Francesca Eastwood Tops Verge List of Rising Sundance Stars (Exclusive Videos)

Every year, photographer Jeff Vespa chooses talent that people at Sundance should look out for

Last Updated: January 18, 2016 @ 4:43 PM

Jeff Vespa, the official photographer of the Sundance Film Festival since 2003, on Monday unveiled his Verge List of emerging talent with movies at this month’s festival in Park City, Utah.

Francesca Eastwood, Ben Schnetzer and Markees Christmas are among this year’s selections, featured in the new issue of Vespa’s digital magazine, Verge.

“Shooting actors at festivals for so many years,” Vespa told TheWrap. “I have developed an eye for discovery interesting new talent.”

Vespa has shot stars like John Boyega and Nick Robinson, who went on starring roles in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Jurassic World,” respectively.

He also shot Rebecca Ferguson long before she landed the lead opposite Tom Cruise in “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.” Boyega used one of Vespa’s shots on his various social media accounts for years.

Jeff Vespa:

“I started this magazine to support emerging talent, and wanted to do something that wasn’t being done.” Vespa told TheWrap. “The idea is to really find these people before the festival starts, and to be a resource to people in the industry to say, ‘Here are the people you should be paying attention to at the festival.”

See Vespa’s 2016 list of up-and-coming talent below.

Francesca Eastwood, “Outlaws and Angels” “It is absolutely nerve-wracking that the movie is now going to be seen by the Sundance audience. When I shot this movie, it was such an intense experience that I forgot it was something that was going to be seen. I really bared my soul.”

Andre Hyland, “The 4th” “I wrote and directed my film ‘The 4th.’ It wasn’t like, Oh, I’ll make myself a star! The intention never came from that place. It was more like, OK, I want to get this thing done and I know what I need out of this character. And if I can get this ball rolling then others will join in.”

Ben Schnetzer, “Goat”
“My character in ‘Goat’ is a college student who is pledging my brother’s fraternity. He is a young guy who is searching for something that a lot of young men find themselves searching for at his age — late-teens, early twenties. And he is doing so in the face of really difficult circumstances. I don’t want to give too much away, but he discovers that identifying yourself is not always a conscious decision. It’s not always a choice. A lot of times what we do is what defines us as a person rather than how we want to be seen — or who we want to be seen as — if that makes any sense.”

Dylan Gelula, “First Girl I Loved”
“I play a girl who is really smart and cool in ‘First Girl I Loved’ — the kind of teenager who is going to have the most awesome adult life and just the shittiest adolescence. Which is the best kind of person. You know when people are ahead of their high-school selves? That is how I would describe her.”

Kate Lyn Sheil, “Kate Plays Christine”
“Interestingly, our film is one of two playing at Sundance that is about Christine Chubbuck. There is a narrative film about her as well. My film is a documentary/narrative hybrid. There hasn’t been much exploration into Christine’s story since the mid-seventies, so the fact that there are two movies about this woman coming out in 2016 is notable. I play myself preparing to play the role of Christine Chubbuck. She was a news anchor in Sarasota, Florida, who committed suicide live on air in 1974: She shot herself in the head. ‘Network’ was loosely based on her.”

Markees Christmas, “Morris from America”
“This is my first movie. And this will be my first time seeing snow. It’s going to be my third time getting on a plane. My first time hearing about the festival was when the director was like: ‘What if the movie goes to Sundance? This could be big.’ I was like: What’s Sundance? I don’t know what is going to go down there. But I am proud of the work. I worked to the limit of every day and I feel like I have achieved something to a certain level.”

Royalty Hightower, “The Fits”
“I was raised to think I was a star. Because if you don’t, then who will? But it still feels weird. Now everyone is going to know who I am. But before, I was just a regular person. This film has gone so far, so fast — and much further than I thought it would go.”


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