2016 Sundance Film Festival Coverage: Week One Summary
LOOK FOR OUR HIGHLIGHT VIDEO ABOUT OUR TIME AT SUNDANCE NEXT WEEK!
I was excited, along with my wife Heather, to cover the Sundance Film Festival this year as a press outlet. As filmmakers ourselves, we enjoy collaborating with indie filmmakers, actors and crew, and Sundance is no exception. We ventured out to various “press lines” and red carpets during our first week at Sundance to discover filmmakers that are creating thought-provoking films, similar to our own mission statement that reads: “transforming hearts and minds through film.” From documentaries to dramatic premiers, we found a lot of interesting projects that speaks to transformative, inspiring and thought-provoking messages.
Our first stop was at the premier of Resilience, directed by James Redford…yes, Robert Redford’s son. The latest film from James Redford (The D Word: Understanding Dyslexia, 2012 Sundance Film Festival) traces the developments in the field, featuring two of the doctors who pioneered this work and the health care professionals that are running the evidence. A simple survey initiates the discussion and provides the basis for a new understanding of what our culture is facing and how to best treat families dealing with “toxic stress.” I asked James about why he decided to produce the film: “Health issue to me are sort of in my fabric. In my own life story I’ve had my own issues with health and I understand the challenges of trying to come back from difficult situations.” An inspiring and life changing project for not just Redford, but the entire cast and crew. The animation and well-placed statistics punctuate the thoughtful film’s message that, now armed with this information, we can act quickly to mitigate the effects of a public health crisis.
We wanted to cover films that also involve the transformative power of music. Academy Award–nominated actor Don Cheadle—co-writer, director, and lead actor—remarkably captures the musical legend on film through an impressively orchestrated use of images and sounds. Varying cinematic rhythms and beats are used to create a singular and intoxicating viewing experience as Cheadle displays a deep understanding of the man and his music. His latest project which premiered at Sundance last week, Miles Ahead, is about inspired by events in Miles Davis’ life, this is a wildly entertaining, impressionistic, no-holds-barred portrait of one of twentieth-century music’s creative geniuses. Ewan McGregor stars in the film as the character, Dave Brill. McGregor stated during our interview, “His [Miles Davis] is all about the music and his influence in music in never ending.” Just like film, music is transformative for many people.
HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE
Equal parts road comedy and coming-of-age drama, director Taika Waititi masterfully weaves lively humor with emotionally honest performances by Sam Neill and Julian Dennison. Never short on laughs, this touching story reminds us about the journey that growing up is (at any age) and those who help us along the way. I wanted to cover the premier of this film due to it’s underlining themes of freedom. When I talked with Waititi he told me that, “I think its the story about renegades and people fighting against the system and fighting for their freedom.” For more information on this film, visit the official website.
MICHAEL JACKSON’S JOURNEY FROM MOTOWN TO OFF THE WALL
Director Spike Lee assembles a wealth of archival footage, interviews with contemporary talents and family members, and Michael’s own words and image to create this insightful chronicle of the star’s early rise to fame. An in-depth look at a chapter of his career that is rarely examined, Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall allows audiences to travel with Michael as he gets his start at Motown, strikes a new path with CBS records, and forges a relationship with legendary producer Quincy Jones. An illuminated portrait emerges of how an earnest, passionate, hard-working boy would become the “King of Pop.” During our brief red carpet interview, Lee told me, “It’s music that brings us all together.” I agreed. Lee has created a film that brings forth Jackson’s ability to inspire millions of fans throughout the world through music. Now the original album, and the film, will be released together on CD/DVD and CD/Blu-ray on February 26.
LOVE & FRIENDSHIP
Heather and I then covered a couple of drama premiers including, “Love & Friendship”. Adapting Jane Austen’s unpublished early novella Lady Susan, director, Whit Stillman returns to the Sundance Film Festival (where his Metropolitan premiered in 1990) in top form with his latest comedy of manners. Kate Beckinsale excels in her role as the deliciously devious Lady Vernon and delivers each line with relish. With exquisite period detail and a script teeming with bon mots and witty dialogue, Love & Friendship is a rare—and rarified—treat. It’s true that we, as viewers, can pull pretty much anything we want from films…emotion, heartache, laughter, or even anger. I feel that every feel has a potential message if we decide to see it. When I asked Whitman about the underlining theme of the film, he said, “Well, there’s a song..the character is lovely played by Morfydd Clark…the Frederica character. I think it’s a traditional British song called, Love Will Find A Way. I think that might be it.”
We look forward to week number 2 at the Sundance Film Festival in search of powerful and thought-provoking films! We plan to talk to Rachel Weisz, Danny Glover and Kathy Bates about their new film, Complete Unknown. We also have plans to cover the new film, The Fundamentals of Caring starring Paul Rudd and Selena Gomez, and our last premier will be The Hollars on January 29th starring Anna Kendrick and John Krasinski.
For more information on our films, visit our website.