It’s coming around again… and this year I’ll be blogging daily about the festival, the films, and the eco-friendly film-going environment. I’ll also have articles posted on www.shortandsweetLA.com, www.totsandtravel.com, and with Yahoo News, so keep an eye open!
For those of you planning a trip to this great film fest, here’s a reprint of last year’s article -
SUNDANCE 2012 – Eco-friendly and Fantastic Films
Eco-exist.com fans, note that the festival is a great place to practice environmentally conscious travel and enjoy a great artistic experience. With free shuttle busses maximizing people-transport, recycling and water stations everywhere, and refillable Brita water bottles provided free of charge, you can feel good about supporting green ideas along with the best in independent cinema.
After five years of attendance, this year marked a personal best for numbers of films viewed and events attended. In seven nights and seven and a half days, I fit in twenty five screenings – without any passes. Considering the day my on-line ticket purchase slot opened, my Internet was out and I had to rely on my iPhone, I did pretty well. There were those six a.m. lines at the box office, and access to on-line last minute ticket availability forty-eight hours out. There were wait list lines at the theaters, and the occasional hand outs in front of venues from good souls unable to use their tickets – or maybe they just knew the film they had those tickets to was well worth avoiding.
2012 at The Sundance Film Festival
My favorite screening venue remains the comfortable and large auditorium seating and screen at Eckles, attached to a high school at the suburban end of Park City, with the tiny, uncomfortable, but classic Egyptian Theater in town as a close second.
And along with throwing a few snowballs, scraping a lot of ice off of my car, abandoned in the headquarters lot til long after midnight, and waiting in a line of eager, hungry film-goers for the veggie sandwiches offered up free at Sundance House in town, I also fit in a long, pleasurable visit to the New Frontier at the Yard, the Festival’s curated art exhibit housing a melange of art, film and new media. My favorite piece at the New Frontier, Marco Brambilla’s Evolution, could sum up this year’s festival – a 3-D collage that spirals through the entire history of the human race, blending looped video from hundreds of Hollywood films. In other words, just like the festival itself, time passes in a swirl of awesome, mind boggling cinematic images.
Sometimes you have to get up at sunrise to get those Sundance tickets!
Many of my favorite films will be released later this year, and high recommends go to the perfectly acted, razor sharp Smashed, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul as an alcoholic married couple whose relationship hits the skids when the wife heads for AA; and the bittersweet and hilarious Celeste and Jesse Forever, where comic actors Rashida Jones (Parks and Rec), also the film’s co-writer, and Andy Samberg (SNL) attempt to remain best friends post divorce. Another fresh comedy also features a Parks and Rec alum, Aubrey Plaza. Safety Not Guaranteed sends a trio of magazine staffers to find the man behind a classified ad looking for time-travel companions. This sweet film takes quirky to audience pleasing satisfaction levels, with an unexpected and delightful ending. Equally delightful, dark comedy and Sean Penn starrer This Must Be the Place, where emotionally withdrawn agorophobe ex-rocker Penn sets on a road trip to avenge Nazi’s, after his Nazi-hunter father’s death.
The big winner in dramatic competition this year was Beasts of the Southern Wild, an expressionistic journey into magical realism about a small child and her father struggling through life and disaster in the water logged Delta. A beautiful and creative film, it was a project I passed up tickets for, as the premise didn’t grab me, and I saw it only once it had won on the festival’s closing day. I’ll go against the grain of audience ovation for the project, and say that it still didn’t grab me, although the artistry of the film and the metaphoric visceral imagery were stunners.
In documentary, I enjoyed the somewhat over the top poor little rich family in Queen of Versailles, whose dream mansion sits unfinished in the wake of the recession; found the visuals stunning but the tale not as compelling in the global warming doc, Chasing Ice; and flat out loved the strange adventure of deliberate mistaken identity in The Imposter, the only documentary I think I’ve ever seen that could double as a noir thriller.
Speaking of noir, and back in the dramatic category, the brutal story of a strange, obsessed young man and a prostitute in Paris, Simon Killer takes noir to the final boundaries of the form at it’s darkest.
And then there are the boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed – the ultimate take on found footage, V/H/S houses a perverted collection of horror shorts and the shakiest camera work on the planet – an unholy combo for midnight viewing on a day that began at 6 AM, but not my cup of tea at any hour. Then there’s The Comedy, a deliberately unfunny take on the amoral, unfeeling life of a NYC hipster, with so little plot and so little purpose that the only joke appears to be on the audience.
Some tips for cramming in as many cinematic experiences as possible: take those midnight showings. Every other morning get up and watch the sunrise in the line at the box office for that day’s films; keep your eyes on the internet for available tickets for screenings the following day; and grab tasty organic veggie, vegan, and pescatarian entrees, sandwiches and soups at Fairweather Natural Foods near Sundance’s Prospector Theater venue off Sidewinder Road. Chocolate kale chips make good movie snacking, too.
Post-screening discussion with Parker Posey at Eckles Theater