Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival is only three-and-a-half decades old – pretty new, when compared to international events like Cannes and even the Melbourne International Film Festival, which is one of the world’s oldest. In that time, though, the festival has premiered some of the most beloved films of our time – movies like Little Miss Sunshine, Reservoir Dogs and Get Out.
Last year was a banner year for Aussies at Sundance. And while this year features only one Australian entry, Natalie Erika James’ Relic sounds like a ripper.
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The psychological horror movie stars Emily Mortimer and Aussies Bella Heathcote, and Robyn Nevin as three generations of women in a family literally haunted by dementia. That mysterious plot sounds quite familiar to Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook, which premiered at Sundance in the same Midnight category, to huge success. Maybe James and her talented cast could follow in those spooky footsteps.
Relic is the second film produced through Screen Australia’s Gender Matters program. The first being Ride Like A Girl, the highest grossing Australian film for 2019.
James will be in excellent company in Utah next month, too, with new projects from Ron Howard, Carrie Coon, Alison Brie, Ethan Hawke and Mudbound director Dee Rees announced for the line-up. Viggo Mortenson’s directorial debut Falling is on there too, as is a Taylor Swift documentary entitled Miss Americana, which will open the festival on January 23 before heading to Netflix a few months later.
This year’s line-up of 118 features are from 27 countries, and 46% are directed by women. Even if the 2020 selection doesn’t include quite as many Aussie flicks as last year’s dynamite debut of Little Monsters and Top End Wedding, James’ movie seems like something special. Hopefully her audience at the snow-bound festival think so, too.