Entries in Sundance (86)
Lynn Lee revisits the 2007 Sundance hit Once as the current festival wraps up.
I was at Sundance in 2007—the only time I’ve ever been. It was one of the highlights of my life as a moviegoer, albeit more for the experience than the actual movies. While I enjoyed most of the films I saw there, few really stuck with me beyond the festival, with the exception of the lovely character study Starting Out in the Evening (which really should have gotten Frank Langella an Oscar nomination).
Somehow, I missed the true breakout success of Sundance that year—the low-budget Irish musical Once, which won the festival’s World Cinema Audience Award. It went on to become a critical darling, a sleeper indie hit, and even an Oscar winner for Best Original Song. How could I have bypassed being one of the first in the U.S. to see it? Well, somehow I did, even though I became a fan when it arrived in theaters later that year.
With the Academy Award short nominees opening in theaters today, it's a good time to note that the Sundance short film jury handed out their awards this week. This year's jury of three was Key & Peele's Keegan-Michael Key, MTV's chief film critic Amy Nicholson, and Amazon Studio's Gina Kwon. Since Sundance is a qualifying festival for Academy Awards you might hear the name of some of these shorts again in about a year. One of last year's big winners, for example, was World of Tomorrow by Don Hertzfeldt. That's an Oscar nominee right now for Best Animated Short.
The 2016 Short Film Winners are as follows:
Grand Jury Prize Thunder Road (USA, Jim Cummings) an officer eulogizes his mother. Cummings is a producer/director with some shorts under his belt.
U.S. Fiction The Procedure (USA, Calvin Lee Reeder) a horror short about a captive man. Reeder has made several horror shorts and directed one of the segments in that anthology V/H/S
International Fiction Maman(s) (France, Maïmouna Doucouré) This one is about a young girl in a Parisian suburb whose father returns from Senegal with a surprise, a second wife
Non-Fiction: Bacon & God's Wrath (Canada, Sol Friedman) an elderly Jewish woman cooking bacon for the first time and reflecting on her life. This short also received an honorable mention from the jury at TIFF in September so perhaps it's a legit long list contender for next year's Documentary Short competition?
Animation: Edmond (UK, Nina Gantz) see the teaser above. This short has been making the rounds for a bit now. It recently won the BIFA and it's a BAFTA nominee this year but it did not make the longlist cut to 10 finalists for the current Oscar competition.
Outstanding Performance Grace Glowicki won for Her Friend Adam (Canada, Benjamin Petrie) in which her boyfriend's jealousy spirals out of control.
Special Jury Award for Best Direction: Peacock (Czech Republic, Ondřej Hudeček). Peacock bills itself as "a twisted queer romance" it's set in the 19th century and has something to do with the birth of an influential writer. The film promises "Suspense, laughter, violence, hope, nudity, sex, and a happy ending—mostly a happy ending."
2001 was the comeback year for the musical. As the massively-scaled Moulin Rouge was reinventing the genre for the post MTV era, John Cameron Mitchell's Hedwig and the Angry Inch was an unassuming small scale success that didn't disappoint its cult following from its Off Broadway run and the cult grew rapidly after its Sundance debut. Still a genre anomaly for Sundance, this musical was awarded the Audience Award (Dramatic) and Mitchell won Best Director for his first time behind the camera.
The dramatic Audience Award winners are typically optimistic, but rarely this uniting - Hedwig is a musical that reflects our deepest human needs. Nothing brings together a crowd of strangers like music (or film) we can all connect to and Hedwig's score is packed with emotional insight. Composer Stephen Trask fills the songs with rage, wit, and a hard-won optimism that burns through whatever baggage we as an audience bring to the table. [More...]
When Memento arrived in 2001, it was a total buzzfest: Everyone was talking about it. It had a Wachowski level of cool (even co-starring Wachowski favorites Joe Pantoliano and Carrie-Anne Moss), it had a gritty noir sensibility, and an innovative time-bending structure deftly designed to get you inside the brain-damaged mind of Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce). It left Sundance that January with the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, hit movie theaters in March, and when awards season came it was nominated for an Oscar for the Screenplay (Chris Nolan's first Oscar nomination) as well as the Editing prize. The movie has lost none of its cachet in the intervening years, retaining a 92% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and clocking in at #46 on the IMDb Top 250.
But I have a personal reason for loving this movie, as well as a story (I always have a story) if you'll indulge me after the jump...
Team Experience is looking back on past Sundance winners since we aren't attending this year. Here's Kieran on Kenneth Lonergan's directorial debut
In many of the write-ups about Kenneth Lonergan's delicate and perceptive character study, the one aspect people seem to be on the same page about is the believable sibling dynamic between Sammy (Laura Linney) and Terry Prescott (Mark Ruffalo). Watching Sammy and Terry's first face-to-face interactions, I thought "Yes! This is how brothers and sisters behave!" It's such a tricky thing to depict, and it's often done poorly. How does a writer/director effectively convey a relationship between two adults whose shared histories are such a constant, inescapable presence? It's a subtle tightrope to walk.