My Sundance 2011 Experience
Sundance 2011 has been an incredible and interesting experience. As one of the few people who did not run into a single celebrity while being here, I found my experience to be solely based on the films I saw. Here is a review of the films I saw and the experiences I had here in Park City, Utah.
The first film I saw was Hobo with a Shotgun on Jan 21 at 11:30pm. The film consisted of a hobo played by Rutger Hauer who decides to infiltrate a town, aptly renamed “Fuck Town” which had fallen to crime and decimation, and kill those encouraging this behavior. With the effect of a Grindhouse film, the gore is over the top and the script is hilarious in a very serious manner.
Next film I saw was Position Among the Stars which I waitlisted on Jan 22 at 9pm. This film is a documentary about an Indonesian family that director Leonard Helmrich has followed for years. This film was the third in a trilogy and focused mainly on the family’s financial and economic issues. Helmrich has a very unique way of maneuvering his camera so visually this movie was stunning although I left feeling a little dizzy.
Sunday I went skiing with Travis, Frank, Chris, Lindsay and Travis’s friend Amelia. The day was awesome and we all had a lot of fun (except for maybe Lindsay who had an asthma attack on top of the mountain.)
At 11:30pm I saw the film called The Woman directed by Lucky McKee. This movie was shocking and truly horrific in means of the visual and the overall story. The main plot is about a man that forces his family to “civilize” a savage woman by torturing her. This movie really is not for the faint of heart.
On Monday the 24th at 12:15pm I saw Another Earth directed by Mike Cahill that was a beautiful drama about a 21-year-old girl just released from prison who tries to make up for her bad decisions when she was 17. This movie was probably one of my favorites. The characters are developed really well and the story, although somewhat outrageous, relatable.
Directly after that film I saw the Indie Classic Slacker directed by Richard Linklater. This movie originally premiered at Sundance in 1990 and defined what a slacker is. By sporadically following people throughout a day we learn about a life as a drifter through society. Although it is a classic and broke ground for many independent films too come, I personally did not like this film. I found it boring and since there is no plot the film drags on.
Ending my Monday at midnight, I saw KNUCKLE. Directed by Ian Palmer this movie examines the life of an Irish clan who solve a long lasting family feud with bare-knuckle fights. I found this documentary really interesting because it was based around such an intimate part of these people’s lives. Palmer does a really great job becoming intimate with these people without getting invasive.
Tuesday the 25th is when I saw my personal favorite of the bunch. Ticket to Paradise is a Cuban film directed by Gerardo Valdes that revolves around Eunice’s adventure after she runs away from her sexually abusive father. Meeting up with a group of freakies (drug using punks) she gets enveloped in their life enjoying her freedom until her crush asks them all to infect themselves with AIDs and admit themselves into a hospital. This film was beautifully done and incredibly sensitive. I really enjoyed watching this movie because I was never bored and I truly liked every minute of it even though it was a somewhat depressing plot.
At 9pm I saw How to Die in Oregon that ended the day in a really depressing way. This film was by far the most touching documentary I have ever seen and I have the upmost respect for director Peter Richardson. He follows people in Oregon who are affected by the Death With Dignity Act, which allows for medically assisted deaths for those terminally ill. I have never cried more during a film ever and that basically states it all.
Wednesday the 26th at 3:15 I saw Little Birds directed by Elgin James. This story follows 2 teenage girls who escape from their boring life on the shores of the Salton Sea to Los Angles. The acting was awesome in this movie and personally I loved when Kay Panabaker playing Alison shot a guy trying to rape her friend Lily (Juno Temple).
Then at 8:30 pm I went to Slamdance and saw Superheroes directed by Michael Barnett. This film is a documentary about Real Life Superheroes and how they go about protecting their local communities. A group of us even got a picture with some superheroes in attendance!
Thursday at 2:45pm I watched I Saw the Devil, which is a Korean horror film directed by Kim Ji-woon. Starting off with the abduction and murder of a woman the film was off to a great start but it started dragging on. Lasting 2h and 20m, the movie was way too long but the story was well developed and the gore effects and fight scenes were really well done.
At 8:45 pm I went to see Take Shelter directed by Jeff Nichols. This movie focuses mainly on a seemingly crazy man and his apocalypse theory. This film was amazing and the effects were awesome. I would defiantly recommend this to everyone I know and its something I would want to see many more times.
On Friday the 28th at 12:15pm I saw Pariah, which I was really looking forward too. A story about a closeted lesbian, we follow Alike through her daily life hiding her sexuality from her parents but still trying to be herself with her friends. The film really lived up to the “buzz” following it and I really enjoyed the film. I hope to see more from director Dee Rees in the near future.
Saturday the 29th at 11:30am I saw Sound of My Voice directed by Zal Batmanglij. This film was also beautifully done as it follows the story of a couple that enters a cult for the sake of a documentary. Slowly Peter looses himself to the life of the cult and forgets his original mission to uncover the falsies.
The last movie I saw at the festival was Kaboom at 9:30pm. This film, directed by Gregg Araki, follows gay college student Smith as he has sexual encounters with a girl who turns out to be his half sister and hallucinates a murder. The murder ends up being a reality as he figures out his dad runs the cult that called for the murder. This movie was extremely hilarious with great dialogue but it was very stylized and the plot was really complicated and sometimes hard to follow.