Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sundance 2010: What are all These Categories About?

"If you must put me in a box, make sure it's a big box with lots of windows and a door to walk through and a nice high chimney." — Dan Bern

The 2010 Sundance Film Festival is on its way, and to celebrate, new festival director John Cooper* (we'll miss your gloriously over-the-top introductions, Geoff Gilmore!) and his new Cooperesque sidekick, Trevor Groth, have done what Sundance does best—rename and change-around its lesser-known categories. Chris and I will be looking at the other selections in coming weeks, but first let's start with the unfamiliar.

Spotlight: Once there was American Spectrum. Then its components were split into American Spectrum (small indie films that didn't make the competition) and American Spotlight (name directors or actors with non-premieres). Then there was just Spectrum (turns out there are countries besides America—which itself isn't a country but two continents!). Then there was the short-lived Global American Spotlighty Spectrum Extravaganza. Now we have Spotlight and NEXT, which we'll get to, uh, in a minute. This year's selection includes global programs like Rachel Perkins's "Bran Nue Dae" from Australia and therefore starring Geoffrey Rush, controversial Frenchie Gaspar Noé's "Enter the Void," which, sources tell me, is very long, "I Am Love", Luca Guadagnino's Italian film starring Tilda Swinton, and—perhaps most enticing—Jacques Audiard's "Un Prophète,"—which won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes. They've also thrown in a shorts program highlighting—sorry, spotlighting—the shorts of the New African Cinema. American efforts include "Nine Lives" director Rodrigo Garcia's "Mother and Child", starring Annette Benning and (don't tell Brent Sallay) Naomi Watts, and "Louis C.K.: Hilarious", a concert film of the comedian's brilliant stand-up routine. Seriously, it's fucking funny.

Spotlight: Documentary: Sometimes they just put documentaries in Specturm/American Spectrum/Whateverthefuck, sometimes the documentaries get their own category. Under this new Spotlight, they have their own little sub-category again. The talk of Utah will, of course, be "8: The Mormon Proposition, directed by Reed Cowan, who used to be a reporter at KTVX. (What channel number is KTVX?) I don't know what obscure proposition this film details. Probably something about offering someone a million dollars to sleep with his or her wives.

NEXT: The festival folks hope the new NEXT (or maybe it's "NEXT <=>" but you don't seriously expect me to type that, do you?) selection will shut up all those whiners who go on and on to anyone who'll listen about how the festival isn't really indie anymore. This sidebar features only films that were made on a budget of $5,000 or less. So it could include a masterpiece like "Primer" and/or a two-hour tape of some guy masturbating in front of his shitty digital camera. But you can't say that the programmers didn't try to showcase low-profile films this year. Now the only question is, will all those whiners attend the NEXT screenings, or will they be too busy getting their pictures taken with Ryan Gosling? If you need a celebrity, you can at least see Janel Moloney from "The West Wing" (but more importantly guest spots on "Sports Night" and "30 Rock") in Habib Azar's "Armless." (FYI: Moloney has arms.)

*I hope Mr. Cooper's promotion won't stop him from being so awesome that he pulls over to pick up a lowly film critic as he tries to run through the slushy Park City streets, late to a screening. You rock, John!


Moms for Equality said...

Jeremy, I love your take on 8: The Mormon Proposition... the best I've read thus far. Thanks for the lol!


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