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.

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Eat, Sleep, Watch Movies, Repeat

By Sophia Anguilla

Who knew watching movies could be so exhausting? When people ask me what films I’ve seen it takes me a moment to respond because they are starting to blend together. Here’s the list: The Bronze, Dark Horse, The Hunting Ground, The Overnight, Hot Girls Wanted, Experimenter, The Stanford Prison Experiment, Things of the Aimless Wanderer, Digging for Fire, Zipper, Prophet’s Prey, Welcome to Leith, Stockholm Pennsylvania, and I just saw Tig. That’s a total of 14 films in six days.

            Things of the Aimless Wanderer isn’t a movie that I would normally see but it was filmed in Rwanda and that’s what drew me to it. There was probably a total of 15 minutes of monologue and no other narrative, which meant that the score played a very important role. Speaking of scores, the score for Digging for Fire, directed by Joe Swanberg, was by the same person who did the score for Beasts of the Southern Wild, a film we watched in class prior to Sundance. During the Q & A for Digging for Fire, I learned that there was no script for the film, just a ten-page outline. This was one of the more polished films that I saw, and it baffled me that it was mostly improv and that it was based off of both Joe Swanberg and Jake Johnson’s lives.

            Tig is such a phenomenal film. It just jumped to the top of my docs list along side Hot Girls Wanted and they are such different films that I wouldn’t be able to choose which one I liked better. One thing that both of these amazing documentaries did have in common is female directors. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to see a multitude of films by female directors who are portraying stories that need to be told whether real or fictional. Another film by a female director is Zipper a cross between Scandal and House of Cards that takes riveting and infuriating look at political sex scandals. During the Q & A the director said she wanted to portray the wife as neither a victim nor a bitch and she did that well. Although the main character was not a woman, the female lead was strong, supportive, and self-serving in a way that we are finally just starting to see in mainstream television and hopefully more in upcoming mainstream films.

With four more movies to see tomorrow it’s time for the sleep part of the Sundance eat, sleep, watch movies, repeat cycle, which although it’s exhausting, is worth every second.

Two-A-Days by Sophia Anguilla

Three days, six films, and very little sleep! Mt first three days at Sundance have been packed with food and films. I’ve seen two comedies, three documentaries, and a film about a classic psychology experiment. I’ve woken up between 6:30 and 7:00am each day to waitlist for films with Desiree and wait in line for 30 minutes to an hour to see The Bronze, The Hunting Ground, and Hot Girls Wanted.

The Bronze was a crack up comedy with the best sex scene ever filmed about a washed up gymnast who’s her small town hero and how she deals with an up and coming gymnast. It was the best possible way to start off my first ever Sundance experience. I ended my first day with a Dark Horse a warmhearted documentary about a group of friends in a small town in Wales who breed a racehorse and see him through his trials and tribulations.

Day two started off with a disheartening look at sexual assault on college campuses in the U.S. in The Hunting Ground. It explored how many college girls, one in four to be exact, experience backlash from their colleges after reporting a sexual assault. After a glorious nap, my day took a turn towards the hilarious. Myself and three other students made it off the waitlist and into The Overnight, yet another raunchy comedy with one of my favorite actresses, Taylor Schilling, who plays Piper in Orange is the New Black.

Day three began with another heart wrenching documentary about teenage girls who get wrapped up in the amateur porn industry. After meeting Tressa, the main character, a girl my own age, and hearing her inspiring story, my heart went out to her and I couldn’t help but give her a hug. After spending a few hours on Main Street with Desiree and Alycia and making a stop at the Lipton Lounge, we all got into Experimenter the true story of the Milgram Obedience Study. It’s been a long three days but worth the work and I can’t wait for what comes next!