News / USA

Sundance Film Festival Kicks Off

Unknowns try to make their mark

Multimedia

Penelope Poulou

The Sundance Film Festival can serve as a launching pad for small independent films and unknown artists trying to make their mark.
The Sundance Film Festival can serve as a launching pad for small independent films and unknown artists trying to make their mark.

Thousands have descended upon the small mountain resort of Park City, Utah for the 33rd Sundance Film Festival. For 10 days each year, filmmakers and actors from around the world gather in the old mining town to showcase their work. This year, 200 films are being shown out of the more than 9,000 submitted.

They represent a diversity of works. War dramas such as the film, “Kinyarwanda,” about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda deepen people's awareness of  unfathomable violence. Feature films like “The Son of No One,” a gritty story about a  young cop in a tough New York neighborhood, present a stellar cast and could make it to the Oscars next year.

There are tongue- in-cheek documentaries, such as Morgan Spurlock's “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.” The lens follows the director as he sets out to find sponsors to finance his work. In return, the “Super Size Me” director offers to show their commercial products on his film.

Spurlock believes the strategy can work for any struggling filmmaker in a down economy. “I think if you have a small compelling story and went to some company and said, 'Hey can we get a little money if we put your phone in there maybe?'  People would say, 'Sure, we can give you a little bit of money.'”

Although the festival is about small independent films and unknown artists trying to make their mark, its growing appeal and prestige attracts famous actors, directors and celebrities  One of them is Chaz Bono, the former daughter, now son, of Cher and the late Sonny Bono. Chaz used to be called Chastity. In his documentary, “Becoming Chaz,” Bono chronicles his step-by-step gender change into a man. The film premiered at Sundance.

Oscar-nominated actress Vera Fermiga also makes her directorial debut with her new drama, “Higher Ground.”

"There is this fabulous relationship in this film between two women, my character and her best friend Anika, and I love the portrayal of deep, deep friendship," says Fermiga, who also stars in the film. "I think it's rare. We've got Thelma and Louise. We need more films to remind us of the fact that in each other we remind ourselves who we can be."

At the old Miner's Hospital in Park City, the New Frontier art exhibit showcases  multimedia art  and how it interacts with users. One exhibit is “The Johnny Cash Project," a video of  country music  legend Johnny Cash, embellished by Internet users around the world.

"Essentially, what the piece allows users to do is to select a frame from the video and handcraft it, redraw the frame and incorporate their own sensibilities, their love for Johnny Cash, in different ways,” says curator Shari Frilo.

Fifty-thousand people come to this picturesque mountain town to enjoy the films, the scene, the music.  

“I want to see some of the movies just to see what the industry is going to be like the next few years and to meet some people,” says one woman.

“I personally love Sundance. It's actually my third time here and every year I come for the films, the people and the excitement around the whole event," says another visitor. "First-time filmmakers come and bring the vision in the big screen.”

But for many, Sundance means hard work.

“It's fierce. It's competitive, like the rest of the film industry," says one film publicist. "We're all friends, but we're all competing for the same people. ”

Whether for work or play, the Sundance Film Festival celebrates creativity, imagination and artistic expression.

You May Like

Photogallery US to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Expanded Ebola Effort

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Obama is to announce troop deployment, other details of US plans to fight Ebola outbreak More

China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid