Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Getting Ready for Sundance!

I am a film person (and a book person and a television person!). Most any type of film will appeal to me if I think it has a good story and interesting characters. But usually I am drawn to the more independent film than the latest blockbuster. Luckily living in the Pittsburgh area there are are some theaters that do show independent films, although it may take a few months to reach us. And if I don't make it to the cinema, I end up watching these films on DVD once they are available at the library.

One of the best showcases of independent films in the United States is the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. This year the festival runs January 17th to 27th. This festival was started back in 1978 as the Utah/United States Film Festival as a way to lure filmmakers to Utah. In 1985 Robert Redford's Sundance Institute took over the festival and has been in charge ever since. Many of the films shown at the festival have gone on to be quite successful.

Here are just a few of the award winning films that have been presented at the Sundance Film Festival:

Blood Simple was the 1985 winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Drama. This the debut film from Joel and Ethan Coen. It tells the story of a rich, but jealous man, who hires a private investigator to kill his cheating wife and her new man. But, when blood is involved, nothing is simple.

The Brothers McMullen, (1995) from director/writer Edward Burns, was the little film that made it big. After their good-for-nothing father dies and their mother leaves to be with the man she really loves, brothers Jack, Barry and Patrick are left with only each other as they struggle with their relationships. Married Jack is tempted to have an affair; Patrick isn't sure his fiancee is 'the one'; and Barry can't deal with the fact that he is actually falling in love. Burns made this for about $25,000 and it went on to gross over $10 million.

American Splendor (2003) is one of my favorite films. Paul Giamatti plays Harvey Pekar, the star of his own comic book series. Pekar's day job was as a file clerk at the Cleveland VA. He was your typical, struggling everyman. He eventually put the drudgeries of everyday life into his series, American Splendor, using different artists (Pekar could not draw). The real Harvey Pekar, and his wife Joyce, also makes appearances as themselves. 

Super Size Me (2004), was a breakthrough hit for director Morgan Spurlock. He spent 30 days eating nothing but McDonald's food and documented the affects on his health in this documentary. This is also an insightful look at the obesity epidemic in the U.S.

Precious (2009), was the inspirational drama that captured everyone's attention. The story of an illiterate, overweight and pregnant teen who is given a second chance at an alternative high school was a break out hit.

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012), is the little film that is getting big talk this year because of the performance of its young star, Quvenzhan√© Wallis. Wallis plays a young girl who lives in a remote bayou who must find a way to save her family from catastrophe.

Be sure to follow the news to see what the next upcoming, independent films will be coming out of this year's Sundance Film Festival!

-- Post by Tracy

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