Ten Days at Sundance: Pretty Okay
I enjoyed the experience of Sundance. Its not the coolest thing I’ve ever done with myself, but wasn’t a total waste of time either. I succeeded at making some great connections with people who might be able to help me out to one extent or another after I graduate, which honestly was the objective for me. My second priority was seeing a good deal of documentaries, because unlike the features, who knows where else I’d ever learn all that I did through my week of exploring this versatile genre. My biggest regret here at Sundance would probably be that I didn’t weave more New Frontiers films into my docu-marathon. After all Sundance is about the new frontiers and experimental, never before seen film making. The few films in this series which I did see, I really appreciated and know that I would never watch outside of a festival setting, so…maybe next time. Hopefully there will be a next time that I find myself watching quirky festival movies, and not necessarily at Sundance either– of course this is an immensely important gathering for both US and international film makers, but at the risk of whining, the weather here in Park City isn’t my thing. Hey, maybe Cannes! Anyway, in the order in which they are listed in the official Sundance Film Guide, here is a list of all the great movies I was lucky enough to see over the past ten days, hopefully some of the titles stick with those of you reading, and if you ever happen to come across it at a funky video store, you’ll decide to give it a whirl.
“Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech”: A pretty powerful documentary, though I’ve recently read about a lot of what was presented. I’m sort of burnt out on discussing free speech, but definitely check it out if you aren’t.
“We Live in Public”: A very interesting and provocative documentary about internet exhibitionism. More entertaining that informative, and thats a good thing!
“Don’t Let Me Drown”: A heartwarming slice of life feature film. The amazing cast and street smart dialogue are definitely the highlight of this movie–not your typical love story!
“Humpday”: A pretty unique premise, but kind of slow at times. Also I wasn’t sure if the film makers were aware of “the style” of humor they were going for, so it seemed inconsistent. A good chuckle here and there, for “Humpday” was most successful in making the audience squirm then laugh.
“Toe to Toe”: Rivals “Don’t Let Me Drown” as my pick for best drama. It reminds me of those unapologetic movies about high schoolers such as “Welcome to the Dollhouse”, “Thirteen” or “Jawbreaker” that go on to become cult classics. I hope it does!
“211:Anna”: Despite my earlier review of this film, the more I think back on it, the more I think I liked it. Ironic that yet another such incident happened in Moscow during the documentary’s screening at Sundance.
“Afghan Star”: As I stated in an earlier review, music documentaries give the best insight into a countries culture in general. “Afghan Star” provides a look at Afghanistan’s pop music scene, and paints the nation in a completely different light than we see on the news.
“The End of the Line”: Kind of boring, unless you’re passionate about fish conservation. If you’re not to begin with, this is not the documentary which is going to turn you into an activist.
“Quest for Honor”: A documentary about honor killings in Kurdistan. Very strategic, investigative film making, which is what I recall most about this movie.
“Rough Aunties”: A documentary about a center which deals with abused children in South Africa. One of the best! You get to know and sympathize with the women in this film that you feel like they’re your friends by the end of it. You root for them the way you would characters of scripted drama!
“Tibet in Song”: One of, if not the most informative, documentaries I have ever seen. Ever. Hands down the best here at Sundance.
“Unmade Beds”: The downside to slice-of-life style film making. It went nowhere, proved nothing, bored the hell out of me.
“Zion and His Brother”: A powerful drama out of Israel. Very commendable character development–you don’t really like them, or agree with them, but you understand them and their choices. A sad movie, but not remotely sentimental.
“The Yes Men Fix the World”: A fun, political documentary about the evils of corporate America. These guys are gonna be back with more wacky yet revealing shenanigans for sure.
“The Carter”: I personally really liked this documentary about rapper Lil’ Wayne. It was shot kind of like a music video–very colorful, and Lil Wayne is an adorable, little elf-like dude who is quite endearing to watch.
“Where is Where”: An experimental film, shot entirely in a four way split screen. Hard to describe, but fascinating to watch, if you leave your cynicism regarding “artsy” movies behind.
“Shorts: Series II”: The only shorts program I saw. A couple hilarious movies stuck with me, like “Asshole” about a guy who gives his doctor a very hard time. A crappy movie which made no sense, and not in the “deep” way either, and a slightly scary movie about a little boy who comes face to face with a deranged shooter in his classroom. Though I didn’t see any of the other shorts series, I think series II had all the essential components of a shorts screening!
Tags: Anastassia Smordinskaya