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HBO Films Buys Sundance Powerhouse ‘The Tale,’ Taking it Out of the Oscar Race and Making it an Emmy Contender

Laura Dern could follow-up her Emmy win for "Big Little Lies" with another for Jennifer Fox's powerhouse Sundance drama.

Laura Dern and Isabel Nelisse appear in The Tale by Jennifer Fox, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Kyle Kaplan.

“The Tale”

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HBO Films has purchased distribution rights to Jennifer Fox’s breakout Sundance drama “The Tale,” Variety reports. Laura Dern plays a version of Fox in the true-story drama, which finds Dern’s Jenny reflecting on the sexual and psychological abuse she endured when she was a 13-year-old girl. Jason Ritter and Elizabeth Debicki co-star. Newcomer Isabelle Nelisse plays the younger version of Jenny.

As a title under the HBO Films banner, “The Tale” will skip a theatrical release and instead premiere directly on the premium cable channel. The move means “The Tale” will be eligible for the Emmys and not the Oscars next awards season. Many Sundance journalists felt “The Tale” was one of the strongest titles in the lineup this year and perhaps the movie with the biggest Oscar chances. Dern recently won an Emmy for HBO’s “Big Little Lies.”

“It has always been my intent to find an engaged distribution partner who deeply understands the wide reach of the project, not just as a film, but also for the impact it can have on a larger global conversation,” Fox said in a statement. “In a world in which stories like mine have often been pushed into the darkness, no one has been better at shining a light on storytelling and important social issues than HBO. I am overjoyed to be able to take ‘The Tale’ out into the world with such a vibrant and engaged team.”

IndieWire’s own David Ehrlich gave “The Tale” an A rating out of Sundance, signaling it as one of the most acclaimed titles in Park City this year. He called the drama “an immense, brave, and genuinely earth-shaking self-portrait that explores sexual assault with a degree of nuance and humility often missing from the current discourse.”

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