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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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! 😉

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!

sundance

“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!)