The 12th annual Sun Valley Film Festival (SVFF) runs from March 29-April 2, 2023, screening 19 narrative and documentary features including the opening night film Fancy Dance and closing night film Surrounded.
This year’s award honorees include Josh Brolin, who will receive the Vision Award, and Sophie Thatcher who is the recipient of the Rising Star Award.
Sun Valley Film Festival will open with Fancy Dance, directed by Erica Tremblay and produced by Deidre Backs, Erica Tremblay, Heather Rae, Tommy Oliver and Nina Yang Bongiovi, who will receive the Variety Creative Impact in Producing Award. Following her sister’s disappearance, a Native American hustler kidnaps her niece from the child’s white grandparents and sets out for the state powwow in hopes of keeping what is left of their family intact. The cast includes Lily Gladstone, Isabel Deroy-Olsen, Ryan Begay, Shea Wingham, Crystle Lightning, Audrey Wasilewski, Tamara Podemski, and Patrice Fisher.
The festival will close with the film Surrounded, directed by Anthony Mandler. Five years after the Civil War, former Buffalo Soldier Moses “Mo” Washington travels West to lay claim to a gold mine bequeathed by her late slave owner father. It is a mean, dangerous world for an unaccompanied Black woman and so Mo travels into the deep frontier disguised as a man. After her stagecoach is ambushed, Mo is tasked with holding a dangerous outlaw captive and must survive the day when the bandit’s gang tries to free him.The cast includesLetitia Wright, Jamie Bell, Jeffrey Donovan, Brett Gelman, and Michael K. Williams.
Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out – Miserable after her family moves to a small town, teenage aspiring journalist Itsy befriends Calvin, her strange, space-obsessed neighbor who believes his parents were abducted by aliens and joins him on his journey to find them. Director: Jake Van Wagoner. Cast: Elizabeth Mitchell, Will Forte, Matt Biedel, Emma Tremblay, Jacob Buster, and Hailey Smith.
Birth/Rebirth – A single mother and a childless morgue technician are bound together by their relationship to a little girl they have reanimated from the dead. Director: Laura Moss. Cast: Judy Reyes, Marin Ireland, Breeda Wool, Monique Gabriela Curnen, and LaChanze.
Dreamin’ Wild – The true story of how one album recorded in rural Washington in the ‘70s broke a family apart –and then brought them back together again. Based upon the Steven Kurutz article “Fruitland”. Director: Bill Pohland. Cast: Noah Jupe, Jack Dylan Grazer, Casey Affleck, Zoey Deschanel, Walton Goggins, McKenna Ralston, and Doug Dawson.
Flamin’ Hot – The inspiring true story of Richard Montañez, the Frito Lay janitor who channeled his Mexican American heritage and upbringing to turn the iconic Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into a snack that disrupted the food industry and became a global pop culture phenomenon. Director: Eva Longoria. Cast: Annie Gonzalez, Tony Shalhoub, Dennis Haysbert, Emilio Rivera, and Bobby Soto.
Fremont – Donya works for a Chinese fortune cookie factory in San Francisco. Formerly a translator for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, she struggles to put her life back in order. In a moment of sudden revelation, she decides to send out a special message in a cookie. Director: Babak Jalali. Cast: Anaita Wali Zada, Jeremy Allen White, Gregg Turkington, and Hilda Schmelling.
Joyland – Haider (Ali Junejo) lands a job at a Bollywood-style burlesque, telling his family he is a theater manager, when in actuality, he is a backup dancer. As he acclimates to the new job, Haider becomes infatuated with the strong-willed trans woman Biba (Alina Khan) who runs the show—an unforeseen partnership that opens his eyes and ultimately his worldview, in ways both unexpected and intimate. Director: Saim Sadiq. Cast: Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq, Alina Kahn, Sarwat Gilani, Salmaan Peerzada, Sameer Sohail, Sania Saeed, Ramiz Law, Honey Albela, and Priya Usman Kahn.
Land of Gold – When truck driver Kiran hears pounding on a shipping container and finds a young Mexican-American girl inside, his already tumultuous life takes a drastic turn as he seeks to reunite her with her family. Director: Nardeep Khurmi. Cast: Karen David, Tina Parker, and Iqbal Theba.
Midday Black Midnight Blue – In this cinematic poem about love, loss, and healing, a man grapples with his shifting memories of a woman he once loved. His existence turning ever darker, he will have to let her go before his imagined life swallows him whole. Directors: Samantha Soule & Daniel Talbott. Cast: Samantha Soule, Will Pullen, Chris Stack, Merritt Wever, Dale Soules, Shane McRae, and McCaleb Burnett.
Showing Up – A sculptor preparing to open a new show must balance her creative life with the daily dramas of family and friends, in Kelly Reichardt’s vibrant and captivatingly funny portrait of art & craft. Director: Kelly Reichardt. Cast: Michelle Williams, Hong Chau, Maryann Plunkett, John Magaro, André Benjamin, James Le Gros, and Judd Hirsch.
A Small Light – Pilot Episode: Miep, who believes she’s just a secretary, is asked to hide the Franks from the Nazis. Welcome to Switzerland, Episode 2: Everything seems under control until Miep’s dentist asks her if she knows a place to hide. Director: Susanna Fogel. Cast: Ashley Brooke, Andy Nyman, Billie Boullet, Noah Taylor, and Rudi Goodman.
Bad Press – When the Muscogee Nation suddenly begins censoring their free press, a rogue reporter fights to expose her government’s corruption in a historic battle that will have ramifications for all of Indian Country. Directors: Rebecca Landsberry-Baker & Joe Peeler.
Deep Rising – This exquisite fly-on-the-wall environmental doc is also a gripping and up-to-the-minute tale of geopolitical, scientific, and corporate intrigue that exposes the destructive machinations of a secretive organization empowered to extract massive amounts of metals from the deep seafloor. Narrated by Jason Momoa, DEEP RISING illuminates the vital relationship between the deep ocean and sustaining life on Earth. Director: Matthieu Rytz.
King Coal – The cultural roots of coal continue to permeate the rituals of daily life in Appalachia even as its economic power wanes. The journey of a coal miner’s daughter exploring the region’s dreams and myths, untangling the pain and beauty. Director: Elaine McMillion Sheldon.
The Longest Goodbye – Social isolation affects millions of people, even Mars-bound astronauts. A savvy NASA psychologist is tasked with protecting these daring explorers. Director: Ido Mizrahy.
Nascondino – Four furious years in one of Naples’ toughest neighborhoods, where all three generations of a single family live on the edge of the law. Director: Victoria Fiore.
Secrets of the Elephants – Elephant families face the challenges of life in the deserts of Namibia. Director: Jonathan Frisby.
Wild Life – A sweeping portrait of conservationists Kris and Doug Tompkins chronicling their fight to preserve one of the last truly wild places on earth. Directors: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi & Jimmy Chin. Cast: Jackson Ark, Lauren Edwards, Thatcher Jacobs, Allysia Jensen, Medina Kincy, Alyson Lo, Michael Oilar, and Jack Quinn.