janis Joplin song of the same title.
Writer, Director: Lissette Feliciano
Producer: Andrea Chung
Cast: Lorenza Izzo


IMPACT with Gal Gadot
Executive produced by Gal Gadot, this television documentary short series spotlights young women around the world who overcome obstacles and do extraordinary things: from a figure skating coach in Detroit who helps young girls of color on and off the ice, to a California woman who runs a surf therapy program. Premiering on April 26 on National Geographic’s You Tube channel.
Series Director, Executive Producer: Vanessa Roth
Executive Producers: Gal Gadot, Jason Varsano, Vanessa Roth, Ryan Pallotta, Tara Long, Eric Levin

Helmed by first-time director Jasmine Stodel, this is a funny, irreverent and impactful doc about Hayden Pedigo, a 24-year-old experimental musician whose viral videos for fake City Council campaigns in Amarillo inspired him to take action and actually run, showing that young people are stepping up to make a difference in their communities.
Director, Producer: Jasmine Stodel
Producers: Will Dorrien-Smith, Chevis LaBelle

Playing for Keeps examines the importance of play and downtime for all of us – children, adults, seniors, and animals. It is a tapestry of interwoven characters that takes a look at the science behind and health benefits of the play state as well as its recent decline in our lives. It shows us that staying playful is a powerful aspect of a happy life.
Director: Jamie Redford
Producer: Karen Pritzker

From National Geographic Documentary Films comes the incredible story of pioneering Australian scuba diver and conservationist Valerie Taylor, who has dedicated her life to exposing the myth surrounding our fear of sharks and whose footage has been featured in such trailblazing films as Jaws.
Writer, Director: Sally Aitken
Producer: Bettina Dalton

Opening last year’s Sun Valley Film Festival – and back by popular demand! – is this still-timely documentary about the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose improbable rise to the highest court in the land revealed a resilient, resourceful woman who remains an 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

Alternately humorous and touching, SEARCHERS draws on encounters with a diverse set of New Yorkers as they navigate their preferred dating apps, searching for their special someone.
Director, Producer: Pacho Velez
Producers: Cathy Tankosic, Joe Poletto, Sam Roseme

SECRETS OF THE WHALES (Special Screening)
Disney+ original series Secrets of the Whales, from National Geographic, plunges viewers deep within the epicenter of whale culture to experience the extraordinary communication skills and intricate social structures of five different whale species: orcas, humpbacks, belugas, narwhals and sperm whales. Filmed over three years in 24 locations, throughout this epic journey narrated by Sigourney Weaver, we learn that whales are far more complex and more like us than ever imagined.
Director: Brian Armstrong, Andy Mitchell
Executive Producers: James Cameron, Brian Armstrong, Maria Wilhelm, Shannon Malone-deBenedictis

An ode to the rivalry between men and nature, Taming the Garden is the story of how a powerful man indulges in an unusual hobby by having century-old trees uprooted in communities along the Georgian coast and transplanted to his private garden.
Writer, Director, Producer: Salomé Jashi
Producers: Vadim Jendreyko, Martin Roelly, Erik Winkler

In a universe where cool kids are nerds, the orchestra is world class and being Asian American is the norm, seniors at Lowell High School compete for the top prize: admission to the college of their dreams.
Director, Producer: Debbie Lum
Producers: Nico Opper, Lou Nakasako
Story Consultant: Spencer Nakasako
Co-Producer: Amy Ferraris

“WE ARE AS GODS and might as well get good at it” Stewart Brand wrote in ‘68. A 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, but his former allies in the environmental movement vow to stand in his way.
Directors, Producers: David Alvarado, Jason Sussberg
Composer: Brian Eno

SVFF is renowned for its innovative programming which provides opportunities for support and mentorship of up-and-coming filmmakers. Returning for its second year is the Ford Producers Grant, which continues to showcase Ford’s longstanding commitment to emerging behind-the-camera talent. Three finalists will earn the opportunity to pitch their film to a panel of award-winning producers. All finalists will receive an All-Access streaming pass to this year’s festival; one will win the $25,000 Ford Producer’s Grant to take their project one big step closer to reality. The event will be hosted by filmmaker Alice Gu (The Donut King) and the winner will be announced live at the end of the event.

The popular Sun Valley Screenwriters Lab will also return for SVFF 2021, with Bradley Thomas (producer The Mule and All the Money in the World) as judge and mentor of the High Scribe screenwriting contest. The High Scribe honors an emerging voice in screenwriting and this year will include a virtual mentorship for all three finalists.

The Future Filmmakers Forum provides a chance for students, 18 years old and under, to submit their films for judging in a real festival environment, albeit virtual this year. The SVFF 2021 Future Filmmakers Forum, headed up by John, Jack and Will Nordstrom, will present its Hot Shot Award to a promising, young filmmaker. “Great storytelling prevails! We are very impressed with the films that have been submitted to FFF 2021,” said John Nordstrom.

“Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the Sun Valley Film Festival remains a vibrant forum for showcasing the works of outstanding and diverse filmmakers and documentarians. More than half of our film line-up highlights the work of female filmmakers and we welcome audiences to stream our curated slate of films during our tenth anniversary. We are also excited to celebrate Gal Gadot, Ethan Hawke and Shaka King with awards and as part of our Coffee Talk series. We look forward to returning to a live format in 2022,” said Festival Directors Teddy Grennan and Candice Pate.

With an All Access Pass for $150, attendees can stream everything the festival has to offer from the safety and comfort of their own homes April 14-18.

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