Heckler on Slamdance

January 29, 2014 : 7:25 pm | by Connor Heckler

Slamdance is not the most organized, most popular, or best laid out festival in the world. It is, however, a festival within the Sundance film festival. It’s like festivalception. And that joke is warranted here since Christopher Nolan, director of Inception, had his groundbreaking film Memento at Slamdance. Other films such as the film that Netflix has the hardest time recommending based on viewers’ previous viewing habits, Napoleon  Dynamite, have premiered here to great success equal or greater than their more popular Sundance cohorts.

So I decided to review one of these films. But first, I should complain, and rightfully so. The Slamdance theater is terrible and is bad for filmmakers. It not only makes a poor experience for the viewer but it can work against, to an extreme degree, the films and filmmakers. This is because of the seating position in the theater. The seats simply aren’t high up enough. A massive portion of the screen is blocked by heads and even chairs. This means that foreign films with subtitles must have viewers sit on the theater floor. Even with non-subtitled films I saw a great number of people sitting on the ground so they could see the film.

But this is some of the appeal of Slamdance. There is a rawness to the experience that you don’t get with the neat and polished Sundance. This is gritty stuff here. It’s exactly that feel that makes I Play With the Phrase Each Other a good film. It’s exactly this that makes Slamdance what it is: a festival of raw filmmaking.

If he were to premiere today I’m sure that zombie horror master George Romero would premiere at Slamdance. The glaring technical issues in Night of the Living Dead and the scrappiness of Tom Savini in Dawn of the Dead would have surely lead to its portrayal, today, at Slamdance. It’s films filled with problems, such as these, that make it into Slamdance. Films that are, ultimately, flawed. But still damn good films.

Which is why it makes me sad to hear that Jack Black has decided to purchase the film Wizard’s Way and not leave it alone. Rather, Black will be remaking the film with himself as the star. Will Black leave any room for the mistakes and flaws that make a Slamdance film what it is? Likely not, as he probably takes up whatever space there was in the first place. And that makes me sad.

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