Kate – Day 4 at Sundance

#11 – A Teacher: If you do Sundance in Salt Lake, including Best-Of-Fest screenings, it is possible to see 38 films in 11 days. There was nothing I wanted to see in the Monday 3:00 slot, but it was an opportunity to pull ahead of Ron. The choice was between a shoot-em-up thriller in Manilla, and a teacher-student affair in Texas. I ended up at the latter. There was plenty of white-on-white skin as the participants did what participants do when they are having an affair. Other than that, it was like this is such a disgusting situation.
The director stood for Q&A after. The first question posed was “What do you think that your film is really about?” A moment of thought and then “I think it is really about loneliness, and desperation, and the lengths to which a person will go to justify behavior which she knows is really, really bad.” Hand it to the director, she absolutely nailed it on this.
#12 – Salma: As a documentary, this had some sloppy story-telling, as essential facts were either confusing or simply left out. This became apparent in the Q&A when the audience was asking for clarification of events. Luckily, the careless direction did not diminish the power and grace of the woman featured. Salma’s life and poetry speak for Muslim girls locked away at puberty and contracted for marriage. Her story exposes the ferocity of Muslim men whose concept of life and society is challenged. This film is worth seeing.
#13 – In a World: A break from the overwrought angst of Sundance and an opportunity to laugh and laugh and laugh IS WELCOME!!!!!!    For that reason alone this film tops my list. Yes, there is a dysfunctional family, and yes, there is sex (but only a little itty bitty teeny tiny bit, by Sundance standards). None of that matters. This film is just plain funny.

Taking it easy

Sadly, it’s a light day for me, movie-wise, because I’ve been so busy with everything else! I only had time to see 5 Broken Cameras (Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi), a documentary about the struggles of Bil’in, a Palestinian village, against encroaching Israeli settlements. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is typically just to immense for journalists and artists to handle, but I appreciated that this film was not too ambitious. That is, the story was remarkably concise and kept everything tied together by remaining in one location and by following the 5 broken cameras and the youngest son of the cinematographer. One moment that particularly caught my attention was when Emad says that tries to protect his son by allowing him to see everything with his own eyes in order to understand the fragility of life – very intriguing. This approach seems, from my young perspective, quite the opposite of the average Western mentality. This film was much more palatable than 1/2 Revolution not only because the footage was steadier, but also because there was a stronger, more thoughtful narrative to follow. Unfortunately, I left before the Q&A with the directors, which I expect was very insightful.

Hopefully I’ll be able to catch a few more tomorrow! I’ll be trying to figure out my math homework until then.


Day 4 – three movies

Too many movies, too little blog time.  This is a quick and dirty update from yesterday:

Monsieur Lazhar (Spotlight): Wow!  As poignent as it gets, without being maudlin.  Another must see for everyone.

China Heavyweight (World Documentary): A must see if you are into competitive boxing.  Would have liked more on the recent rise and opening of China as understood through the boxing world.

Your Sister’s Sister (Spotlight): Another Sundance theme this year is sleeping with your wife/girlfriend’s sister.  Remember this from Friday’s movie?  Really, couldn’t people keep their pants zipped a little more frequently.

Photos and haiku coming later.  Off to “The Other Dream Team.”

Finishing up day 2

Five films, 13+ hours: I’d say that’s a half-marathon of sorts. I know that the week is just going to get busier and busier, so I squeezed in everything that I could yesterday and fell into bed at 2 am.

I migrated from Rose Wagner back to the Broadway for my last two films of the day.  First was Big Boys Gone Bananas!* (Fredrik Gertten), about the legal fight between a Swedish filmmaker and the multinational corporation, Dole.  The film was well constructed and said what it wanted to say eloquently: Dole and peer corporations have inordinate power over the press and free speech does not truly exist in America, but if journalists are brave and consumers speak with their actions, then they can amass enough power to fight against corporations. I’m not sure that the film guide has ever contained a more accurate and thorough description. There were no surprises here. Well, except for the short beforehand, Meet Mr. Toilet by Jessica Yu, which was a brief and funny promotion of the World Toilet Organization. My attempts to find a copy of the video online were sadly unsuccessful – all I can say is do not google “Meet Mr. Toilet by Jessica Yu.”

I ended the day at The Pact, a horror film in the Park City at Midnight category directed by Nicholas McCarthy. I am so not a fan of horror films, but I managed to sit through this one. The opening short, Once It Started It Could Not End Otherwise, directed by Kelly Sears, was just stupid, in my opinion. But the feature film was better. I jumped some, there was sufficient creepiness (but not gratuitous, I think,) and I appreciated that the gore was unrealistic enough to not be stomach-turning. Interestingly, the cast was nearly entirely female – is this just a horror thing, because most of the audience is guys who enjoy watching girls getting scared while wearing underwear? Okay, that sounds a lot weirder than I thought. Ick. On that note, I’ll end.