Sundance Film Festival 2013
Sundance is divine. Sundance is my chance to see real movies on real screens, in rooms with every seat filled with excited, interested, intelligent people. Essentially, my opportunity for Culture, for the year. I LOVE Sundance. It is a very good thing.
This year was my best Sundance ever! Of 14 movies, one was good (but sad), three totally knocked my socks off, and the rest were at least very good. I tend to see Documentaries, though I get a few Dramas too (though this year, one of the Dramas was pretty close to a Documentary). I have a lot of interests - Africa, energy policy, reproductive rights, women's rights, social justice, drug policy, gun policy, environmental policy... I was missed quite a few movies I wanted to see, but 14 seemed like enough so I headed home on Sunday; in time for my dentist appointment on Monday if nothing else.
So yes, this is a Tom Latest Rave unrelated to Canyoneering. Each year, Sundance seems to have a theme. No, not a stated, deliberate theme - more like, my experience of Sundance each year tends to have a theme. This year, the theme was Bravery - as in Personal Courage. As in, People, let's call them Heroes, who really lay it out there for the betterment of us all. Those who put some bend in the Arc of Justice...
“The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, but It Bends Toward Justice” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Most of these films will show up somewhere, but won't get much publicity or hang out very long, so you need to go out of your way to see them. 'Like' them on Facebook, so you will get FB updates as they progress through the release process.
I blew in Monday night to catch ANITA at the SLC Library.
WOW. Excellent movie about an amazing woman. For those who don't know, shame on you. Anita Hill is the reason in this year of 2013, we ALL know what Sexual Harassment IS, and know it is a big deal, and why it is no longer tolerated in the workplace. When Dr. Hill stepped forward to calmly detail Clarence Thomas's behavior to the eight 50-ish white men of the Senate Judiciary Committee, she was met with absolute disbelief. Beyond their grasp. But it was nationally televised, and about 50% of the population got it. Women knew EXACTLY what she was talking about.
The personal price exacted from Dr. Hill was substantial, but she stepped forward to the opportunity, and has been working quietly to empower women, especially woman lawyers, ever since. The movie is very personal, very direct, very clear. This is an extraordinary woman, and an extraordinary movie about her.
There is a very good book that (also) covers the details of the events in 1991, in greater detail: STRANGE JUSTICE. The film did not rag on him much, but from the book it is clear that one of the villains of those hearing was slippery Joe Biden. I hope Joe will take the opportunity to apologize to Professor Hill sometime in the near future, but I'm not holding my breath... (I have a copy of the book someone can borrow.) Wikipedia entry on Anita Hill
I have no idea why Anita did not sweep all awards at Sundance.
YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN: Ben Fulton's review of Anita in the Salt Lake Tribune. This is a movie about both subtle and overt sexism in the workplace. Perhaps Mr. Fulton meant to be ironic when he started his review with: "Resplendent in gold jewelry and black-brown ensemble, Anita Hill ..." - or maybe he just went to a completely different movie than I did, that had the same title?
Tuesday Jan 22 I got up early (well, not that early) to try to pick up tics down at the SLC box office - not much available. So I ended up in Park City for a noon movie, then at the Rose Wagner SLC with Alicia and Ryan for a 7 pm movie, with a bunch of errands in-between. First movie of the day:
Robert Reich was Clinton's Secretary of Labor and is currently a Professor at UC Berkeley. His cause is the Economic Inequality now a major part of our economic system, and the instability that this produces not only in our economy but also in our democracy. He quips that his son summarizes it best: "you've been talking about this stuff for years, dad, but now that I've seen the movie, now it all fits together and makes sense."
Robert is an interesting character, and while this is a complex subject, the movie ties a lot of stuff together. It's not so much about who gets what portion of the pie (as the 1% would have you believe) but is more about how to make the pie as big as possible so there is more to go around... uh, yeah. Maybe you should go see the movie. Robert Reich is funny and entertaining even when talking about a fascinating (NOT) topic like economic policy. A very well put-together film, as Economics is not known for being all that jolly as a topic.
It won the Special Jury Award at Sundance.
Film Website: Inequality for All (like on facebook, and the future of the film will be revealed as it develops.)
I really enjoy the Documentaries at Sundance, but also try to pick up a couple of dramas each year. LAST year, saw a couple great fictional flicks, this year - not so much. This evening's film was a drama that Alicia picked out as our film together this year:
A well-made, engaging, well-acted, well-told story. Some great music, too. About, well, relationships that don't work. People that are frustrated and miserable, and destined to be miserable. Not really the kind of film I go out of my way to see. It is fun to have the Q and A afterwards. Q: "About the ending...?" - A: "I got the characters to the point of maximum miserableness, so I figured it was time to end the film".
But I have to give the director/writer/filmmaker credit: Hollywood would have gone for the 'happy ending' - instead, the characters were more like you and me, and the non-romantic, pragmatic choice was made... just like it would have been made in real life. OK, now forget that I gave it away, and catch it in a theater next fall.
Wednesday was a Four-Movie day for me - about the most I can handle. Up early to Park City for a showing of:
Perhaps the most deeply personal film I've ever seen and yeah, I cried pretty much the whole way through. The film is about the life and family of Mariel Hemingway, granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway; a family where suicide is the primary method of moving on. Crazy! With all this, how do you deal?!? Well... you just do, cause there ain't much other choice. We follow Mariel as she tells the story of her family. Her sister Margeaux had started a film back in the day, so there was footage of her quest to understand Papa Hemingway. A large part of the film is Mariel's quest to understand Margeaux, her glamorous and crazy older sister, who checked out in 1996. And more, much more.
It was fun for me that Mariel and hubby are recreational rock climbers, and some sections out climbing were filmed by my friends Boone Speed and Mike Call.
Another WOW! movie. See it if you get a chance. Facebook Page
"On February 12, 2008, in Oxnard, California, eighth-grade student Brandon McInerney shot his classmate Larry King twice in the back of the head during first period. Unraveling this tragedy from point of impact, the film reveals the heartbreaking circumstances that led to the shocking crime as well as its startling aftermath."
This film explores the complexity of the events, talking in-depth with the friends of both Brandon and Larry. Again, a film about Personal Courage. Oxnard is a conservative California coastal community, next door to Ventura where I lived for a year and a half. This film is dark, but what really comes through is the strength of Larry's incredible friends, eighth graders, despite the despicability of the so-called adults involved, and a judicial system that made 4'10" Larry King into some kind of predator. Shocking.
Another GREAT movie. Should be required viewing for every seventh grader... but would probably be banned in Utah (except Sundance) since Larry and his friends are 'abnormal', as in somewhere in the LGBT community.
KUER had a great piece on this film a few days before I drove up, so I wait-listed it and got in! Viva la Redstone!
This about the migration to America Norte. A body is found in the Arizona desert with a tattoo across the chest - "DAYANI CRISTAL". The film is about the search for this man's identity, and why people come north to die in our desert. The filmmaker recreates the journey up from Central America into Mexico, then to the US border.
Immigration is a major policy discussion. The film is not about policy, it is about human beings.
A very good film. I guess with the leadup, I was expecting more. Certainly a must-see for anyone interest in immigration. Who Is Dayani Cristal Facebook Page
GREAT Film. Not really about "The Abortion Debate", perhaps surprisingly. I was surprised. This is a film about the doctors that do third trimester abortions in the USA, all four of them. A pretty unpleasant subject, really, no matter where you are on the politics. Heartbreaking, in a way. The film explores this subject without staking out an ideology, which in itself is quite an accomplishment.
Personal Courage, in spades. And really, it INFORMS the abortion debate, a 'debate' not centered on a dispassionate understanding of the facts.
Another emotionally powerful movie, very moving. (and, incidentally, not graphic - it's not about that).
I know that's only 7 movies... a few more to go, but let me break the page here.
GO SEE THEM!