One look at the sun-kissed snowcaps around Sun Valley and one might conclude it’s all about the destination. But at the Sun Valley Film Festival, it’s truly all about the journey—particularly the journey of an emerging filmmaker.
“We’ve started Skyping these filmmakers in order to tell them ‘Your film has been selected.’ Their reactions have been priceless. Sometimes, you’ll hear them screeching or hollering, ‘Mom! Mom! I made it,’ Sometimes it’s tears. More often, it’s pure bliss,” said Candice Pate, SVFF director. “It’s amazing and a bit of a privilege to see their reactions.”
To be sure, the 2020 edition of the festival—now in its ninth year—will include Oscar-winning filmmakers. But you’ll want to pay close attention to the rest of the attendees, more than a few of whom will be the sure-bet Oscar-winners of tomorrow.
“The biggest change for us this year is how many of the filmmakers that we’ll be bringing to Sun Valley to accompany their movies,” said Teddy Grennan, SVFF executive director. “We really wanted to have a significantly larger presence. More than 80% of our films will have a filmmaker for our audiences to meet.”
Boise Weekly got an advance look at the 2020 slate of SVFF films. And while there are too many to preview here (you can see the full list at sunvalleyfilmfestival.org), here are a select few that we’ll be cueing up for:
The Donut King—Executive-produced by Ridley Scott, this doc chronicles a Cambodian refugee who escaped genocide to build an unlikely empire of donut shops.
Lost on Everest—A SVFF world premiere of a documentary about one of exploration’s greatest mysteries atop the planet’s highest mountain
Making Sense—Idaho’s own Greg Bayne is offering a work-in-progress screening. Simply put, if Bayne is behind the lens, it’s a must-see.
Military Wives—I was lucky enough to attend the Toronto world premiere of this delicious Brit comedy/drama, and can’t wait to experience it again.
Nine Days—Starring one of the hottest young actors on the planet, Winston Duke (Us, Back Panther), Nine Days is one of the hottest titles to pounce out of this year’s Sundance festival.
Rebuilding Paradise—Oscar-winning director Ron Howard led a filmmaking team to the California town ravaged by the deadliest U.S. fire in 100 years.
Ruth—A new documentary about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has landed in the premium slot of being the festival’s opening night film. If you’re like me and can’t get enough of the notorious RBG, this will be the third film about Justice Ginsberg in as many years.
When I asked Candice Pate to choose just one film to gush upon, she didn’t hesitate a moment.
“Oh my gosh, it has to be Nine Days,” she said. “Teddy and I saw it at Sundance. Beautifully shot; incredible acting; a crazy, intense trippy story. We were hoping, hoping, hoping that we might get it for Sun Valley. Sure enough, we did. We can’t wait for people to experience it.”
The film, from writer/director Edson Oda took home the best screenplay prize at Sundance and has been picked up by Sony Pictures Classics for distribution.
“I can’t begin to tell you how exciting it is to be there at the beginning of young filmmakers’ careers as they propel themselves to the next wave of award-winning storytellers,” said Pate. ”What’s perfect about Sun Valley is that we can all be there to witness it and cheer them on.”