Sundance alumni take center stage at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival

By Stephanie Ornelas

The 2022 Cannes Film Festival is in full swing and our eyes are on Sundance Film Festival alumnus Shaunak Sen (Anything that breathes) and Charlotte Wells (After Sun) as the major distributors announced their acquisitions. HBO Max recently acquired everything that breathes, which premiered during the special screenings segment, and A24 won the rights to After Sun just this week, which had its world premiere during this year’s Critics’ Week. Both directors received support from the Sundance Institute during their filmmaking process.

But that’s not all. Jesse Eisenberg’s 2022 Sundance hit had a strong presence at the Cannes Film Festival. When you’re done saving the world — also acquired by A24 opened the week of criticism, the special Cannes parallel section organized by the Syndicat Français de la Critique de Cinéma dedicated to discovering new directors. The 61st Annual Special Section consists of 11 feature films and 13 short films.

In 2019, director Shaunak Sen received a grant from the Sundance Documentary Fund for anything that breathes, in addition to support from the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program. His film will then receive the Grand Jury Prize at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival in the World Cinema Documentary Competition, and will then premiere at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. The documentarywhich follows two brothers who dedicate their lives to caring for the black kites of Delhi, has been well received by audiences around the world.

“The initial aspiration of the film was to do something that makes us think of the city, that makes us think of evolutionary changes, ecology, pollution, all that — through a poetic and analytical lens — while being grounded in the emotional lives of the brothers,” Sen said during the film’s post-screening Q&A at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival in January.

Shaunak Sen receives the World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary for “All That Breathes”.

“The brothers’ monotonous, day-to-day life becomes an anchor and the emotional purpose of the film, where we keep jumping to these bigger and bigger things. Their gaze enriches what we see of the city. Over time, I realized that the rhythm had gone from compression to full decompression, and it became a kind of editing logic,” he explained.

Sundance alum Charlotte Wells has received support from the Sundance Institute’s two 2020 Screenwriters Labs, as well as the Directors Lab for her film After Sunabout a young father forced to deal with his disconnect with his 11-year-old daughter during a week-long vacation in the Mediterranean.

As a Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Lab Fellow, Wells participated in a rigorous schedule of advisor presentations, scene analysis sessions, directing exercises, one-on-one meetings, and collaborative conversations across a wide range of industry disciplines that helped propel the film..

Supporting independent artists from the start of their projects is a crucial part of the Sundance Institute’s mission. From the beginning of the production process, to the Cannes Film Festival and soon, on screens around the world, these films through their own unique styles help show the Sundance Institute’s impact on filmmakers and the projects they support.

As we eagerly await A24 to announce release dates for When you’re done saving the world and After Sun, as good as HBO Max will announce anything that breathes, we are reminded that all successful artists start somewhere, and when given the right support and the right foundation to build on, they simply thrive.

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