Docs, Docs, Docs, The Gems of Sundance

written by Spencer Rodriguez

Procrastination = the action of delaying or postponing something, which is something Professors dislike in student academics. But during the chaotic week of what is known as the Sundance Film Festival, it’s no surprise that I found myself unable to stay fixed in one place in order to collect and post my thoughts/experiences/out look on the festival. In the 9 full days at the festival I filled up on free samples, discovered how exhausting sitting down and watching things can be, and had brief encounters with people I’ve only come to be familiar with from a screen. Going into the experience I knew I wanted to see a diverse set of films and strategically picked accordingly; to accomplish this I tried to see as many documentaries as I could. Documentaries try to inform audiences with a factual film that is dramatic; the docs The Wolfpack, Welcome to Leith, and Most Likely to Succeed stand out in doing this.

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Welcome to Leith followed the potential white supremacy uprising in a small North Dakota town. I, unlike most, have found myself in the state of North Dakota and know first hand why no right-minded person would care to live there. The questioning of why a town considers it to be a basic human right to have every large fast food corporation within a leisure 5-minute walk can sum up my experience of North Dakota. Anyway, this film accomplished the irritating nature of docs; I found myself becoming legitimately angry whenever the face or words of Craig Cobb appeared. To see how one intelligently ignorant person can influence the weak minds of those who look as if spelling “supremacy” would seem impossible is very difficult to stomach. Once the multiple violent ways of giving Cobb a taste of his own medicine passed from my consciousness, I was able to see the underlying message to the film. Breeding hate and violence in order to stop hate or violence only perpetuates this blemish of society. The townspeople were admirable for taking the better course of action in dealing with the supremacy that could have ended their town. They looked to the legal ways in going about ridding their town of Cobb and his fellow Skinhead partner. These white supremacists like to portray the image of being well intact and impenetrable but in reality they’re a part of a dying breed. They stand for something that calls for our country to travel 50 years backwards in order to be in line with something very unlikely to happen in the United States.

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Most Likely to Succeed was an unexpected favorite of mine. Discussing the structure of modern day education, this topic is a constantly debated subject in my friendship circle. Having a college degree is the symbol for all the information learned by the collegiate system…WRONG. We go to lectures to acquire the knowledge to pass the test, repeating this in 4 classes for each 8 semesters. How do we know if the curriculum best encompasses the set of things we must known before heading into the workforce? The doc recalls the first formation of the modern day school structure; 10 staple people originally created it in the early history of our country. They concocted core subjects thought to be critical in aiding the future worker of the industrial age. Fast-forward to now, we are no longer in an industrial age but a technological one. What was viewed as important skills for the average worker then has become obsolete in today’s world. Computers and robots have taken over many jobs that were designated for the people undergoing this school structure. So if our working culture has shifted, why has the infrastructure of education that equips said culture not shifted? We need to reevaluate what skills and subjects would best serve the work force of the 21st century. Using the previous one that favored obedience, not critical thinking, is outdated and only contributing to the common unequipped young worker looking to get a job. The doc seeks to show the silliness in today’s education in hopes it can spark a desire for reform.

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The Wolfpack was one of the films I looked forward to the most at Sundance. Attending a liberal arts college, I was familiar with Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, which is about the philosophy behind not missing what you never had. Short hand, the allegory is about people in a cave who are chained and fixed into a upright position where their only perception/knowledge of the outside world is through the shadows cast on the walls. They have never experienced the outside world and have no knowledge of it’s existence or possibilities, which makes then content with the sad life of only viewing shadows as they pass. So can people (who have full knowledge of the vastness of our world) be sad for these people since they don’t feel as though being chained is missing out? These people will only find their life displeasurable if they break their chains and escape the cave. The documentary The Wolfpack parallels this concept but with the real life story of the Angulo family. They reside in project housing located in the lower east side of New York City. Their father holds a very controlling role in the family, forbidding them to leave their apartment due to the looming encounter of danger in the outside world. At first, the children grow up never questioning or thinking their lifestyle to be weird. They fulfill their childhood fixes by reenacting many of their favorite movies. They create elaborate costumes and reenact movies in their entirety causing them to develop a full fledged love of film. They are engulfed by this desire for film and find it to be a satisfying substitution for the outside world until a brother randomly decides to leave the confines of the apartment. Once the first brother leaves the apartment, he can no longer respect or even look at his father the same; the son resents his father for never allowing the family to fully live life. There is a point in the film where one of the brothers mention how on average the family leaves their apartment 9 times a year; one year they didn’t leave their apartment once. Can you imagine never stepping outside for a whole year? How have these kids escaped the inevitability of becoming stir crazy like most people who have experienced this kind of restraint? Somehow, these kids have managed to stay normal and relatively well adjusted; this is mainly due to their socialization through movies. I couldn’t help but sit there and fall in love with this family and laugh at their awesome reenactments of films like: Reservoir Dogs, The Dark Knight, and Pulp Fiction. These kids show a promising future and it is truly remarkable how they didn’t let the paranoia of their father stop them from aspiring to higher life goals. The Angulo brothers broke out into the real world and longed for more, never looking back to the confinement of their jailhouse. I was very happy to hear this doc won the Grand Jury Prize for best U.S. Documentary; totally deserved.

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The Final Days

After becoming acquainted with Sundance, the first couple of days in Park City, sadly the festival has flown by so quickly. I have become increasingly surprised by all of the magnificent films I have been able to view. I would have to say I am becoming addicted to these Sundance movies and will probably go into a deep depression once I return home, especially when I return to boring normal classes.

On Thursday January 29th (Day 8), I began my day watching a Sundance at Midnight film in the afternoon! Turbo Kid was absolutely remarkable, a retro 80’s, action packed, gore-filled, post-apocalyptic, semi-love story, humorous film. I couldn’t get enough of Turbo Kid and I undeniably cannot wait to watch this film again. I’m sure the directors enjoyed making this film just as much as I enjoyed watching it. I was bummed out when the film ended, I certainly hope it comes out soon.

Shortly after Turbo Kid I watched yet another Sundance at Midnight film, at 2:30 in the afternoon. The Hallow  was definitely the scariest film I saw during the whole festival. I was so pleased to see that The Hallow wasn’t your typical, “a couple with a newborn decide to move to a creepy forest just because and end up being haunted by demons etc.” Instead, the doctor has an essential reason to move to this forest, to study a strange fungal disease spreading through the forest. The couple are somewhat stubborn, simply because they don’t believe in “ghost stories,” but they soon learn their lesson to be extra wary. Also the director left the film open for a potential sequel, which is getting me all excited for another scary movie.

On Friday January 30th (Day 9) I started my day with the movie Unexpected. This film was quite a heartwarming story about a teacher and one of her students who both end up getting pregnant at very inconvenient times. The student is conflicted about wanting to go to college, but not wanting to leave her baby behind.

Friday night I saw another Sundance at Midnight film, It Follows.  This movie was very entertaining, but not the scariest of the bunch. It is basically about an STD that involves a demon who constantly chases you, unless you are able to pass it on. For example, someone has sex with you and you catch the STD, you must have sex with someone else to pass on the demon, unless you want to be running for the rest of your life.

Saturday January 31st (Day 10). My second to last film… the Grand Jury Prize winner, Me and Earl and The Dying Girl… was more than incredible, by far the best film at the festival (that I viewed at least). No surprise it won the Audience award and Grand Jury prize. I don’t want to say much, because I think it is a film you certainly must see when the opportunity arises and to experience on your own. I will only say this film successfully captures the “feel,” just as the Sundance booklet says, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, will tickle your funny bone and tug at your heart.

To end my night, I watched The Experimenter. Jake and I arrived slightly late because we were watching the Grand Jury prize film just before. This film was very interesting, because it was about “The Experiment.” If you are not aware of the experiment, you should Google it because there is too much to explain to get my point across. The film does a swell job of showing the results of Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiments.

Overall, Sundance Film Festival was probably the most exciting class I have taken yet. This class has made me appreciate movies on another level and I will definitely be attending Sundance sometime in the near future. Thank you Professor McCarthy for offering and teaching this class at St. Mary’s, it has been a wonderful journey.

Midway

I stand by the fact that I did not have ONE dull moment at Sundance during my entire stay so far (Thursday Jan. 29). The festival has been full of surprises since day one and only gets better each passing day. As week B or the second half of the festival arrived the amount of movies I watched each day increased dramatically.

Monday January 26th (Day 5): I viewed my first Midnight film today, The Nightmare, a documentary based horror film about “Sleep Paralysis.” It is said that if someone who suffers from sleep paralysis tells someone else about their experience then the “enchantment” will be passed on. I’d like to think I had some sort of nightmare that night, but ended up waking up with ease. I am very fortunate to not be burdened with this curse.

Tuesday January 27th (Day 6): I watched three films this day. One U.S. Documentary, one NEXT and a midnight film. To start my day off I watched Call Me Lucky, a documentary about Barry Crimmins who became known as a peace activist and a political satirist. Crimmins brought serious matters to “comedy,” I put quotations around comedy because Barry was not exactly the typical comedian you are imagining right now. He would get outrageously pissed during his shows, because all the horrible stories he talks about only made him angrier because of how wrong things were in the 80’s.

My second film of the day was called “H.”.  My expectations were significantly low because of all the buzz the film was getting from the majority of viewers. However, I did not find the film horrible at all, I have to admit the story was a bit strange because so many situations and elements were not fully answered and were left open for us to imagine, which I partially enjoyed. In addition the acting was magnificent.

I ended my day with another midnight film, Reversal.  This film was similar to the stereotypical abduction horror film. Except this time, the tables were turned. An opportunity arises for one of the abducted ladies and she takes advantage of one of her kidnappers. She sets off on a journey to rescue the other abducted girls, instead of getting the cops involved of course, but then what would the point of the film be?

Wednesday January 28th (Day 7) I saw a couple films today. My day started at 8 am.  Advantageous was an interesting and great film to watch. The only down side was it was slow at times and watching the movie so early in the morning after a midnight film the night before caused me to doze off at times. Other than that, the film does a swell job of portraying the importance of appearance for a certain women in the future, if she wants to keep her well paying job, she must take extreme risks to secure the future for her and her daughter.

In the afternoon I watched the movie Dope, my older brother (outside of Sundance) told me Dope sold to Sony for 7 million and has been getting excellent reviews. I was getting excited to see the film, but did not know what to fully expect. I was thoroughly surprised, Dope became my favorite film of the whole festival. Acting, music, story, everything about the film was excellent and inspirational. Highly recommend watching this film ASAP.

I ended my Wednesday night with a midnight film, Hellions, I was not entirely satisfied with this film. The plot had potential but it was taken to a strange and uncomfortable level.  There were an overwhelming amount of demon children and it took place during Halloween, but the plot certainly became confusing. However, the sets were splendid and I greatly enjoyed watching them progress throughout the movie. There has been so much to do, I wouldn’t be surprised if I sleep for a week straight when I get back home for break.

The Sundance Experience By: Kristina Slavich

Looking back at the festival, it’s sort of crazy to think that I saw so many films in such a short amount of time. But I am so glad that I was able to have this experience. There were so many films that I really enjoyed watching and truly was amazed by the acting and cinematography. It was one of the coolest experiences and I am so glad I was able to take this class.

One of the films that I had really wanted to see throughout the festival was Me, Earl, And the Dying Girl. I had heard such great things about the film and was anxious to see if I could try and get a ticket. After a few failed waitlist attempts, I was really excited to learn that the film won in the US Dramatic competition and would therefore be screening on Saturday night. Megan, Devin, and I arrived early, excited that this was the film that had won. Not to my surprise, Me, Earl, And the Dying Girl was nothing short of incredible. The movie was about a high school boy who by the request of his mom, befriends a fellow classmate with leukemia. A friendship between the two quickly develops and they become inseparable. The touching story looks at a high schooler’s perspective on life and the meaning of friendship. The cast was great and the film itself was quite funny at times but also really moving. In addition, the storyline was executed flawlessly with the audience laughing at every joke and crying at the pivotal moments. It was the last film that I saw at the festival and was definitely my favorite as well. I feel so grateful that I was able to attend the festival and definitely want to try and go back sometime in the future.photo 1 photo 2

Now That Its Over by Jake Derian

To loosely Quote Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (and Dickens), “Sundance was the best of times and the worst of times.” This statement is only half true though, because I don’t think there was any point in of my time at Sundance that could be put under the category of “the worst of times.”10965659_10152829736986704_1749710428_n

The past ten days at Sundance has been nothing short of phenomenal. I have done soo much, I’m surprised that I was able to  fit everything into only ten days. I saw 28 movies, went to multiple Sundance events, met some famous people, ate at restaurants around Park City, and was also able to just chill in the condo.

Retrospectively, some of my favorite movies were The Witch, Don Verdean, The Strongest Man, Bob and the Trees, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, The Stanford Prison Experiment, The End of the Tour, The Hallow, People Places Things, It Follows, and The Experimenter.

Also some of my favorite experiences were going to the Diary of a Teenage Girl after party, going to the hot tub late at night when it was like 15 degrees out, walking around main street, and obviously seeing all the movies. The after party was really fun because I got to meet a bunch of different people who worked in the industry and got to see the stars of the movie.

Despite having so much fun, Sundance has also been a great learning experience. I believe that at the very least my small talking skills have increased exponentially. I also see movies much more critically. Before this class started, reviewing films was a much harder task than it is now. I can now easily and objectively pinpoint the parts of a film that I like or dislike and explain why.

It is sad to think that Sundance is truly over. Looking back, it was more than just watching movies and meeting people, Sundance 2015 was not an experience that could be described by things I did and things that I liked, but that could only be accurately described by being there and experiencing it.  That being said, I am already planning on returning in the coming years to experience the next Sundances.

Note to Self- James Franco is NOT the Goal By: Grace Osborne

unnamed-2The night before I headed off to Sundance, my friends/suitemates made it very clear that I had to meet James Franco and take a photo with him at all costs… or I wouldn’t be let back into our suite (a joke, I hope).  They even took the liberty to put his name all over sticky notes on my door [see left] to remind me that I was destined to meet him and absolutely had to find a way to be in his presence.  In all fairness, I was the one to tell them that meeting James Franco was my ultimate goal at Sundance, and I just had this feeling that he would spot me in a crowd and would want to buy me dinner.  Looking back, I laugh at my naiveté.  First off, James Franco is 36 and I am 19 (a 17 year age difference… try bringing him home to meet mom & dad).  Second, those lights on stage are blinding… how would he even see me all the way in the 27th row?!  And third, when and why did Opening-Credits-James-Franco-freaks-and-geeks-17545180-800-600James Franco suddenly become my goal for achieving ultimate Sundance happiness?

If you ever make someone or something the determining factor for a trip such as Sundance, it is inevitable that you are going to overlook all the other amazing encounters and only focus on the one that didn’t happen.  I have been lucky to come across several actors, directors, and screenwriters that I have been inspired by during my time at Sundance.  Jacqueline Kim (Advantageous), Avan Jogia (Ten Thousand Saints), Tobey Maguire, Ken Jeung (Advantageous), David Arquette, Emory Cohen (Brooklyn), and RJ Mitte had unnamed-4been some of the actors I came across while walking up Main Street or after having watched their film.  I agree, one should not be celebrity-hungry and only go to places to find celebrities in order to take a photo with them.  It is a human reaction to want to do this, to want to make other people jealous on social media that you were the one lucky enough to be in the presence of a well-known celebrity.  However, I view meeting celebrities as a special occurrence where you can see someone that has been put up on a pedestal by society and relate to them as normal human beings.  It is even more special when they are people that you appreciate and look up to, such as when I met Kris Swanberg, director of the Sundance film Unexpected.

Kris received many unnamed-5compliments during the Q&A about her film and you could tell she was truly a genuine person that was humbled by such praise.  After the Q&A, I told Kris off-stage that I had really enjoyed her film and was wondering if she, as a young female director, had any words of advice for me as I am an aspiring filmmaker.  “You are nineteen?  Wow.  Well, I guess I would say to just start now.  Make something that is true and honest to yourself.”  Her words of advice resembled what my professor, Virginia had told me when we sat and talked on a bench on Main Street as well as what Patrick Gilfillan (screenwriter of Lila & Eve) told me as we both walked to the bus stop after Mass on Sunday.  If 3 different people tell me the same thing, then I should treasure that piece of advice and follow through with it.  Thank you Kris, Virginia, and Patrick.

15522-1-1100Now, back to Franco.  I had received word that he was still at Sundance during the second week while many people had left to go back home to warm, sunny Hollywood.  I was thrilled to hear this, because I just so happened to have a ticket to I Am Michael, a film James Franco starred in.  I was also convinced he was going to arrive at the screening for the Q&A, like most of the actors had done for their newly-premiered films.  The film was at 9:30AM, so you know I was at the bus stop by 7:45.  I am kind of embarrassed at how early I got up, too… but let’s not talk about it.  So I got second row seats, perfect to jump up after the Q&A and wave Franco down for a picture.  Even the random tumblr_lwb5tpYbVS1qbrk2to1_500strangers in front of me knew I wanted to meet him, so they suggested that they would help me get his attention and would take the photo for me.  Let’s also not talk about that.  Anyway, I couldn’t truly enjoy the last 5 minutes of his film because I was nervous and anxious at the following events that would occur once Franco would walk on stage.  This was it, this was why I got up at (insert ridiculously early time) to get ready. Today was the day I was going to meet James Franco!

*Insert turntable scratching noise*

Yeah, he didn’t show up.

Okay, so to say I was bummed would be an understatement.  I could have slept in, I could have just sat in the 27th row, and most importantly, I could have gotten a picture with James Franco.  I felt defeated, as if my efforts to meet one of my favorite actors were not good enough james-franco-as-alienand therefore led me to be sitting in the second row by myself, listening to only the director at the Q&A, with the song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” playing in my head.  It took me a couple of days to shake off the disappointment and to focus on the people that I did meet while at Sundance, many who may have been more inspiring and exciting to talk to than simply saying “Hi” and “Bye” to James Franco.  Sure, meeting James Franco would have been such a memorable moment for me, and getting a picture with him would have been awesome… but that’s life.  At the end of the day, even though James Franco didn’t show up to his movie, I did.  I stood in line, I watched his film, I stayed for the Q&A, and that’s what matters more.  My time at Sundance cannot be measured by how many celebrities I saw or how many films I watched, but rather how I grew as a person and how my passion for film matured.  In just 10 days, I went from wanting to see every movie and meet every celebrity to embracing the random moments of spontaneity that came from simply crossing paths with some amazing filmmakers and writers.

My experience of Sundance transcends any meeting of celebrities or viewing of films; it has truly been a whirlwind of emotion mixed with exciting encounters and profound memories that I will take with me wherever I may go.  The people I met both on the street and in the classroom have also impacted my time at Sundance, and for that I am grateful.  Maybe one day I will randomly meet James Franco in the true-Sundance fashion, with no planning or preparation but instead by circumstance.  And that is when I will tell James Franco that although I appreciate his work and look forward to his future projects, I may not be able to ever forgive him for making me go through all that trouble to wake up at 5:50AM on that cold, Thursday morning at Sundance 2015 🙂

Note to Self- James Franco is NOT the Goal.

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Waking up at 8:30 in the morning on Friday was rough. After having multiple days of staying up late and waking up early I was finally completely exhausted. I struggled to get out of bed and stumble to the MARC’s theater. But somehow I arrived on time to see my final movie People, Places, Things. It was a cute little film staring Jemaine Clement. Since I arrived on time I was able to throw in a quick nap in my seat before the movie started. Thank goodness I did because I was able to awake enough for the movie. I enjoyed People, Places, Things for how different it was from all the rest of the films I had seen. It was a lot less dark and raunchy then the movies I had seen before. It was more of just a feel good movie. I thought it was a great change of pace. I would love to watch the movie again when I am not fighting back sleep to see how much more I like it. After the movie I went home and took a three hour nap knowing that I still had a long day ahead of me. I was lucky enough for Zane to ask me to join him at the award ceremony and party since he was able to obtain extra tickets from his moms childhood friend David. I knew that this event was somewhat exclusive and felt very lucky to be able to attend. But I didn’t realize how special it was until we first got there and the people taking tickets were surprised that we had them. They questioned where we got them and what we were doing there. After they were done questioning they just exclaimed that we were some “lucky ducks”. Once we got in I just tried to enjoy myself and not be intimidated by the people who surrounded me (except Edgar Wright my favorite director who I was very Intimated by). Overall it was an amazing experience, I was able to meet some great, creative, and kind people. I have already began talks of returning next year.

Waitlisted By: Grace Osborne

IMG_3584-1I have found a pattern in my life where being waitlisted has become a common theme.  Besides receiving the confusing letter from one or two colleges back in high school that said “We like you, but not right now,” I have found the process of being waitlisted rather rewarding.  I often reflect on this when I specifically think about on how I got into this class.  I am a sophomore and had Jan Term travel registration the day after seniors and juniors, which meant I had a very slim chance of getting a spot.  I waited diligently online to see the numbers quickly fill up, and in the next 15 seconds would I be faced with the disappointing realization that I would not get into this class.  Even the waitlist was full, meaning that I wasn’t just “possibly not going” but “really not going…” I had to figure out a Jan Term Plan B (which I was not too thrilled about) and just drop the idea of going to Sundance altogether.  But let’s face it, my heart was set on Sundance and I could not let go of it, which resulted in me randomly checking the waitlist when it was my turn to sign up for on-campus Jan Term two weeks later.  To my surprise, a spot on the waitlist had opened up! And I thought I would put myself on the waitlist anyway, just because I would then have somewhat of a chance.  Little did I knowunnamed that my determination (and patience!) would get me into the best class of my collegiate career.

I came to Sundance as a sponge, absorbing all of my surroundings, all of the films, and all of the advice I was receiving.  In the first couple of days, I waitlisted almost every movie just to see what number I would get.  Some films, I didn’t even want to see but I felt I was in no position to be picky and not try anyway.  Here, I embraced the mercy of the waitlisting system again, in which I was not promised or guaranteed anything regardless of how high of a number I had.  One of the first films I got to see from the waitlist was Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s “The Mask You Live In,” which was not on my initial list of films I wanted to see but I thought it sounded interesting and was worth a shot.  I am grateful that something inside me told me to go to this particular documentary anyway because it turned out to be extremely informational and inspiring.

The Sundance waitlist lines are not only crazy, but made me realize how the people in them are crazy, too. I believe these lines reinforce patience, understanding, and kindness in a festival where things can be easily handed to us, but not everyone feels the same way.  I agree, rules of the waitlist lines should be followed and reinforced, but I noticed that people would get upset or impatient at the workers or other people in line who were not unnamedbreaking any rules whatsoever.  On the other hand, there were people in the waitlist line that would spark up a conversation with anyone, probably figuring that they are here for another 30+ minutes so why not talk to somebody. Well, that somebody always seemed to be me, because I have met so many interesting characters while waiting for the film itself.  The first couple of times I waited in line, I got in to the show (a very rewarding feeling).  However, there were also countless of times where I had waited, with my back in need of a deep-tissue massage and my body temperature above the normal degree, that I was turned away because there was no more room (a very defeating feeling).  Like getting turned away from any waitlist, it would be easy to become bitter and not try again.  Why should I come back to another screening and wait in line if there’s a good chance I won’t get in?  Well, if I had this very defeated mindset, I would not have gotten into this class altogether.

It was an important learning experience to wait in a long line and be conscious of the time and of how many people they were letting in, even if it did raise my blood pressure.  At the end of the day, Sundance is all about luck and chance, either it be getting into a film, seeing a celebrity, or meeting somebody who just happens to have a plus one ticket to an exclusive party (which I sadly did not experience).  Nothing is guaranteed at Sundance, but what makes this experience so special is going out of your comfort zone and extending that patience and determination and trying anyway.

What Happens At Sundance Does Not Stay At Sundance

By Sophia Anguilla

I’m angry. I saw so many documentaries in the last ten days that absolutely outraged me. Most recently I saw 3 ½, a documentary depicting the Jordan Davis case in Florida where, a young black man was shot by an older white man enforcing the stand-your-ground law. I was disgusted by the shooter’s lack of remorse and the outright hate he exhibited. This was an interesting parallel to Fruitvale Station where Oscar Grant, another young black man, was shot by a white BART officer. If Fruitvale Station didn’t get me fired up enough, 3 ½ Minutes sure did.

I then realized how many documentaries I had seen at Sundance depicting hateful crimes, the people they affect, and the people who get away with them. I began with The Hunting Ground and Hot Girls Wanted, which told the stories of survivors of campus rape and girls who entered the amateur porn industry respectively. Next I heard the story of Warren Jeffs, the leader of the FLDS who is currently in prison, in the documentary Prophet’s Prey. Jeffs married a multitude of young women, took money from his followers, and molested the children. After that I saw Welcome to Leith, a documentary about Craig Cobb, a well-known white supremacist who move to the small town of Leith, North Dakota in attempt to take it over and create a safe haven for other white supremacists. Just before seeing 3 ½ Minutes, I watched The Amina Profile, the story of a Syrian girl who wrote a blog called “A Gay Girl In Damascus” and started a relationship with a French Canadian woman. It turns out that Amina did not exist, rather the person writing the blog and involved in this relationship was a white man living in Edinburgh. While the media was covering Amina’s story, they failed to cover the disappearance of a real gay Syrian activist.

All of these documentaries brought to light the tragedy, hate, and ignorance present among the citizens of the United States and beyond. I don’t want to live in a world where parent have to talk to their daughters about how not to get raped and where school administrations blame survivors and cover up cases when they do occur. I don’t want to live in a place where 18 year-old girls feel that going into the amateur porn industry is the only way out of their small towns in order to make it big. I don’t want to live in a place where men abuse women and children and steal from their families and get away with it. I don’t want to live in a country where people believe entire races and religions should be exterminated. I don’t want to live in a place where the media would rather cover a hoax than the actual tragedy occurring in foreign countries. And I sure as hell don’t want to live in a country where one person can shoot another just for talking back to them. I’m disappointed to live in a place where all of these things are allowed to happen regularly and where we still need to be making documentaries about these tragedies. I’m disappointed to live in a place where people care more about their favorite TV characters than the people they live next to.

And That’s A Wrap! by Morgan Pigman

Thursday, January 29th, 2015–

Saw three movies again today!  Tangerine was first at 11:30 am.  My favorite aspects of the movie were how real and raw the movie was, not to mention I felt like strutting to the music and walking with them where ever they were in LA.  It was about transgender prostitutes working in an area of Hollywood I am not familiar with, the less pretty parts of Hollywood. What most impressed me with the film was that the camera used to shoot Tangerine was the iPhone 5S!  How crazy is that?!  I met the executive producer on the bus on the way to waitlist for a movie later that night and he gave me his business card.  I look forward to emailing him and asking him a few questions.  He was really excited that I wanted to talk to him about the film and was super passionate about his work.

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Next up was Chorus at 2:30 pm.  I definitely called it close between getting from one movie to the next.  I made it with a few minutes to spare!  Chorus was upsetting because it was about a family that was torn apart after their child was abducted. The mother stayed in Canada and the father moved to Mexico.  Ten years later, the couple finally was able to have closure because their son’s body was found and a man made a confession while in jail.  Throughout their time back together when they were preparing the ceremony and burying their child, you could tell they still loved each other.  I was really hoping they would end up together as the movie progressed.  Don’t worry, I won’t ruin anything…

Later on in the evening, I saw the Royal Road at the Holiday Village Cinemas with Sophia and Spencer.  It was directly across the street from our condos which was very convenient.  To be honest, that was the least interesting movie I have ever seen.  People seemed to be dropping like flies in terms of leaving while the movie was still playing.  It made me feel bad for whoever made the film because I know how hard they must have worked on it.  I can say on a positive note that the very beginning was bright, colorful, and fun.

Friday, January 30th, 2015–

Woke up early to waitlist for Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl at 8:30 am.  Tyler and I had waitlist numbers 1 & 2 (which we were VERY proud of) and still didn’t manage to get tickets.  I was totally bummed out because that was a movie on my list of movies I really wanted to see.  Took a little adventure to find amazing breakfast burritos at Albertos!  Highly recommend trying those if you find yourself near Prosepector Square.

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Got to see Unexpected at 12:15 pm today!  I adored this movie and have to say it was one of my favorites as well.  This is another one that I don’t want to talk too much about just because I want other people to see it.  I will say that How I Met Your Mother’s star Cobie Smulders was fantastic.  The humor made the entire theater laugh.  It was a reminder that sometimes life doesn’t go as planned but it’s all up to you on how you handle the situation or cards you’ve been dealt with.  It was about real people experiencing real, everyday things.  Two different women worked together through the challenges of unplanned pregnancies, one a teacher, the other a student.  It felt so real that it almost felt like a documentary.  I was able to totally identify with characters and had fun watching it.

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I got to meet one of my friends that I studied abroad with on Semester at Sea this past summer for dinner.  It was so lovely being able to see a friendly and familiar face while being here in Utah.  I’m so lucky that she took the time to drive to Park City from Salt Lake City to come see me and spend some quality time together.  The last movie of the evening was at 11:45 pm.  A larger group of us all went together to see It Follows.  In a nut shell, it was a scary movie about this demon that is passed from person to person through sex and it follows that person around trying to kill him or her.  If it succeeds then the demon comes back to the person that gave it to that person.  Somehow I didn’t have difficulty going to bed that night.  Never the less, it was suspenseful and thrilling.  Definitely felt adrenaline pumping through my veins and I screamed quite a few times in the movie.  It was a fun movie to see with friends.  Walking back was a little spooky but it was also pretty because it was snowing.  I’m really happy we were able to experience it snowing while we were here.

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Saturday, January 31st, 2015–

My last documentary of Sundance was 3 1/2 minutes.  I found the story to be very profound and moving.  I really did not recall much of this trial back in 2012.  It was about a white man that shot a black teenage boy over loud music.  What I enjoyed most about it was the opening and closing statements of both the prosecution and defense.  It’s amazing how much a story can be twisted and turned depending upon who is telling the story.  I was debating on not going to see it because I was almost “movied out” but I’m really happy I got my butt out of bed to see it.  Overall, I felt that the defendant got what he deserved and that’s that.

After the movie, I went home and got my stuff together and packed.  I then headed to Main Street with Grace to do some last minute shopping.  To our dismay, we didn’t find anything we really wanted.  We headed to Squatters to meet Jennifer, Kate, Alycia, Desiree, and Adriana for dinner.  [SQUATTER 4 LIFE] We loved that place and wish there was one in the Bay area.  The artichoke dip is delicious and the taco salad was amazing.  As soon as we got back to the condos, we checked the Award Ceremony that was being streamed on youtube.

YES!!! Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl won the Grand Prize dramatic and we had tickets to see it!  We grabbed our things and hustled buns to the bus stop..only to all dog pile into a taxi.  We got there within minutes and waited in line, shivering.  Luckily we didn’t have to wait in line very long and we were inside Eccles!

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There is a reason Fox search light bought this movie for a record breaking 12 million dollars.  Every character in the movie was richly detailed.  The movie showed a new way of looking and dealing with cancer.  Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner.  If there is anything you take from reading this, go see this movie.  I can’t emphasize enough how much I liked it.  Please and thank you!

Sunday, February 1st, 2015–

And That’s A Wrap, Time to go home!  Reflecting on my time here just makes me happy.  I loved my experience at Sundance and am hopeful of returning next year with my mom and maybe even some friends.  I don’t think I could have had as good of an experience without SMC and the help of Virginia.  I’ll end with some tips and favorites:

Favorite place to eat:   Squatters near the Yarrow

Favorite Coffee/Tea/Hot Chocolate spot:   Java Cow on main street

Favorite Lounge:   HP Lounge

Favorite Movies:

  1. Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl
  2. Brooklyn
  3. Unexpected

Favorite Venues

  1. Eccles
  2. The Egyptian

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What I wish I did:

  1. Take a picture with Jason Segel
  2. Build a Snowman
  3. Take advantage of the slopes & ski

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Advice:   Go to at least one panel, don’t be afraid to ask a question at a Q&A, keep a refillable water bottle and chapstick with you at all times, it’s important to have cash on you, keep your head and toes warm

Don’t be afraid to:   Approach and talk to people, you never know what could happen!

What I’m going to miss:   my classmates, the ability to ask questions of people who invested significant time in their work, the laughter & intensity of the audience

Ideas:   look into the possibility of volunteering, don’t forget to pack a portable phone charger, take more photos!

Goals for next year:   get into a “list only” event, see 20+ movies

Until next time, Sundance!

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