It’s been just over six months since we said goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013, and already we’ve seen a slew of promising indie talent breakthrough in big ways thanks to the Sundance, SXSW and Tribeca film festivals (among many others), and theatrical releases that caught on with the movie-going public. Over the past two days we’ve been publishing our picks for this year’s biggest indie breakthroughs so far (we still have half a year to go), with our reasons for why they made the cut and info on what they’re up to next. Below find the full list, including two new inclusions who made a huge dent at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Profession: Writer, director, cinematographer
Breakout Film: “Blue Ruin”
Why They’re On Here: Brooklyn-based cinematographer and filmmaker Jeremy Saulnier came to this year’s Cannes Film Festival with his tense, violent crime drama “Blue Ruin” after being rejected by Sundance and emerged as of the fest’s biggest breakouts after seeing his sophomore feature win the Director’s Fortnight FIPRESCI Prize and land distribution with RADiUS-TWC. Indiewire’ Eric Kohn called the film a “tense, darkly comic and surprisingly esoteric revenge tale in the tradition of the Coen brothers’ ‘Blood Simple.'”
What’s Up Next: Prepping for the release of his award-winner. RADiUS-TWC has yet to announce a release date.
Breakout Film: “Blue is the Warmest Color”
Why They’re On Here: No performance garnered more adulation and gasps (she bares a lot more than just her raw emotions) than Adele Exarchopoulos incredibly brave turn in Abdellatif Kechiche’s coming of age drama “Blue is the Warmest Color” (go HERE
for our glowing review), winner of this year’s coveted Palme d’Or. The film, which drew a lot of attention during the
festival for its long and explicit lesbian sex scenes, features the actress in every frame of its three hour running time and her performance is arguably what makes the film such a barnstorming success. The Cannes jury, led by Steven Spielberg, clearly agreed; they bestowed the Palme d’Or not just on Kechiche, but shared the honor with Exarchopoulos and co-star Lea Seydoux — a first at Cannes.
What’s Up Next: No word yet, but you can bet that once Sundance Selects opens “Blue” Stateside, America will take notice. We expect huge things from this young talent.
Breakout Film: “The Spectacular Now”
Why They’re On Here: Because of his role as Willard in “Footloose.” OK, maybe Teller was slightly better in, “The Spectacular Now,” a Sundance selection from earlier this year. Teller, along with costar Shailene Woodley, won a Special Jury Prize at the Utah-based festival for dramatic acting that “showed rare honesty, naturalism and transparency.” It would be difficult to come up with better adjectives for the young star, especially as Sutter Keely, a jovial and incredibly popular high school senior who befriends a nerdy girl next door (Woodley) after a bad breakup. The festival favorite is set for a limited release August 2.
What’s Up Next: “Get a Job,” co-starring Anna Kendrick, Alison Brie, and Bryan Cranston, is set for a 2013 release. Teller also has two films in post-production: “Two Night Stand” and the Zac Efron vehicle, “Are We Officially Dating?” The latter also costars Michael B. Jordan, of “Fruitvale” and “Friday Night Lights” fame. Finally, Teller will appear alongside Woodley once more for the highly-anticipated, “Divergent,” an adaptation of the popular young adult novel.
Joachin Ronning and Espen Sandberg
Breakout Film: “Kon-Tiki”
Why They’re On Here: The Norwegian directing partners hit it big with their third feature, “Kon-Tiki,” an adventure on the high seas about a South American explorer crossing the Pacific on a wooden raft. We should have seen it coming. Their first feature, “Max Manus: Man of War,” went over well at the Toronto International Film Festival as well as the Hamptons and Palm Springs IFFs. Not only did “Kon-Tiki” blow up even bigger, earning Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for Best Foreign Language Film, but its success and subject matter landed them their next job: directing the fifth “Pirates of the Caribbean” film for Walt Disney Pictures.
What’s Up Next: Ronning and Sandberg have their hands full prepping Jack Sparrow’s fifth rum-fueled excursion, a substantial step up in budget if not quality from their previous pictures.
Breakout Film: “The Bling Ring”
Why They’re On Here: Considering Emma Watson is easily the most well known face in “The Bling Ring,” many may think she plays the group leader in Sofia Coppola’s film about four youths who rob Hollywood’s rich and famous. In reality, Katie Chang got that role, and she nailed it. Indiewire critic Eric Kohn says the Chicago-native “stands out” as Rebecca, “a fame-obsessed young woman” who recruits the other members to infiltrate the homes of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, among others. Among all that glitz and glamor, “standing out” is quite the achievement.
What’s Up Next: Chang also appears in “A Birder’s Guide to Everything,” a film that debuted at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival and has yet to land a release date. Fans better get used to waiting. The 18-year-old Blackhawks fan recently told Teen Vogue she plans to attend Columbia University in the fall.
Breakout Film: “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints“
Why They’re On Here: David Lowery has had one heck of a year. In 2013, the writer, director, and editor had three films premiere at the Sundance Film Festival: “Upstream Color,” for which he served as editor; “Pit Stop,” which he wrote; and “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” a film he wrote and directed. It was the latter, a heartbreaking and beautiful modern western, that has truly broken Lowery from of the pack. The Texas-native penned the meditative romance featuring fine performances from Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, and Ben Foster. He’s also heavily involved in the editing process (along with Harvey Weinstein), making the film almost wholly his. It’s a little early to throw the word “auteur” around, but Lowery certainly has a bright future, immediate and otherwise, ahead.
What’s Up Next: “Pit Stop” and “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” have yet to be released. No date has been said for the former, but “Saints” will start its awards run on August 16. Lowery has yet to start working on his next project, but it will undoubtedly be an in demand feature.
Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan
Professions: Director and Actor, respectively
Breakout Film: “Fruitvale Station”
Why They’re On Here: After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January, “Fruitvale Station” has been gaining momentum by the day. The audience award and Grand Jury Prize winner next stopped by Cannes where director Ryan Coogler picked up an Un Certain Regard nomination and win. While the film’s star Michael B. Jordan has yet to win any awards, Indiewire has him ranked ninth in the Best Actor race, ahead of other better known contenders like Tom Hanks and Matthew McConaughey. Jordan, a fan favorite from esteemed television shows “The Wire” and “Friday Night Lights,” has always had a bright future ahead of him. It’s in “Fruitvale Station,” though, that his future arrives.
What’s Up Next: Coogler has yet to sign on for a follow up project, but Jordan will appear in another 2013 release, the Zach Efron-starring, “Are We Officially Dating?” In 2014, look for Jordan in “Pretenders,” a drama co-starring Anton Yelchin and David Schwimmer.
Breakout Film: “Much Ado About Nothing”
Why They’re On Here: Jillian Morgese was plucked out of obscurity by Joss Whedon after standing out as an extra in “The Avengers.” The actress, who had mostly done extra and commercial work, was suddenly handpicked by Whedon to star as Hero in his indie hit adaptation of “Much Ado About Nothing.” According to an interview in Buzzfeed, she memorized her lines in two weeks (in true Shakespearian fashion) and joined the cast of Whedon darlings that included Nathan Fillion, Sean Maher, Alexis Denisof, and Amy Acker, many of whom were her childhood idols. It’s a classic rags to riches story, but Morgese seems like she deserves every minute. During the 12-day shoot for “Much Ado About Nothing,” the actress would consistently show up even when she wasn’t called to help out and learn from her experienced co-stars.
What’s Up Next: With Morgese under Whedon’s wing and given his tendency to reuse favorite actors, another project can’t be far off for the promising newcomer.
Profession: Actor, Writer, Director
Breakout Film: “Tiny Furniture”
Why They’re On Here: Lena Dunham’s first feature “Tiny Furniture” put him on the map, and he came back strong as grumpy old soul coffee shop owner Ray Ploshansky on her show “Girls,” standing out from his fellow twenty-somethings enough to garner a Critics’ Choice Nomination. He also wrote, directed, and starred in a pair of films, “Rubberneck” and “Red Flag,” which were both released theatrically and on VOD earlier this year via Tribeca Film.
What’s Up Next: He can be seen in the upcoming Coen Brothers film “Inside Llewyn Davis,” out December 6. He has a supporting role in “Wisdom Teeth,” directed by James Benson and Bernardo Britto, which is in post-production. The plot follows a college student named Danny who gets kicked out of his dorm a month before graduating and has to couch surf before he can move to L.A. with his friend Cameron to be reality TV show staff writers, leaving behind all their friends in New York. Not much info is available on the film, but Andrew W.K. is also cast. The film showed at the 2013 Northside Festival as part of the Northside DIY Competition.
Kate Lyn Sheil
Breakout Film: “Sun Don’t Shine”
Why They’re On Here: Kate Lyn Sheil is everywhere. She’s become a staple in the indie world over the last few years with roles in “The Color Wheel,” “V/H/S,” “Green,” “Silver Bullets,” and the polarizing “The Comedy.” In “Sun Don’t Shine,” Sheil braved alligator infested swamps to play Crystal, one half of a couple on a tense and mysterious road trip. Though Sheil has been climbing the indie ladder, she’s kept some humble roots, and feels awkward getting special treatment on bigger budget films. “You feel really silly because you’ve done all the other jobs on a film set and you’re like, I don’t need to eat before those people!” she said in an Indiewire interview for her next project.
What’s Up Next: Sheil has even more on her plate. She’s co-starring with “The Color Wheel” director Ales Ross Perry in “The Traditions,” a new series for HBO. Sheil joins her “Sun Don’t Shine” writer/director Amy Seimetz in Ti West’s “The Sacrament.” Sheil has also joined the cast of Netflix drama “House of Cards.” The second season is currently shooting in Maryland.
Martha Shane and Lana Wilson
Breakout Film: “After Tiller”
Why They’re On Here: Originally classmates at Wesleyan, it was Lana Wilson who approached Martha Shane about making a documentary profiling American abortion doctors. While Shane had previously co-directed “Bi the Way,” about the country’s changing views on bisexuality, Wilson had yet to make her first foray into filmmaking. The two came together to direct “After Tiller,” a look at the last four third-trimester abortion doctors in America. The sobering doc played to great buzz and acclaim at Sundance earlier this year, getting picked up by Oscilloscope for future release.
What’s Up Next: Wilson is currently exploring topics for her next documentary, while Shane is already underway on “The Mysteries of Marie Jocelyne,” a suspenseful look at former film festival director and alleged scam artist Marie Castaldo.
Profession: Writer, director
Breakout Film: “Dead Man’s Burden”
Why They’re On Here: Jared Moshe has been active in the business end for a number of years with more credits in the producing arena including “Beautiful Losers” and the Independent Spirit Award nominated “Kurt Cobain About a Son.” “Dead Man’s Burden” was Moshe’s first foray into writing and directing. The post-Civil War western featured production design from “There Will Be Blood” Ruth De Jong and critically acclaimed performances from Clare Bowen, Barlow Jacobs and David Calls. It was picked up by Cinedigm and hit theaters this spring.
What’s Up Next: Mosche’s sticking with the genre but bringing it into the 21st century. His next project is an hour long TV drama that he describes as a modern day western. He is developing the show with indie studio Cineflix.
Profession: Writer, director
Breakout Film: “Gimme the Loot”
Why They’re On Here: With his feature debut, Adam Leon garnered the Narrative Grand Jury Prize at last year’s SXSW, as well as playing at New Directors/New Films and Cannes, before an acclaimed limited release this past March. The film in question, “Gimme the Loot,” follows two aspiring graffiti artists trying to break through into the Bronx scene, effectively capturing the scrappiness of youth and the evocative vibrancy of the city.
What’s Up Next: Leon told Indiewire that he’s working on “something that’s a little different. I’m so passionate about it that I’m paranoid to talk about.”
Breakout Film: “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty”
Why They’re On Here: Terence Nance began his career as a visual and performance artist under the name Terence Etc. He has said that he feels much more comfortable making experimental music videos, but that didn’t stop him from attempting his first narrative film. For “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty,” which premiered at Sundance in 2012 and opened theatrically this Spring, Nance mixed visual styles and included animation to create a structurally obscure film that many called brave. “I think there’s something to be said for having a way of approaching everything. And my way is that all forms, all ways of making an image, are on the table,” he told Indiewire blog Shadow and Act. “Nothing is off limits.”
What’s Up Next: Nance is working on his next feature, a surreal thriller titled “The Lobbyist” in which he plays a con man. He hopes to shoot next year.
Profession: Writer, director
Breakout Film: “Afternoon Delight”
Why They’re On Here: Jill Soloway is a well known producer for hit HBO shows like “Six Feet Under,” and “United States of Tara.” Her hilarious book “Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants,” is a combo memoir and commentary on modern life. Soloway brought her humor to her first feature “Afternoon Delight,” which stars Kathryn Hahn as an L.A. housewife who tries to “rescue” a stripper (Juno Temple) by hiring her as a live-in nanny. Soloway won the U.S. Dramatic Directing Award Sundance and “Afternoon Delight” hits theaters on August 30.
What’s Up Next: The Film Arcade will be releasing “Afternoon Delight” theatrically with Cinedigm handling supplementary distribution.
Breakout Film: “Pit Stop”
Why They’re On Here: Yen Tan was born and raised in Malaysia, studied in Des Moines, Iowa, and now resides in Austin, Texas. As in Tan’s breakout “Ciao,” wherein a Dallas man and an Italian man grieve the loss of their friend, “Pit Stop” also explores a gay relationship with a Texas background. In “Pit Stop,” the story of two working class gay men and their families, Tan uses bleak scenery and drab colors to explore his fascination with small town America. The touching drama premiered at Sundance before hitting SXSW this year.
What’s Up Next: Back at Sundance, Tan told Indiewire that he’s working on a new script about a long-term relationship, and “more key art designs!” Wolfe Releasing will be releasing “Pit Stop” later this year.
Breakout Film: “A Teacher”
Why They’re On Here: In Hannah Fidell’s breakout Sundance entry “A Teacher,” picked up by Oscilloscope out of the fest, Lindsay Burdge appears in
pretty much every frame as an attractive suburban Texas high school
teacher engaged in a heated affair with a male student. The subject
matter alone attracted a lot of attention in Park City prior to the
film’s premiere, and after it screened, Burdge
emerged as one of the breakouts of the festival with a performance The Hollywood Reporter praised as “commandingly internalized.”
What’s Up Next: Burdge recently shot the indie “The Sideways
Light,” a movie she refers to as “another female-driven enterprise.” “A Teacher” opens September 6.
Breakout Film: “Frances Ha”
Why They’re On Here:
Noah Baumbach’s “Frances Ha” is full of big surprises. When it
premiered at Telluride last September it seemed to materialize out of
nowhere, having been shot in secret quite successfully the previous
year. Another welcome surprise of the film is the unheralded arrival of
young British actress Mickey Sumner, who earned praise in her completely
believable and often heartbreaking portrayal of the title character’s
(co-writer Greta Gerwig) best friend. Sumner fits so seamlessly
into Baumbach’s world that it seems incredible that the film is only her
second substantial role in a feature.
What’s Up Next: The New York-based actress portrays punk icon Patti Smith in Randall Miller’s upcoming “CBGB” and appears this summer opposite Kristen Wiig and Annette Bening in “Girl Most Likely.”
Breakout Film: “Cutie and the Boxer”
Why They’re On Here: Zachary Heinzerling came to this year’s Sundance Film Festival as a newbie filmmaker with his debut “Cutie and the Boxer.” He left Park City as a doc filmmaker to reckon with after landing distribution with RADiUS-TWC and the festival’s Documentary Directing Award.
The intimate and artful doc profiles Ushio and Noriko Shinohara, married
Japanese artists living in New York who have been together for 40-plus
years. At the film’s outset, the couple is in the midst of preparing a
joint exhibit. Using the event as a springboard, Heinzerling delves into
their surprising back-story to reveal a piercing look at the sacrifices
Noriko made in order to further Ushio’s career. It opens August 16.
What’s Up Next: “I really want to work on a narrative film,” Heinzerling told Indiewire. “I’ve worked on documentaries pretty much
solely up to now. I’d really like to try my hand at it. With this film I
was trying to basically make a narrative film, but instead of using
actors I used real people.”
Breakout Film: “Short Term 12”
Why They’re On Here: She’s been slowly building a name for herself with a bunch of small parts in films like “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” and “Greenberg” and a role on “The United States of Tara,” but she took everyone by surprise as the center of the indie drama “Short Term 12,” which took SXSW by storm earlier this year by winning both the Audience and Grand Jury awards. She took on a heavy role as a worker in a youth foster care facility trying to balance supervising underprivileged kids with her own problems as the past comes back to haunt her. She led the film with such heartbreaking gravity that we’re waiting for her next role with bated breath. “Short Term 12” opens August 23.
What’s Up Next: She can be seen in anticipated upcoming indies “The Spectacular Now” and “Don Jon,” which ought to hold us until her next starring role. She is currently billed for upcoming comedy “Relanxious,” about a woman who suffers from anxiety (Olivia Wilde) who falls in love with an agoraphobic guy (Jason Sudeikis). Larson will play Wilde’s best friend. She’ll also star in “Squirrels to the Nuts,” as a prostitute turned actress who gets a career boost from a smitten but married Broadway producer (Owen Wilson). And lastly, it looks like she’ll be starring in a Bollywood musical called “Basmati Blues.” Not many details are available, but her former career as a pop singer surely prepared her for a musical role.
Breakout Film: “King Kelly,” “Bluebird”
Why They’re On Here: Louisa Krause may
have earned her first major recognition for her role in the 2012 SXSW
entry “King Kelly,” but she truly proved herself in this year’s Tribeca
Film Festival entry, “Bluebird.” Though the film’s main focus is on Amy
Morton’s character, Lesley, Krause steals her
fair share of scenes as Marla, a boozing, pot-smoking small town
waitress who gets tangled up in the film’s central tragedy. Critic Rodrigo Perez of The Playlist said, “Krause, [as] the damaged and dysfunctional mother, is outstanding and one to watch,” when he saw the film in April. We have to agree.
What’s Up Next: Krause is slated to appear in a number
of smaller films already in post-production. She has roles in “You Can’t
Win” and “Gabriel,” starring Michael Pitt and Rory Culkin,
respectively. Both films are expected in 2013. “The First” is a slightly
more high profile film for the young actress. Starring Julia Stiles and
David Strathairn, the biopic of silent film star Mary Pickford has yet
to set a release date.Oscar Isaac
Breakout Film: “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Why They’re On Here: He
stole the show in his first lead role as fictional folk singer Llewyn
Davis in the Coen Brothers’ Cannes entry, navigating the 60s folk scene in New York with charm and appeal.
His performance is already generating a lot of Oscar buzz. He also
arrested our ears with a stellar voice, but no surprise there — it turns
out he’s been singing since he was young, and he even played lead
guitar and sang vocals in his own band.
What’s Up Next: Tons
of things. Isacc’s acting resume is already pretty long, but he’s
playing some big parts in the future. He has a meaty part in the
upcoming adaptation of “Therese,” the Emile Zola novel. Isaac is
thrown in with the likes of Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Felton, Mackenzie
Crook, and Jessica Lange in a world of love and sexual repression in
1860s Paris. He co-stars opposite Kirsten Dunst and Viggo Mortensen in
“The Two Faces of January” as a Greek local who gets wrapped up in the
suspicious activity of a husband and wife con-artist team. His next
bona-fide lead will be the title role in “The Ballad of Pablo Escobar,”
the true story of a Colombian drug lord. He has several more projects in
development, but details are scant.
Profession: Writer, director, actress
Breakout Film: “Upstream Color,” “Sun Don’t Shine”
Why They’re On Here:
Amy Seimetz is having a moment. The writer-actress-filmmaker has for the
better part of a decade been making a name for herself on the indie
film circuit by working with everyone from Lena Dunham on “Tiny
Furniture” to Joe Swanberg” in “Alexander the Last” to anchoring Megan
Griffith’s acclaimed Sundance character study “The Off Hours.” This year, however, marks Seimetz biggest one yet. First came Shane
Carruth’s “Upstream Color,” in which she co-starred with the
writer-director in one of the most perplexing indies to come along in
ages. And this summer saw the theatrical release of her directorial debut “Sun
Don’t Shine,” a 16mm shot, micro-budget portrait of a couple (Kentucker
Audley and Kate Lyn Sheil) on the run for murder, in addition to her appearing on the small screen in Christopher Guest’s HBO comedy series “Family Tree,” and the surprise third season of AMC’s “The Killing.”
What’s Up Next: In August you can
catch her in Adam Wingard’s acclaimed horror pic “You’re Next,” opposite
Ti West and Swanberg. She also has three features in the can, including West’s upcoming horror “The Sacrament.”
Profession: Writer, director, producer, actress
Breakout Film: “In a World…”
Why They’re On Here:
Lake Bell, the tall and lanky comedienne best known for her work on
Adult Swim’s “Children’s Hospital” and HBO’s now-defunct “How To Make It
In America,” proved herself to be a quadruple threat when “In
a World…,” her feature writing-directing debut (which she also
co-produced and stars in), world premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to a rave response from the packed house at the Library Theater. It was picked up by Roadside Attractions and opens August 9.
What’s Up Next: She’s currently filming the sports drama “Million Dollar Arm” opposite Jon Hamm, Bill Paxton and Alan Arkin, under the direction of “Lars and the Real Girl” helmer Craig Gillespie. Thoma McCarthy (“The Visitor,” “Win Win”) penned the screenplay.
Breakout Film: “What Maisie Knew”
Why They’re On Here:
She was only 7 when she made “What Maisie Knew,” but she grabbed our
attention as a young New Yorker caught in the middle of her parents’
custody battle. She garnered praise and affection from her adult costars
and acted with subtle honesty, even though her mom still had to help
her learn her lines. In fact, she dominated the film, and surprised her
co-stars with her process. Co-star Alexander Skarsgard is a fan, saying “She’s so sensitive, and real. I work for months, and I think about my
character, I analyze everything. Then you show up on set, and she’s a
million times better than I am. I’m like, ‘Come on!! This is not fair!'”
What’s Up Next:
No projects yet, but the world seems to be captivated by this little
ball of energy, who doesn’t let her adorable real life personality get
in the way of a serious role. She seems to be heading for great things.
Breakout Film: “The Great Gatsby”
Why They’re On Here: While Baz Luhrmann’s Cannes opening night entry, “The Great Gatsby,” earned mixed
agree on one thing: That Australian newcomer Elizabeth Debicki stood
out among the starry cast, despite only appearing in a handful of
scenes. As the golfing, long limbed beauty Jordan Baker, Debicki
radiated a cool confidence — no small feat considering she landed the
role mere months after leaving the Victorian College of the Arts, and
had to act opposite a heavyweight like Leonardo DiCaprio, under the
direction of one of her country’s most revered filmmakers.
What’s Up Next: She’s currently performing in a production of “The Maids” for Sydney Theater Company with Cate Blanchett and Isabelle Huppert in Australia.Josephine de la Baume
Breakout Film: “Kiss of the Damned”
Why They’re On Here:
French beauty Josephine de La Baume makes for one hell of a fiery blood
sucker in the indie vampire tale “Kiss of the Damned,” written and
directed by Xan Cassevetes, daughter to John and Gena Rowlands (it opened this summer). The role of Djuna marks La Baume’s most high profile one yet following
supporting parts in “The Princess of Montpensier” and “One Day” — and she kills it.
What’s Up Next: Her
popularity will surely only continue to rise once audiences catch her in
Ron Howard’s anticipated Formula One drama “Rush,” out in theaters
during the heat of awards season on September 20.
Breakout Film: “Escape From Tomorrow”
Why They’re On Here: Moore shot his debut film “Escape from Tomorrow”
on location at Disney World without obtaining any kind of permission.
He simply bought his cast and crew season passes and returned over and
over again to complete the project. The daring guerrilla production was
one of the most talked about films at Sundance this year and was chosen
by Roger Ebert to screen at this year’s EbertFest just before the famed
critic’s death. But Moore doesn’t have any grandiose commentary on
Disney itself. “I don’t want to be like a personality like someone who’s
out there trying to make a spectacle of trying to bring down
corporations,” he told Indiewire back in January. “I just wanted to tell
What’s Up Next: So far, Disney hasn’t taken any legal action against “Escape from Tomorrow,” but the film sill doesn’t have official distribution. During the month long binge wherein Moore wrote “Escape from Tomorrow,”
he also penned two other scripts: one a horror film set on a boat, and
another about an actress who gets involved with a cult. Might we suggest
guerrilla style on a big name cruise ship or within the inner workings
Breakout Film: “Mother of George”
Why They’re On Here: Most people know Danai Gurira as the Samurai sword-wielding Michonne on “The
Walking Dead.” But Gurira is also an award winning stage actor, an Obie
Award winning writer, and co-founder of a Zimbabwean arts education
non-profit. This year at Sundance, Gurira wowed critics with her
stunning performance in Andrew Dosunmu’s “Mother of George” as a
Nigerian newlywed struggling to conceive.
What’s Up Next: In April, Gurira told South African news site The Independent that she’s been approached to write her own TV series.
Breakout Film: “The Kings of Summer“
Why They’re On Here: Jordan
Vogt-Roberts caused a stir at Sundance this year with his coming of age
comedy “The Kings of Summer,” but the Detroit-born director and writer
has been making waves in the comedy world for the past couple years. He
got his start setting up the website Blerds.com, an outlet for his
stand-up comedian friends. Vogt-Roberts went on to direct various web
series and shorts, including the short film “Successful Alcoholics”
starring T.J. Miller and Lizzy Caplan, which premiered at Sundance in
2010 and has since been played at over thirty festivals. Vogt-Roberts’
ascension continued as he went on to direct some episodes of the HBO
series “Funny or Die Presents” and create the Comedy Central stand-up
series “Mash Up” in 2012. That year his feature directorial debut went
into production. Originally titled “Toy’s House,” “The Kings of Summer”
stars relative unknowns Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, and Moises Arias,
as well as star players Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, and Megan Mullaly.
The film follows three teens who eschew their parents’ rigid lifestyles
and run away to live in the woods– sort of Thoreau meets “Superbad.”
The film met positive reviews upon its premiere and its May 31st release date, cementing Vogt-Roberts’ name as a fresh figure in comedy to look out for.
What’s Up Next: While
he has so solidified plans as of yet, Vogt-Roberts has intimated that
he has some ideas he is trying to get off of the ground and has some
scripts that have been sent his way. He is also figuring out plans for a
second season of his show “Mash Up.”
Breakout Film: “Ginger & Rosa“
Why They’re On Here: Alice
Englert grew up in cinema. As the daughter of Oscar-winning director
Jane Campion (“The Piano”) and filmmaker Colin Englert, she spent her
childhood on airplanes and in editing rooms. Lately, the teen actress
has proven more than capable at commanding attention in front of the
camera. This became evident in her breakout performance this year in
Sally Potter’s period drama “Ginger & Rosa.” The film follows the
relationship of two teenage girls, Englert and Elle Fanning, in London
in 1962. As political and social tumult takes the world by storm, it has
an equally threatening effect on the girls’ friendship. 2013 also saw
Englert starring in the mystical and gothic fantasy film “Beautiful
What’s Up Next: Englert
has some other projects set for release this year. The time-travel
adventure film “Singularity” starring Josh Hartnett is currently in
post-production. Also coming soon is “In Fear,” a dark thriller that
premiered at Sundance. It hits theaters in the U.K. in November, with no
word on a U.S. release date.
[Nigel M. Smith, Ben Travers, Casey Cipriani, Julia Selinger, Madeline Raynor and Clint Holloway contributed to this article.]