For anyone who loves the silver screen as much as they love silver snowscapes, the annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah is Mecca. I’ve attended each January for the past five years, but 2012 was the first time I attended as press, and (cue Dinah Washington) what a difference a press pass makes.
I hit the frozen ground running – and running. Attending Sundance (especially as press) is a marathon, not a sprint.
The first perk my shiny new pass gave me was entry to The Raid, THE BEST FEATURE FILM I saw at Sundance. An action masterpiece.
In a nutshell, The Raid follows a group of heavily armed police invading a crimelord’s bleak tenement fortress led by a kickass, white knight of a hero played to knife-fighting perfection by Iko Uwais. The Raid, which also features one of the year’s best scores, opens in limited release March 23rd.
Another highlight was Detropia (Sundance Award winner for documentary editing). A chilling, ghost town-like tour of a city that, in the 1930s, was the fastest growing in the world. Today, Detroit holds the distinction of fastest shrinking city in America. Decimated by its own industries – the very things that built the city up, Detropia is a real American horror story.
I felt fortunate to get into the premiere of Jake Schreier’s directorial debut, Robot & Frank, and you heard it here first, it’s the next great science fiction indie. Set “in the near future,” Robot & Frank is anchored by a touching and funny Frank Langella, and a strong ensemble (Susan Sarandon, Liv Tyler, James Marsden, Ana Gasteyer, Jeremy Sisto - and of course the robot).
Interestingly, Robot & Frank originated as a short film in 2003. As an avid fan and believer in shorts, I kept a keen eye for the newest crop at Sundance.
One short in particular that stood out was “Spielzeit” (“Playtime”) an impressionistic gem by director Lucas Mireles, the film follows the lives of innocent German youths on a Sunday afternoon in Cologne. Mireles beamed about his first Sundance entry, “I got to meet Robert Redford, go to his house, and tell him about my piece. We’re all storytellers and we really want to share. This is our playtime.”
Playtime indeed! Looking forward to next year already!
- Xaque Gruber