Sundance Film Festival 2010 Part 2

Wow, tomorrow will be a whole week since I was in Utah for the Festival. The past seven days went so fast! Before I forget, here's the rest of my review of Sundance 2010.

On Saturday morning, I woke up at the crack of dawn so we could get to the box office by 7:30am. Even then there were people there (about 75 in front of us). Luckily, I was able to snag tickets to three additional films for the day.

1) The first program I went to was a shorts program and it was the worst 2 hours of my life. To be honest, it was so bad that I blacked out almost all memories of what I saw. Of what I can remember: a cartoon short about two stick figures, one of which spends 10 minutes pulling a bloody stitch out of the other stick figure's mouth; a short called "Renegades" that involved a bare-breasted stripper, Euro-techno music, shooting an old man's ear off his head and two gay men getting it down in the woods; a short called the Armoire about a little boy who dares his friend to stick a fork in an electrical socket and then covers up his death; and perhaps what was the only decent one, a story about an army mom shipping off to war. My grade: F-

2) My second screening of the day may have been my favorite of the festival. It was a documentary called "Bhutto" that chronicled the life and trials of the first female Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto. I honestly knew nothing about Benazir before the film, but I always enjoy highlights of powerful women around the world, so my interest was piqued nonetheless. The story wound up being incredibly emotional and done in a way that it could work in a commercial setting. The only issue I took with the film was that it was hard to tell how objective of a stance it took -- the filmmaker had mentioned in a Q&A after the screening that he had the full cooperation of the Bhutto family, and while I'm sure you couldn't make a good film without their support, it makes me wonder if his work was thus influenced by the positioning that the family would be happy to see on the screen versus what the unbiased perspective would project. Again, there's no way of knowing, so I just plan on doing some research in my free time to get a better sense for the impact she had on the Pakistanis and what her legacy really stands for. Regardless, she was a courageous, strong woman and her persistence and devotion to her country seem quite admirable. My Grade: A

3) Number three was the most artsy of the films that I saw. "All My Friends Are Funeral Singers" was the story of a psychic woman who lives with a multitude of spirits in her home. The spirits have all sorts of zany personalities (a bride who hung herself with her "something blue," a band of four blind musicians who don't speak, just play instruments, a little girl who wears a Kentucky Derby-style hat and has a knack for picking winning horses at the betting track, etc.) and they provide much of the comic relief in the film. The interesting piece was that the film was created with an intense score -- the music tracked the emotion in the film and was thus loud and clangy and cacophonous during intense moments and melodic and harmonic during more calm moments. The filmmaker commented that this was a deliberate choice so that the film could be shown in a real theater and scored "live" with actual musicians, which would make for an interesting experience. Unfortunately, I'm not sure the film has enough widespread appeal to seek a commercial run, but nonetheless, I definitely enjoyed the story and its underlying message of learning to love and let go. My Grade: B

4) My fourth and final film of Sundance was hysterical. "Bran Nue Dae" was an Australian musical starring Geoffrey Rush that highlighted life as an Aborigine. The main character, a teenage boy named Willie, is sent off by his mother to become a priest, but Willie can't stop pining over his sweetheart Rosie whom he must leave behind. One night, Willie decides to escape and he meets a crazy cast of characters as he attempts to hitchhike his way home to Broome and back into Rosie's heart. As the only comedy that I saw, this film was a nice way to end the I was singing the main song, "There is nothing I would rather be, than to be an Aborigine" the whole night long, lol. My Grade: A-

So there you have it folks! After my last screening (after which I took this last glorious picture of the beautiful Utah mountains), I grabbed some Mexican food for dinner, watched Keeping Up With the Kardashians in front of the fireplace at the condos and got an early night. The following day, I just explored Main Street one more time, bought a Sundance tote bag (I needed some sort of souvenir) and headed back to the airport for a long flight into Boston (by the time we got back it was 1am!). Despite the heavy traveling and the ridiculous amount of money that I spent for four days, I am SO happy that I went. The vibe and energy of the festival is so fulfilling for a film lover like me. I would DEFINITELY go back in the future!

In other news, I'm going to be posting some really interesting blogs over the next few days. Yesterday I attended a marketing workshop with brand guru Douglas Atkins and think you all might be interested to hear what he had to say. Then I plan to do a review of tomorrow's Women's Student Association Conference and then later in the week, a round-up of my early-term course reviews. Stay tuned!

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