Sundance Film Fest 2006: Still Mecca for Indies

Sundance Festival 2006: Still Mecca for Indies

My expectations of the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, the sixteenth consecutive event I have attended, were rather high. There was a reason for that: The Sundance Institute, the organization that oversees the Festival, celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary and founder Robert Redford and his team were in a particularly jubilant spirit.

Prior to the festival, the programmers claimed that this year’s edition goes back to the roots of independent cinema, displaying small, personal, and innovative films. However, judging by what I saw, the line-up was a decidedly mixed bag.

The Dramatic Competition series gets most of the spotlight, because it exhibits fresh, hot talent, first or second films of a new generation of directors. It’s the reason why Hollywood agents and execs descend on Park City, which is also a great ski resort.

Stronger Representation of Women

It’s a sad but factual reality that women are still vastly underrepresented in American film, both mainstream and indie. Nonetheless, this year, there were more films written and directed by women than the usual, which may signal a positive change.

To begin with, the opening night was writer-director Nicole Holofcener’s “Friends With Money,” a serio-comedy about how money, and the lack of it, affects and distorts relationships among a small group of Los Angeles friends. The film probes the shifting relationships among women who have been friends all of their adult lives. Now, as they settle into their early middle age, their friendship is increasingly challenged by the ever-growing disparity in their individual degrees of financial comfort. The movie, well-acted by Frances McDormand, Catherine Keener, Jennifer Aniston, and Joan Cusack offers a poignant snapshot of the way we live today, where the safe divisions that class and money have created are eroding under the unstoppable force of everyday life. Holofcener shows a slice of modern life that’s both brutally honest and ultimately uplifting.

Four of the 16 films in competition displayed women voices, what we call in film studies the Female Gaze. In Hilary Brougher’s second feature, “Stephanie Daley,” the eponymous heroine, a teenage girl (wonderfully played by Amber Tamblyn, star of TV’s “Joan of Arcadia”) is forced to come to terms with killing her own baby, while going through an interrogation by Lydie Crane (Tilda Swinton). What begins as an after-school special, or a story taken from the news, gradually becomes a provocative examination of two vastly different women who nonetheless go through personal crises at the same time. The climax, in which Stephanie recreates the experience of abortion, is graphic and almost too painful to watch. The film’s dark tone and lack of hopeful ending makes it interesting for savvy and patient viewers, but a tough commercial proposition for distributors.

The subject matter of “Sherrybaby””a woman’s rehab after prison”has been done before, yet Maggie Gyllenhaal’s towering performance as the white trash mom elevates the film at least two notches above its melodramatic trappings. Director Laurie Collyer returned to Sundance with her first narrative feature, after exhibiting there her acclaimed 2000 documentary, “Nuyorican Dream.” In “Sherrybaby,” which she also wrote, Collyer offers a sharp portrait of an intense woman who’s struggling daily to keep her life in the right track. Recently released from prison, Sherry dreams of getting a job and reuniting with her five-year-old daughter, who she barely knows. Conflicts arise when she realizes that her brother and his wife are more emotionally vested in raising her daughter than she (or they) is willing to admit. It doesn’t help that Sherry slips back into drugs and rough encounters with her parole officer (Giancarlo Esposito).

Social Problem Films

Drug addiction featured in many Sundance films this year. For me, the best movie in competition was Ryan Fleck’s “Hal Nelson,” which boasts an astonishing performance from Ryan Gosling. Five years ago, Goslng made a strong impression in the Sundance-premiered “The Believer,” a film that never got theatrical distribution in the U.S. due to its explosive subject matter; it was shown on cable.

“Half Nelson” is a Brooklyn redemption tale centering on a young white base-head teacher, who gets through to his inner-city eighth-graders with lessons of historical dialectics. Well-liked by the students, the leftist-liberal deviates form the formal curriculum by trying to personalize significant chapters from history of the civil rights. Co-written by Fleck and Anna Boden, the film undercuts its potentially schematic structure”it is not another movie about a charismatic, dedicated teacher in the ghetto that Michelle Pfeifer played in “Dangerous Mind”. The drug habits are portrayed in a matter-of-fact style and the friendship that evolves between Gosling’s teacher and a black teenage girl, who’s determined to help him, is extremely touching and rewarding.

Serious Tone

Not surprisingly, reflecting the tenor of our times, most of the films at Sundance, American and foreign, were dramas–and I mean heavy-duty drama. An attempt at political subject matter, Chris Gorak’s apocalyptic “Right at Your Door” poses a moral conundrum: If your wife was contaminated in a dirty-bomb attack, would you let her in the house While Los Angeles chokes, Gorak reduces his scenario to an intimate melodrama, with the husband and wife facing each other through a door or window. Since we don’t know much about the state of their marriage prior to the disaster, we are not emotionally vested in them as characters, wondering how a potentially profound chronicle descends into irrelevance with politics of destruction serving as an exterior, almost an excuse. Making things worse is the unsympathetic nature of the husband and wife, who squabble for two hours through duct-taped plastic, only to reach the banal conclusion that they should have spent more quality time with each other.


Given the number of first-time directors, and that most of them are in their twenties, it’s not surprising how many coming-of-age sagas were on display. One of the more powerful sagas was Dito Montiel’s “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints,” a movie very much in vein of Scorsese’s seminal “Mean Streets,” as well as such “hang-out neighborhood” pictures as “Diner,” all about men who refuse to mature, the efforts it takes to assume responsibility for their decisions, and the price paid for leaving loved ones behind. Following his predecessors, Montiel enlivens tough autobiographical material, based on his own memoir about growing up on mid-1980s Astoria’s mean streets. “A Guide” benefits from restrained work by Robert Downey Jr. (as Dito’s alter ego), and Chazz Palminteri and Dianne Wiest, as his parents, actors who often overact.

Crowd Pleasers and Original Visions

“Half Nelson” was surprisingly ignored by the jury, comprised this year of director Alan Rudolph and actor Terrence Howard among others, which this year opted for more conventional and mainstream films, such as “Quinceneara,” a film that inexplicably won the jury and the audience award.

The writer-director team of Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland has playfully labeled their film a “neo-sink drama.” But it turns out to be a fake label for a crowd-pleaser that elevates its Latino characters to the level of mythic saints and penalizes most of the white characters as villains. The film begins well before it becomes too cute and predictable. As Magdalena’s fifteenth birthday approaches, her life is consumed by thoughts of her boyfriend, her Quinceanera dress and the Hummer limo she hopes to ride on that special day. Life seems simple and pleasant in L.A.’s Echo Park neighborhood, where the story is set (and the directors live)”until fate delivers a surprise: Magdalena is pregnant. Expelled by her religious and rigid father, she moves in with her liberal great granduncle and her tough Cholo cousin, who turns out to be gay. Predictably, the trio goes on to form a makeshift family unit that must fight social stigmas and encroaching urban gentrifications that threatening to kill the old, beloved communal life.

Almost in diametric opposition to “Quinceneara” is “Wristcutters: A Love Story,” a film that divided critics due to its original (some say “perverse”) vision. Croatian-born writer-director Goran Dukic has made a romantic comedy about suicide victims, who find themselves living an after life that’s worse that the more real life they escaped from.

Genre Pictures

In the Premiere section, I liked two movies”with reservations. Judging by the bidding war and Fox Searchlight’s paying the tag price of $10 million, “Little Miss Sunshine” must have been the “hottest” film in the festival, a satire of a dysfunctional family which dissected the American obsession with wining by offering a cynical look at beauty pageants for young girls. Just when you thought the concept of dysfunctional family has been exhausted in Hollywood, along comes this likable picture that has the potential to become a breakthrough hit in similar way to last year’s Sundance entry, “Hustle & Flow.”

Idiosyncratic on the surface, “Little Miss Sunshine” is really a genre comedy that combines elements of the dysfunctional family film with those of a road comedy. The feature directorial debut of renowned music video directors (and husband-and-wife team) Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, the farcical comedy is sharply written by Michael Arndt. One of its positive aspects is embracing a three-generational family, affording each of its six members a fully developed role, with an arch, ups-and-downs, and reconciliation after inner or outers struggles. The film tells the story of the six-member Hoover family over a crowded three-day span, as they journey from their home in Albuquerque, New Mexico to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in Redondo Beach, California, to fulfill the wish of seven-year-old Olive, an ordinary-looking girl with big glasses and equally big dreams.

The film’s star, Toni Collette, as the conflicted mother, was one of Sundance’s major figures this year, giving a commanding performance in another premiere, “The Night Listeners,” which the new Miramax (sans Harvey Weinstein) grabbed for distribution after the second public screening. Stylishly elegant, “The Night Listener,” writer-director Patrick Stettner’s adaptation of Armistead Maupin’s novel, is an intriguing mystery-thriller that explores themes of identity, obsession, and sublimation. Despite some structural shortcomings, the film provides good roles to Robin Williams, as Maupin’s alter ego, and Collette, as a blind mother who conceals her identity as well as that of her presumably sickly genius son.

As a novel, “Night Listener” was inspired by something that happened to Maupin, the celebrated San Francisco writer of the popular “Tales of the City” series. In 1992, he was sent a manuscript written by a 14-year-old boy who had suffered abuse as a child and who had been rescued by a social worker, who in turn encouraged him to write as a way of healing from his nightmare. Wishing to tell the boy how much he liked his work, Maupin began a phone friendship through the adoptive mother and the kid, who lived 3,000 miles away from San Francisco, in New Jersey.

Several critics found the storytelling flawed and the text pregnant with meanings that unfortunately remain absent at the end. Thematically, inevitable comparisons will be made with the far superior “Misery,” which also concerns a troubled relationship between a writer and a fan, and the thriller “One-Hour Photo,” which also starred Robin Williams. Ultimately, it’s a frustrating, schizoid thriller whose first half is complex and ambiguous, but second is vastly disappointing.

Sexy Docus

I am not addicted to crossword puzzles as some of my friends are, yet I found a lot of merits in “Wordplay,” Patrick Creadon’s lovely tribute to New York Times celeb puzzle-maker, Will Shortz, who has edited the daily puzzles for 12 years. Testimonies from former President Bill Clinton to Yankee pitcher Mike Mussima to this year’s Oscar show host Jon Stewart all swear by the N.Y. Times puzzle, a prestigious institution if there ever was one.

Of the other documentaries I saw, I particularly recommend “This Film Is Not Yet Rated,” an outrageously entertaining anatomy of the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) that even its detractors concurred that at the very least it called for serious reform of the Rating System.

Writing about these movies, I realize that perhaps, after all, Sundance was not as mediocre as it felt like while I was there.

xosotin chelseathông tin chuyển nhượngcâu lạc bộ bóng đá arsenalbóng đá atalantabundesligacầu thủ haalandUEFAevertonxosokeonhacaiketquabongdalichthidau7m.newskqbdtysokeobongdabongdalufutebol ao vivofutemaxmulticanaisonbetbsport.fitonbet88.oooi9bet.bizhi88.ooookvip.atf8bet.atfb88.cashvn88.cashshbet.atbóng đá world cupbóng đá inter milantin juventusbenzemala ligaclb leicester cityMUman citymessi lionelsalahnapolineymarpsgronaldoserie atottenhamvalenciaAS ROMALeverkusenac milanmbappenapolinewcastleaston villaliverpoolfa cupreal madridpremier leagueAjaxbao bong da247EPLbarcelonabournemouthaff cupasean footballbên lề sân cỏbáo bóng đá mớibóng đá cúp thế giớitin bóng đá ViệtUEFAbáo bóng đá việt namHuyền thoại bóng đágiải ngoại hạng anhSeagametap chi bong da the gioitin bong da lutrận đấu hôm nayviệt nam bóng đátin nong bong daBóng đá nữthể thao 7m24h bóng đábóng đá hôm naythe thao ngoai hang anhtin nhanh bóng đáphòng thay đồ bóng đábóng đá phủikèo nhà cái onbetbóng đá lu 2thông tin phòng thay đồthe thao vuaapp đánh lô đềdudoanxosoxổ số giải đặc biệthôm nay xổ sốkèo đẹp hôm nayketquaxosokq xskqxsmnsoi cầu ba miềnsoi cau thong kesxkt hôm naythế giới xổ sốxổ số 24hxo.soxoso3mienxo so ba mienxoso dac bietxosodientoanxổ số dự đoánvé số chiều xổxoso ket quaxosokienthietxoso kq hôm nayxoso ktxổ số megaxổ số mới nhất hôm nayxoso truc tiepxoso ViệtSX3MIENxs dự đoánxs mien bac hom nayxs miên namxsmientrungxsmn thu 7con số may mắn hôm nayKQXS 3 miền Bắc Trung Nam Nhanhdự đoán xổ số 3 miềndò vé sốdu doan xo so hom nayket qua xo xoket qua xo so.vntrúng thưởng xo sokq xoso trực tiếpket qua xskqxs 247số miền nams0x0 mienbacxosobamien hôm naysố đẹp hôm naysố đẹp trực tuyếnnuôi số đẹpxo so hom quaxoso ketquaxstruc tiep hom nayxổ số kiến thiết trực tiếpxổ số kq hôm nayso xo kq trực tuyenkết quả xổ số miền bắc trực tiếpxo so miền namxổ số miền nam trực tiếptrực tiếp xổ số hôm nayket wa xsKQ XOSOxoso onlinexo so truc tiep hom nayxsttso mien bac trong ngàyKQXS3Msố so mien bacdu doan xo so onlinedu doan cau loxổ số kenokqxs vnKQXOSOKQXS hôm naytrực tiếp kết quả xổ số ba miềncap lo dep nhat hom naysoi cầu chuẩn hôm nayso ket qua xo soXem kết quả xổ số nhanh nhấtSX3MIENXSMB chủ nhậtKQXSMNkết quả mở giải trực tuyếnGiờ vàng chốt số OnlineĐánh Đề Con Gìdò số miền namdò vé số hôm nayso mo so debach thủ lô đẹp nhất hôm naycầu đề hôm naykết quả xổ số kiến thiết toàn quốccau dep 88xsmb rong bach kimket qua xs 2023dự đoán xổ số hàng ngàyBạch thủ đề miền BắcSoi Cầu MB thần tàisoi cau vip 247soi cầu tốtsoi cầu miễn phísoi cau mb vipxsmb hom nayxs vietlottxsmn hôm naycầu lô đẹpthống kê lô kép xổ số miền Bắcquay thử xsmnxổ số thần tàiQuay thử XSMTxổ số chiều nayxo so mien nam hom nayweb đánh lô đề trực tuyến uy tínKQXS hôm nayxsmb ngày hôm nayXSMT chủ nhậtxổ số Power 6/55KQXS A trúng roycao thủ chốt sốbảng xổ số đặc biệtsoi cầu 247 vipsoi cầu wap 666Soi cầu miễn phí 888 VIPSoi Cau Chuan MBđộc thủ desố miền bắcthần tài cho sốKết quả xổ số thần tàiXem trực tiếp xổ sốXIN SỐ THẦN TÀI THỔ ĐỊACầu lô số đẹplô đẹp vip 24hsoi cầu miễn phí 888xổ số kiến thiết chiều nayXSMN thứ 7 hàng tuầnKết quả Xổ số Hồ Chí Minhnhà cái xổ số Việt NamXổ Số Đại PhátXổ số mới nhất Hôm Nayso xo mb hom nayxxmb88quay thu mbXo so Minh ChinhXS Minh Ngọc trực tiếp hôm nayXSMN 88XSTDxs than taixổ số UY TIN NHẤTxs vietlott 88SOI CẦU SIÊU CHUẨNSoiCauVietlô đẹp hôm nay vipket qua so xo hom naykqxsmb 30 ngàydự đoán xổ số 3 miềnSoi cầu 3 càng chuẩn xácbạch thủ lônuoi lo chuanbắt lô chuẩn theo ngàykq xo-solô 3 càngnuôi lô đề siêu vipcầu Lô Xiên XSMBđề về bao nhiêuSoi cầu x3xổ số kiến thiết ngày hôm nayquay thử xsmttruc tiep kết quả sxmntrực tiếp miền bắckết quả xổ số chấm vnbảng xs đặc biệt năm 2023soi cau xsmbxổ số hà nội hôm naysxmtxsmt hôm nayxs truc tiep mbketqua xo so onlinekqxs onlinexo số hôm nayXS3MTin xs hôm nayxsmn thu2XSMN hom nayxổ số miền bắc trực tiếp hôm naySO XOxsmbsxmn hôm nay188betlink188 xo sosoi cầu vip 88lô tô việtsoi lô việtXS247xs ba miềnchốt lô đẹp nhất hôm naychốt số xsmbCHƠI LÔ TÔsoi cau mn hom naychốt lô chuẩndu doan sxmtdự đoán xổ số onlinerồng bạch kim chốt 3 càng miễn phí hôm naythống kê lô gan miền bắcdàn đề lôCầu Kèo Đặc Biệtchốt cầu may mắnkết quả xổ số miền bắc hômSoi cầu vàng 777thẻ bài onlinedu doan mn 888soi cầu miền nam vipsoi cầu mt vipdàn de hôm nay7 cao thủ chốt sốsoi cau mien phi 7777 cao thủ chốt số nức tiếng3 càng miền bắcrồng bạch kim 777dàn de bất bạion newsddxsmn188betw88w88789bettf88sin88suvipsunwintf88five8812betsv88vn88Top 10 nhà cái uy tínsky88iwinlucky88nhacaisin88oxbetm88vn88w88789betiwinf8betrio66rio66lucky88oxbetvn88188bet789betMay-88five88one88sin88bk88xbetoxbetMU88188BETSV88RIO66ONBET88188betM88M88SV88Jun-68Jun-88one88iwinv9betw388OXBETw388w388onbetonbetonbetonbet88onbet88onbet88onbet88onbetonbetonbetonbetqh88mu88Nhà cái uy tínpog79vp777vp777vipbetvipbetuk88uk88typhu88typhu88tk88tk88sm66sm66me88me888live8live8livesm66me88win798livesm66me88win79pog79pog79vp777vp777uk88uk88tk88tk88luck8luck8kingbet86kingbet86k188k188hr99hr99123b8xbetvnvipbetsv66zbettaisunwin-vntyphu88vn138vwinvwinvi68ee881xbetrio66zbetvn138i9betvipfi88clubcf68onbet88ee88typhu88onbetonbetkhuyenmai12bet-moblie12betmoblietaimienphi247vi68clupcf68clupvipbeti9betqh88onb123onbefsoi cầunổ hũbắn cáđá gàđá gàgame bàicasinosoi cầuxóc đĩagame bàigiải mã giấc mơbầu cuaslot gamecasinonổ hủdàn đềBắn cácasinodàn đềnổ hũtài xỉuslot gamecasinobắn cáđá gàgame bàithể thaogame bàisoi cầukqsssoi cầucờ tướngbắn cágame bàixóc đĩa开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育亚新体育亚新体育亚新体育爱游戏爱游戏爱游戏华体会华体会华体会IM体育IM体育沙巴体育沙巴体育PM体育PM体育AG尊龙AG尊龙AG尊龙AG百家乐AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人<AG真人<皇冠体育皇冠体育PG电子PG电子万博体育万博体育KOK体育KOK体育欧宝体育江南体育江南体育江南体育半岛体育半岛体育半岛体育凯发娱乐凯发娱乐杏彩体育杏彩体育杏彩体育FB体育PM真人PM真人<米乐娱乐米乐娱乐天博体育天博体育开元棋牌开元棋牌j9九游会j9九游会开云体育AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人爱游戏华体会华体会im体育kok体育开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育欧宝体育ob体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育开云体育开云体育棋牌棋牌沙巴体育买球平台新葡京娱乐开云体育mu88qh88