'You Won't Be Alone'. (Credit: Branko Starcevic/Focus Features)

Goran Stolevski’s You Won’t Be Alone will make its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival as part of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition.

Produced by Causeway Films’ Kristina Ceyton and Samantha Jennings, the supernatural horror, set in 19th century Macedonia, stars Noomi Rapace, Anamaria Marinca, Alice Englert, Carloto Cotta, Félix Maritaud and Sara Klimoska.

It follows a young witch who is left to go feral in the woods. Curious about life as a human, she accidentally kills a peasant, then takes her shape to see what life is like in her skin. This ignites her deep-seated curiosity to experience life inside the bodies of others.

The film marks the debut feature for Macedonian-Australian Stolevski, following on from 25 shorts, including Would You Look At Her, winner of Best International Short Film at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

Balkanic Media’s Jonathan English is co-producer, with Rapace, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross, Stephen Kelliher, Michelle Pearce, Dale Roberts, Jonathan Page, and Bryce Menzies executive producers. Universal Pictures is the ANZ distributor, while Focus Features is readying a US theatrical release post the festival.

Sundance returns to cinemas in 2022 after this year’s digital iteration, but maintains hybrid nature. Feature films will screen in-person before premiering online with a Q&A via interactive platform ‘The Spaceship’.

Running January 20-30, the Utah-based festival will screen a slimmer selection than in pre-pandemic times, with 82 features selected, 42 per cent of which are from first-time feature filmmakers. More than half – 52 per cent – were directed by one or more filmmakers identify as women; 1 per cent were directed non-binary individuals; 35 per cent were directed by people of colour and 10 per centby one or more filmmakers who identify as LGBTIQ+.

The festival received some 14,849 submissions this year, including 3,762 feature-length films.

The other Australian selection for this year is virtual reality project Gondwana, which screens as part of the New Frontier program that focuses on experimental work in VR, AR, MR and AI.

Directed by Ben Joseph Andrews and produced by Emma Roberts, Gondwana is a durational VR experience that runs over 24 hours, chronicling the possible futures of the Daintree Rainforest. Powered by climate data, each showing is unrepeatable and speculative.

“We can finally let the cassowary out of the bag! We’re over the moon with this news: creating this project through lockdowns and across different states and timezones has been a mammoth effort from our incredible team,” Roberts tells IF.

Gondwana has been designed as an online native multiplayer event: anyone, anywhere in the world, can jump into our virtual version of the world’s oldest tropical rainforest in VR, on PCs (with keyboard navigation), or as a livestream in-browser. Our hope is that it can connect audiences worldwide back to the natural world, but also to each other after the last few years of fragmentation.”

Australian director Sophie Hyde’s Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, a UK film starring Emma Thompson, will also premiere at the festival. Scripted by British comedian Katy Brand, the film follows Thompson as Nancy Stokes, a woman who hires the services of Leo Grande, a young sex worker, for a night of bliss.

Hyde won the Sundance directing award: World Cinema Dramatic for her debut feature 52 Tuesdays in 2014.

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