Watch: Vimeo’s Wacky Doc About Sundance ‘Escape From Park City’

Escape From Park City Doc

«The cheapest way to survive is to subsist entirely on appetizers. If you’re luck enough to get access to free parties throughout the day…» We’ve been covering the Sundance Film Festival for 11 years, and I adore the festival, but it’s not always the most inviting place especially if you don’t have proper access. This year, Vimeo hired «self-described ‘struggling’ Staff Picked documentarian» John Wilson to make a video about his experience at the festival — without any access. Suffice it to say, he makes an amusing doc that mocks the festival and the absurdity of everything, yet also finds the good in it. «Wandering up and down Main Street, remarking on the blend of commercialism and exclusivity, he paints a pretty pallid picture of festival life and the forces that dominate it.» It’s worth watching for a good life and a totally different look at Sundance. ›››

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Where VR Has Never Gone Before: Unprecedented 40-Minute Sundance Short ‘Miyubi’ [PODCAST]

What does it take for VR to create the same comedy and drama as a traditional feature film?

Virtual reality storytelling innovators Felix & Paul Studios premiered a new narrative VR film at Sundance this year, and it’s unprecedented both in the sheer length (40 minutes) as well as the scope of the narrative. Situated in the headspace of a 1980s toy robot, Miyubi takes the viewer on a journey through sibling rivalry, teen angst, marital challenges, and aging—and it’s the closest VR has gotten to the feeling of a feature film so far. Sound ambitious? It is.

In this episode of the No Film School podcast, Miyubi directors Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël, as well as CTO Sebastian Sylvan, sit down with No Film School to talk about the VR storytelling tricks they’ve learned, the departure of this film from their previous work, and how they’ve attempted to overcome the biggest challenge of narrative storytelling in VR: the fact that viewers inside a headset can look anywhere at any time for the duration of the film.

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‘The Discovery’: Why Indie Guru Charlie McDowell Chose Netflix for His Sundance Premiere

Charlie McDowell’s Netflix film, ‘The Discovery,’ asks: If the afterlife was proven to exist, would you take the shortcut there?

In 2014, Charlie McDowell announced his presence as a daring new indie filmmaker to watch with The One I Love, a surreal portrait of a relationship in disrepair. When a couple (Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass) embarks on a would-be therapeutic weekend getaway, they find themselves inducted into a strange universe where fact and fiction are subjective, forcing them to reckon with their perceptions of one another and their own identities at large. It’s the kind of original premise that eludes many first-time filmmakers, and Moss and Duplass’ performances anchor the film in a deeply philosophical—and often quite terrifying—reality.

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First Trailer for Acclaimed Sundance Documentary ‘Casting JonBenet’

Casting JonBenet Trailer

«Do YOU know who killed JonBenet Ramsey?» Netflix has debuted a trailer for the highly acclaimed, totally unique documentary Casting JonBenet, from director Kitty Green. The film originally premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and it has also played at the Berlin Film Festival and True/False Film Festival. Casting JonBenet examines the infamous JonBenet Ramsey murder in Colorado in 1996, by having local actors from Colorado audition for the various characters involved in the story. This includes JonBenet herself, as well as her mother, brother, father, and local police. This is a fascinating documentary unlike any other (except maybe Kate Plays Christine) that stirs up quite a unique discussion without ever actually interviewing the real people. It’s fascinating, and worth checking out when it premieres on Netflix. ›››

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Trailer for Sundance 2016 Favorite ‘As You Are’ with Owen Campbell

As You Are Trailer

«Fresh and richly intelligent.» A new trailer has arrived online for an indie film titled As You Are, which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival last year to positive reviews (here’s my review). I’m glad to see this is finally being released soon, it’s a great film. Owen Campbell stars as a teenager caught in a love triangle between his two friends — played by Charlie Heaton and Amandla Stenberg. The cast includes Mary Stuart Masterson, Scott Cohen and John Scurti. This is best to see without knowing too much going in, because the film reveals the truth as the story plays out. The trailer features the song «Appalachian Moon» written and performed by Kevin Reilly, included on the soundtrack. I recommend giving this a look. ›››

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Do International Films at Sundance Suggest a Global Growth of Independent Film?

«There’s a generation of filmmakers who think we can create something new that the industry isn’t doing.»

Sundance has traditionally been known predominantly as a showcase of U.S.-based talent, but this year’s fest highlighted people from vibrant film communities across the world. What do they have in common? A passion to make films and build their industries from the ground up. The following excerpts highlight the exciting work being done in South Africa, Brazil, and Bulgaria to give you food for thought. Are we part of a global filmmaker movement towards independent film? See what you think.

The Wound

South Africa

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‘Beach Rats’ Trailer: The Sundance Award Winning Indie Snaps Some Selfies

Beach Rats Trailer

Dozens of independent films debuted at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, and plenty of them got picked up for distribution, presumably sometime later this year. One of those films was Beach Rats, which ended up landing a directing award in the U.S. Dramatic section of films for director Eliza Hittman, making her second feature film.

The first Beach Rats trailer has arrived online, and while it doesn’t show much, it does give us a hint of the personality of the main character we’ll meet played by Harris Dickinson, who received plenty of praise for his performance in the film. Watch below.

Though Peter Sciretta, Angie Han, and I were all at the Sundance Film Festival this year, we somehow all managed to miss Beach Rats, so we don’t have our own thoughts on the film. But The Guardian wrote in their review:

Beach Rats is a captivating character study and one that feels vital. The idea that coming out in western culture has been made universally accepted with societal changes signaling wider beliefs is a myth, and journalling what is a common difficulty for many young men feels important. Hittman is keen to avoid a standard coming out story, though, and while the final act does lead to more obvious dramatic conflict, she ends on a stunning note of dreamy romance and possibility.”

Our friends at The Film Stage add:

Burgeoning sexuality is the basis for nearly all coming-of-age films, but with her specific eye, Eliza Hittman makes it feel like we’re watching this genre unfold for the first time. With only two features to her name, she’s captured the experience with a sensuality and intimacy nearly unprecedented in American independent filmmaking.

Beach Rats sounds like the kind of coming-of-age tale of sexual awakening that cinephiles will love.

Neon, the distribution company founded by RADiUS’ Tom Quinn and Alamo Drafthouse’s Tim League, picked up Beach Rats from Sundance, and it’s expected to arrive sometime this fall, though no specific release date has been set yet. Here’s the official synopsis from Sundance.

Frankie, an aimless teenager on the outer edges of Brooklyn, is having a miserable summer. With his father dying and his mother wanting him to find a girlfriend, Frankie escapes the bleakness of his home life by causing trouble with his delinquent friends and flirting with older men online. When his chatting and webcamming intensify, he finally starts hooking up with guys at a nearby cruising beach while simultaneously entering into a cautious relationship with a young woman. As Frankie struggles to reconcile his competing desires, his decisions leave him hurtling toward irreparable consequences.

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Back-to-Back Festivals — Kicking Off Berlinale Weeks After Sundance

Berlinale 2017

From the very snowy streets of Park City, to the freezing streets of Berlin. Kicking off this week is the 67th Berlin Film Festival, better known as Berlinale. This is my 4th year in a row covering the Berlin Film Festival, this time as a local resident of Berlin, but it’s still just as exciting. Taking place only two weeks after Sundance, this picks up where that left off and continues the enthusiasm and excitement for new cinema by offering a fine selection of European films. This year’s biggest world premiere is perhaps James Mangold’s Logan, at the very end of the festival, though there are plenty of other films showing over the next 10 days. I may not be recovered from Sundance yet, but that doesn’t mean I’m not excited to jump into another fest. ›››

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Are You Making Ethical Movies? Sundance Filmmakers on Creating ‘Fierce’ and ‘Active’ Art

Gael García Bernal and Anand Giridharadas explored how empathy affects their lives and work at Sundance.

The current political climate in America is an unavoidable discussion—and it should be, even at Sundance. Art and politics have always been inherently tied to the human condition; art expresses it, and politics regulate it. And while the government continues to directly affect those who make art, the two are inseparable.

In fact, art history’s most fruitful eras were born of socio-political disruption. The decline of the Catholic Church and widespread trauma from the Black Plague gave rise to the Italian Renaissance. Some of America’s most iconic music was written while the country was at war in Vietnam. Through turbulence, artists will rise.

Though Sundance is not an explicitly political event, as Robert Redford mentioned at the opening press conference, the festival simply cannot ignore the stories filmmakers are telling. And many of those are political.

Art and politics have always been inherently tied to the human condition; art expresses it, and politics regulate it.

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