Sundance Live Blog
Music and documentaries about music are a mainstay of Sundance programming and the genre has given fans some great screenings through the years, I F**ng Shot That about the Beasty Boys, Biggie and Tupac, Muscle Shoals and last year’s Sound City by Dave Grohl just to name a few. This edition has been no different with Finding Fela about African Sound superstar Fela Kuti and 20000 Days on Earth. The latter is collaboration between Australian artist-filmmakers Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard and the Dark Prince from Down Under, Nick Cave. Cave who has been trawling the nether regions of moody Goth-rock for the past thirty years, most notably as front man for seminal band The Bad Seeds, is nothing if not eclectic.
One of the cultural terrains that Sundance has successfully staked over the years has been the intersection of film and art. As a festival devoted to the complete artistic integrity of cinema, Sundance has always been inclusive towards the experimental and avant-garde sectors and the artistic fringes that push the boundaries of visual expression. It has made for stimulating fare: From films about art (i.e. last year’s Marina Abramovich, The Artist is Present) to art about film (or TV – like James Franco’s Three’s Company installation a few years back).
Zach Braff is a Sundance favorite. Tickets to the late morning premiere of his film were hard to come by, and the lines outside the Marc cinema (a local gym and racquet club for locals during the rest of the year) went around the block, many hopefuls holding up signs with writings like “begging for ticket.” Inside a makeshift red carpet tent – why this was tented in the most gorgeous and sunny weather is beyond comprehension – the always gracious Braff gave interviews with his leading lady Kate Hudson, who was adequately dressed in jeans, boots, and a thick sweater, with her blonde mane spilling out from underneath a fur hat and bright red lipstick.
Writer-director John Michael McDonaugh made a big splash two years ago with his black comedy thriller The Guard starring Brendan Gleeson as a life-weary Irish policeman, a role which earned him a well-deserved Golden Globe nomination for Best Comedy Actor. The two have now teamed once again for Calvary an equally black and bitterly funny Irish-set drama that is lighter on the action and heavier on the existential wistfulness that its predecessor, and in Park City the film received a warm reception from a capacity Eccles crowd and an equally favorable one from the Sundance press-screening audience.
As the Festival approaches the midway point the sun keeps shining on Park City marking the second year in a row Sundance has been blessed by downright balmy conditions which in turn favor a relaxed mood (aside from the odd jostling match on overcrowded shuttles). The fare so far has been customarily eclectic, ranging from fringe to ready-for- multiplex crowd pleasers.
Two years ago Mike Cahill made a splash here with his debut feature Another Earth, a tale of personal tragedy on the fantastic backdrop of a duplicate Earth on an apparent collision course with our original planet. It was one of the best-received films of Sundance 2011 and promptly snapped up by Fox Searchlight (although somewhat, ahem, “eclipsed” by Lars Von Trier’s celestial-collision-themed Nostalgia, released that same year).
On Day 4 Sundance got unhinged, and it wasn’t just the outfits on Main Street (although we personally saw some pretty outlandish entries). Two of the most interesting films of the day had mental illness at the core of their stories while trying to go beyond the easy stereotypes in original ways. Frank, directed by Irish-born Lenny Abrahamson, began as an off-beat comedy about Jon, who commutes form his parents’ house in a British suburb to a dead-end job while trying to fulfill his dream of becoming a musician (and to forget his painful lack of real talent). Read More
The Sundance weekend is in full swing and that means that Park City has undergone its annual transformation from sleepy ski resort to a mini-Hollywood on the snow. Main Street is now officially gridlocked: cars, stars and selfie-shooting fans are wall-to-wall in an endless parade of tweeting smart phones and designer skiwear. Read More
With the opening day rituals taken care of, the festival got underway in earnest with the first full day of programming drawing hordes of fans, press and industry insiders into the darkened screening rooms and away from the slopes that beckon in the glorious sunshine around Park City. Meantime, lest anyone forget that this place is also a crucially important distribution market, the first sale of Sundance 2014 has been recorded. Dinosaur 13, the documentary by Todd Miller that screened on opening night, has been picked up for theatrical distribution by Lionsgate, with CNN acquiring a US broadcast premiere. Read More
Sundance, Robert Redford’s indie festival which kicks off today in Park City UT, celebrates it 30-year anniversary this year and several special events are planned to commemorate three decades in the service of independent cinema. One event that apparently had not been planned was to have the traditional opening-day press conference fall only a few hours after the Academy’s failure to include Redford among this year’s nominees for Best Actor. His amazing solo performance in All Is Lost had earned him a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival, a Golden Globe nomination and numerous other accolades, but it somehow was overlooked by Academy voters in one of the year’s most notable snubs. Read More