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‘Ruth’ and ‘Lost on Everest’ Top Sun Valley Film Festival Lineup
Wednesday, February 26, 2020


How does a woman with three strikes against her rise to the highest court in the land?

Find out when “RUTH—Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words” kicks off the ninth annual Sun Valley Film Festival on March 18. The film by local director Frieda Lee Mock, comes on the heels of the 2018 documentary “RBG,” which was very popular in Sun Valley.

The 2020 film festival, which runs through March 22, will also feature Ron Howard's look at "Rebuilding Paradise" in the aftermath of the California fires and “Jane Goodall: The Hope,” which follows the gorilla activist through her never-ending travels as she spreads a message of hope.

Other films include a meticulous reconstruction of the 1979-80 crisis when Iranian revolutionaries held 52 American citizens hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and the world premiere of “Lost on Everest,” the attempts to find the remains of Andrew “Sandy” Irvine who was mysteriously lost on Everest with George Mallory in 1924.

The Sun Valley Film Festival presented by Ford announced its 2020 Film Slate on Tuesday. Additional films, including a slate of short films, will be announced at a later date.

This year for the first time the festival will also offer the Ford Pitch Fest, in which three finalists will have the opportunity to pitch their film to a panel of award-winning producers. One will walk away with a $25,000 Ford Producers Grant to take their project closer to reality.

The Ford Pitch Fest, hosted by actor/producer Willi McCormick, will include panelists Jim Burke, Academy Award-winning producer of the Best Picture winner “Green Book” and “The Descendants;” Michael Burns, vice chairman of Lionsgate; Heather Rae, who directed “Trudell” and “Frozen River” and Effie T. Brown,” who made “Real Women Have Curves” and “Everyday People.”

Attendees will have the chance to participate in the behind-the-scenes process, including a Q&A with both panelists and finalists.

Meanwhile, Academy Award-winning writer Stephen Gaghan,” one of the most acclaimed filmmakers of his generation, will host the Sun Valley Screenwriters Lab.

Thursday’s Sorry I like to Party Party will feature El Stash; the Main Street Salutes a Legend street party on Friday night will feature the soul clappin’ counterculture sounds of the Kris Lager Band. And the Saturday Night Awards Bash will feature the American indie rock band The Unlikely Candidates.

More than 80 percent of the films will have filmmakers in attendance to field questions following their screening.



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. * 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. * 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. * Filmmakers in Attendance - Heather Rae, Monique Walton


 An 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. * 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. 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.


The issue of migrant labor 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.

 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. * 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.


Written and directed by Eliza Hittman, this 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. * Filmmakers in Attendance - Eliza Hittman

 NINE DAYS - 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.

* 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. * Filmmakers in Attendance - Haroula Rose


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


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



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. 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. 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.


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.


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.

* 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. * 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. * 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. * 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. * 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. * Filmmakers in Attendance - David Alvarado


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

* Filmmakers in Attendance - Matt Yoka

 Passes for the 2020 Festival can now be purchased at


The Sun Valley Film Festival is seeking housing for visiting filmmakers and staff March 18 through 22. Interested hosts should contact Erica West at






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