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.



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.

A Sunny Sundance

(I must give credit to Jake Derian for taking my featured photo above)

As a matter of fact, Park City has been overwhelmingly sunny these first few days. Fortunately snow is on its way! And we Saint Mary film critics will finally be able to experience the great joys Sundance (Park City) has to offer. I have not experienced one dull moment at Sundance yet, however, the festival does have a tendency of consuming one’s energy until the last drop producing an induced baby like coma.

The day of arrival, the group rushed to the box office just before closing time to pick up our tickets. We are a fearless bunch… Here we are jam-packed in the elevator, testing if the elevator can truly withhold the weight limit. We were dedicated to obtain our movie tickets at any cost. (Insert Daredevil Emoji here)

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(I apologize for the homies cut off from this photo, a panorama would have been more fitting)

I have only been able to attend three films within the first three or four days of arriving at the festival. End of the Tour was the first film I saw and I didn’t have a ticket. Some of us waitlisted for the film but a majority of wait-listers were not able to make the film due to heavy traffic. Once we made it to the waitlist line we must have been behind 150+ people or so, after a dreadful wait in line and constant talk of doubt of making it into the film, we actually made it into the premier film! Jake, Morgan and I must have been within the last five people who made it in and guess what! Thanks to the absent celebrities, we were able to get some reserved seats and got to sit ten feet from non-other than Jason Segel! Who if you are not aware, is the one playing the role as David Foster Wallace. Overall, End of the Tour was an excellent film and is probably my favorite film I have seen so far. I cannot get enough of Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg, both very well known and excellent actors; they do a superb job of recreating David’s story. And I am sure their movie will be a great hit once it is released to the public.

My second viewing was of the shorts program one, which is made up of seven films. I won’t go over all of the films, but will mention my three favorites from the program, but don’t get me wrong, each film was unique in their own way. Mulignans was a great very short film about three African American buds who imitate “pretty much every mob movie ever” and is outrageously hilarious. Smilf is a great short film representing the difficulties of a single mom who is trying to preserve her former freedom filled life. Every Day was a very inspirational short film about Joy Johnson, who is the oldest woman to run the 2013 marathon (and several marathons before). The film does a great job portraying Joy’s passion for running and life overall.

The third film I was able to get a ticket to was Dark Horse, this film was an inspirational movie about a group of friends who work on breeding a new race horse because they feel they are capable of doing the impossible, all from scratch. Dream Alliance was born and accepted into the family and he will change the lives of Jan Vokes and her group of friends forever; the journey is an emotional rollercoaster chock filled with intense horse races.

These first few days have not been crammed with films to view, so in the mean time Jake and I decided to take a few runs on the slopes. Skiing has been a major activity of mine throughout my life and was so excited to finally ski the world famous Park City Mountain. There has not been much snow in Park City for a while, but nonetheless the slopes were outstanding. I look forward to snow later in the week and hopefully I will be able to shred some pow pow! Now let me share this delightful view from the chairlift.

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