There was a time not long ago when Sundance Film Festival risk being overwhelmed by fanfare, hype and other non-cinematic preoccupations. One year, if I remember correctly, there were stickers all over Park City, Utah, its home, reminding those of us present to “focus on the movie” rather than the parties, seeing celebrities. reputation, industry opinion, and tabloid gossip.
That’s not a big deal now. For the second year in a row, Sundance is not in Park City. Instead of gliding up and down Main Street or queuing for shuttle buses, the audience is exactly where it has been for most of the past two years: at home, in front of screens, scrolling through menus to find something to watch.
There’s plenty of movies – loads of features and dozens of short films, coming out next weekend – and not too many festivals. I won’t argue that this is a good thing. But I will say that from the vantage point of my armchair, this Sundance has so far exhibited a special kind of vitality. At a time when many of us are concerned about the health of movies, it provides proof of life.
The types of films that have long been associated with Sundance – adventurous, youthful, socially conscious – are now facing particular difficulties. Covid has placed new burdens on filmmaking. Live streaming has upset the already fragile ecosystem of independent distribution. And a bored, erratic, stressed public may not know what they want. I’m not sure I do. Do I want to be challenged or comforted? Am I looking for films that reflect the dire realities of contemporary life or films that suggest alternative realities? Is it weirder if people are wearing masks on screens, or if they aren’t?
Perhaps the best thing about Sundance is that I don’t have to choose. As of the time of this writing, I have watched 21 films, which adamantly refuse to add to the picture of the Independent Cinema State. Some of them are Pre-owned products, carrying the aura of 2018 and 2019 to the present. Others seem to come from a Sundance that exists outside of time, a place where disparate young people mature bitterly, where lonely souls forge exploratory connections ahead of time. America’s harsh scene, where quirks, awkward sex, and cheeky genre games are as common as family. incest and sad soundtrack.
Meaning: I watched Lena Dunham’s new movie, “Sharp Stick,” about an unworldly 26-year-old virgin named Sarah Jo (Kristine Froseth) who lives with her mother TMI (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and sister ambitious girl TikTok (Taylour Paige) and who has a romantic relationship with a wonderful father (Jon Bernthal). I also watched Jesse Eisenberg’s directorial debut, “When You Finish Saving the World,” in which an Indiana teenager (Finn Wolfhard) struggles with romance, creative ambition, and a kind mother. her (Julianne Moore). I watched Max Walker-Silverman’s “A Love Song,” with two loners (Dale Dickey and Wes Studi) making a tentative connection in a desolate and beautiful part of Colorado. And Cooper Raiff’s “Cha Cha Real Smooth,” the post-graduate protagonist, played by the director, returns home and meets a sad mother (Dakota Johnson).
I like all of them, with reservations no matter where we are. Spanning different sections of the festival (Premier, Next, American Drama Competition), they presented good images of Classic Sundance, proof that American indie film is sticking into his gun or get stuck. Luckily, that’s not the only flavor or even the mainstay of the festival these days.
Diverse documentary filmmaking experience
For me, documentaries have always been the heart of this festival. Nonfiction has its own style and ramifications. Some of this year’s most powerful offerings follow familiar patterns, interweaving news clips, interviews, and current narratives to unravel pressing issues or unearth hidden history. Eugene Yi and Julie Ha’s “Free Chol Soo Lee,” about a San Francisco Korean immigrant unjustly convicted of a 1973 murder, is one example—a story of injustice and behavior. The action turns into a reflection on the price an individual can pay to be a célèbre cause.
“Navalny,” directed by Daniel Roher, is a portrait of a political celebrity, Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny, who was shown instructing the crew to tell his story “like a horror movie”. Concluding with Navalny’s dramatic arrest in Moscow a year ago, the film certainly offers a sense of suspense, more eerie than fiction, enhanced by the dandy, comedic appeal of the subject matter. At the same time, it has the current tense, suspenseful tempo of a news broadcast.
Sometimes the news is really old news, and the most dazzling movies are made up of images that have been worn out in the ether or archive. Four of my Sunday favorites so far this year have been documentaries, films assembled largely or entirely from long-gathered images. This is not a new phenomenon – featured by Sundance last year,”Summer of the soul“It is almost entirely made from found footage – but it can have particular appeal in a saturated on-screen culture once haunted and puzzling by history.
“Riotsville, USA,” directed by Sierra Pettengill from a screenplay by critic and writer Tobi Haslett, is an important lesson in the nostalgia of the past. Using public television shows and law enforcement training films, Pettengill delves into the official response to the urban uprisings of the mid and late 60s, focusing on journalism. fox’s committee appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to assess the causes of violence and propose solutions. At that time, people dressed and talked differently, and smoked on television, but the wonderful, unsettling achievement of the film was to expose our civic arguments about racism, politics, and politics. How little has changed in policy, poverty and politics in more than 50 years.
However, sometimes, the past haunts the present by getting out of hand. Sara Dosa’s “Flames of Love” tells the story of Katia and Maurice Krafft, a French couple who have dedicated their lives to studying the world’s volcanoes. They are movie characters and collaborators, since the most striking scenes – violent eruptions and eerily peaceful lava flows – were captured by their cameras until They died in 1991.
“Three Minutes: The Stretch” by Bianca Stigter examines a piece of amateur film shot in a Polish town in 1938 – a moving tourist snapshot of Jewish citizens waving, chew and go about their daily lives. Almost all of them die during the Holocaust, and the film doesn’t restore as much of a sense of what came before as capturing the sheer rift between before and after.
‘Get Out’ is still in
Five years later Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” premiered at Park City, its influence was inevitable. Some of the most interesting movies about racism are thrillers and vice versa. Mariama Diallo’s “Master” is an on-campus drama set at an exclusive New England college that clings to old traditions and new forms of hypocrisy and bad faith. Evoking the Puritan-Gothic sounds of “The Scarlet Letter” and (less obviously) the modern transgression map in Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen” Diallo tells the parallel story of two black women, a student (Zoe Renee) and a professor (Regina Hall), in hostile surroundings.
Like “Get Out,” “Master” finds fearsome — and ironic — in the benevolence and moral vanity of white libertarians. Nikyatu Jusu’s “nanny” has a similar situation, which causes its protagonist, Aisha (Anna Diop), a Senegalese immigrant living in New York, to suffer torments that may be supernatural, psychology or some combination of the two. What’s certain is that they’re made more apparent by her place in the household of a rich, well-meaning, and serious (and possibly conventional) messy white family.
It’s almost a relief that the white villains in “Alice,” the clever combination of plantation drama and Krystin Ver Linden’s blax-mining revenge visuals, aren’t plagiarized. hypocrisy, just hatred and that the nuances of the heroine’s state of mind matter less than her righteous rage. Movies deploy the tried-and-true genre with varying degrees of success, ultimately depending on the skill and persuasion of the main actors. The story may not be entirely convincing, but there’s no doubting Hall, Diop, and Keke Palmer who play Alice.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/25/movies/sundance-film-festival-2022-lena-dunham.html Sundance Film Festival: Lena Dunham’s New Film and Thriller ‘Get Out’