My favorites of the festival

By Devin Ezaki

During my week here at Sundance, I had the chance to watch some incredible films. For my final blog post here, I decided to list my favorite dramatic films and documentaries.

Dramatic/Narrative Films

1. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

I know I already talked about this movie in my last post, but I just can’t get enough of it! It won the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize so I had the chance to see it a second time. A senior in high school handles the illness of a new friend while she helps him better himself. It is a beautiful coming of age story that depicts the joy and sadness in life. Anyone who has experienced death, friendship, or maturation will appreciate this creative film.

2. James White

James White won the Audience Award in the Next category. This film is about a man in his twenties who tries to care for his ill mother, while struggling with his own self destructive behavior. James White is a very realistic portrayal of how a person handles difficult situations like death; it does not minimize how painful illness is. It is beautifully honest.

3. People, Places, Things

This film was a part of the U.S. Dramatic Competition. People, Places, Things is a light hearted, sarcastic film about a man who ends his relationship with his long time girlfriend, and mother of his children. This graphic novelist must readjust his life and come to terms with his new situation. This film sheds a comedic light on an unfortunate situation.

 

Documentaries

1. Most Likely to Succeed

I personally relate to this film because I am studying to be a teacher, but anyone who has some appreciation for school or concern for the future of our school system will appreciate it as well. This documentary shows the faults within our education system, as well as how some schools break the mold of traditional schooling. It shows how education can change from the “teach to the test” method, to something that students genuinely enjoy.

2. How to Dance in Ohio

This documentary was such a nice break from all the serious films I watched at Sundance. It shows how young adults on the autism spectrum successfully prepare for a spring dance. How to Dance in Ohio shows how they take giant steps forward towards an event that frightens many of them at the beginning of the film. It was absolutely inspiring.

3. Dreamcatcher

Dreamcatcher highlights how a woman named Brenda goes around Chicago to empower the women in this dangerous area. It shows how difficult it is for women and girls to escape a lifestyle that is utterly abusive, even though they are often just trying to make money or take care of their family. It raises serious social and gender issues that people often ignore. The only way to improve it is to raise awareness.

 

I had an amazing week and a half here. I am incredibly thankful that I had this experience. I saw 20 films (I saw Me and Earl and the Dying Girl twice so I guess 21 films?) in less than two weeks. I saw celebrities on Main Street, casually talked to people in the film industry, and stared at my phone anticipating the next waitlist time. And I didn’t fall in snow! I call that a major success! Thank you SMC and Virginia for offering this wonderful course!

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