Austin Heads to Sundance

Zellners' latest and Blaze Foley film booked for Utah fest

Someone tell the Zellner brothers to pack their winter gear: Alongside Austin native Ethan Hawke, their latest film has been announced as part of the 110 features screening at the Sundance Film Festival.

Damsel, the newest feature from Austin's Zellner brothers, gets its world premiere at Sundance 2018

Since 2014's Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, David and Nathan Zellner have been most visible for their acting work. Now the local writer-director-actor-cinematographer multi-threat siblings are rewriting the cliches of the Western expansion with Damsel, starring Robert Pattinson and Mia Wasikowska as a couple whose plans for frontier marriage become derailed by rogues, vagabonds, priests, and a miniature horse.

"We’re really excited," David told the Chronicle by email. "We shot most of the film in Utah, the wilderness surrounding Park City, so it will be particularly fun premiering the film there."

A slice of local musical history also makes its big-screen debut as Hawke dons his director hat and debuts Foley, his take on the life of the late and legendary Blaze Foley. Arkansas rock & roller Ben Dickey stars as the duct tape messiah in this adaptation of Living in the Woods in a Tree, Sybil Rosen's autobiographical account of her life with the singer-songwriter. Alia Shawkat (currently riding high with TBS' quirky Search Party) will play Rosen, while the author (who also co-wrote the script with Hawke) appears as her own mother. Deepening the Austin connection, and for full disclosure, Chronicle co-founder Louis Black serves as executive producer, as he did with Kevin Triplett's 2011 documentary about Foley.

Sundance (Jan. 18-28, 2018) is seen as the beginning of the film festival season, and so there will be a lot of scouring of this latest listing for hints and clues about which titles will be showing up later in the year. The festival directors have already stressed that they are seeing a greater diversity of voices, and there's great excitement already about a handful of titles.

After her huge success with The Handmaid's Tale, award winning cinematographer-turned-director Reed Morano goes postapocalyptic with her highly anticipated I Think We're Alone Now. On the documentary front, Hal will get cineastes buzzing with its analysis of Harold and Maude director Hal Ashby's balance between artistic fearlessness and commercial suicide. Meanwhile, Netflix's Seeing Allred is being rebuilt down to the wire, to include more of feminist pioneer Gloria Allred's responses to the never-ending revelations of celebrity sexual assault and harassment, and will join the streaming service straight after its Sundance debut. Sundance also snagged the official world premiere of Armando Iannuci's historical farce The Death of Stalin, which got a secret first screening two months ago at Fantastic Fest.

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Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival 2018, Ethan Hawke, Zellner Bros.

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