Sundance Goes Hopeful

What our Sundance correspondent learned after a week—and 35 movies—at the independent film festival.
Posted 01/26/09

PARK CITY, Utah—After 18 features, 17 shorts, and loads of conversations, my 2009 Sundance experience has come to a close.

The emotions were vast. I laughed throughout films such as Paper Heart. I cried during Taking Chance. I learned via Reporter. And I was moved to my feet after Push. On Sunday's plane ride home, I reflected on my Sundance experience. Let me wrap up the journey via a few phrases that left their mark:

"So, what did you think?" Whether in class, a restaurant, or a crammed bus, it was hard to escape the most repeated question at Sundance: "So, what did you think?" The post-film conversations are not only some of my favorite memories; they are what gave space for transformation.

"Support independent film." While Sundance has championed indie filmmakers for over 25 years, one must ask: What really is an independent film? Should a film receive such a label when HBO has backed it from Day 1? Is it independent when a film gets developed at the Sundance Institute and "happens" to find its way into competition? While many would claim that anything made outside the big five studios warrants such a label, others wonder if the term needs redefining. I am for the latter.

"All the News We Hope to Print."  While we stood in line for The Yes Men Fix the World, the directors passed out free copies of The New York Times to occupy our time. The front page headline read: "IRAQ WAR ENDS." Wha? Am I that removed from the rest of the world that I have missed such news? As I scrolled down the rest of the page, subtitles such as "Maximum Wage Law Succeeds" and "Treasury Announces ...

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