Here is the complete list of winners from the 2009 Sundance Film Festival:
Grand Jury Prize: Documentary - We Live in Public
Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic - Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire
World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary - Rough Aunties
World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic - The Maid
Audience Award: Documentary - The Cove
Audience Award: Dramatic - Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire
World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary - Afghan Star
World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic - An Education
Directing Award: Documentary - Natalia Almada, El General
Directing Award: Dramatic - Caru Fukunaga, Sin Nombre
World Cinema Directing Award: Documentary - Havana Marking, Afghan Star
World Cinema Directing Award: Dramatic - Oliver Hirschbiegel, Five Minutes of Heaven
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award - Nicholas Jasenovec and Charlyne Yi, Paper Heart
Alfred P. Sloan Award - Adam
World Cinema Screenwriting Award - Guy Hibbert, Five Minutes of Heaven
Excellence in Cinematography Award: Documentary - Bob Richman, The September Issue
Excellence in Cinematography Award: Dramatic - Adriano Goldman, Sin Nombre
World Cinema Cinematography Award: Documentary - John Maringouin, Big River Man
World Cinema Cinematography Award: Dramatic - John de Borman, An Education
World Cinema Excellence in Editing Award: Documentary - John de Borman, Burma VJ
Excellence in Editing Award: Documentary - Karen Schmeer, Sergio
World Cinema Special Jury Prize: Dramatic - Catalina Saavedra, The Maid
World Cinema Special Jury Prize for Originality: Dramatic - Louise-Michel
World Cinema Special Jury Prize: Documentary - Lisa F. Jackson, Tibet in Song
Special Jury Prize: Dramatic - Mo'Nique, Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire
Special Jury Prize: Documentary - Chris Rock, Good Hair
Special Jury Prize: U.S. Independent Cinema: Humpday
Carey Mulligan, best known Stateside from her supporting role in Pride in Prejudice (her star will rise this coming year), plays Jenny, a literate and clever schoolgirl in 1960s suburban London who tries to balance family demands with her ever-growing awareness that there is more to life than her Latin studies, cello recitals, and eventual Oxford acceptance letter. In other words, all she needs is a fateful encounter and her cultural interests will be validated, as will her burgeoning womanhood, and her school uniform will be replaced by her first taste of Swinging London's fashions.
David (Peter Sarsgaard), a dashing older man with refined tastes, a sports car, two fabulous friends (Rosamund Pike and Dominic Cooper), and a mysterious occupation soon arrives into Jenny's world. He doesn't coerce her into sampling the good life; rather, he holds the door open as she willingly and ecstatically makes her debut. For director Scherfig and her crew, their artistic vision becomes fully realized here; their locations are as well photographed as their sets are decorated. Even Jenny's oppressive home and school come to life once David is in the picture, flustering Jenny's parents (Alfred Molina and Cara Seymour), who begin to live vicariously through their daughter.
Aside from the audience, the other people who are able to telegraph Jenny's eventual realizations; namely, David's secret life, are her teacher (Olivia Williams, who has broken hearts before as an educator) and Headmistress (Emma Thompson devastates in each of her three scenes). The truth about David's personal life is no surprise (helllllo Sally Hawkins!), but his professional dealings provide compelling context regarding race relations in '60s England. The crux of the narrative hinges on Jenny's reaction to David's slow reveal, and exactly how she will realign her life. Amazingly, none of this feels familiar; as Cinematical's James Rocchi points out: this is as much a story of a girl coming of age as it is about the era that produced such a woman.
But you needn't be female, a child of the '60s, or an owner of Juliette Greco records in order to identify with Jenny's swirling ascension into womanhood and the comedown brought on by duplicitous first lover and the realization that her parents actually could have accepted her as engaged and pregnant at 17.
After all that studying, indeed, Jenny.
What works here is no formula: it's Hornby's talent in drafting truly human experiences and emotions with an assured hand, Scherfig's marriage of high art and commercial viability, and her cast's ability to communicate feelings of hope, aspiration, and imperfection that make this film truly unique. And timeless. Sundance programmers kept talking about the UK harvest that comprised much of this year's festival, and An Education is the best of the lot.
Later tonight, I'm going to see my last film of the festival, Lymelife. We'll report on the 2009 Sundance award winners, too.
by Arno Kazarian
Had this save-the-Earth documentary not had such an excellent conclusion, I would have written a terse dismissal of the film altogether, because the first two-thirds of Bill Benenson and Gene Rosow's look at humankind's relationship with soil is aimless, sermonical, and intercut with annoying animated bits that made me wonder whether I had stumbled into a children's theater. But the moment picture focuses in on the people and social movements which have global sustainability and regrowth in mind, Dirt! The Movie hits upon unavoidable truths that should be embraced by all of us.
Bringing to life the tenets of William Bryant Logan's book Dirt, the Ecstatic Skin of the Earth, the eventual point the doc makes is: humans have an intimate relationship to soil, and we, per usual, have become an oppressor, since agro-business and other industries -- and, just as importantly, societal indifference -- have resulted in massive climate and cultural traumas worldwide. Exactly why the co-directors spend nearly an hour out in the hippie-cosmic pasture is a mystery, though they did indicate there was a rush getting the film ready for the festival.
My advice: Bring in a new narrator, since Jamie Lee Curtis sounds like an OnStar unit, lose the animation (perhaps use it for a kid-friendly spin-off), condense the first two acts into one, and spend more time with the farmers, physicists, former Brooklynites, current convicts, anthropologists, and others who are finding ways to invest in the myriad efforts to save our soil. When Dirt! The Movie connects with People! The Saviors, a message film emerges that is on par with the criminally unseen Flow: For Love of Water. Otherwise, it plays like a rejected segment of the Planet Earth saga.
by Arno Kazarian
Essentially a tribute to the men and women who revolutionized advertising -- print and TV formats, in particular -- A&C connects the trade's landmark ideas of the early 1960s to today's Apple-dominated times. Subjects interviewed are an Advertising Hall of Fame: Phyllis Robinson, the copy chief who did more than merely sloganize the "Me Generation" four decades ago; Robinson's contemporary, George Lois, whose Esquire Magazine covers turned celebrity advertising into art; Mary Wells, the first woman to run an ad agency, and the person responsible for making air travel colorful and sexy with her Braniff Airlines campaign; recently deceased San Francisco maverick Hal Riney (who to me has always been the Norman Rockwell of the ad world); Lee Clow (the "1984" MacIntosh commercial) Widen+Kennedy founders Dan Wieden and David Kennedy ("Just Do It"); Rich Silverstein and Jeff Goodby ("Got Milk?").
The portraits here are engaging, passionate, and literate; additionally, the widescreen cinematography and relaxed editing (an antidote to the jump cuts of today) result in a work whose ideas and emotions are on par with the work created by Art & Copy's subjects. And of course a bevy of the memorable imagery, slogans, and jingles are woven throughout the film.
I think it would have been easy for Pray to either factor in the negatives of the advertising world, or to expand his contemporary view into Internet advertising, so I give Art & Copy top marks for its focus, which feels like the beginning of a potential series of documentaries. (It could perhaps inspire a documentarian to provide a counterpoint.) It also reminds me of the divine PBS series Art 21, though I'm not exactly sure why just yet. That is another one of A&C's best achievements: Immediately after watching it, I sent my partner a text on my iPhone® saying that I wanted to think about the film forever, off and on ...
After getting a chance to talk with Doug Pray (!!), I walked up the long, sloping hill of Park City's Main Street to Slamdance's HQ, where the limits-pushing documentary Graphic Sexual Horror screened.
GSH offers more than a glimpse into Insex.com, the now-defunct "violent porn" website created of a man who only goes by Brent or his screename pd. Original footage and interviews with Brent/pd, former Insex employees (including models and production staff), as well as a metal worker known as KGB result in much more than a BDSM primer, for GSH delves into the individual personalities, how they relate to what I would call the Insex groupthink, and how sexual desires entwined with the ability to make thousands of dollars from either a photo shot or a live feed, the former being an endurance test (for models and audiences alike) in which a woman such as Lorelei Lee (who was in attendance and was also one of the subjects of an excellent recent short, Tale of Two Bondage Models, with former Insex model Princess Donna) could make $1,000 per hour -- with bonuses -- provided Insex members were blown away by her myriad abilities to receive pain.
Directed by former Insex producer Anna Lorentzon and writer Barbara Bell, their respect for Brent/pd and the Insex models is obvious, though they refuse to tell their audiences what to think (a rule every good documentary follows, right?). I think GSH could be tightened up toward its conclusion, because the fact that Insex was forced to cease operation through use of the Patriot Act gets a bit muddled. But their grandest achievement is the creation of a work that is impossible to dismiss or forget. GSH exists to rattle the repressed thoughts that rest deep within most of us.
The impression I was left with (thus far): Among other things, Brent is a short filmmaker and performance artist who is as relevant as someone such as Ron Athey at his most notorious. He's also an Internet maverick, since Insex began in 1997 as essentially one of the first online fourms for BDSM enthusiasts. Does it bother me when he refers to his former models as "girls"? Did I want to close by eyes during both the water immersion scene? The answer to both is yes, but that is my limitation, and it needs to be reconciled with the fact that Insex was always a safe, sane, and consensual enterprise between willing adults.
Yes, this is a tough work to watch, but it is more compelling and rewarding than any other documentary I have seen in years. I stand by the notion that film festivals -- especially Slamdance and Sundance -- should constantly challenge their own programming ideas, as well as the boundaries of their audiences. Graphic Sexual Horror is hard to top in this respect.
by Arno Kazarian
Quite often at film festivals, especially one as nurturing as Sundance, filmmakers unfurl feature-length movies based on their original short works. For writer-director/Eli Roth protégé Paul Solet, he earned his rep on the horror festival circuit several years ago with the short Means to an End, and he followed up that Fangoria-set success with a second short, Grace, which starred Liza Weil (everyone's favorite "Gilmore Girl") and Brian Austin Greene (now best known as Megan Fox's ex).
For his feature, Solet expanded on Grace's premise but re-cast every character in his "vegan horror movie" about a mother, Madeline (now played by Jordan Ladd, another Eli Roth affiliate) whose husband and unborn baby girl die in a car accident; however, through some form of dark miracle, the child returns to the living world soon after Madeline gives birth.
The mood Solet sets up to the tragic accident and subsequent birth is quite effective: He establishes Madeline as a staunch vegan who wants a midwife to deliver the child outside of a hospital, a dynamic that causes friction the soon-to-be-mom and her mother-in-law, who is wonderfully coifed and, well, busty. (I say the former as an acknowledgment to the movie's art direction, and the latter factors into the story in a giggly, unnerving, Cronenberg meets "Little Britain" way.) We learn Madeline has already experienced two miscarriages, she is resolute in her belief that her way of living will lead to a healthy newborn, and she has a Sapphic connection to her chosen midwife, Dr. Patricia Lang (Samantha Ferris). Props include: a cute living baby; a chapped and withered fake baby; a bottle full of blood; an antique breast pump; flies; meat; a cat ("Jonesy") that deposits dead rats in newborn Grace's crib.
In the icky-baby horror genre, Grace is a scrappy contender.
That said, while the movie's aforementioned mood and themes are well developed and executed, and gross-outs and thrills are provided in equal measure, I was left wondering why it's at Sundance. Personally, I feel like Solet should have paid tribute to the genre festivals that raised him and premiered Grace at, say, Fantastic Fest. While the movie fits into Sundance's decent Park City at Midnight lineup, a movie like this might help boost a smaller festival's credibility, especially if any sort of distribution deal were to occur. At Sundance, it's more of a fun distraction from the mopey dramas and end-of-days documentaries (both kinds of movies I love, btw), but it's also disposable and not pushing the horror boundary here.
Something tells me director Tommy Wirkola, who was in attendance last night, will be one of the next European filmmakers imported by a U.S. studio to make a horror film. Dead Snow, despite an underdeveloped premise, looks and sounds killer, and pays homage to both the "cabin in the woods" horror subgenre and the first two Evil Dead pictures (wedging in an acknowledgment that many people consider the second to be a remake of the first with a bigger budget). One of the characters pretty much looks like Ash Williams by the finale. And I love any horror movie that would have to introduce an entirely new cast of non-zombie characters if it were to consider making a sequel (catch my drift?).
I think Dead Snow will fare best on DVD, especially if an unrated version is released (and if that release has a touch more plot). I also wish, given Wirkola's statement that he made an "80s-style" movie, that he included Norwegian black metal in the soundtrack. Give your audience some Darkthrone and Emperor!
by Arno Kazarian
Initially, I thought the picture was going to be Ms. Rossum's attempt at a Rachel Getting Married-like artistic breakthrough; however, director Adam Salky's drama, which is set in and around Philadelphia, PA, is a three-paneled affair charting the unfamiliar territory Rossum's character, Alexa, enters into with two high school colleagues, her brooding drama-club partner Johnny Drake (Zach Gilford) and her best friend, Ben (Ashley Springer). Based on Salky's short of the same name, the ideas at work here are the sacrifices you must make, then ultimately face, to know yourself, to relate to others, and to actualize your desires (though I understand the gay themes have been dialed down for the feature).
Rossum, despite the film's commitment to equal exposure to its characters, is still the picture's focus. The young actress, playing a hopeful young actress, has a lovely face that can handle smeared eyeliner, yet I don't think her attempt to translate Alexa's dashed romantic and creative dreams were resonant. Her co-stars fared slightly better, with former "Friday Night Lights" star Gilford edging the very Jesse Eisenberg-esque Springer in the troubled boy department, though Gilford is memorable if only for his minx-y coming out after a brief-but-transformative encounter in Johnny Drake's swimming pool. (And I should note that both Alan Cumming and Sandra Bernhard make brief appearances, as an actor and therapist, respectively, and Ana Gasteyer reprises her Mean Girls mom role as Gilford's concerned parent. Their presence and the movie's sexuality should yield an eventual distribution deal.)
As for who is most responsible for this disjointed creation, I wrinkle my brow at screenwriter David Brind, who seems like he's done a lot of therapy in his life and looks back at his teenage years with an equal amount of tears and smiles. That of course is something I can applaud and relate to, but I have a problem with his writing: There are three good character sketches here, but Dare does not feel like a cohesive narrative, or a complete film. Adding to the film's distancing effect is the idea that the three leads, all of whom are much too old to be playing high schoolers, feel like adults interpreting teenage emotions. Furthermore, the most interesting character, Courtney (Rooney Mara), a hippie fashionista who holds a sexy party in which the collective fate of Alexa, Ben, and Johnny's friendship is sealed, is marginalized in the story, and I wanted to know more about her.
Finally, I really can't stand it when any work of art's title doesn't truly relate to its contents. Though these characters attempt to break out of the respective shells, their efforts could be compared to a teenager's decision to shave their head, but wussing out for a faux-hawk instead.
After Dare, I scooted over to catch the contemporary blaxplotation flick Black Dynamite, which was amazing to watch on the day of President Obama's inauguration (I want to clean up the streets, too!), but also weird to contextualize given the lily white Utah setting. I'll write more about what looks to be the second coming of Michael Jai White later, but I am dashing out to see the blood-thirsty baby horror flick Grace and this year's buzzing, doomed-Earth documentary Dirt: The Movie.
by Arno Kazarian
I Love You, Philip Morris is an entertaining comedy about a con artist extraordinaire, played by Jim Carrey. Based upon true events (the title cards say, "This really happened .really, it did." ) Carrey plays Stephen Russell, a closeted gay man who has a life-altering accident which causes him to come out in the most dramatic fashion possible. His new lifestyle is expensive so Russell begins to fake injuries to claim insurance. He goes to prison for fraud where he meets Philip Morris (Ewan McGregor), also gay, and the two become lovers and cellmates. Russell's efforts to win their freedom and improve the bank account lead him into more trouble which then leads to an incredible series of prison escapes that our too amazing to be repeated. Carrey and McGregor are both quite convincing and the offbeat tone and arc of the film by directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa rarely falters.
The filmmakers, Carrey, McGregor and cast were in attendance at the morning screening. When asked if there was a lesson in the movie Carrey said: "Beware the unloved. I'm probably an extreme example of that."
Guillermo del Toro said something the other day (and he might have been quoting someone but he didn't cite the source), in reference to the lessons of Rudo y Cursi: "We lose ourselves in success and find ourselves in failure."
Celebrity sightings: Patton Oswalt at the party for his film Big Fan. He had on these uber-cool L.A. glasses, with the funky lenses the color of ginger ale. We almost didn't have that party because Sting was monopolizing an entire floor of a restaurant for some shindig he was having. Eliza Dushku: Prettier in person, if you can believe it.
Good things have been heard about Humpday about two straight guys who decide to make a gay porn movie, William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe, a documentary about the infamous lawyer, created by his daughters.
Conversely I liked Amreeka less than others, who are raving about it. It is still a compelling film but it is one that, to me, has no life after Sundance. It's about a divorced Palestinian women, Muna, who takes her son to America, moving in with her sister in Illinois. It's at the start of the Gulf War to Arabs are looked at with distrust. Nisreen Faour plays Muna with integrity and openness. I found most of the running time tiresome, however, as the travails of the extended family seem to constantly be spiraling out of control.
I continue my streak of not seeing anyone famous though Robert Redford, beret firming on top of the still-thick red mane, walked up Main Street. (I also stood next to Andie McDowell for about ten minutes, which is better than a Kevin Sorbo I have to admit.)
First on my list is Rudo y Cursi, a top notch drama and comedy, about two brothers whose rivalry intensifies when they become professional soccer players. Written and directed by Carlos Cuaron, brother of Alfonso Cuaron, it's a reunion of sorts as the tempestuous brother Rudo is played by Diego Luna, and the sweet, romantic brother is played by Gael Garcia Bernal. Both starred in Y Tu Mama Tambien which Carlos wrote and Alfonso directed. Much as in the film here one brother, Carlos, steps out of the shadow of his other brother, Alfonso. Carlos Cuaron sees his characters with a very clear eye, which makes their stupidity, their hubris, their callousness, all the more believable and thus funny. The film is now the fifth biggest hit in Mexico's history a mere three weeks after its release and was just picked up for distribution by Sony Pictures Classics.
In one of those moments that only Sundance seems to be able to deliver Carlos Cuaron, Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro (one of the producers of Rudo y Cursi) and Gael Garcia Bernal took the stage for questions amidst rapturous applause. Then, at the behest of someone in the audience and teasingly goaded by the Cuarons and del Toro on the side, Bernal sang a bit of Cheap Tricks "I Want You to Want Me," as his character does in the film.
Moon is also worth one's time, though it could probably be caught at home without much disruption to the experience. This competently done sci-fi picture by Duncan Jones is in the vein of Silent Running, Solaris (both versions) and Saturn 3. Actually, I'm just kidding about the last one. Saturn 3 was pretty damn awful.
Sam Rockwell gets center-stage as Sam Bell, a lone technician stuck on a mining base on the moon. His only companion is Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey), the robot that runs the facility. When Sam has an accident, and wakes up in the infirmary he begins to suspect something is not quite right on the moon.
I also attended the 7 Fresh Faces in Fashion party at the Hollywood Life suite on Main Street. There may have been many famous fashion folk there but I didn't know any of them. I didn't see anyone famous at all, except Kevin Sorbo and I don't think he counts.
I was very happy I went, however. I used to write for Movieline, which was this smart, acerbic magazine that used to compete with Premiere. Movieline got bought by a conglomerate and turned into Hollywood Life and essentially dropped all of its film coverage for coverage of celebrities wearing couture. But last night I picked up the magazine (there were freebies lying all around) and, to my amazement and great joy HL had gotten back into the movie business. Hot pictures of actresses were next to articles about The Marx Brothers and Duck Soup which were next to other good articles.
It isn't all sunshine and roses here in Park City though. On the not-so-good side was Louise-Michel. I have managed to find a silver lining though for the film did help me check off one of my To Dos for this Sundance though.
Every year there is at least one film in Sundance that is interminable from the outset and, once it announces itself as such I am equally determined not to allow it to force me out of the theater. I only do it once but I am committed to doing it. Last year it was Love In Death (which still holds my title as the best example of an overwrought, amoral festival film). This year it was Louise-Michel. An absurdist comedy, punctuated frequently with unpleasant surprises, it's an anti-capitalist tract with dingy characters doing preposterous things.
When a factory shuts down its textile factory the women plan to murder their former boss. They entrust arranging the hit man to Louise (Yolande Moreau, an illiterate ex-con who grudgingly worked with them. She stumbles upon Michel (Bouli Lanners), who seems very professional but underneath it all can't even kill a dog.
These two careen their way towards their goal of killing "the boss" and they use a cancer patient and a terminal old man to do it. But, when even those measures do not work out, they take matters into their own hands in a violent final act.
The film quotes the French anarchist Louise-Michel and there are numerous bits were you can almost feel the glee that directors Benoit Delephine and Gustave de Kervern take in making it. Kind of the same glee that Wes Anderson would take if Wes Anderson was on the French version of methamphetamines. Unfortunately they also take their own sweet time being so rapaciously clever and Louise-Michel drags on, even though it's a sleek 94 minutes. For example, a scene where Michel walks across a courtyard to his parents' apartment does nothing, and explains nothing. A scene where Louise captures a rabbit and eats it raw is probably some dazzlingly literary reference but it made no sense whatsoever with what was going on on screen.
But I did make it through so I can proudly declaim Louise-Michel and check off "Sit All the Way Through Pretentious Crap" off of my Sundance "To Dos."
If the opening night film was an indication of programming to come you'd better pack some Xanax for Sundance. Mary and Max. (the period is part of the title) is as big a disappointment for me as Keith Gordon's The Singing Detective was in 2003. Both big Sundance premieres. Both from great directors. Both messes.
Gordon's Detective had Carla Gugino and Robert Downey Jr. to rest your eyes on amidst the cacophony. Adam Elliot's Mary and Max has Elliot's trademark palette and stop-motion animation that creates a rich, invented world.
But what made Elliot's shorts such immersive experiences, a realistic collection of character and courage, of foibles and physical infirmities, gets repetitive, grotesque and morose in a full-length feature. The story is about a lonely eight-year-old Australian girl's pen-pal relationship with a 40-year-old obese New Yorker with Asperger's Syndrome. Initially it's uncomfortable and creepy. Isn't this how kids get tricked in chat rooms? Is that where this is going? Later, when that qualm has been laid to rest, the film seems to relish piling on the personal failures, scatological asides, and depressing plot turns. It's too sad to write about any more.
To lift me from my funk I'm listing everything else I'm looking forward to in Sundance which will turn the tide:
by Keith Simanton
Sundance turns 25 this year. Twenty-five-years-old. Old enough to be on its first fiancé, second job, and third cell phone.
And, like any 25-year-old whose sweet insouciance is ending, it's waxing a bit nostalgic, so I will too.
Looking back at last year, several films survived 2008's hecatomb of apathy. One was the opening night film, playwright/director Martin McDonagh's In Bruges. The film justifiably just won a Golden Globe for Colin Farrell and just as justifiably earned a nomination for Brendan Gleeson). (By the way, if you haven't seen In Bruges, and can take some gore and violence, it is a film with great singular moments, along the lines of Midnight Run and Farrell's performance made me reevaluate the guy entirely.)
I have equally high hopes for this year's opening night film, Mary and Max. It's a stop-motion animated film directed by Adam Elliott, who has made some wonderful shorts in the past, such as Uncle, Cousin and Brother. He won an Academy Award in 2003 for Harvey Krumpet which, if you ask me, he really won (and deserved to win) for those first three affecting films and not the longer Krumpet, but I'm guessing there.
A betting man would say Mary and Max isn't the most commercial film Sundance could have programmed for opening night. Two years ago, Chicago 10, also animated, opened the fest. It never found an audience (couldn't Roadside Attractions have taken this on the college circuit? Students still see films in auditoriums, right?) and came out on DVD seven months later. And commerce is on everyone's mind right now.
For, also like any 25-year-old, Sundance is staring at the hard, cold realities of the future.
Last year the Writers Guild strike cast a pall over the proceedings. This year the SAG upheaval and the economic downturn (a theme that will be underscored in nearly every dispatch from the festival) makes the proceedings a little more gloomy. The parties are nearly non-existent. The dissolution of the boutique arms of the studios such as Paramount Vantage (who last year was riding high with both No Country for Old Men andThere Will Be Blood), PictureHouse (run by the brilliant Bob Berney) and Warner Independent, happened so long ago it seems (though it was just last summer) no one seems to even deem them worthy of conversation.
But hope is in the air.
Much as last year some of the programming is more commercially viable than the years before. One of the Premieres is Adventureland, a coming-of-age comedy from Miramax starring the very introspective-looking Ryan Reynolds, the very popular Kristen Stewart, and the very Squid and the Whale Jesse Eisenberg.
Additional hope with a captial "H" will be provided when the Obama inauguration takes place on the 20th, sits smack dab in the middle of Sundance. Washington DC will likely be the place that most Park City out-of-towners will wish they were at. There is also a full slate of films to see. One of them could be the next Memento or Primer, Whale Rider or Reservoir Dogs.
And that's the thing about this 25 year-old. Sundance still stands for the ability of films to surprise and move us.
Let's hope Mary and Max proves the first this festival to do so.
by Keith Simanton