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

Iraqi Kurds Warn Baghdad While Moving Toward Independence Vote

Warning comes after Iraqi air raid kills four in Kurdish-held territory, and as most world leaders warn against secession More

Study: Childhood TB Rates Much Higher than Estimated

Research also presents first-ever estimate of new TB infections among children: nearly eight million in 2010 More

China Establishing New Silk Roads

Beijing officials promote creation of two new economic paths - so-called 'Silk Roads' - one a land-based road and another a maritime trade route 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.
Civilians Fear Mideast Violence Could Turn Into Full-Scale Wari
X
Zlatica Hoke
July 09, 2014 1:24 PM
Violence in the Middle East is escalating at a time when there are no new peace talks in sight. Israeli and Palestinian leaders have condemned the brutal deaths of three Israeli teenagers and one Palestinian teen, and have vowed to punish those responsible. But both sides also seem to be gearing up for more fighting. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Civilians Fear Mideast Violence Could Turn Into Full-Scale War

Violence in the Middle East is escalating at a time when there are no new peace talks in sight. Israeli and Palestinian leaders have condemned the brutal deaths of three Israeli teenagers and one Palestinian teen, and have vowed to punish those responsible. But both sides also seem to be gearing up for more fighting. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video American Roadside Attraction 'Dinosaur Land' Lures Visitors

A big part of the American landscape of the middle 20th century was the roadside attraction - small zoos, amusement parks or quirky museums along the highways families traveled on their way to vacation destinations. Most of those attractions are gone, but one in Virginia, a couple of hours from Washington, called Dinosaur Land, is still going strong.
Video

Video Burma Football Friendly Brings Together Battlefield Opponents

As most of Myanmar’s ethnic armies maintain a fragile ceasefire with the government, some of the troops were able to let off a little steam, World Cup - style. Steve Sandford reports from Karen State, Myanmar, also known as Burma, on a peace initiative aimed at building trust between the opposing sides of one of the world’s longest-running conflicts.
Video

Video FIFA’s Football for Hope Tournament Kicks Off in Brazil

As excitement builds toward the final matches of football's (soccer's) World Cup, another competition has kicked-off in Brazil. The Football for Hope Festival brings together underprivileged young people from around the world for an event that is less about winning than about enjoying the game and one another. Scott Bobb reports from Rio de Janeiro.
Video

Video Brazil Evictions Continue Near Future Olympic Sites

Football's World Cup in Brazil is drawing to a close leaving great sporting memories. It also leaves a legacy of controversy over evictions and land dispossessions that made way for the event. The scenario is repeating itself as Brazil prepares for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from a community near a future Summer Olympics site.
Video

Video More Americans Turning 100 Than Ever Before

An Arkansas woman who just celebrated her 116th birthday isn't as unusual as some might think. Gertrude Weaver -- officially the oldest living American and second-oldest person in the world -- belongs to a fast-growing segment of the U.S. population: people who are 100 years old or older. There are about 53,000 centenarians in the U.S. today. VOA's Julie Taboh shares their secrets to longevity.
Video

Video Caipirinhas Introduced to International Audience at World Cup

The hundreds of thousands of football fans visiting Brazil for the World Cup are consuming large quantities of caipirinhas, the national tipple based on muddled lime and the sugarcane-based spirit cachaça. VOA’s Brian Allen talks to some of the expert caipirinha purveyors in Rio and has this report.
Video

Video Ocean Sole: Turning Trash Into Art

From Kenya to Washington may seem a long way to travel to spread a simple environmental message. But one group from Nairobi is doing just that at the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Mackenzie Buckwalter has more for VOA on their work cleaning up their nation’s coastline -- and turning discarded rubber sandals into art.

AppleAndroid