Written By Debra Vago
Photo: Wind River director Taylor Sheridan, staring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen
From made-in-Utah productions to made-in-Utah stars, we can’t contain our excitement with all the Utah-focused news coming out of this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
We were so proud to see two feature films that were shot in Utah and premiered at our very own Sundance Film Festival go on to screen at Cannes. Starring and co-written by Saturday Night Live’s Kyle Mooney, Brigsby Bear was named ‘one to watch’ by influential film title Deadline. The whimsical comedy that filmed in Salt Lake City last year, closed the Critics’ Week Sidebar of the Cannes Film Festival. Speaking about what attracted them to Utah, Mooney said: “We needed a desert area and we needed the suburbs. Utah had all of those things.” Mooney also cited Utah’s Film Incentive Program as a factor that ‘helped’ their decision making process.
Our locations and industry resources are increasingly attracting high-level filmmaking talent. Writer, director and actor, Taylor Sheridan, “became so enthralled with Utah’s beauty and sense of community” that he now calls it home. Sheridan picked up the ‘Best Director’ Award for Wind River following its international premiere at Cannes, receiving a lengthy standing ovation at the end of its screening. Starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, the crime thriller filmed in Coalville, Heber and Midway, and originally premiered at January’s Sundance Film Festival.
On the topic of standing ovations, Bountiful’s own Millicent Simmonds stole the show as she took to the Cannes red carpet at the premiere of the much anticipated Wonderstruck. Todd Haynes’ follow up to his Oscar-nominated Carol is based on the novel by Brian Selznick, telling the partly wordless tale of two eras in film history. 14-year-old Millie plays the hearing-impaired Rose seeking more to life in 1920’s New York. Wildly praised for her performance and pinpointed as the real star of the movie, Millie’s screen debut is being hailed as a breathtaking breakthrough.
And in other news to come out of Cannes, Crimson Forest Entertainment acquired North American rights to Chinese period romance The Jade Pendant. Based on L.P. Leung’s best-selling novel, The Jade Pendant filmed entirely in Salt Lake in 2015 on a western set constructed just west of Salt Lake City. The tragic love story is set against the 1871 burning of Chinatown in Los Angeles and the largest mass lynching in American history.
All in all, it has been an exciting Festival year for the state and 2017 is shaping up to be another impressive year all-round for the Utah film community.