To all us film buffs, or wanna be film buffs, or filmmakers in the beginnings: We did it. We did the Sundance Thing. How awesome is that, really? I know whenever I meet new people, that has been a conversation starter, even my dental technician called me up the other night asking how the trip was. Sundance is a way bigger deal than we can ever believe. I don’t think I’ve spent so much money before going to see movies. Normally, I wait to get Hollywood movies for around 5 bucks on Amazon, even if I do get them six or seven years later. Sundance is a big deal. We got lucky and had a trip pretty well paid for so that we could go and watch quality films, and then schmooze with the director and the entire cast. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘Emma Lord’
I love the fact that I can say I’ve been to the Sundance Film Festival! I can honestly say that I had a great time. The people, the places, the films were all amazing.
I think I’ve picked up a new appreciation for what it means to be a filmmaker. I never really thought about what it takes to get an independent film made, but I just spent the last three weeks pondering this and it’s a little overwhelming. If I were a filmmaker, I’d say thank God for Sundance and other such festivals. That includes Slamdance, where I happily volunteered for the alternative festival housed in one hotel near the top of Main Street. (more…)
So the day we traveled back to Florida, we flew out of the Salt Lake City airport. While waiting in the terminal at our gate, I happened to be sitting in front of one of the televisions showing the news. I started watching the coverage for one of those award shows where the celebrities come and all the media outlets go crazy. I thought to myself, why doesn’t Sundance get this kind of national coverage?
I thought about this some more and then I felt stupid for thinking Sundance should have been on that screen in the news. If it were, it would completely undermine the point of the point of the festival. Yes, Sundance is well known and gets plenty of recognition in print around the world. I mean, how else would it get such great directors, like Alexis Dos Santos of Unmade Beds, to fill the world cinema categories? But it still, somehow, maintains a quiet existence in a way. The kind of existence that allows filmmakers, actors, and their audiences to casually interact. Where else can you walk down the street in a small mountain town and run into the directors or the stars of the movies you just saw? (more…)
The last film, if you want to call it that, that I saw at Sundance was sadly disappointing. It was a New Frontier entry called The Works of Maria Marshall. This category is supposed to be about what’s next in stretching the boundaries of film. So watching what Marshall repeatedly said was meant for art museum installations in a theater just didn’t capture my attention.
The description of her work made it sound like it would embody the unflinching nature of independent film. She uses herself and her children in short films that are provocative and possibly disturbing. Her teenage son is seen shooting a gun and the first film she made is the son as a baby smoking a cigarette. I bought a ticket for it because I wanted to get that range of emotion that’s far from mainstream film. (more…)
I don’t know what I was expecting from this movie but I was pleasantly satisfied by the laid back style. It’s a journey through two lives that don’t come in contact until the end of the film. A lack of a real climax kept any urgency out of the story but it felt like a normal progression through the abnormal lives of the two strangers with no job, no permanent residence, not going to school and not really meeting until the end, even though they live in the same building. So what exactly do these two have to offer each other? Director Alexis Dos Santos plays with fate so that her characters don’t really figure out their own lives until they have a fateful conversation with each other. (more…)
There’s still two days left in the festival but it seems like it’s already over. Hardly anyone walks down Main Street anymore, let alone famous people. Not like the first weekend of the festival when everyone who was anyone thought it was the best time to show up. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they came at all. It really makes the festival worthwhile for a first time attendee like me when I get to see my favorite actor or actress along with their cool indie movie premiere. It’s a little sad though, that just because I couldn’t make it to the first showing of a movie, the cast and maybe even the director have already skipped town. The Q and A session after the movie is one of the best parts of the festival and it’s disappointing when I just watched an amazing performance and none of the cast is represented to answer questions. I understand that they can’t give all of their fans a special appearance, but if I get to come to Sundance again, now I know that I should get as many premiere showings as possible.
Now that the festival has slowed down, I find myself noticing the little things that help make the times between movies just as memorable. Number one is the transit system. The free buses. They run from dawn until way past dusk so you don’t have to rely on a not-so-free taxi. Each festival stop has a friendly attendant who will tell you exactly which bus will take you to your destination in the shortest time. I have yet to meet a less than helpful attendant despite the cold and long hours of standing around with a bunch of tourists. I give my thanks to them for being able to keep a smile on their faces. (more…)
The originality of the shorts I have seen is astounding! They are true examples of independent thinking in film. A whole universe unfolds before me in fifteen minutes or less and the creativity is evident in every precious second.
I have experienced shorts from both Sundance and Slamdance. At both festivals, they are screened in blocks of five or six at a time. Though Sundance would save the Q and A session with all the directors for the end, Slamdance chose to try letting each director speak right after his or her film, which I enjoyed more. The Sundance approach made it harder to remember all the way back to the first films in the block.
A few that really stood out to me, though they were all fantastic, were Captain Coulier (space explorer), Sparks, and Next Floor at Sundance, and The Covenant of Mr. Kasch and I Don’t Sleep I Dream at Slamdance.
Captain Coulier is a throwback to fifties science fiction movies but the captain is just so bored! His saucer-like space craft calmly drifts along hoping to stumble upon something more interesting than the vacuum of space and his four man crew tries desperately to go above cruising speed every time he leaves the room. He clings to the hope that one day his lackluster explorations will all be worth it. I was particularly keen on seeing this one because the Canadian director and various cast and crew were on our flight from Denver to Salt Lake City! (more…)
Born John Whitney Stillman in 1952 to a former debutante mother and D.C. politician father, not only did he direct his three films, but he also wrote the screenplays as well. Stillman did not attend film school, in fact, he graduated from Harvard in 1973 with a degree in American history, but we know that a filmmaker is not always made by a traditional education. Just look at Jonathan Caouette and his powerful documentary, Tarnation, made purely out of need for an outlet for his own personal story. Similarly, Stillman lent a somewhat autobiographical current to his works. After graduation, he worked as a journalist in NYC and gained experiences from the nightclub scene. Then he took an opportunity to work as a sales agent for film producers in Madrid and Barcelona. While in Spain, he acted for some of the directors he worked with, including Fernando Trueba, and he also met his wife.
I don’t want to write about this film. Take a so-called feel good movie and turn it upside down and you get Tarnation. I will relive this movie for the purposes of this review, but I won’t be watching it again.
First time filmmaker Jonathan Caouette’s personal life story is pure hell. While watching a surprisingly well-edited montage of home movies, answering machine recordings, photographs, and video diaries, his life unfolds as a series of ongoing tragedies.
No father around, a schizophrenic mother, abuse while in foster care, hospitalization from taking tainted drugs, self-mutilation… and that’s just up to his teenage years. He started filming himself at the age of 11 and from there he began recording candid moments and the environment of his childhood and beyond. As he grew up, he found some comfort in underground films that mirrored his feelings and a new acceptance while hanging out at a gay night club.
Before watching Shadows, an understanding of how it was created helps get the best experience from the groundbreaking film.
Director John Cassavetes taught an acting class and lead his students in an improvisation exercise to explore the emotions that come from unknown situations. The three main characters in the resulting film are siblings living in New York. One brother is black while the sister and the other brother are light skinned and pass for white. The original version didn’t live up to Cassavetes’ expectations, so he went back and added scenes, mainly scripted, and re-edited until the characters had more depth. Now they go beyond the racial issues on the surface and discover their own mistakes and how to overcome them.