Sun Valley Film Festival announces 2020 lineup

Posted at 5:59 AM, Feb 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-26 07:59:34-05

SUN VALLEY, Idaho — The 2020 Sun Valley Film Festival is coming up and organizers have unveiled this year's film selections. The five-day festival features both fiction and documentary entries, including films that recently debuted at Sundance, like Black Bear, Nine Days and Never Rarely Sometimes Always.

The filmmakers for those movies and others will be in attendance. You can also catch Idaho offerings, including Girls are Strong Here, the winner of last year's 1 Potato screenwriting contest.

The festival will open on March 18 with a special presentation of the documentary RUTH with director and Sun Valley local resident Freida Lee Mock attending.

Select films will screen at the Argyros Performing Arts Center in Ketchum and the Sun Valley Opera House in Sun Valley. Additional films, including the slate of selected short films, will be announced on the festival website at a later date.


SVFF is well-known for its innovative programming which provides opportunities for support and mentorship of the emerging voices of up and coming filmmakers.

An exciting new addition for 2020 is the Ford Pitch Fest. Three finalists will have the opportunity to pitch their film to a panel of award-winning producers, and one will walk away with a $25,000 Ford Producers Grant to take their project one big step closer to reality. The event will be hosted by actor/producer Will McCormick and the panelists include Jim Burke (Academy Award® winning producer of Best Picture winner Green Book, The Descendents), Michael Burns (Vice Chairman, Lionsgate), Heather Rae (Trudell, Frozen River, Tallulah) and Effie T. Brown (Dear White People, Real Women Have Curves, Everyday People). Attendees will get the chance to participate in this typically behind-the-scenes process, including a Q&A with both panelists and finalists. The winner will be announced live at the end of the event.

Variety will once again present the popular Sun Valley Screenwriters Lab with SVSLab host, Academy Award® winning writer Stephen Gaghan, (Traffic, Syriana, Dolittle), one of the most acclaimed and accomplished filmmakers of his generation. Submittable has teamed up with SVFF to present the High Scribe Award during the SVSLab event, which honors an emerging voice in screenwriting, and now includes a residency and mentorship program.


The Sun Valley Film Festival will feature three nights of parties with live music, including Sorry I Like to Party Party on Thursday with local rockers El Stash, the Main Street Salutes a Legend street party to celebrate the return of the legendary Ford Bronco and Pioneer Party on Friday night featuring ‘soul clappin’ counterculture sounds of the Kris Lager Band and a high energy finale with American indie rock band The Unlikely Candidates headlining the Saturday Night Awards Bash, one of the Festival’s most anticipated events.


The Sun Valley Film Festival, presented by Ford Motor Company, has a long history of supporting and creating career-changing opportunities for filmmakers and independent artists the world over. With over 4,500 yearly attendees, SVFF is quickly becoming known as the Festival for Filmmakers: a boutique event beloved by film fans and auteurs alike. Over 80% of the films in the 2020 SVFF slate will have filmmakers in attendance to participate in Q&As after the screenings. The Festival will also expand its commitment to providing career-changing opportunities for independent writers and filmmakers by awarding over $200,000 in prizes through its new Ford Pitch Fest, Screenwriters Lab, the Film Lab and Wild to Inspire competitions, among others.



At a remote lake house in the Adirondack Mountains, a couple entertains an out-of-town guest looking for inspiration in her filmmaking. The group quickly falls into a calculated game of desire, manipulation, and jealousy, unaware of how dangerously convoluted their lives will soon become in the filmmaker’s pursuit of a work of art, which blurs the boundaries between autobiography and invention.

Writer/Director: Lawrence Michael Levine

Producers: Julie Christeas, Jonathan Blitstein, Richard J. Bosner, Aubrey Plaza, Lawrence Michael Levine, Sophia Takal, Jai Khanna, Marina Grasic

Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Abbott, Sarah Gadon

* Filmmaker in Attendance - Lawrence Michael Levine


The seemingly separate lives of an anxious, disillusioned teen girl and a troubled, alienated man converge fatefully in this haunting exploration of womanhood, isolation, and toxic masculinity, set in 1980s Newfoundland.

Writer/Director: Nicole Dorsey

Producers: Mark O’Neill, Michael Solomon

Cast: Ella Ballentine, Ryan McDonald

* Filmmaker in Attendance - Nicole Dorsey


On the outskirts of Houston, a teen reeling from her mom’s incarceration and an aging bullfighter struggling to keep a foothold in the rodeo circuit, form an unlikely bond and attempt to right their own paths.

Director: Annie Silverstein

Writers: Annie Silverstein, Johnny McAllister

Producers: Monique Walton, Bert Marcus, Heather Rae, Ryan Zacarias, Audrey Rosenberg

Cast: Robert Morgan, Amber Havard

* Filmmakers in Attendance - Heather Rae, Monique Walton


A on-the-lam punk rocker and a young woman obsessed with his band unexpectedly fall in love and go on an epic journey together through America's decaying Midwestern suburbs.

Writer/Director: Adam Carter Rehmeier

Producers: Ben Stiller, Nicholas Weinstock, Ross Gutmann, David Hunter, John Covert, Sam Slater

Cast: Kyle Gallner, Emily Skeggs, Griffin Gluck, Pat Healy, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Lea Thompson

* Filmmakers in Attendance - Adam Carter Rehmeier, Ross Putman


Stanley (Richard Jenkins), an aging fast-food worker, plans to call it quits after 38 years on the graveyard shift at Oscar’s Chicken and Fish. His last weekend takes a turn while training his replacement, Jevon (Shane Paul McGhie), a talented but stalled young writer whose provocative politics keep landing him in trouble. The men are worlds apart. A high school dropout who has watched life pass by his drive-through window, Stanley proudly details the nuances of the job. Jevon, a columnist who’s too smart to be flipping patties, contends their labor is being exploited. But a flicker of trust sparks during the long overnight hours in a quiet kitchen.

Writer/Director: Andrew Cohn

Producers: Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, Sam Bisbee, Alex Lipschultz, Bert Kern

Cast: Richard Jenkins, Shane Paul McGhie, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Birgundi Baker, Allison Tolman, Ed O'Neill


The issue of migrant labour gets a winningly light touch in this musical comedy — and debut fiction film — from documentarian María Paz González, about a Peruvian woman working as a domestic helper for a wealthy Chilean family who prepares for a trip home to visit the son she left behind.

Writer/Director: María Paz González

Producers: Giancarlo Nasi, Maite Alberdi

Cast: Magaly Solier, Emilia Ossandón

MAKING SENSE - A Special Work-In-Progress Screening

An aging neuroscientist teams up with a group of young graduate students to prove his hypothesis that individuals with disabilities hold the key to unlocking a sixth sense before his past catches up with him.

Director: Gregory Bayne

Writers: Doug Cole, Gregory Bayne

Producers: Gregory Bayne, Doug Cole

Cast: Jessi Melton, Richard Klautsch, Miguel Ayala, Makenzie Ellsworth, Mike Barnett, Nyk Fry, Taylor Gonzalez

* Filmmakers in Attendance - Gregory Bayne, Doug Cole


Directed by Peter Cattaneo and starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan, MILITARY WIVES centers on a group of women in England whose partners are away serving in Afghanistan. Faced with the men's absences, they form a choir and quickly find themselves at the center of a media sensation and global movement.

Director: Peter Cattaneo

Writers: Rosanne Flynn, Rachel Tunnard

Producers: Ben Pugh, Rory Aitken, Piers Tempest

Cast: Kristin Scott Thomas, Sharon Horgan, Jason Flemyng


Written and directed by Eliza Hittman, Never Rarely Sometimes Always is an intimate portrayal of two teenage girls in rural Pennsylvania. Faced with an unintended pregnancy and a lack of local support, Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) and her cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder) embark across state lines to New York City on a fraught journey of friendship, bravery and compassion.

Writer/Director: Eliza Hittman

Producers: Sarah Murphy, Adele Romansky

Cast: Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder, Théodore Pellerin, Ryan Eggold, Sharon Van Etten

* Filmmakers in Attendance - Eliza Hittman

NINE DAYS - Special Screening

In a house distant from the reality we know, a reclusive man interviews prospective candidates — personifications of human souls — for the privilege that he once had: to be born.

Writer/Director: Edson Oda

Producers: Jason Michael Berman, Mette-Marie Kongsved, Matthew Linder, Laura Tunstall, Datari Turner

Cast: Winston Duke, Zazie Beetz, Bill Skarsgard, Benedict Wong, Tony Hale, Arianna Ortiz, David Rysdahl

* Filmmakers in Attendance - Edson Oda, Winston Duke, Jason Berman


After her father’s violent death, Native American teenager Margo Crane flees down Michigan’s Stark River in search of her estranged mother. On the way, she encounters allies, enemies, danger, and the beauty of nature, all while coming to grips with her past and her own identity. A Midwestern Gothic coming-of-age fable set along the riverbanks, Chicago musician-filmmaker Haroula Rose’s debut feature is an evocative marriage of Winter’s Bone and Huckleberry Finn.

Writer/Director/Producer: Haroula Rose

Executive Producers: Heather Rae, David Macias

Cast: Kenadi Delacerna, John Ashton, Tatanka Means, Lindsay Pulsipher, Ajuawak Kapashesit

* Filmmakers in Attendance - Haroula Rose


A teenage girl suddenly finds herself struggling to take care of herself and her younger brother.

Director: Sarah Gavron

Writer: Theresa Ikoko, Claire Wilson

Producer: Ameenah Ayub Allen, Faye Ward

Cast: Bukky Bakray, Kosar Ali, D’angelou Osei Kissiedu, Shaneigha-Monik Greyson, Ruby Stokes, Tawheda Begum, Anastasia Dymitrow, Afi Okaidja, Sarah Niles


Determined to become the leader of the Dominion of Canada, a young W.L. Mackenzie King rises to power.

Writer/Director: Matthew Rankin

Producers: Gabrielle Tougas-Fréchette, Ménaïc Raoul

Cast: Dan Beirne, Sarianne Cormier, Mikhaïl Ahooja, Catherine St-Laurent, Seán Cullen, Trevor Anderson



A hidden underground network — a collaboration of four kingdoms of life — is revealed. Explore a true first-contact story between humans and beings who communicate with a symbolic language and have maintained a representative democracy for tens of millions of years.

Director: Brannon Braga

Writers: Ann Druyan, Brannon Braga

Executive Producers: Seth MacFarlane, Jason Clark, Kara Vallow, Brannon Braga, Ann Druyan

Host: Neil deGrasse Tyson

* Filmmakers in Attendance - Ann Druyan


The rise, fall, and rise again of a Cambodian refugee who escaped genocide and overcame poverty to build a life for himself — and hundreds of other immigrant families — by baking America’s favorite pastry and building an unlikely empire of donut shops. Everything you thought you knew about the donut begins with Ted Ngoy.

Director: Alice Gu

Writer: Carol Martori

Producer: José Nuñez

Executive Producers: Ridley Scott, Freida Lee Mock

* Filmmakers in Attendance - Alice Gu


A meticulous reconstruction of the 1979-1980 crisis, when Iranian revolutionaries

held 52 American citizens hostage at the US Embassy in Tehran. What emerged was a secret rescue mission. Desert One chronicles that operation with details and archives that have never before been revealed. The crisis culminated in Carter's landslide loss to Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Director: Barbara Kopple

Producers: Barbara Kopple, David Cassidy, Eric Forman

Executive Producers: Zachary Behr, Eli Lehrer


Jane Goodall: The Hope follows the inspirational activist and leader throughout her never-ending travels, capturing her relentless commitment and determination to spread a message of hope.

Directors: Elizabeth Leiter, Kim Woodward


On June 8, 1924, at just 800 vertical feet from the summit of Mount Everest, British explorers George Leigh Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine were swallowed by a storm cloud and never seen again. LOST ON EVEREST attempts to find Irvine’s remains and the camera he is believed to have carried that final day, as the film inside could rewrite history. Armed with a team of elite climbers who have new intel on the location of Irvine’s body, the daring special sets out to solve one of exploration’s greatest mysteries.

Director: Renan Ozturk

Producers: Drew Pulley, Aimee Tetreault

Executive Producer: Taylor Rees

* Filmmakers in Attendance - Renan Ozturk


Every day for decades, extravagant Puerto Rican astrologer, psychic, and gender nonconforming legend Walter Mercado charmed the world with his televised horoscopes. Equal parts Oprah, Liberace, and Mr. Rogers, Walter reached over 120 million viewers at his peak, enthralling the Latin world with sequined capes, opulent jewelry and horoscopes that shared a message of love and hope to his devoted viewers. Then, he mysteriously disappeared.

Directors: Cristina Costantini & Kareem Tabsch

Producers: Cristina Costantini, Alex Fumero & Kareem Tabsch

Executive Producers: Darren Foster, Lisa Leingang, Mona Panchal & Jeffrey Plunkett

* Filmmakers in Attendance - Jeffrey Plunkett


On the morning of Nov. 8, 2018, a devastating firestorm engulfed the picturesque city of Paradise, California. By the time the Camp Fire was extinguished, it had killed 85 people, displaced 50,000 residents and destroyed 95% of local structures. It was the deadliest U.S. fire in 100 years — and the worst ever in California’s history. In REBUILDING PARADISE, Academy Award winning director RON HOWARD led a filmmaking team to the city and would go on to spend a year with Paradise residents, documenting their efforts to recover what was lost. The Camp Fire and its overwhelming aftermath became a de facto lesson in what we all must do: protect our environment, help our neighbors, plan for future dangers and remember to preserve the traditions that unite us.

Director: Ron Howard

Producers: Brian Grazer, Sara Bernstein, Justin Wilkes, Xan Parker, Lizz Morhain

Executive Producers: Carolyn Bernstein, Ryan Harrington

* Filmmakers in Attendance - Justin Wilkes


The film tells the improbable story of how Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who couldn’t get a job despite tying first in her graduating law class and making Law Review at Harvard and Columbia Law Schools, became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. It also reveals both the public and private sides of a resilient, resourceful woman who has survived the hostility of the profoundly male universe of government and law to become a revered Justice and icon for gender equality and women’s rights.

Director/Producer: Freida Lee Mock

Writers: Freida Lee Mock, Mike Aguilar

Executive Producers: Geralyn Dreyfous, Regina K. Scully, Barbara Dobkin, Sandra Lee, Danielle Mark, Cara Kennedy-Cuomo

Associate Producer: Meghan Hooper

* Filmmakers in Attendance - Freida Lee Mock, Lili Haydn


Mariana van Zeller embarks on a harrowing road trip from Los Angeles to Sinaloa, Mexico to uncover how a lethal supply chain of American firearms is arming the cartels and fueling violence throughout Mexico.

Director: Eric Strauss

Correspondent: Mariana Van Zeller

Producers: Rodrigo Gonzales, Eric Strauss

Executive Producers: Jeffrey Plunkett, Darren Foster, Ben Selkow, Mariana Van Zeller

* Filmmakers in Attendance - Mariana Van Zeller, Jeffrey Plunkett


“We are as gods and might as well get good at it,” Stewart Brand wrote in ‘68. The legendary pioneer of LSD, cyberspace, futurism, and modern environmentalism now urges people to use our god-like powers to fight extinction by reviving lost species.

Directors: David Alvarado & Jason Sussberg

Composer: Brian Eno

* Filmmakers in Attendance - David Alvarado


A small native community in rural Montana experienced a cluster suicide epidemic (22 suicides in a single year) - two of these deaths were members on the same basketball team, Walter and Josiah.

Director: Jamie Elias

Producer: Trent Cooper

Executive Producers: Kristen Klabin, Alex Klabin

Co-Producers: Jamie Elias, Addison Neville

* Filmmakers in Attendance - Jamie Elias


Soaring above the chaotic spectacle of ‘80s and ‘90s Los Angeles, a young couple revolutionized breaking news with their brazen helicopter reporting. Culled from this news duo’s sprawling video archive, WHIRLYBIRD is a poignant L.A. story of a family in turbulence hovering over a city unhinged.

Director: Matt Yoka

Producer: Diane Becker

Featuring: Zoey Tur, Marika Gerrard, Katy Tur & James Tur

Composer: Ty Segall

* Filmmakers in Attendance - Matt Yoka

Passes for the 2020 festival are available now on the Sun Valley Film Festival website.