From screenplay to finished film “Nine Days” comes full circle at Sundance | ParkRecord.com
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From screenplay to finished film “Nine Days” comes full circle at Sundance

Jeff Dempsey
The Park Record
Winston Duke and Zazie Beetz appear in Nine Days by Edson Oda, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Wyatt Garfield.
“Nine Days,” an entry in the Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. Dramatic Competition, is set to screen at the following times and locations:
  • Monday, Jan. 27, 6:30 p.m., Eccles Theatre
  • Tuesday, Jan. 28, 9 a.m., The Ray Theatre
  • Wednesday, Jan. 29, 3 p.m., Sundance Mountain Resort Screening Room
  • Thursday, Jan. 30, 8:30 p.m., Prospector Square Theatre
  • Friday, Jan. 31, 6 p.m., Grand Theatre
  • Saturday, Feb. 1, Noon, Library Center Theatre

Filmmaker Edson Oda wasn’t guaranteed a slot at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival for his debut feature, “Nine Days,” but it’s nonetheless appropriate that he got one. Oda wrote the screenplay for the film several years ago and was chosen to participate in the 2017 Sundance Screenwriters Lab, an experience he said was invaluable to bringing his movie to life.

“The lab was the best thing that ever happened to this movie,” he said. “I had this idea in my mind and wrote the first draft, and the lab saw potential in it. They taught me so much about how to better connect with my film and how to help viewers connect with it, too. It was an amazing experience.”

“Nine Days” tells the story of Will, a person who has lived his life and now finds himself with the task of deciding which of five souls gets the privilege of being born. He has nine days to interview the souls and decide who gets to live and who will cease to exist.

“I call it a drama. It’s grounded science fiction, in a distant reality,” Oda said. “I think thematically it’s about the extremes of life, how it can be so joyful and wonderful and on the flip side, so difficult and challenging. My movie explores both aspects, how it feels to be alive.”

“Nine Days” boasts a particularly strong cast: Winston Duke, Zazie Beetz, Benedict Wong, Bill Skarsgård, Tony Hale and David Rysdahl. Oda said he was thrilled he was able to draw such talent to the project.

“Just knowing these actors read the script and connected with it, meeting with them and connecting with them, knowing we were on the same page, was so great for me,” he said.

While “Nine Days” is his first feature-length film, Oda has been making short films for years, many of them as part of his career in advertising. He said the step up to a feature-length project was an adjustment for him but one he enjoyed.

“The size and the responsibilities, everything is bigger,” he said. “It’s pretty much the same in terms of the craft. What changes is just the scope and the number of people who are depending on you.”

From bringing the “Nine Days” screenplay to the Screenwriters Lab to now screening the completed film at the Sundance Film Festival, Oda said he is proud to see his project come full circle.

“It has always been my dream to have a movie screen at Sundance,” he said. “Knowing that so many great directors have showcased their work here, I’m just so happy to be among them.”


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