Sundance at BAM logoFor the past couple of years I have made the trip out to Brooklyn to watch the Sundance at BAM program that happens every May.  My focus is generally on the short film programs.  This year I opted to forgo the trip to Brooklyn and instead headed to the free screenings, at the Soho Apple store, of four of their films.  There was a Q&A afterwards.  The films were:

FCU: Fact Checkers Unit [Director: Dan Beers, 9 min, Sony HD Cam, US]
“After being assigned to check a bizarre fact about Bill Murray, two magazine employees break into Bill’s house to spy on him.”
Something I had seen online last year that I enjoyed.   I was surprised to see that it made the leap from an online video to Sundance.

Chonto (trailer) [Director: Carson Mell, 15 min, Sony HD Cam, US]
“Wilted rock idol Bobby Bird literally tries to buy a friend when he adopts a monkey from a zoo in South America.”
Really interesting animation. Simple, with the director’s moving mouth edited in when the characters talk.

Man [Director: Myna Joseph,15 min, Sony HD Cam, US]
“Maggie and her sister form an unusual bond during an encounter with a young man.”
My favorite film of the four. Many intimate awkward moments.  I kept almost looking away.

Sick Sex (trailer) [Director: Justin Nowell, 12 min, Sony HD Cam, US]
“Amanda has a fever. Kevin is horny.“
My least favorite of the four but great to see because it perfectly illustrated a point brought up at the post-screening discussion that was made about production value.

So, the two interesting things from that discussion were:

  • Sundance had the foresight to start accepting films that have been shown on the internet.  It is about time that other film festivals get with the program around this issue. Some of the most exciting film/video work right now is happening on the internet and having a moratorium on the screening of films shown on the internet doesn’t make sense anymore.  All this does is confuse filmmakers and it complicates the film festival submission process.  Besides, as one of the filmmakers pointed out, experiencing a film alone at your computer is a very different experience than watching that same film projected in a room with other people.  The internet snobbery must end!  That is the end of that rant.
  • Someone asked about what the minimum level of production value is required for a film to be selected.  Sundance short film programmer Trevor Groth insisted that it was all about the vision and the story telling rather than explosions, big budgets or stars.  He suggested though that when it comes to what resources filmmakers commit to their films, they should pay attention to the genre of the film. My take on the whole production value issue is: make sure folks can hear the sound.  We all eventually learnt that the hard way.

Overall an enjoyable screening.  I was disappointed though that the brilliantly written, directed AND produced New York film Pariah [Adepero is flawless in it!] that screened at this year’s festival was not part of the Sundance @ BAM selection. 

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