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Sundance Hot List: New Projects From Anne Hathaway, Jonathan Majors and John Carney Will Tempt Buyers in Park City

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It’s been three years since Hollywood touched down in Park City for the Sundance Film Festival, with the 2023 fest offering a hybrid format of both in-person and online attendance after two years of purely digital incarnations. While the virtual festivals still produced major sales — 2021’s CODA being the most noteworthy — the overall market has lagged, with dealmaking continuing into the months after the close of the festival and mid-range deals becoming scarcer. Sellers are particularly excited for the return of in-person premieres, hoping that this will mean a return to urgency, if not a return to all-night bidding wars.

Here are this year’s titles that are sure to entice buyers, whether they are sitting in the Eccles or on their couch at home.

AUM: The Cult at the End of the World

DIRECTORS Ben Braun, Chiaki Yanagimoto

BUZZ The doc, which could satisfy a streamer’s true crime or nonfiction thriller needs, dives into the religious cult behind the 1995 sarin gas attack in a Tokyo subway.

SALES Submarine, Fifth Season

Cat Person

DIRECTOR Susanna Fogel

STARS Emilia Jones, Nicholas Brown

BUZZ The viral The New Yorker story is expanded in this feature about the horrors of modern dating as seen through the relationship between a 20-year-old college student and her 30-something suitor. The film tackles subjects like consent and gendered power dynamics, and will undoubtedly be one of the most talked-about films at the fest.

SALES UTA Independent Film Group, StudioCanal

Eileen

DIRECTOR William Oldroyd

STARS Anne Hathaway, Thomasin McKenzie

BUZZ The director’s anticipated follow-up to 2016’s Florence Pugh starrer Lady Macbeth is an adaptation of the Ottessa Moshfegh novel about the relationship between a prison counselor (Hathaway) and a young secretary (McKenzie) in 1964 Massachusetts.

SALES WME Independent, Fifth Season

The Eternal Memory

DIRECTOR Maite Alberdi

BUZZ The director behind the Oscar-nominated 2020 doc The Mole Agent is back with a film featuring Augusto, one of Chile’s most prominent cultural commentators, who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and Paulina, his partner of 25 years and now caretaker.

SALES UTA Independent Film Group, Submarine

Fair Play

DIRECTOR Chloe Domont

STARS Phoebe Dynevor, Alden Ehrenreich

BUZZ Rian Johnson’s T-Street banner is behind the psychological thriller that follows an ambitious couple, played by Dynevor and Ehrenreich, who go out for the same high-powered finance job to disastrous consequences.

SALES MRC

Fairyland

Scoot McNairy appears in Fairyland.

Scoot McNairy appears in Fairyland.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute/Photo by Kalman Muller

DIRECTOR Andrew Durham

STARS Scott McNairy

BUZZ Based on Alysia Abbott’s 2013 memoir, this period film set in 1970s San Francisco centers on the relationship between a young daughter and a single father (McNairy) who is exploring his art and sexuality all while navigating the challenges of parenting. Sofia Coppola produces.

SALES UTA Independent Film Group, Gersh

Flora and Son

DIRECTOR John Carney

STARS Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eve Hewson

BUZZ Sixteen years after his Once premiered at Sundance (and landed a best original song Oscar), Carney returns with this drama about a single mother who rediscovers her love of music.

SALES WME Independent

Going Varsity in Mariachi

DIRECTORS Alejandra Vasquez, Sam Osborn

BUZZ The best of sports and music documentaries come together in this look at competitive scholastic mariachi, which traces the highs and lows of one South Texas high school and the students’ enigmatic music coach.

SALES Fifth Season

Invisible Beauty

DIRECTORS Bethann Hardison, Frederic Cheng

BUZZ In a Sundance filled with biopics, Invisible Beauty centers on a person that many audiences will be introduced to for the first time: Bethann Hardison, a model turned agent and activist, who fought for diversity in the fashion industry.

SALES Kinetic, Submarine

Magazine Dreams

DIRECTOR Elijah Bynum

STARS Jonathan Majors

BUZZ Majors portrays an amateur bodybuilder who sacrifices his health — both mental and physical — to pursue his dream of superstardom in this Dramatic Competition title that has been compared to Night Crawler.

SALES CAA Media Finance

The Persian Version

DIRECTOR Maryam Keshavarz

STARS Layla Mohammadi

BUZZ With shades of My Big Fat Greek Weddingthis dramedy follows Iranian American New Yorker Leila (Mohammadi), whose life is turned upside down when her extended family descends on NYC for her father’s heart transplant.

SALES UTA Independent Film Group

The Pod Generation

Emilia Clarke, Chiwetel and Rosalie Craig appear in a still from The Pod Generation.

Emilia Clarke, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rosalie Craig in The Pod Generation.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute / Photo by Andrij Parekh

DIRECTOR Sophie Barthes

STARS Emilia Clarke, Chiwetel Ejiofor

BUZZ This sci-fi title, which has already earned buzz as a contender for the fest’s Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize — given to titles that focus on science or technology as a theme (Kogonada’s Colin Farrell starrer After Yang won last year) — takes place in a near future in which pregnancies happen via detachable wombs.

SALES CAA Media Finance

Shortcomings

DIRECTOR Randall Park

STARS Justin H. Min, Sherry Cola

BUZZ Fresh Off the Boat star Park makes his feature directing debut with this graphic-novel adaptation about an aspiring Asian American filmmaker in Oakland whose girlfriend moves to New York, leaving him to figure out his life.

SALES WME Independent, UTA Independent Film Group

Theater Camp

DIRECTORS Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman

STARS Gordon, Ben Platt, Noah Galvin, Ayo Edebiri, Patti Harrison, Amy Sedaris

BUZZ The ensemble comedy is John Cleese by way of Broadway, set in an upstate New York theater camp where the eccentric staff is trying to keep the camp afloat with the help of the owner’s crypto-bro son.

SALES WME Independent

A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 18 issue of The News84Media magazine. Click here to subscribe.



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