February 19, 2013

Sundance 2013 Wrap Up

Looking back on Sundance this year, it was kind of off for me. Normally, like in 2012, and 2011, almost every movie I saw was fantastic, life changing, and really empowering. But I only saw a few of those this year. Now, that doesn't mean I won't go again next year, or that I'm not grateful for the opportunity, and that doesn't mean I didn't meet amazing people waiting in line. Because I did. That's for me, usually the best part of the festival. Just meeting people from around the U.S./World, and finding out what they think about things. I may be kind of weird, and love people too much, but I'll take that label for sure.

Here are my four favorites of the Festival.

1. Blood Brother

This film is a documentary about a man named "Rocky", not of the Balboa persuasion. He never felt like he fit in anywhere, and he up and moved to India. That's right folks, India. He found a orphanage filled with children living with HIV. The film documents all the adventures, troubles, and frustrations that come with a brand new culture, country, and definition of love.

 If you want to help, or find out more, please visit Give Them Light to donate, or "I Was Always Beautiful" to buy the book Rocky wrote for the children. You can also text "Rocky" to 80077 to donate $10.

2. Touchy Feely

This was a such great film. It's the story of a family, just trying to make it work. Steve, the Dad, is a Dentist, (Hans Altwies) whose clients are all dying off, and he isn't looking for new customers. His daughter (Ellen Page, everybody!) won't apply for the college she longs to go to, and feels stuck in a rut. Steve's sister Abby, (Rosemary DeWitt) is a massage therapist who has good things going for her, but she can't seem to be happy about them. It is the most wonderfully understated movie I have seen in a long time. You really had to pay attention, and really dig in to understand everything that was going on. I absolutely loved it, and I hope it gets picked up. It was all about letting go, and don't we all need to do some of that.

As I got in to my seat at Rose Wagoner, (the best location for Sundance in my humble opinion), there was a guy eating a baguette. Not like a small one, like a long full baguette. So I said, "Oh, you brought some bread!" Just trying to make conversation, and who doesn't love even the sight of someone eating bread while you are on a diet. So the guy shared with me. So I happily ate the bread, and at the end of the film he gave me what he had left. Oh the miracles of Sundance.

3. A.C.O.D.

This was an all-star cast. Each new scene passed, and there was someone else I loved coming into the story. A.C.O.D. stands for Adult Child of Divorce. The story follows Carter (Adam Scott), who somehow survived his parents ugly divorce when he was 9. His father, Hugh (Richard Jenkins) is a huge putz, (but we secretly love him) and in the film is currently married to  his third wife,
(Amy Phoeler!!!). The fabulous Catherine O'Hara is the first wife, and Carter's mom.

So if you aren't lost yet, Jane Lynch is a psychiatrist who wrote a book about 5 children, (including Carter) going through divorces at young ages. Carter finds out about the publication when the Lynch contacts him again about writing a second book about how the children are each doing in their lives as adults. In addition to all of this drama, Carter's parents are re-kindling their crazy romance, and everything seems to be falling apart.

This was such a hilarious ride, and I couldn't have asked for a better cast. There was an outcry of joy from the audience when we were introduced to each new character. It was a movie that everyone should see, it was just so funny. Wonderfully done!

 4. Fruitvale

Now this movie was really something. It's one that you can't describe until you've seen it. This is the story of Oscar Grant, a black man living in a neighborhood of California. Now you are asking yourself, why does it matter if he was black or any other color? Well, it's because he was racially profiled by a white cop, who confused his gun for his taser, and shot Oscar multiple times, and a few hours later died from those injuries. But the movie didn't start there. It began with a few different events in Oscar's life. Either serious, or very sentimental and sweet. We see Oscar serving hard time for drug possession, and him finally throwing his last drugs into the ocean. He did this in spite of the fact he can't make rent, nor can his sister who asks him for money.

We see a softer side of Oscar, who has a daughter, Tatiana,  with his girlfriend, Sophina. One of the best scenes is when he picks up Tatiana from daycare, and they race to the car. So the audience is allowed to see the humanity of Oscar, each side of him, good or bad, and everything in between.

Such a powerful film. I got awesome pictures of the Q&A afterwards, and Fruitvale had just won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic, and the Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic that night, so the director and cast hurried over the Eccles for the Q&A. It was really emotional for the director, who cried multiple times just answering questions, and talking about making the film. 

All in all, it was a great festival, but a little more of a mixed bag than I expected. But I'm excited to see what gets picked up, and what we can enjoy throughout the year as we wait for Sundance 2014.

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