Sundance has had a green streak for a long time. It goes deeper than the new line of organic cotton festival wear, and the reliable influx of hybrid vehicles into town for the week. Films like An Inconvenient Truth, Blue Vinyl, Everything’s Cool, The Unforeseen, Who Killed the Electric Car, Fields of Fuel, Flow, Manufactured Landscapse, Up the Yangtze all premiered at Sundance over the last few years and all focus heavily on themes of environmental change and of connections between people and their environments. The festival’s related commitment to Native American stories goes back to its beginnings.
I always pay close attention to such films because of my involvement with Eckerd College’s “Visions of Nature, Voices of Nature,” Environmental Film Festival, that I have co-directed along with its founder Cathy Griggs for the past three years, and that began as a Native American film festival. For several years, we have tried to supplement the February lineup with at least one film that had just shown for the first time at Sundance. Last year it was Up the Yangtze and The Unforeseen (which played Sundance in 2007), and before that we screened Everything’s Cool. It goes beyond documentary. We have also screened fictional feature films from Sundance, films in which place plays a prominent role, such as Chris Eyre’s Edge of America, Jake Mahaffy’s War, and Kevin Wilmott’s CSA: Confederate States of America. (Kevin Wilmott is back again this year, with a western that I discuss below). We’ll see whether we can manage to pull it off again this year. (more…)