The 2020 Sundance Film Festival day 1 has come to a close, and it was a doozy! As the first big film festival of the year, Sundance is always a place that delivers many intriguing movies in a cool location. The rest of the year, Park City is renowned as a top tier ski resort, and universally recognized for its scenic beauty. But this time every year, it’s the movie capital of the world!
Here’s what we managed to catch on Day 1 of the festival:
There are several venues set up throughout downtown that guests can hang out in, but most of them wouldn’t open until the next day! So we spent much of our first morning and afternoon checking out the town, walking around Main St.
But that’s when the Lyft Lounge came to the rescue! We got to check out this cute little hideaway at the south end of the street, which is inside an art gallery that in older days was the town bank. Enjoy the delicious food and top notch drinks they have to offer complimentary to festivalgoers. They even offered free swag if you made a social media post with the hashtag “lyftlounge.”
Summertime, Red Carpet & After Party
Our Summertime experience began by getting to engage with the cast and crew at the Red Carpet event. The cast is filled with young, energetic youths, extraordinarily lively, and constantly supportive of each other. When we all went to see the film, we saw why. Throughout the film the cast was cheering, hooting, and hollering.
“Summertime” is director Carlos Lopez Estrada’s follow up to his 2018 hit, “Blindspotting.” Weaving through the many interconnected lives of numerous youths in Los Angeles, “Summertime” is framed around the poetry of its extraordinarily talented cast members. The story is only a vague outline to let these stupendous kids run free, and knowing that it’s truly their words coming out of their mouths makes their performances that much more powerful.
True emotions of teenage angst are at the forefront, suffering under racism, sexual ostracism, relationship trouble, and even a sly nod toward overnight fame. The cast is almost entirely people of color, and shows both a people and a side of the city that has not been seen before in mainstream cinema.
Some might get frustrated by the scattered narrative and quick jumping around the film does with the characters, and the lack of big stakes in the plot. But this is a movie that was built upon rhythm and words, and could almost be classified as a musical. It was a wonderful film to open Sundance with, and sure to be a success when it hits general release.
Following the screening, we all decamped to the Lyft Lounge and mingled with the cast and crew at an exclusive opening night party!
The Painter and the Thief Screening
The second film we saw wrapped up our night, and it held a few surprises. Up for the World Cinema Documentary Competition, “The Painter and the Thief” involves the unique true story of Czech painter Barbora Kysilkova, who loses two of her most precious paintings to art thieves. When the police arrest the culprit, she finds he is an intriguing new subject to paint, and even engages in an unlikely friendship with this troubled individual.
Shot over the course of three years, Barbora’s journey covers numerous ideas, like forgiveness, addiction, and what humanity resides in the type of people who steal. Director Benjamin Ree has managed to bring together an engrossing tale out of some 250+ hours of footage, and at times its extraordinary drama almost makes it feel like a typical narrative film.
It’s striking, unpredictable, and would be a fine choice on anybody’s ballot for best World Cinema Documentary. Along the same lines as last year’s hit documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” it even teaches its audience a wonderful message of compassion. As Barbora said herself after the screening, “I just did what I felt I must do as a human being.”
Our Sundance 2020 day 1 may have only included two movies, but both were dense and highly entertaining. Here’s hoping the upcoming days are just as exciting.