Day 4 of our trip to the Sundance Film Festival was also unfortunately our last. With heavy hearts we have to go back home today, but we had a wild ride on this long weekend. We saw films of all shapes and sizes, and wish the best of luck to all in finding a distributor.
The Sundance Film Festival offers film enthusiasts a unique way to see films, sometimes months before they’re released to the general public. It also allows for the opportunity to meet and greet the cast and crew behind them. The festival runs annually in January in Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah and is something we look forward to checking out again next year.
Here’s what we managed to catch on day 4 of the festival:
Indie Directors’ Spotlight
Tucked secretly under the Cabin, one of the most popular bars in the city, this event put the well deserved spotlight on lesser known filmmakers. We discovered three, and our movie knowledge and perspective is all the better for it.
Speaking of perspective, the event was sponsored by Powerful-U, a self-help company that assists in improving your perspective on life, detailed in the book and feature documentary film “Perception: Seeing Is Not Believing,” directed by James Purpura. James shared his amazing journey from a drug pushing teen who ended up in jail, to now, appearing at Sundance and happily married.
In addition, the host of the program was writer, director and producer Ericka Nicole Malone. She previewed her upcoming sitcom “Ward of the State,” starring “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” alumni Janet Hubert. She imparted her experiences of struggling to find success as a black woman, and the institutional blocks she’s had to face.
The third guest was Matty Rich, whose career began with his debut feature “Straight Out of Brooklyn” premiering at Sundance in 1991. It won the Special Jury Prize, and he’s continued his career in both films and video games. At the event, he showed his short film “Cure,” which he is now developing into a potential TV series.
Audible Inc. is the world’s largest producer and seller of spoken-word entertainment and audiobooks. Therefore, they are proud to make their Sundance Film Festival debut as the Festival’s exclusive audio entertainment sponsor. Main Street in Park City contains several lounges for the public to take a look in and relax, but the Audible Speakeasy is one of the best. Sitting on the northern end of the street, it has plenty to offer.
A special menu of cocktails, exclusive panel events, and even sound baths are at the ready for all who enter. There are even s’more ingredients and outdoor fires provided to get you into the camping spirit. Two complementary drink tokens are given to each visitor, so you have no problem wetting your whistle.
After our events in Park City, we made our way back to Salt Lake City to catch some late night movies. “The Night House” was screening at a local independent theater house in downtown. The newest film from horror director David Bruckner, our first film of Day 4 was “The Night House.” A woman deals with the grief of losing her husband to suicide, but then starts seeing ghostly visions around the house. The lines between reality and visions begin to blur, and her alcoholism isn’t helping.
One might get the impression from the title that it’s a haunted house movie, but that’s where the film throws you a curveball. The titular night house may not necessarily be the one she’s living in! The atmospheric setting and subjection of the protagonist’s ordeal makes a legitimate question of what is real and what is an illusion, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat.
The sound design and music by Ben Lovett enhances these qualities, and the central performance from Rebecca Hall varies from overwhelming grief to half crazy rambling. She is magnificent, and gives the movie a solid character to follow. The film got so much praise that as of this morning, news broke that Searchlight Pictures are nearing a $12 Million deal to distribute worldwide. This one is a can’t miss for horror fans, and hopefully will be in theaters in October.
We walked over to the Salt Lake Library where they have a theater in the lower level for our final movie of the festival, and it was quite an eye opener! A sinister corporation has the technology of a brain implant to allow their employee Tasya, played by Andrea Riseborough, to take possession of another person’s body, and use it to commit assassinations for their business benefit. But as her mental state deteriorates, soon it becomes a game of wrestling back control of her current host.
Entered in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition and directed by famed director David Cronenberg’s son Brandon, “Possessor” was the most mind bending film we encountered and an unexpectedly memorable movie to close out Sundance with. Themes of identity, state surveillance, and memory are augmented by an ominous tone, with creative editing and unique practical special effects in the violent confrontations.
The theatrical audience from the moment the first scene began were audibly repulsed and astonished at what they were seeing, and it didn’t let up until the film ended. “Possessor” is an extreme movie, and will not be for the faint of heart. But if you’re open minded and ready for anything when the projector starts rolling, it’s an experience you’re not likely to soon forget.
That just about wraps up our coverage of this year’s festival. Let us know if there’s any good films we missed! We can’t thank the Sundance Institute enough for accommodating us on this adventure. It really was the joy of a lifetime to see such captivating cinema among an audience of people who appreciated the privilege as much as we did. Here’s to next year’s festival.