The Sun Valley Film Festival (SVFF), running from March 29-April 2, 2023, announced this year’s award honors and initial film lineup for the 12th annual event. 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. The festival will screen 19 narrative and documentary features including the opening night film Fancy Dance on March 29 and closing night film Surrounded on April 2.
“We are so excited for this year’s Sun Valley Film Festival, honoring the very best in film, and those who are trailblazers in our industry,” said Sun Valley Film Festival founder Teddy Grennan. “We can’t wait to showcase this amazing slate of films to this year’s guests and patrons, and we’re excited to welcome Josh Brolin and Sophie Thatcher as our honorees this year.”
“At the Sun Valley Film Festival, we remain dedicated to presenting the highest quality in both on-screen film and industry icons,” said Sun Valley Film Festival director Candice Pate. “Our slate this year promises the outstanding and the hard-to-find, cinema from across the globe brought here and made available to our Sun Valley community.”
The SVFF Vision Awards pay tribute to industry icons whose contributions to the art of cinema have changed the industry for the better. This year’s recipient Josh Brolin will receive the award on Saturday, April 1 and will also participate in a Coffee Talk to discuss his career achievements. Past Vision Award honorees include Geena Davis, Clint Eastwood, Gal Gadot, Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Meg Ryan, Oliver Stone, and last year’s recipients Woody Harrelson and Amy Poehler.
Academy Award® nominated actor Josh Brolin is one of Hollywood’s top leading men who continues to balance challenging roles in both mainstream studio productions as well as thought-provoking independents. Brolin recently starred in Prime Video’s acclaimed drama series Outer Range, on which he also serves as an executive producer. In 2008, Brolin was nominated for an Academy Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and received awards from the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review for his portrayal of ‘Dan White’ in Gus Van Sant’s acclaimed film Milk. His film credits include Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, Avengers: Endgame, the Coen Brothers’ True Grit and No Country For Old Men, Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and W, Ridley Scott’s American Gangster, Sean Penn’s Flag Day; A Bend in the River, which Brolin executive produced; Sicario 2: The Day of The Soldado; Labor Day directed by Jason Reitman; Spike Lee’s Old Boy; Gangster Squad; Men In Black 3; Planet Terror; part of the critically acclaimed Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez double feature, Grindhouse; You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger; In The Valley Of Elah; Into The Blue; Hollow Man; Best Laid Plans; Mimic; and, the action-comedy classic Goonies.
Sophie Thatcher will receive the Rising Star Award on Thursday, March 30. Previous recipients include the cast of Outer Banks, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Winston Duke and Allison Williams. Multi-hyphenate talent Sophie Thatcher has captured audiences with her layered performances, making her one of the most enticing young performers on the rise. She is best known for her lead role in Showtime’s Emmy-nominated coming-of-age survival drama series Yellowjackets. The series’ second season is set to be released on March 24, and it has been picked up for a third season. Thatcher can next be seen starring in the film adaptation of Stephen King’s short horror story, The Boogeyman, set for a June 2 release date. Other film credits include her breakout role in Prospect and The Tomorrow Man. On television, Thatcher can also be seen in Disney’s The Book of Boba Fett, and in Quibi’s murder-mystery series When the Streetlights Go On. She has also appeared in Chicago P.D., The Exorcist, and Chicago Med.
Scheduled to screen 19 narrative and documentary features, 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 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 includes Letitia 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.
Additional honorees and film programming will be announced before the festival. Variety will announce its “10 Producers to Watch” recognizing the most impactful scripted producers over the past year on March 15. The 10 producers will participate in a panel at the festival on March 31, and Variety will present a Creative Impact in Producing Award to Nina Yang Bongiovi, during the festival’s Coffee Talks. For additional information on films and ticket/pass details, visit: www.sunvalleyfilmfestival.org.
About the Sun Valley Film Festival
Since 2012 SVFF has proven to be a concierge of opportunity connecting filmmakers with support both financially and through mentorship. Every spring the festival celebrates with a slate of cutting-edge films and TV premieres, industry panels, engaging Coffee Talks with entertainment luminaries, a Screenwriters Lab led by award-winning writers and a series of parties culminating with the spectacular SVFF Awards Bash. The Sun Valley Film Festival is a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization whose mission is to cultivate and promote the art of filmmaking, and to use the power of storytelling to foster meaningful connections. This year’s Sun Valley Film Festival will take place March 29 – April 2, 2023.