Update: Five Things I Took Away From Sundance: Thom Powers

UPDATE: Said to have the ability to obtain cult-movie status, ROCKET SCIENCE had a limited theatrical release this past summer.

“What makes the first fiction feature from documentarian Blitz persuasive is its late-film detour from the inspirational niche-sports genre to something altogether unexpected — and the winning lead performance of Reece Daniel Thompson.” – Jim Ridley (Village Voice)”


As the Documentary programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival [www.e.bell.ca] and for Stranger Than Fiction [www.ifccenter.com] at IFC, Thom Powers knows documentaries. So before he flies back to New York, we asked him to tell us what he’ll remember from this year.

1) A respect for the power of documentaries like GHOSTS OF ABU GHRAIB [festival.sundance.org] and NO END IN SIGHT [festival.sundance.org] to illuminate the debacles of the Iraq war with a clarity and passion lacking in other media.

2) A misgiving that some doc makers are rushing their films into big festivals when they really need more time to solicit feedback and continue editing.

3) An appreciation for the entities putting up good money for docs — from the Sundance Documentary Fund [www2.sundance.org] to Participant [www.participantproductions.com] to ThinkFilm [www.thinkfilmcompany.com], Magnolia [www.magpictures.com] and Sony Pictures Classics [www.sonypictures.com]. May their numbers grow.

4) The pleasure to see documentary virtuosos like Jeffrey Blitz [www.imdb.com] (ROCKET SCIENCE) [festival.sundance.org] and Ian Olds [www.imdb.com] (BOMB) apply their directing skills to fiction. And they weren’t the only doc makers crossing over this year.

5) A sense of anticipation monitoring John Walter (director of HOW TO DRAW A BUNNY [www.imdb.com] and editor of MY KID COULD PAINT THAT [festival.sundance.org] as he took meetings for his feature script LAWYERLAND, the film I most eagerly await to see next year…

Peter Bowen

Senior Editor, Filmmaker Magazine