How Sundance Changed My Life

I will never be the same person again. Sundance marked a transition in my life, and there is no turning back. I cannot escape the vortex which I have fallen into. That vortex, being of course, film. I have always liked movies (I rarely ever saw one I did not like) but never realized that they would be my life’s ambition. And that is how Sundance changed my life: it opened my eyes.

I did not try to go star gazing. I did not try to make it into any fashionable parties. I threw away all the bull that goes along with Sundance and got to it’s essence. I completely immersed myself into each film I saw. So much so that I do not know if I could remember all the films I saw. Some stuck in my mind: a gay zombie movie [Otto, or up with Dead People], a great baseball flick [Sugar], and a documentary outlining the countries economic collapse [IOUSA] (hate to say I told you so comes to mind), but the entire experience changed me. I thought, “wow, not only is this the greatest thing that has come into my life, but I can do it to.” And so it began, my rocky but enthused trip into trying to make films. How will it all turn out? We will see.

Algenis Perez Soto plays a Dominican pitcher in Iowa in Sugar

Algenis Perez Soto plays a Dominican pitcher in Iowa in "Sugar"

The next turning point my be this year. I am enrolled in a documentary filmmaking program that works through Slamdance (the smaller, but not small festival in the same place). The things I learn, the experiences I gain, and the networking that will be established will hopefully be the crux of the next and biggest chapter of my life. I am taking the first step towards recovery: I am addicted to movies. And I am making the final step: I am never coming down off this high.

[Editor: Matt Went was part of the Sundance Winter Term trip in 2008; he is returning to the festival this year as part of a documentary filmmaking program run by Real Ideas Studio.]