Some call the ’90s the boom years at Sundance, but in the ’00s plenty of great work was produced–upholding the finest traditions of independent movies and maybe even inventing some new ones. Of the fiction features that had their world premieres at Sundance this past decade, here are our top 10, including “Donnie Darko” and “The Savages.”
Over the years Sundance has developed its own star system, launching, or redefining, the careers of actors who in turn become regulars (Steve Buscemi, Parker Posey, Sam Rockwell, Ryan Gosling, Vera Farmiga, Zooey Deschanel, et al). Here are 10 of the greatest performances in festival history.
Shorts are in many ways a rite of passage for budding filmmakers. They’re made of mistakes, charm and life—and with the realities of cost, time and effort. And some directors break through to showcase at Sundance Film Festival, where they have the chance of catching the eye of the person (or company) that will fund their next project. These are 10 Sundance shorts by directors who went on to make names for themselves–and as an added bonus, you can watch them all right now online. Enjoy!
In 2012, actor-writer-director-all-around-indie-MVP Mark Duplass completed yet another project: recommending a streaming movie on Netflix every day for one year. Here are Duplass’ top 10 selections from his hundreds of suggestions that year, nabbed from his Twitter handle @MarkDuplass, including “The Big Lebowski” and “This is Spinal Tap.”
NIGHT CATCHES US <
American indie movies specialize in character-driven intimacy. Most of the fiction films you see at the Sundance Film Festival in a given year, good or bad, are insular by design, focused on personal conflicts and private moods, sealed off from the outside world. It’s always a pleasant surprise then to encounter a dramatic movie here that grapples with larger historical forces, that blends the personal and the political. That’s precisely what THE IMPERIALISTS ARE STILL ALIVE! and NIGHT CATCHES US — two of this year’s most interesting dramatic-competition titles — set out to do. Neither is wholly successful — IMPERIALISTS indulges in a few too many art-film affectations; NIGHT is serious and somber, almost to a fault — but both are strikingly ambitious debuts (by women writer-directors, as it happens).
Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s feature HALF NELSON was screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Picked up by Think Films, HALF NELSON has proved to be a critical break though in 2006. In addition to being nominated by for a number of awards, the film won the Best film, and Ryan Fleck was present the “Breakthrough Director Award,” at this year’s Gotham Awards [www.ifp.org]. Ryan and Anna offer their remembrances, and suggestions, for attending Sundance.