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Gordon S. Miller Written by Gordon S. Miller
Jan. 15, 2009 | 1:11 PM
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SUNDANCE 2009: THE VIEW FROM PARK CITY

Written by Amanda Salazar

So I made it, I am now in Park City. It is cold, but not as cold as everyone keeps saying. Maybe because I have experienced a good New York winter, I am pretty prepared for this, but the week ahead looks to be sunny and in the thirties. Nice.

Finally arriving, I am left thinking about what I will see-whether that will be on the silver screen or on the streets. I am certain that the filmmakers are just as nervous and excited for their screening as I am. I am on the other side of the camera, the one that writes about their screening, creating talk and knowledge for their independent film. Buzz is everything at Sundance, what people talk about will make the film take off or just be forgotten to the pages of the program.

The general public only gets a taste of what plays at Sundance, if that. There are the 64 featured films competing in different categories (Dramatic Feature, Documentary Feature, World Cinema, etc.) and they get a lot of the publicity, but what happens to the others? It is such an honor to be accepted at Sundance, that that is publicity in itself and some films have the star power to carry the film, no matter what the distribution. But what films are you really going to see out of this?

To give you an idea of what played last year and what you got a chance to see in the theaters, the following films might ring a bell:

Choke was up for Best Dramatic Competition at Sundance and had a limited release. The film featured Sam Rockwell and was based off of the book by Chuck Palahniuk, but did not win at the festival.

Man On Wire took home two awards, including World Cinema Audience Award Documentary and the Jury Prize for World Cinema Documentary. This film was also released, but limited and did not draw much attention at the box office although it has won a number of critical awards..

American Teen was in competition for Documentary Feature and did not win, but was also picked up and released. The marketing campaign worked very well for this film, but this is with the help of the controversy around the way the movie was filmed.

Frozen River won the ultimate award, The Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature, but still it was not widely seen in theaters after its release.

If you have not heard of any of these titles, you are not alone. For those that you do recognize, you most likely saw these films at art houses or independent movie theaters. But this is the life of an indie film, the life of indies outside of festivals. Festival goers come to see movies that you cant find anywhere else, to get something different than Hollywood. Unfortunately, we don’t see enough.

So whether or not you end up seeing some of the films that I will be talking about, this is what I am seeing, what interests me. I hope to expose you to things that are not specifically spotlighted, but at the same time, I will keep you up to date on what everyone is talking about. It’s time to create our own buzz.


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