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Sundance Film Festival review

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Sundance Film Festival review

Precious Kato

The films I saw in a particular order:

Skate Kitchen – Directed by Crystal Moselle

Moselle is a seasoned documentary film-maker with her previous film debuting and winning Sundance in 2015. Skate Kitchen was her first feature film that originated as a short film called “That One Day.” The film is about a young 18-year-old female skater, Camille, living on Long Island. The girl is mad talented and follows an all-female skate crew called Skate Kitchen on Instagram. One day the crew posts on their page that they’re having a skate sesh and only girls are invited. Camille decides to venture quietly into Manhattan to meet them, and the story begins from there. This film was my favorite because of how real, raw, and funny it was. It was so refreshing to see such a talented all-female skate crew take the streets of New York and really be there for each other. By the end of the film, I really wanted to learn how to skate, and I felt like those girls were my friends.

Sorry to Bother You – Directed by Boots Riley

Riley had a really interesting backstory. His claim to fame is music, as he’s an established rapper and musician. But he originally studied film and even attended both of Sundance’s writing and directing clinics before debuting his first feature film. Sorry to Bother You followed a young and broke Cassius Green, played by Lakeith Stanfield, as he landed a job as a telemarketer and worked up the ranks to become a “Power Caller.” But what the “Power Callers” were calling about turned out to be something so strange and bizzare. The comedy definitely had us all thinking one way for about 60% of the film, but then something dramatic and sci-fi related occurred that really was just not what any of us expected to be honest. It ended up having quite an ambitious plot line that pushed the limits and of course had all of the “black guy” in a “white world” quirks and gags in it.

Juliet, Naked – Directed by Jesse Peretz

Peretz actually adapted this screenplay from the original book called Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby. In this film Annie (Rose Byrne) and Duncan (Chris O’Dowd) are a mid 30s couple living in England. Duncan runs a blog dedicated to his obsession, Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), an alt-rock musician who quit music over 20 years ago and has since “disappeared.” Someone sends Duncan a cut of the demos from Crowe’s last record, Juliet. Annie listens to them, hates them and comments such on her boyfriend’s website. Duncan calls her out on it but she sticks by her opinion. Soon after, she gets an email form Crowe saying he also thinks those demos suck and that the guy running the website is crazy. From there, the two build quite a friendship via email. This film was the most conventional film I saw at Sundance.The production felt like something I would see in a typical American theater, which I liked because not everything has to be “indie.” But this romantic comedy made me laugh so much and I left the theater with a smile on my face. The story was just the right amount of far-fetched and fun for the audience to fall right in love with it.

Holiday – Directed by Isabella Eklöf

So I’ll be honest. I don’t know what the point of this film was. I expected the film to be some sort of Scarface gangster drama film with the lead actress acting as a pawn and falling for the enemy. I expected something wild. But that’s not what Swedish female director Eklof gave me. Set against a stunning backdrop, a young Danish woman Sascha, (Victoria Carmen Sonne) goes on vacation with her boyfriend and friends from home on the coast of Croatia. But the trip turns out to be one full of gifts and violence. I don’t think I really enjoyed this film because I wanted there to be more of a sense of agency from Victoria Carmen Sonne‘s character. I was rooting for her to leave her tumultuous relationship and run away from that life with the Swedish tourist she meets, yet ends up killing. For me, I just yearned for more from the story. Despite being on sunny warm holiday, the film was quite cold.

Environment:

Park City itself is such a beautiful little place. You get on the highway from the airport and drive west for 35 minutes and all of a sudden, you’re cushioned in a valley surrounded by the snowy Wasatch Mountains. It was so fun in the morning to wake up and see little dot-like people skiing down the mountains and riding up the lifts.

My films were at several different theaters throughout the Park City area. I saw one in a traditional theatre a bit north of downtown. Another theater I visited was a makeshift one on what really was a set of tennis courts. Some theaters were inside of libraries, highschool theaters and hotel conference rooms. All of them were super nice though.

The Sundance film experience was really unique. Sundance is a big buying fest and is also a competition. After a film premieres, companies like HBO, Netflix and Lionsgate will send representatives up to see the films and purchase them to be released later in the year on their platforms. Sundance also has an awards ceremony at the end where they give out “bests” to a film in each category. So when you see a film, you’re in a room filled with film executives, actors, directors, Park City Residents and film lovers of all kinds. At the end of films too, usually someone involved in the film (an actor, director, producer, etc.) will come down and take questions from the audience. What’s even cooler is you’re likely to see that person later on the bus or grabbing dinner downtown.

Getting around Park City was ridiculously easy due to the bus system. They had numerous bus stops littering the area and buses that ran every 10 minutes. Volunteers stood at them all hours of the day helping people find whichever bus they needed. The stops also had heaters at them so people didn’t freeze.

Downtown Park City reminded me of Nashville in one regard. Their Main Street was very similar to Broadway in terms of set up. All of the activities were on that street, everything from cool rooftop restaurants, North Face and Patagonia, boutique stores to coffee shops and ice cream parlors. The street was completely lined with Christmas lights strung back and forth. Up the road at the staple Egyptian Theater you’d find people posing for photos. Downtown hosted several parties. Lyft had a full storefront giving out out coffee, t-shirts and hosting some celebrity fireside chats. Acura had a music tent where many artists came and performed a selection of songs. The best part about Main Street had to be the ski lift that fed right into downtown. The ski resort sits right behind downtown and is super accessible.

I got a chance to “hit the slopes” on Saturday morning, and it was wonderful. The views from the lift that drops you off in the center of town were amazing. It took you over all of the ski in/ski out residences and into the mountain, almost into the clouds. There was something for everyone on the mountain. Both first timers as well as seasoned skiers would’ve found something great for their skill set. What surprised me the most were the amount of little restaurants and chill spaces built up inside the valleys of the mountains that were only accessible by ski.

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