SUNDANCE RECAP – DAYS 1 and 2
Photographs of snow (sorry, I can’t get enough) and wanderings through Park City, Utah. Also some short thoughts on each of the movies scene in the first two days.

Hello there – just a few notes up front before I begin this long rambling post.

1) How did I get to go to Sundance?
I first went to Sundance as a volunteer through an internship program 2 winters ago. I worked at UMOCA in Salt Lake City for the New Frontier (art section) of the Sundance fest. Last winter Alyssa and I went back to Sundance (we both went the winter before) to enjoy the festival, and this year I was invited back to come enjoy as well. I’m an extremely lucky girl to have kind people around me very invested in film, so I was given a bed and a pass to enjoy the week.

2) Why are you so critical!
Hahah, well maybe I only feel this way. Perhaps it was going through an art degree that really brings the watchful and judgmental eye out with any creative project. I’m not a film studies expert. I don’t know much about movies and film. I’m solely judging on my personal reflection of the work in comparison to what I’ve seen, what I wish I was seeing in popular media, etc.

Alright, let’s jump into the week.

WEDNESDAY – JANUARY 22

In my mind all of Utah’s mountains are purple.


Again – I am just fascinated with snow and what happens when it is even just a little bit cold.
LOOK THE WATER FROZE COMING OUT OF THIS PIPE. So amazing.



I love the sticks that poke through the snow!


Fresh snow, gotta get those prints up in there.


How do even the tiniest sprouts come through the layers of snow?


Borrowed this puffy jacket from my cousin who used to live on the East Coast.
I’ve borrowed this jacket countless times. Thank you, Keri!


Sunshine kept the weather pleasant and my love for staying outdoors (even in a bit of a chill) going strong.


The first movie I saw was Skeleton Twins.


Screencap taken from the Sundance website.
Skeleton Twins by Dir. Craig Johnson
Because it was pretty melodramatic and formulatic in plot, but of course had charming moments (as you can pretty much guarantee with Kristen Wiig and Bill Hadar), I would give this flick a 4 out of 10.
I was just disappointed by its over-structuring of story and for a bit of a contrived set of problems.


Screencap taken from the Sundance website.
Happy Christmas by Joe Swanberg
I loved the nuanced relationship between family members, and the unique voices of familiar actors.
The relationships were interesting, thought out and healthy (weird!!!), and while the story was less action/plot driven and more about a candid look into the everyday, I quite enjoyed that after the first film’s melodrama.
I would give this film a 7.5 out of 10.



The sun was setting by this point in the day. Only two movies down and the sun starts to set? Nooo!


Wandering to find the car…of course means taking advantage of snow piles in passing.


Jumping on mildly unpacked snow makes for sore thighs.


A long walk past the car and onto the next theater.


I love the blues in Utah!!!!!!!!!!!


For attempting playfulness, this mural sure evokes quite the terrifying feeling.


Warm street lights on the cool blue snow – are you kidding me!


Passed by the Source, an installation of video interviews with various artists by Doug Aitken.


Each interview was packaged to be digestible, interesting and intellectual – but the bite-sized format didn’t do justice to many of the artists.
While I can understand its context at the festival, the audience, etc., I just thought the snapshots of the conversations were too much about the interviewer, and not enough about the how and why of the artist.

I’m mean!


Pizza and beer for dinner, yes please.


Oh and onion rings too. 🙂


This pizza joint is covered by beer cans of all designs, patterns and colors.


And then we walked over to the Egyptian to see two more films, back to back.


Screencap taken from the Sundance website.
Land Ho! by Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz
Ex-brother-in-laws escape to Iceland, where they potty-mouth their way through scenic landscapes, hip clubs and hot springs.
This story of friendship is a quiet (well, maybe not in language) look at loneliness, companionship and aging. The two leads really connected, but I think I would have 100% enjoyed Land Ho! if it was a short. It did get picked up by Sony Classics, so it should be coming out in the near future if you’re interested. I gave Land Ho! a 6.5 out of 10.


Screencap taken from the Sundance website.
Dead Snow; Red vs. Dead by Tommy Wirkola
Sundance has a set of films selected for the “Midnight” experience. These films are offbeat, violent and usually comedic. This one was about Nazi zombies. Yeah. Lots of blood, lots of intestines, lots of screaming (on and off screen). And of course because I’m cursed with sleepiness, I did manage to fall asleep in the middle of this one. Pretty amazing considering the entire audience was constantly laughing, shouting or screaming. Zach’s rating for Dead Snow; Red vs. Dead was: 7.5 out of 10. If you’re into splattergore, horror, etc., you’ll be down.

THURSDAY – JANUARY 23

After getting back from the midnight film, I finally fell asleep around 2:30 AM.
After a slow start to the morning, we were off to rush to catch the first of the day.


Screencap taken from the Sundance website.
Low Down by Director Jeff Preiss
This film is about Joe Albany, a jazz pianist with massive talent and a nasty drug addition. Through his daughter’s eyes (Amy, played by Elle Fanning), the story shows nasty event after nasty event. Jo sees some traumatic things and her situation with her father isn’t the greatest. Her alcoholic mother, heroin-addict pop and her epileptic boyfriend are just a few of the characters in her world. I was let down by a rather disappointing and detached depiction of Amy. She’s seen a lot, but we never really see or understand her feelings or motives for anything. For such stale character development (even though it was apparently co-written by the real life daughter of Joe Albany), I have to give Low Down a 5 out of 10.



Another theater switch.


Screencap taken from the Sundance website.
Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter by the Zellner Brothers
Perhaps I’m a sucker for stories about imaginative lonely people, or I really love Rinko Kikuchi, but I just thoroughly enjoyed everything about this film. From her quirky fits of frustration from her cramped, monotonous world, to her stubborn acceptance of a fictional film’s story (leading her on a treasure hunt through winter in Minnesota), I just loved this character and everything she did onscreen. I gave this film an 8.5 out of 10.


Doesn’t this look like perhaps at first glance it could be a tree? It’s just a twig in the ground.
Look at it’s “leaves”!



We’re all settling into this next theater. Looking back on this photo and thinking that this was the audience that I watched such a horrific and gruesome serial killer movie with is great.


Screencap taken from the Sundance website.
Killers by the Mo Brothers
Full of bloody violence, ridiculous scenarios, and reckless killing, Killers is totally fun and fucked up. It’s completely brutal, yet retains that sense of composure and humor as found in Battle Royale. Would be fun to watch with a big group of like-minded messed up friends who wanna watch a little violence and a lotta serial killer action together. I gave this a 7.5 out of 10.



After watching such a violent movie, it’s totally important to get a few tacos.


mmmm, warmth.


Just enough time for a quick beer before the last screening of the night.


Screencap taken from the Sundance website.
2 Girls 1 Cake by Jens Dahl
This was 1 short that was part of Shorts Program 3. Overall the shorts program was enjoyable, a few odd clonks in there – but hilarious and oddly moving stories (like 2 Girls 1 Cake) stood out. Yes. That’s a cake. Made of shit. That’s the ticking bomb in the entire scene, and man it pays off. I rated the shorts program as a whole with a 6.7 out of 10.

And that wraps up day 2.

The next day we saw 6 movies. Yeah. So I’m going to split the posts up because I just need to wrap up here!

Hope you enjoy my 2 cents and some pretty views of Utah.

Much love friends.

Posted by:sarahwaldo

By day I'm a content producer at an arts org in Los Angeles, by night I am the overly apologetic brain and face of sleepywaldo.blog

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