Joshua Marston, Whit Stillman, Taika Waititi Return to Sundance with Protagonist

LONDON — Protagonist Pictures will represent six movies playing at the Sundance Film Festival, including the world premieres of Joshua Marston’s “Complete Unknown,” Whit Stillman’s “Love & Friendship,” and Taika Waititi’s “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” as well as a place in the Sundance Spotlight section for Rebecca Miller’s “Maggie’s Plan.” The festival proved to be a good hunting ground for all four filmmakers early in their careers.

The other Protagonist films at Sundance are Rob Zombie’s “31,” which is another world premiere, and Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Lobster.”

“Complete Unknown” centers on Alice, played by Rachel Weisz, who shows up out of the blue at the birthday dinner of Tom (Michael Shannon) in New York City, and the guests are immediately charmed by her intriguing stories. But things become increasingly complicated as questions arise as to who she really is, how she leads her life, and what she really wants. Marston’s “Maria Full of Grace” won the audience award at Sundance.

In period satire “Love & Friendship,” which is adapted from Jane Austen’s novella, the beautiful and cunning Lady Susan Vernon visits the estate of her in-laws to wait out colorful rumors of her dalliances, and to find husbands for herself and her daughter. Two young men, handsome Reginald DeCourcy and wealthy Sir James Martin, severely complicate her plans. The cast includes Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny and Xavier Samuel. Stillman’s “Metropolitan” competed in Sundance.

Adventure comedy “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” centers on Ricky, a defiant city kid who finds himself on the run with his cantankerous foster uncle in the wild New Zealand bush. A manhunt ensues, and the two are forced to put aside their differences and work together to survive. The cast includes Julian Dennison, Sam Neill and Rima Te Wiata. Waititi’s “Eagle vs Shark” and “Boy” both competed in Sundance.

Zombie’s “31” tells the story of five carnies kidnapped on Halloween morning 1976, and held hostage in a remote industrial hell. While trapped, they are forced to play a violent game called 31. The mission is to survive 12 hours against an endless gang of grease-painted maniacs. Sheri Moon Zombie, Malcolm McDowell and Richard Brake star.

“The Lobster,” which played at the Cannes Film Festival, is set in a near future world, where single people are obliged to find a mate in 45 days or else be transformed into an animal of their choice, and be released into the woods. It stars Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw and Lea Seydoux.

“Maggie’s Plan,” which played at the Toronto Film Festival, is based on a story by Karen Rinaldi. A young woman’s determination to have a child catapults her into a nervy love triangle with a heart-throb academic and his eccentric critical-theorist wife. Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke and Julianne Moore star. Miller’s “Personal Velocity: Three Portraits” and “Angela” both competed at Sundance.

“We are so excited that the Sundance programming team responded to all these films,” said Protagonist CEO Mike Goodridge. “The festival has played a key role in the careers of Josh Marston, Whit Stillman, Taika Waititi and Rebecca Miller, so it’s a pleasure to be back with such illustrious alumni. And thrilling to unleash the brilliant minds of Rob Zombie and Yorgos Lanthimos on the Sundance audience.”

Attending Sundance for Protagonist will be Goodridge, head of worldwide sales Vanessa Saal, head of worldwide acquisitions Dave Bishop, COO Dimitra Tsingou, head of marketing Bridget Pedgrift, and acquisitions executive Emily Gotto.

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