The 12th annual Sun Valley Film Festival runs from March 29th to April 2nd and will feature 18 narrative and documentary titles, including opening night selection, “Fancy Dance,” which is the directorial debut of co-writer Erica Tremblay, and the world premiere of Anthony Mandler’s “Surrounded,” which will close the festival. Award honorees include Josh Brolin (“No Country for Old Men,” “Outer Range”), who will receive the Vision Award, and Sophie Thatcher (“Yellowjackets,” “The Book of Boba Fett”), who will be given the Rising Star Award. “Last year, people were dying to get out, and this year our ticket sales are outpacing 2022. Once again, there’s a strong appetite for live events,” says festival founder and executive director Teddy Grennan.
SVFF was launched on the backs of celebrities like Ernest Hemingway, Gary Cooper, and Marilyn Monroe, who took lavish vacations to America’s first destination ski resort. A train, called the Snowball Express, ran from Los Angeles to Sun Valley, and it was common to see a Life Magazine photographer snapping shots of celebrities on their journey. Festival screenings are spread out over two locations, the Sun Valley Opera House, and the Argyros Preforming Arts Center. “This yearly celebration was started as a way to blend a skiing backdrop with Hollywood glamour, but things are very real and accessible. There’s a limited amount of parties and venues, and everything is trafficked with important industry talent, as well as good old-fashioned film fans,” says festival director Candice Pate.
A diverse selection of features will be on display, including “Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out,” “Dreamin’ Wild,” “Fremont,” “Joyland,” “Flamin’ Hot,” and “Midday Black Midnight Blue.” Documentary selections will showcase “Bad Press” and “King Coal,” among others. “We came back last year with a roar, because when COVID happened, we had to hit the pause button with certain aspects of the festival. Now, it’s all about the films themselves, and reintroducing some of our educational aspects and emerging voices in film,” says Pate.
Founding sponsor, National Geographic Documentary Films, is back with their latest effort, “Wild Life,” which has Pate buzzing. “It’s from the directors of ‘Free Solo,’ and it follows Kris Tompkins, who worked for Patagonia and North Face, helping to pioneer those brands, and how she pivoted into a role of working for Argentina’s national parks. With an outdoorsy-themed project like that, our audiences will eat it up.”
Rising Star Award honoree Thatcher is a multi-hyphenate talent best known for Showtime’s Emmy-nominated, coming-of-age survival drama series “Yellowjackets,” whose second season launches on March 24th. She also had a memorable turn on “The Book of Boba Fett. “It felt very random booking those shows. I love having the chance to work on these heightened genre programs, and I just did a horror film called ‘The Boogeyman’ which I’m very excited about. I’ve been very lucky in the few years since I’ve started acting, and I’m honored and surprised to be in the position I’m in right now,” she says.
As it did last year, Variety is partnering with SVFF on the “10 Producers to Watch” panel, which recognizes some of the most impactful scripted producers currently working. This year’s grouping includes Mali Elfman (“Birth/Rebirth”), Rachael Fung (“Fremont”), Jamie Gonçalves (“Dos Estaciones”), Margot Hand (“Shortcomings”), Karl Hartman (“Eric Larue”), Karina Manashil (“Pearl”), Nikkia Moulterie (“Nanny”), Rishi Rajani (“Chang Can Dunk”), Jolene Rodriquez (“Righteous Thieves”), and Valerie Steinberg (“Silver Star”). Variety will also be presenting a Creative Impact in Producing award to Nina Yang Bongiovi (“To Live and Die and Live,” “Fancy Dance,” “Passing”) during the popular event, Coffee Talks.