Sundance Wrap-Up

January 29, 2014 : 8:39 pm | by Connor Heckler

I did have a great time at Sundance. As I texted Nate, our professor, on our way back from the airport, my life is now pre-sundance and post-sundance. I saw a lot of great films, I met a lot of great people, and I slept very little.

After seeing such incredible films and speaking to such incredible people, I’ve learned a lot about filmmaking and creating in general. I’ve met with individuals who have put hearts and souls into their projects, films that portrayed incredible human moments and inhuman moments in incredible ways. Is there one thing I pulled away from it? Yes.

Filmmaking is easy.

I’d never thought of ever directing a film. For a while, in high school, I considered being a lowly screenwriter but I abandoned that because I thought it would be too difficult. But it isn’t! That’s what everybody in Park City told me over and over again. It’s because of this great attitude I saw at Sundance that I’m proud to say I’m working on a documentary now.

This all started at the Youtube Lounge. I mentioned an idea I had for a documentary to some random guy and he loved it! He even wanted to produce it and sounded very interested. It wasn’t a day later that, at a party, I mentioned the idea again to some guy and immediately afterwards he gave me his card and told me to call him if I make it. He was a composer. At that same party I mentioned the idea to some random woman who, apparently, was a friend of Phillip Seymour Hoffman. She pulled him over, I told him my idea, and he wants to be involved! Now all I need is the film, but the rest is really, really easy!

I also met the incredibly articulate and very nice Noaz Deshe, director of White Shadow. It was a real pleasure talking to Noaz and I look forward talking to him in the future. We did an interview with him and I encourage you to watch it.

Liar’s Dice was, as I mentioned in an earlier blog, a good story but had not plot or point.

Infinitely Polar Bear, as mentioned, is terrible. It is surely my least favorite film of the festival. Absolutely abysmal. I Play with the Phrase Each Other (Slamdance film), though rough around the edges is an overall good film that has a lot of potential if remade. Land Ho! was by far the funniest film of the festival and my favorite. I will be laughing at the “slishy sloshy” scene at inappropriate moments for months to come. The Trip to Italy, though not as funny as Land Ho!, is still a great rompous of a time with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Young Ones establishes Jake Paltrow (NOT the son of Gwyneth, but is the nephew of Spielberg) as the next Quentin Tartantino, but with something to say. The Notorious Mr.Doubt is a good, if sometimes confusing, documentary and is a great look at the illegal weapons trade. Whiplash, the Grand Jury winner, is just filmmaking par excellence. Everything is done perfectly. I have not seen filmmaking this precise since The Godfather.

White Shadow was incredibly touching if a tad long and meandering. A great story and incredible imagery. The Lunchbox was, at the very least, moving and thought provoking. Did I love it? No. I found it with an odd tempo in its storytelling. Dinosaur 13 is a great, great, great documentary about a great dinosaur find. The description in the Sundance film guide does not do it justice at all. Calvary could have been so much more. A good film, but the viewer can’t help but feel as though, throughout the film, it could be better. The Measure of All Things, was a truly touching documentary with Sam Greene narrating live with an orchestra. I sincerely hope it is either recorded or goes on tour. The Battered Bastards of Baseball is a fantastic story of a Portland baseball team that barely existed. It’s like the Bad News Bears, but in real life. No No: A Documentary was a superbly well done documentary on Dock Ellis. Goes far beyond the LSD-pitched no-hitter. Memphis was incredibly strange but mesmerizing in its story. I sincerely hope to see it again. The Foxxy Merkins ties with The Measure of All Things as the stand out star of the NEXT showcase. Hilarious. Love Child did have some pretty egregious problems. But I enjoyed it nonetheless and portrayed the story of a boy “killed by the internet” and his family. Mr.Leos Carax was, ultimately, a lot of navel gazing. To sum up, the entire film is many different directors talking about how great the mysterious director Mr.X is. That being said, everyone should see Holy MotorsCamp X-Ray has Kirsten Stewart picking the best role possible for her: a prison guard that has to show as little emotion as possible. Great film. God’s Pocket should have been so much more, especially with the already mentioned Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Sorry Phil, this just isn’t up to par.

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