Park City, Utah, January 17, 2019
Park City, Utah, January 17, 2019
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are no words of compassion or reassurance that can bring back the 20 children and six educators who lost their lives during the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In Kim A. Snyder’s searing new film “Newtown“, we are given exclusive access into the homes of those who lost loved ones. They speak candidly about their grief, anger, and disbelief over what occurred and how nothing has changed in regards to basic gun control reform.
“I still dread that every day I live, I’m one day farther away from my life with Daniel,” says bereaved father Mark Barden. Another parent, as she walks past the school shooter’s old property, reflects, “There are dreams when I’m in the classroom and I’m able to stop him.” Each person, be it a parent, school nurse, or state police officer, tries in their own way to make sense of their loss, as well as confront our nation’s inability to quell gun violence in even the most peaceful of communities. There are no easy answers or fixes in Newtown. The film’s brilliance–and hope–lies in its ability to internalize profound grief and allow it to reverberate within our collective conscience.
Film Director, Matt Duhamel from Metamora Films, hopes to meet with Kim A. Snyder during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah to discuss her vision for future films, and to talk about how she has worked with leading independent documentary filmmakers to combine social-justice focused films with Impact Campaigns to bring about a more just and compassionate world.
“Metamora Films is covering Sundance this year in search of transformative films and filmmakers, and Kim A. Synder definitely falls into this category”, Duhamel said. He adds, “I think Kim and I have the same vision…to better the world through the power of film.”
Along with “Newtown” , Transform Films Inc will release two additional documentaries on their 2016 slate: “Women Veterans” (working titles) with award winning director Brittany Huckerbee following a group of women veterans in San Antonio dealing with issues of PTSD as they re-build their lives after the military; and “Milwaukee 53206” (director Keith McQuirter) looking at the effects of mass incarceration on the community of the Zip Code with the greatest percentage of African American males who are incarcerated (64% of 30-40 year olds).
The world premier of “Newtown” is at the Temple Theatre in Park City, Utah on Sunday, January 24th at 3pm. For ticket information, please visit the Sundance Film Festival Program.