Not Afraid to Show Some Skin by Morgan Pigman

Sunday, January 25th, 2015–

I was feeling a little under the weather today so I relaxed at the condo for a good portion of my day.  Tyler, Luke and I headed to Main Street to explore a bit in the afternoon.  All of the free give-a-ways amazed me!  Food, beverages, merchandise galore!  Just to name a few…Speck phone cases were being handed out, Sundance water bottles, pizza, even Stella Artois beer.  Land Rover even offered complimentary 5×5 ride rides around the festival which was great because it helped me get to one of my movies later in that evening on time instead of having to wait for a bus which would have put me at risk of not being admitted to the film!  In their cars they played a set of short films on the tvs that they created on the car’s front and rearview cameras by teaming up with a view directors from Sundance last year.

A key tip we’ve picked up on was to stop by the box office whenever you get the chance because you never know what tickets they have to exchange or sell again.  A classmate heard H. was an excellent film and he already had a ticket.  The box office had one extra ticket so I snagged it while I could.  It sounded quite interesting to me from the description on the Sundance app where it discussed the setting of Troy, NY and two women named Helen, each with their own stories associated with a meteor crash nearby.  It seemed to me that it would be a great film to watch and write a review on considering it could all links to ancient Greek mythology; however, I was mistaken.  It was a very strange and weird movie.  Unfortunately, I would not recommend any of my classmates here to see it.  On a brighter note, I loved where they screened the film.  The Egyptian Theater was lovely and everyone there was very welcoming and helpful.  They even served Wine and Whiskey Sours at the snack bar!

On the walk to the bus stop, one of my classmates and I discussed how bizarre the movie we had just seen was.  We were also lucky enough to stumble upon one of Banksy’s original pieces outside of the Java Cow.  Part of me really wanted to stop and get a hot chocolate there but I was still super full from the lasagna we had at the other group dinner earlier that evening.

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I have no idea how Tyler did it.  He somehow managed to convince me to camp outside of the box office that evening.  My RA from my freshman year at Saint Mary’s, Emily, told me she did it when she was here and it was part of the experience.  Not only that, but if you do it, it guarantees you to get the movies of your choice.  There were two premieres the following day that I really wanted to see…so somehow, at 2 in the morning, I found myself walking to Main Street in the below 20 degree weather after he took about 45 minutes to convince me.  Within minutes of being there, security kicked us out and told us they would open to doors back up at 5 am.  I wasn’t exactly peachy keen on the idea of actually being outside in the cold for the next 3+ hours considering how freezing, uncomfortable and tiring it was.  I was not dressed to be outside and at a certain point I couldn’t even feel my fingers.  Luckily, we were second in line behind a man that had been camping out every night so far.  The only thing that kept me there was knowing I’d be able to laugh at this down the road and the fact that I had very high hopes in getting what I wanted.

Monday, January 26th, 2015–

8:00 am rolled around and the box office finally opened.  I was able to purchase 6 tickets total for world premieres which made me very satisfied with the overall outcome of that experience.  I didn’t have my first movie until 11:30 which meant that as soon as I got back to the condo I was able to pass out.  I could have continued sleeping throughout the entire day except I was fortunate enough to have Kate, Adrianna and Jen call me numerous times to wake me up for The Tribe.

The Tribe was the most emotionally draining, uncomfortable, scaring, and experimental films I have ever seen.  The entire movie was in sign language.  It involved prostitution, drugs, gangs, sex, abuse, abortion, rape, and murder.  By the end of it, my entire body felt achey and sick.  I knew going to Sundance that there were going to be some weird and disturbing films, but wow; I was not expecting that.  The actors were also not shy in terms of being naked on the big screen; they were not afraid to show some skin.  Spoiler alert—the movie ended with one of the deaf boys murdering the other gang members by smashing their heads with their bedside dressers.  They all slept in the dorms together.  Locks did not exist there because they were all deaf so he was able to walk in without any of them being aware of his presence and none of them knew what was going.  Not being able to hear the others deaths or warn each other resulted in all of their deaths in the end.  I’m not saying they deserved it or didn’t but they were not good people.  Regardless of their characters, that was hard to see.  I went back to bed immediately once I got to the condo again.  Not only was I exhausted from the previous night, I was also emotionally tired as well.

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Later in the evening, Grace, Tyler, and I went to see the world premiere of Brooklyn.  I don’t want to give a spoiler alert on this film because I absolutely adored it and want everyone to see it.  Once it comes out to theaters I am going to go again without a doubt.  We found excellent seats right in front of where the actors do their Q&As and got to meet part of the cast.  Brooklyn hit home for me because part of it was about being homesick.  When I was abroad in Australia, I felt all of the emotions the main character felt when she moved to New York City from Ireland.  It was also an extremely funny and also touching film.  I felt attached to the characters throughout the movie.  Leaving the theater, I couldn’t help but smile.

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We went straight back into the ticket holder line because we had back to back movies at the Eccles.  Next up we saw the world premiere for Digging for Fire.  I thought this movie was fun.  It taught some nice lessons about marriage, love, and family.  I was hoping Orlando Bloom would attend because it was the premiere but he was a no show; regardless, he was nice to look at in the parts of the movie he was actually in.

One thing I’ve noticed so far about being here is that Sundance comedy is much darker than the comedy I’m accustomed to.  The movie included a lot of improv which was neat too.  The atmosphere in the theaters here is also unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  The audience’s reactions are so much more profound than a movie at an average theater in your hometown.  Everyone is “all in.”  Three movies in one day was intense!  I can’t imagine being able to do anymore than that.  Overall, it was a truly great Sundance Day.

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015–

The first film of the day for me was Call Me Lucky.  This documentary had a drastic change of pace half way through the film.  I was not expecting it at all.  The first half included friends and family describing the comedian.  This gave the audience the chance to feel like they knew him or about him on a more personal level.  All of a sudden, child pornography and sexual abuse was being discussed.  It was really alarming to learn even more about how many horrible and disturbed people there are in this world.  It really saddens me to think and question how unsafe children are today in the outside world, some even in their own households.  The comedian was very intense regarding his personal opinions and beliefs.  I think he was too extreme but he definitely got his point across.  He invested a lot of his time to protect children from having the same thing happen to diminish their innocence.  He was and is very committed to that cause and that made me consider him a good person, regardless of his foul and somewhat degrading way of communicating.

My second film of the day was 6 Desires.  I was particularly excited about seeing this film because it was about traveling.  To my dismay, I wasn’t too fond of it.  It was made with an extremely low budget which I thought was impressive; however, it just wasn’t for me.  It was a collaboration of different sceneries and places an author wrote about and the director/producer’s response to him and his wife’s words.  I felt no true connection to the movie because I did not really feel like there was anything to emotionally invest in.  I found myself wanting to leave early to make it on time to the group enchilada dinner instead.

Somehow I was able to fit in the group dinner in between my next movie, Cronies.  Watching so many movies doesn’t seem like it would be difficult, but it is!  Going from theater to theater on public transportation actually takes a significant amount of time and fitting in a meal isn’t east either.  So I was really happy I got to eat with our group and talk about the most recent movies we had seen in the past few days.  I learned a new word that evening.  Cronies means a close friend or companion.  That’s exactly what the movie was about, a group for friends.  The actors in this film had never acted before which I found quite impressing.  They were also natives/locals to where the film was filmed which was cool. Funny story, we found one of the 3 main guys (far right in photo) in the movie on tinder. HA!  Anyways, I’ve never been a big fan of black and white movies; however, it added an extra touch to this one that I liked.

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Wednesday, January 28th, 2015–

One of the Sundance rules is that you are required to be at the theater 30 minutes before the film.  This allows them to get a true count of how much room they have for those waiting in the waitlist.  Well, my first movie of the day was at 8:30 am.  That doesn’t sound very early; however, when you factor in getting dressed, possibly having breakfast, walking to the bus stop, waiting for the bus, traveling to your stop with the other stops included, not to mention traffic, that’s a lot earlier than 8:30!  It’s more like 7 am.  Any ways, Advantageous was a good film.  It truly depicted what a parent would do out of love for his or her child.  It also showed the struggles a family can go through and the challenges everyone can encounter when growing older.  Advantageous introduced the idea of moving our minds into another younger body to be more aesthetically pleasing to others.  There’s plastic surgery and then there’s that.  Part of life is growing old.  If you’re in a different body, that isn’t really you.  I was not supportive of these concepts in the movie.  I know her mom had the procedure to support her child and ensure that she was taken care of, but it was sad having to watch the daughter suffer because she ultimately lost her mom.

(On the plus side, I got to meet Ken Jeong, AKA Leslie Chow from the Hangover.  He was in Advantageous as a much more serious role than his usual.  He did a great job too!)

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Later that evening I watched Eden.  I was drawn to this movie when I had to pick my tickets because Daft Punk was in the description.  This was the second film I saw by myself.  I’ve always thought going to a movie alone was kind of weird.  Surprisingly, I found it kind of enjoyable.  Eden was really long!  Regardless of the length, I liked the movie and it didn’t even seem as long as it was.  I didn’t even realize the length until I looked at the time when I was walking out of the theater.  Drugs, sex and partying galore!  Shocker, huh?  Once again, that’s just to be expected for Sundance.  I can promise you that you will see numerous butts, boobs and penises on the big screen while at Sundance…whether you like it or not! 😉

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Finale

What an amazing experience the Sundance Film festival has been.  I can truly say that I am a victim to the craze and hoopla that the festival created. The people I met at the Sundance Festival were probably just as memorable as the movies. I enjoyed the many conversations I had with people, waiting in line for a film or on the bus , hearing their journeys and reasons for being at the festival. I was immersed into a completely different world, placed out of my comfort zone, where I was encouraged to branch out to new people and new ideas.   Everyone was friendly, curious, and non-judgmental , all of which were at the festival for one reason: their passion for meaningful films that push creative boundaries and challenge big blockbuster films.

I was fortunate enough to meet one of my mom’s childhood friends, David Magdael at the festival.  David was responsible for public relations for films like Dark Horse, The Visit, In Football We Trust,  and the Chinese Mayor, which won the World Documentary Prize for unparalleled access.   David was nice enough to take me under his wing at the festival. He shared with me the process and importance of managing media and responses to reviews, studios, and other inquiries that come with the release of debut films in the Sundance Film Festival.

David was night enough to give me 3 tickets to the Sundance Festival Award Ceremony and After Party.  The Award Ceremony was hosted by Tig Notaro.  The Award Ceremony was incredible.  I met the filmmakers from of Dope, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Cronies, and many more! It was all so surreal and overwhelming.  I was fortunate enough to meet John Cooper, Joe Swanberg, Kim Farrant, and Jorm Taccone!  Sam Klemke from Sam Klemke’s Time Machine was there drawing caricatures!

Here are some pictures from the night:

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Me and Earl and the Dying Light of Sundance 2015

First off, I want to express how thankful I am for all of the people I had the pleasure of making this trip with. Before coming to Sundance with the class, I always imagined my trip would consist of me, myself, and I going to all the movies I had tickets for without anyone else, and then going home to the condo without sharing any Sundance experiences with anyone else.

Well, this trip didn’t go at all like I planned for it to go, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Shout out to all my classmates for making this trip the most memorable 10 days of my entire college experience. All of you have become great friends over this trip, and I hope we don’t simply go our separate ways forever because I will miss you all too much.

Now onto the highlights of the final 3 days of the trip…

I have to say this was probably the craziest, most exciting stretch of the Festival for me. It consisted of many of my favorite films from the entire Festival, and I think I saw more movies during this 3-day stretch than what I typically see over the course of 3 months.

Turbo Kid
Unexpected
The Hallow
It Follows
3 1/2 Minutes
Z for Zachariah
In Football We Trust
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

I couldn’t possibly have enough time to discuss every movie I’ve seen during this time, so I want to stick with just one–the best film of the festival, and itself enough to make you want to go back to the festival over and over–Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

This is, without a doubt, the best movie to be shown at Sundance 2015, and that makes sense because the only reason I got to see it is because it won the US Dramatic Competition. Thankfully, our student ticket packages came with a ticket to the screening of the winning film because without it, there is no way I would’ve been able to see it. That wouldn’t have been due to a lack of effort, though. On Friday morning, at 6:30 AM, I woke up to get myself and Morgan on the waitlist for the hotly anticipated film.

And I crushed it.100% totally and utterly dominated the waitlist.

We got the first and second spots on the waitlist. That’s all but a guaranteed seat in the theater when the film rolls. Even the Sundance app will tell you you have a likely chance of getting in. This was the coolest thing to happen to me in a long time. But oh how the mighty lord loves to strike down your confidence…

Like I said, Me and Earl was the most desired film of the festival. After the world premier screening of the film, there was a massive bidding war that ended with Fox Searchlight–the same studio that released the hit The Fault in our Stars–scooping up the adolescent cancer story for $12 million, and the largest purchase price of the entire festival.

Naturally, everyone wanted to see it at that point. Morgan and I watched helplessly from the front of the waitlist line as pass holder after pass holder bypassed the ticket holder line to enter the screening room of the theater. So many pass holders entered the theater that there were even some ticket holders who didn’t get into the movie. Insane. Outrageous. Incredible.

Morgan and I immediately drowned our sorrows in breakfast burritos.

Thank god this movie one the Grand Jury Prize though. Honestly, Me and Earl doesn’t involve a completely original, never-before-seen plot, but what makes it so astounding to watch is all the extensive thought and care put into every single detail of every single prop, setting, and character. There is not a single one-dimensional character in this film–every one of them has thoroughly defined quirks and personalities, and it is amazing to watch unfold. Never has there been a movie which involves two best friends, one black and one white, who spend their time Sweding classic, avant-garde, and experimental films. And that isn’t even as deep and rich as it gets. In the Q&A, the filmmakers continued to blow minds by describing how the characters wardrobes change as their relationships and feelings towards each other change over the course of the film, and even how they use a scene from Taxi Driver in the background of one scene as foreshadowing. It’s this kind of care that everyone puts into the film that makes it such a wondrous time in the theater. There is nothing better than Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and I guarantee it will be just as big as The Fault in Our Stars when it gets a wide release.

So that’s it. It’s been quite the experience in Park City, but now, after seeing 22 films, its time to bid adieu to the 2015 Sundance Film Festival…but not entirely, because there are still at least 15 more films I need to find somewhere because I didn’t have time to see them all during my time in Utah.

Now it’s back to the real world.

That’ll do, Sundance. That’ll do.

It’s Business Time!

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“It’s business time!” An appropriate phrase considering it’s the title of one of Jermaine Clement’s hilarious songs from his musical comedic duo, Flight of the Concords. He also happened to be the lead of one of the films I saw on the last day, “People, Places, Things.” The hilarious semi-romantic comedy was my “feel good” movie of Sundance, and I made sure the incredibly humble director, Jim Strouse, knew that. We talked on the entire bus ride back to my condo after we both watched the raunchier, but satisfying comedy “The Overnight.” I told him that I truly appreciated the fact that it was the only film at Sundance that didn’t make my stomach turn. He smiled and told me that it was the best compliment he’s received on the film so far. “It’s business time” is because I finally buckled down and got to seeing 4-5 films a day for the last portion of the festival to get the full experience.

Although I chose to go to some rather scary films such as “The Nightmare” and “It Follows” that deprived me of sleep for a few days, my overall film selection was careful, smart, and diverse. I ended the festival by going to my favorite film, which also happened to win the U.S. Dramatic Grand Prize, “Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl.” This film stole my heart from the beginning it started. From the stop motion animation to the remarkably natural character choices, this film had it all. No wonder it won, and I’m extremely glad I got to see why.

I have made some new friends during this festival, from St. Mary’s to people in the film industry, and I am grateful and excited to go back to the festival someday (hopefully next time, I’ll be in a film!)

Stuck in an Airport

by Megan Amaral   I think right now is a great time as any to write my blog post, stuck in an airport with a delayed flight. In my last post I said I wanted to talk about the horror films that I was supposed to watch on the last couple of nights, but I’m sorry to say that I had to trade in half my tickets on the last couple of days to see documentaries. And as much as I wanted to see the films I originally bought, I’m actually really happy that I got to watch the documentaries that I saw. They were very insightful and probably way better for my sleeping cycle than a horror film was going to be. So in this post I wanted to talk about one of the horror films I got to see because it was probably the most interesting and most terrifying films I saw.   Hellions. Before I was able to watch this film, I heard nothing but bad reviews about it. And hearing that sucked. I was really looking forward seeing Luke Bilyk and Chloe Rose in a film together for the first time since seeing them only in a Canadian show named Degrassi. The main character in Turbo Kid, which I talked about in my last post, played by Munro Chambers is also in this show. So it was fun seeing a little reunion with the three of them at Sundance. So even though hearing bad things about the film, I stayed up until midnight and went to go watch the film with my friends Jake and Alex.  hellions-poster   The film itself was…surprising. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when they decided to pair this film with a short about this man’s fascination with teeth. Some people cringed at the short…me…while others laughed about how uncomfortable it was. Then the film started. The plot wasn’t the best for a horror film, but the cinematography was beautiful. The story starts with Chloe and Luke’s characters (Dora and Jace) underneath a tree. We find out that they are dating, but before we can get close to Luke’s character,  Dora leaves to go to the town’s clinic and finds out that she is pregnant. That was the last time we see Luke’s character. Dora struggles with finding out that she is pregnant at seventeen and is most certain that she is going to get an abortion and isn’t going to tell anyone. This film takes place in one night, on Halloween, which at the beginning of the film it is implied that their town is known for. Which didn’t make sense to me in the beginning. Maybe their town was known for their decorations or maybe their pranks? All we know is that Dora is set on going to a Halloween party with her boyfriend, trying to forget about the news she just found out. In any scary film, the main character always somehow seems to be alone, and in this case Dora is alone in her house while her mother and brother go out trick-or-treating. She waits for Jace to come pick her up, but while she is home she decides to give candy to anyone that comes by the house. Which happened to be not that many, when the first child that comes knocking on her door was probably the most terrifying child in town. When she first opened the door, I thought that Scarecrow from Batman had a child and only taught him how to breathe very loudly and creepily. This child literally looked and sounded like he was about to murder her, but she didn’t think anything of it. Instead she gives him a funny look for not saying “trick-or-treat”, gives him candy, and closes the door. A few minutes later you hear intense banging and screaming at the front door, so Dora quickly walks to the door, confused about what had happened. When she opens the door, the same scarecrow kid is at the door, but he is accompanied by a friend…scary Tinman-child. And they are both silent and just staring at her until the original boy reaches out and touches Dora’s stomach with his now blood stained hands and says “mama”. This freaks Dora out and also gives her this strange pain in her stomach. Every time the door is knocked on, more and more children show up in very creepy costumes of childhood characters such as Raggedy Ann, Mickey Mouse, Pinocchio, and Red Riding Hood. For me, whenever you have children singing along together in unison in a horror film, it makes the situation so much more intense. Especially in this film when these children keep on multiplying and these children ARE the killers in this film.   This film wasn’t the best when it came to why these children were here and why they were trying to kill Dora. It also wasn’t the best when it came to finding out the children’s weaknesses and didn’t elaborate why this was their weakness. It seemed almost too random to make sense. I feel like the only thing that made this film almost fun to watch was because of the children and how creepy they were and how far they were willing to go to get what they wanted. But the one thing that I adored in this film was the cinematography. I thought that the use of colors in certain scenes was flawless. The main character herself was blonde and very pale, but she wore very dark reds, blacks, and purples so her clothes stood out almost like a costume. So whenever there was a situation, which was a lot, with blood, it almost looked like a dark velvet red or a plum like color (unlike in some films that just made blood red. Bright red). As the film went on, the scenery started to change. I wish I could watch this film again and only look at the scenery and the colors so I could be sure about this. In the beginning when everything started to happen all at once, the color seemed to be very red and orange. I think this might have had to deal with what she was actually experiencing vs what she was imagining. There were parts in the film where I had no idea if everything was actually happening to her or if she was imagining everything. So I took into account the colors as telling if it was real or not. There was a huge chunk in the film where everything that was blood orange gradually turned into white and then into blue. The transition was probably one of the most incredible things that I have seen in a film. Then the film continued and the ending happened…and I left the film confused as well as freaked out. I recommend that everyone watch this film at least once because I feel like everyone who watches this film will take it in differently. And I’m very curious to see what others thought about it. I’ve heard bad things about this film, but all I saw was a beautiful film with a rough story line.

Sundance, Out.

The last days of Sundance were absolutely insane. I viewed some of my favorite movies in the last five days, The Stanford Prison Experiment, Nasty Baby, and Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl. I saw many movies in these last five days, but these are the ones that stood out the most to me and I wanted to highlight them.

The Stanford Prison Experiment was a midnight showing that I went to with Jen and Desiree. The atmosphere in the theatre was different because it was late at night and tired energy was buzzing throughout the room. There were so many tired people in the theatre that even the man behind me fell asleep at the start of the film and started snoring extremely loudly so that the whole theatre could hear him. This was the fifth movie that I had seen that day so I was extremely tired, but this movie was so worth it and kept my attention the entire time. I really hope that this movie is released because it touches on a subject that is still relevant today even though the experiment was done many years ago. The most exciting part however, at least for Jen and Desiree, was that James Franco was at this midnight screening and we saw him five feet away from us as he exited the theatre.

My favorite film at Sundance was Nasty Baby. This was a film starring Kristen Wiig. I enjoyed this movie because it was a comedy with a tragic ending. I do not like comedies, but this film was a comedy that twisted into a dark tragedy. This was amazing because it was not expected at all until the very end when suddenly the audience knew something terrible would happen, but we were already too invested in the film not to watch it unfold. This was about a gay couple who wants to have a baby and their single friend, Kristen Wiig who also wants to have a baby so they give her their sperm. There is also a neighborhood homeless man who torments the three of them. This film was extremely well done and I hope to see it again in the near future.

The last Sundance film I saw was Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl. This was the film that won the Audience award and the Grand Jury award for US Dramatic Competition. This was a film that incorporated comedy into a dark story of a girl dying of cancer in a very respectful and true to life way. This film deserved to win every award it was given and I hope to see it distributed in the mainstream market. Although this film has a very independent feel with the inclusion of animation, comedy, and tragedy, I believe that this film has the potential to be a favorite movie in many households across the nation.

Sundance was such an amazing experience and I would not trade it for anything in the world. I have never been this exhausted in my life, but I would do it all over again if I could and hope to again in the future.

But for now, Sundance, out.

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!

… It’s all over …

As Sundance comes to a close, a sad but effervescent feeling has come over me. I have had the opportunity to view 21 amazing, thought provoking, depressing, and emotional films. While it is hard to choose an absolute favorite, Me, Earl & the Dying Girl stole the show. Winning the grand jury award for US Dramatic Competition, it was nothing less than spectacular. The way that the characters’ personalities were intricately developed made it personal and emotional. It’s not often that a movie can bring tears to my eyes. I found it depressing that they threw in the twist that turned the movie from a victorious battle over cancer to an unfortunate loss against the disease. It is interesting though that throughout the movie Greg (the narrator and main character) constantly reminds the audience that Rachel (the girl with Leukemia) is not going to die. Me, Earl and the Dying Girl was dramedy that I really wanted to become a romcom, where the girl doesn’t die in the end and she falls in love with the boy that took care of her throughout her battle with cancer and they live happily ever after. Boy was I disappointed from that angle…

On a brighter note, Most Likely to Succeed was the highlight documentary of Sundance. The film discussed how obsolete our education system has become (from kindergarten to college). The film was focused around a charter school that didn’t believe that a child’s achievements in the classroom should revolve around a multiple choice test. Instead, the student’s education and coursework is evaluated by fellow classmates and the public at an end of the quarter showing. At this particular charter school the specific subjects are taught in conjunction with others (for example physics and humanities were taught together) in order for students to learn to apply the things that they are learning. That is the struggle with mainstream schools, education is focused on your ability to memorize and regurgitate information on a test to evaluate literacy and comprehension. One of my questions though was how do the student’s that graduate from the charter schools transition into the public (or even the private) education system being that your intelligence is based on a test?

Other films that I saw in the remainder of my time at Sundance included: People, Place, Things (Such a great and down to earth movie that seemed so real. A perfect film to watch after all of the emotionally draining films I watched previously in the week. It was a story about letting go, moving on, and the struggle of finding yourself), I Am Michael (A struggle between religion and homosexuality. A gay man abandons his sexuality because he feels that because he is homosexual he is going to hell. His journey through life is infuriating and sad, though he eventually finds “happiness” in the end), Princess (a confusing and provoking portrayal of child sexual abuse), Homesick (an interesting take on the relationship between a half brother and sister and their lust and desire for one another), Tangerine (a great comedy on the struggle of transgender women and how many of them turn to prostitution because they are denied other jobs due to their transformation), and Grandma (a great comedy on forgiveness, family, and love).

Every film, person, conversation that I have had over the last 10 days has been part of one of the best experiences of my life. I will never forget the things that I have seen, people I have met, and the experience that I have had in Park City, UT. I am thankful for the opportunity to have been part of Sundance 2015!

More Than The Cast

By Adriana Aboumrad

As an avid movie watcher I have gone through life attracted to films because of who is in them and if my friends or family wanted to see them, appreciating the quality of work the actors did but never thinking of anyone else involved. This is defiently is not the case anymore. Sundance has given me a new appreciation for the film industry as well as an appreciation for movies that do not make it to the big screens.

The Q&A after each of the movies revealed how much work the producers, directors, editors, costume designers, and so many other more people put into making the films. They each looked happily exhausted and proud of the work they had accomplished. Standing in front of the full theaters the team of filmmakers were reassured that the hair pulling, crazy times were worth it.

Of course it was cool to walk the streets next to the celebrities and to see them on stage after the screenings, but it was really intriguing to hear the behind the scenes stories and the inspirations the writers had in creating each of the plots. These movies, most being better than mainstream films, were also made on budgets incomparable to box office hits. For the most part these incredibly well done films will never make it to a theatre near us, even though the filming they did on average lasted less than in month.

The people who work day in and day out on creating pure genius realize a smaller audience will be viewing their films, but put in the man hours in hopes of inspiring the minds of film enthusiasts across the country. They realize they must build their reputation and learn the business first hand. Knowing this all made watching the movies so much more engaging because I felt like I was seeing something made with true heart and soul involved and not something produced to make money.

Much thanks to this festival for widening my movie watching lenses to see beyond the “A list” cast. Can’t wait to return some day in the future.

I danced my way out of the sun

By Kate Zolezzi

Sundance is an experience that one can never forget, because it takes constant adrenaline to keep moving forward and to see as many movies as possible. Each and every film was so different from each other and extremely unique. Every moment was fun even when we were racing around to the next film. It was nice to walk around main street, meet producers and directors after films in the Q&A and just enjoy each film for the message it had to offer. I am so impressed with the creativity and talent these filmmakers brought to the festival. It has only made me want to get involved in the industry more and see what I can create and share with the world.

After much thought and consideration, two films have tied as my favorites. The first one was called People, Places, and Things because the story was light and ended on a positive, comedic and happy note compared to every other film. The humor was subtle, witty, and dry – my favorite kind of humor, and the actors and characters were spot on brilliant. The second film that I absolutely loved was called Grandma. It was such a different spin on how people perceive the grandmas of the world, because this little old lady had a bad-ass temper and a no bullshit humor.

I can’t thank Jan Term enough for allowing me to have this kind of experience and class. Every stranger I met said that it was amazing how our school lets their students have these kind of educational experiences, because they are so unique and literally bring us out into the real world.