Writer-director Nathan Silver is harnessing a crisis of faith for his irreverent comedy “Between the Temples,” debuting at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival.

Silver, who has written and directed nine feature films and has had projects premiere at NYFF, Venice, Tribeca, AFI, Locarno, and Rotterdam, is making his Sundance debut with the feature. Silver was previously rejected by Sundance many times before “Between the Temples” landed in the U.S. Dramatic Competition programming lineup, his first time competing at the festival. “Between the Temples” is also among IndieWire’s must-see films at this year’s festival.

In “Between the Temples,” a cantor (Jason Schwartzman) in a crisis of faith finds his world turned upside down when his grade school music teacher reenters his life as his new adult bat mitzvah student (Carol Kane).

Robert Smigel, Annie Hamilton, Madeline Weinstein, and “Triangle of Sadness” alum Dolly de Leon also star.

“Between the Temples” is co-written by director Silver and C. Mason Wells. The film is produced by Ley Line Entertainment and Fusion Entertainment with producers Tim Headington, Theresa Steele Page, Nate Kamiya, Adam Kersh and Taylor Hess. Sean Price Williams serves as the cinematographer.

Filmmaker Silver told Variety that the late coming-of-age comedy is “one from the heart” and centers on “a story that touches on many aspects of my life.” Silver’s own mother has a cameo in the film.

“She’s seen it and gave it a good review,” Silver said of the personal story. “She’s the only critic that counts.”

Silver uses “scriptments,” which he compared to novellas, as opposed to traditional scripts. Actress Kane called the process “intimidating” but one that left itself open to improv.

“There are scenes and outlines, but it’s more of a blueprint,” Kane said. “And then the actors get to add their own ideas and flesh it out.”

In addition to “Between the Temples,” the U.S. Dramatic Competition lineup includes Sean Wang’s “Didi,” Titus Kaphar’s “Exhibiting Forgiveness,” India Donaldson’s “Good One,” Alessandra Lacorazza’s “In the Summers,” Sam and Andy Zuchero’s “Love Me” starring Kristen Stewart and Steven Yeun, River Gallo’s “Ponyboi” with Victoria Pedretti and Dylan O’Brien, and Theda Hammel’s “Stress Positions.”

Jesse Eisenberg’s “A Real Pain” starring Emmy winner Kieran Culkin, with Emma Stone producing, plus Laura Chinn’s “Suncoast,” additionally will debut in the section.

“Between the Temples” premieres at 2024 Sundance in the U.S. Dramatic Competition on January 19. The film is currently seeking distribution. Check out the first-look photos below.

“Between the Temples” Sean Price Williams, Courtesy of Ley Line
“Between the Temples” Sean Price Williams, Courtesy of Ley Line
“Between the Temples” Sean Price Williams, Courtesy of Ley Line
“Between the Temples” Sean Price Williams, Courtesy of Ley Line

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