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The 2020 Sundance Film Festival runs from Jan. 23 - Feb.2, in Park City, Utah

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Sundance Veteran Nicole Holofcener

 

With the Sundance Film Festival in almost its third decade, it is no surprise that there are certain filmmakers who have become Park City regulars and veterans of the American indie scene. One of the most successful of the women directors that Sundance has nurtured is Nicole Holofcener, who is back at the Festival with her latest film PLEASE GIVE. The writer/director was first at Sundance with her 1996 romantic drama WALKING AND TALKING.

Like that earlier film, PLEASE GIVE also stars indie fave Catherine Keener, another Sundance veteran who has been in dozens of films over the years. In this latest feminist-fueled drama, Keener plays a mother and wife who owns a successful business selling furniture with her husband (played by the always wonderful Oliver Platt). The Manhattan-based couple are planning to expand their existing apartment by knocking through the wall of the adjoining apartment (which they own) but must wait until their cranky tenant either moves or dies. This typical New York story of moving up when someone else moves out is made complicated when the couple develops a  relationship with the old woman’s grown granddaughters (played by Amanda Peet and Rebecca Hall).

The strong presence of so many women should not come as a surprise to fans of Holofcener's previous films. WALKING AND TALKING had plum parts for its two leads, Catherine Keener  and Anne Heche. The writer/director's follow up LOVELY AND AMAZING (2001) included superb turns by a great ensemble, including Keener, Brenda Blethyn and Emily Mortimer. And in her last film FRIENDS WITH MONEY (2006), Keener was joined by Jennifer Aniston, Joan Cusack and Frances McDormand in a winning comedy drama about a group of girlfriends whose professional and personal lives have gone in very different directions.

In her latest film, Holofcener’s smart and entertaining script offers her actresses meaty roles that explore issues of of self-esteem, commitment, body image and moral arguments. The North American distributor Sony Pictures Classics came on board before shooting had even begun, based on the strong script and the intriguing casting. The film, which world premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this past weekend, will go on to compete at the Berlin Film Festival next month, a first for its director.

With only four films to her credit and a long gestation period between projects, a new Holofcener film is a true delight and can be expected to be one of the indie highlights of the new year.  

Sandy Mandelberger, Festival Dailies Editor

 

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