My Sundance Summary

January 28, 2014 : 12:52 am | by Dominick Cuppetilli

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival blew away all my expectations of what it would be. Everything from the town of Park City to the films being played left me in total awe. My eyes were opened to a whole new perspective on what film culture can be. You can read about the Sundance film festival all you want, but until you are there and live it, you’ll have no idea.

The week and a half of preparation in class was definitely a help for me. Not coming from a film studies background, I was able to study independent film in a way that would help me to think more critically about what I was watching. Had I not had any time to realize this, I don’t know that my experience would have been as impactful.

The festival is set in three very distinct parts: opening, middle, and end. The opening section of the festival is the first weekend, as everyone from all over comes rushing in to Park City. Everyone is watching films for different reasons, but it is always hard to get in to any film no matter what it is. The first weekend I only saw movies I already had tickets for, there was no chance of getting in the waitlist. Then the crowds start to fizzle out and the middle of the festival gets going. Now, there are more people at the festival who are truly film enthusiasts and want to explore new movies. And finally the end comes, probably starting at about Thursday or Friday. As the festival begins closing out, awards are awaited and everyone wants to see the contenders, so wait listing gets to be harder again. Luckily, by this time our student adrenaline passes have started and we can get into morning and night showings without trouble. It’s a great opportunity, as I was able to see four movies a day this way.

I wouldn’t have thought it, but seeing so many movies in such a short amount of time takes a toll on you for sure. You are really go, go, go all day long, racing from one theater to the next, in and out from dark to light, just trying to find time to eat. And being that early and late films are available to us, sleep becomes an issue. I think most people resorted more and more on day naps.

Not being a film studies major, or having any real strong ties to the industry, did have its advantages along with not being as knowledgeable. I didn’t have to take networking and internship hunting as seriously as most of the crowd was doing, so I had more time to enjoy the festival casually, and see movies without worrying about a conflicting engagement.

No matter what way you spin it, what the festival really comes down to is watching and appreciating films, and I was able to see plenty, 22 in fact. A favorite among these was Boyhood, a tale following a boy and is family for 14 years, allowing us to see their real time growth. Locke was a great film in which Tom Hardy is the only actor, and it all takes place in his car. The Voices was a surprisingly dark and graphic film, but it was a great role for Ryan Reynolds to take up. I also enjoyed Zach Braff’s follow up to Garden State, Wish I Was Here. Two documentaries of the ones I saw really struck me as well. Mitt gave terrific insight to the family working of a presidential candidate, and Fed Up is probably the most significant and informative food documentary since Supersize Me. Of the shorts programs, I enjoyed program 2 the most. “Mi nina mi vida” and “I’m a Mitzvah” were the standouts of the group, each bringing almost as much to the table as a feature film can do.

The remaining films I saw were: 52 Tuesdays, Documentary Shorts 2, God’s Pocket, Land Ho!, Listen Up Philip, Locke, Low Down, No No: A Dockumentary, Only Lovers Left Alive, Shorts Program 1, Shorts Program 5, The Disobedient, The Skeleton Twins, The Trip to Italy, Wetlands, Whiplash, and Whitey: The United States of America v. James J. Bulger.

It was a jam-packed festival, but it will be a week I will never forget.

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