Christopher Zalla, the writer/director of this year’s Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic PADRE NUESTRO [festival.sundance.org] is an American independent filmmaker with a global perspective. His film, a neo-realist primarily Spanish-language thriller in which a case of identity theft awkwardly brings together a mismatched quartet of outsiders in New York, highlights the immigrant populations that make up New York with an empathy that makes them feel completely American.
sundance film festival 2007
Tonight the Awards Ceremony marked the unofficial end of the Sundance Film Festival. And the participants demonstrated as much drama, passion, and comic turns as many of the films the awards were honoring. One award even involved a suspense-filled car chase as Jess Weixler, who was receiving a Special Jury Prize for Acting raced from the Salt Lake City airport to get to the ceremony. While she missed her name being called out, she made it in time to still get on stage to give a charming and breathless acceptance speech.
The last day of the festival is also the last day of the ASCAP Music Cafe [www.ascap.com]. This afternoon sets by Annie Stela [www.ascap.com], Ron Sexsmith [www.ascap.com], Emerson Hart [www.ascap.com] and Sparta [www.ascap.com] were the final performances before the Music Cafe closes its door for another year. But there was more music at Sundance than could be held in a single cafe…
While Park City has passed strict laws governing film marketing that doesn’t mean problems don’t still occur. For example, while it is illegal to hand out flyers or post cards on Main Street, people can ask you for your card. Scott Foundas [blogs.laweekly.com] at the LA Weekly reported on a recent poster war that has erupted on main street. Elsewhere all about a town someone has been posting another sign promoting local town spirit, and, well, denigrating Sundance. I guess, it’s a love/hate relationship.
In addition to his excellent coverage, Ray Pride at Movie City Indie [www.mcnblogs.com] points out that you can find the music from the film ONCE [festival.sundance.org] on thier MYSPACE MUSIC [www.myspace.com] page. There you will find four songs — “Leave,” “Falling Softly,” “Drown Out,” “What Happens when…” — you can listen to and download.
Yesterday at the Prospector Theater convened “Space, A Guided Tour,” one of the most intellectually expansive panels held this year that dealt with one of most complicated of subjects — the collision of science and cinema. While the panel veered off into all sorts of themes — ranging from medieval magic, teleportation, and Einstein’s time/space paradigms — the participants kept returning to a singular predicament: how do we relate these two very different technologies for re-imagining the universe. Science deploys the tools mathamatical analysis and logic to model our cosmos, while filmmakers use narrative and celluloid…
As the Artistic Director of Seattle International Film Festival (May 24 – June 17) and the Director of Programming at Palm Springs International Film Festival (January 4 – 15, 2007), Carl Spence spends all year watching films. So what will he remember from his experience this year at Sundance?
It’s wouldn’t be Sundance without a comment about swag, that four-letter word that speaks to man’s most mercenary desires. It used to be that swag was all about specific film marketing — an AMERICAN PIMP [www.imdb.com] t-shirt, a pair of THE MYTH OF FINGERPRINTS [www.imdb.com] gloves, a snow globe, a lighter, or a glow-in-the-dark rubber with the name of the film printed over it. In recent years, however, swag has gone upscale. And its opponents have gotten serious….
Radio came to Park City this festival in a number of ways. Yesterday, in the Panel, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love TV: This American Life Reloaded,” NPR radio star Ira Glass joined Director Chris Wilcha [www.imdb.com] and cinematographer Adam Beckman [www.imdb.com] to discuss the transformation of the This American Life [www.thislife.org] from a radio show to a Showtime television series.
One way to understand the festival is to try to see it through the eyes of the local police. Park Record, the local newspaper, provides just such an alternative view in their police blotter [www.parkrecord.com].
A few of the week’s highlights include… More after the jump.
Along with the animation spotlight, several films are using animation to further their narrative storytelling. In the opening night film, CHICAGO 10 [festival.sundance.org], Brett Morgen employed animators to bring to live the court transcripts of the Yippees on trial.
Sundance Channel party last night marked in many ways the final big party of the festival party season — that is, of course, before the Awards ceremony this weekend. Unlike many of the celebrity driven parties, those impossible affairs with only the rumor of a famous person flaming the crowd into tighter and tighter spaces, Sundance Channel party was an event for comrades in work: filmmakers, buyers, publicists, and film people in general. The big, splashy parties one sees on “Entertainment Tonight” happen over the weekend, and pretty much end when the stars wing their way back to wherever stars live. Nevertheless fond memories of Sundance society stay behind.
Park City, Jan 23. In addition to weak beer, spicy chicken wings, and loud music, Sundance parties provide ideal networking opportunities. But how to show the person next to the steam table you’re up for the job? Up-and-coming cinematographer Jendra Jarnagin [www.floatingcamera.com] downloaded her reel onto her ipod and used it at the Technicolor party to show new friends her talent, a gesture that may have landed her gig shooting a new feature.
The early morning announcement of the Academy Awards [www.imdb.com] marked the next step of the journey that many films began at Sundance last year. Three of the narrative films were on the nomination slate: LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE [www.imdb.com](Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress for Abigail Breslin and Best Original Screenplay; HALF NELSON [www.imdb.com] (Best Actor for Ryan Gosling); THE ILLUSIONIST [www.imdb.com] (Best Cinematography). And two documentaries are also up for Oscars: AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH [www.imdb.com] (Best Documentary, Original Song); IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS [www.imdb.com] (Best Documentary). Finally WEST BANK STORY [www.imdb.com] is up for Short Film: Live Action.
While animation is not a constant among the selections at the Sundance Film Festival, this year sees a new focus with the “Animation Spotlight,” a specal program of eight short films. According to programmer Trevor Groth, “We have always dabbled in it and have tried to sprinkle it though the festival.” While the festival programmers look for workin other festivals, they have found that the animation world often seeks out the festival. “Animators by having been in Sundance they have expressed a gratitude for having an outlet for their work. For them to find an audience outside of their realm is really appreciated.”
If something goes wrong during your screening, it’s always good to have a song in your back pocket. So when John Carney’s [www.imdb.com] once ran into projection problems Sunday night, the two leads Glen Hansard [www.imdb.com] and Marketa Irglova [www.imdb.com] took to the stage to entertain the audience as the theater fixed the mechanical problem. How apropos, since ONCE is a musical — or as director Carney calls it “video album” — about the musical relationship between Czech immigrant and local Dublin boy. After the projector was fixed and the film played, the duo returned to stage for the Q&A — and some more songs.
While most people look to the World Dramatic Competition for foreign stars, several international names are showing up in American documentaries: Zoe Cassavetes’ BROKEN ENGLISH (which premiered yesterday) and Gina Kim’s NEVER FOREVER (which premieres tonight) both sport stars from abroad.
When a festival goer trying to adjust the heat lamp at the bus stop was stopped by a transit volunteer, he turned to her: “Oh you work for Sundance; I thought you were a real person.”
On the back bus by the library: “Dude, Salt Lake City is the easiest place around to buy semi-automatic rifles.”
more after the jump…
During the 10 days of Sundance, Park City seems to go lounge crazy. “Lounge” is the buzz word for a highly, perhaps overly, designed space (usually off main street) with pleasant amenities that push a particular corporate brand or organizational initiative. While the more private lounges offer high-end schwag for visiting celebrities, the more pedestrian offer other gifts. The Airborne [www.airbornehealth.com] lounge provides plenty of anti-cold tablets, as well as when it is crowded, plenty of germs. The Delta [biz.yahoo.com] Lounge unfortunately does not offer airplane tickets. AOL-Cyber lounge, one of the more airline-influenced architectural spaces, gives you internet access…
Check out Sundance Channel’s Festival Video Blog! Independent filmmakers Susan Buice and Arin Crumley are sending out daily updates of their experience at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Their feature film FOUREYEDMONSTERS [www.foureyedmonsters.com] has been a new media phenomenon. The pioneering pair’s film recently received two Independent Spirit Award nominations and the chance to screen…
Jennifer Baichwal’s MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES [www.mongrelmedia.com] examines the work of photographer Edward Burtynsky [www.edwardburtynsky.com] in China. Of his large scale work, Burtynsky has remarked, “These images are meant as metaphors to the dilemma of our modern existence; they search for a dialogue between attraction and repulsion, seduction and fear.” This weekend people can either see his work on the screen or on the wall in a special local exhibition of his work at the Julie Nester Gallery [www.julienestergallery.com].
While UCLA and NYU have traditionally been the powerhouse film schools, this seventeen films at Sundance were made by either Columbia University [wwwapp.cc.columbia.edu] Students or Alumni. In The Hollywood Reporter [www.hollywoodreporter.com], programmer Trevor Groth pointed out that the eight Columbia short films make up about 10% of the Shorts program…
While the festival has been running a new media center for the last years, the newest incarnation, New Frontier on Main, moves initiative to integrate worlds of technology, art and cinema to a new level. For programmer Shari Frilot, “There are more artists in the gallery and museum world dealing with the moving image, and we wanted to create a space that that could speak both to a film audience and the art world.” New Frontier on Main houses three galleries, a D.J. installation lounge, and a 100 seat microcinema. “We wanted it to be fully immersive,” recounts Frilot. “So there is no overhead lighting. And we wanted the programming play like a festival in a festival.”
Via daily.greencine.com [daily.greencine.com] Greencine, Christopher Smart at The Salt Lake Tribune [www.sltrib.com] reported on the crackdown of prostitution in Park City. Elsewhere Anne Thompson reports on the Catholic League President Bill Donohue calling for a federal investigation into whether Deborah Kampmeier’s Dramatic Competition film HOUNDDOG broke federal child pornography laws. The southern gothic tale involves a 12-year-old Dakota Fanning playing a girl who is raped by an older boy. In fact the situation has grown into a culture war battleground as a petition site [www.thepetitionsite.com] has emerged for people to follow the discussion and throw their support to the filmmakers.
Filmmaking duo Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer show up last year to Sundance with thier low-budget no-star “kitchen sink” drama QUINCEANERA. They left winning both Grand Jury prize and Audience Award. Now we can learn from their experience.
Read more after the jump…