Photographs and ramblings about the sites and films in the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. This post is a little more film heavy, and features a quick recap of 11 films from the festival. Snooow! SNOW!

Part 1 of my visit to Park City complete with a few short movie reviews HERE.

Bundled and ready to go for a full day of movies.

The morning is blue and lovely. We’re rushing to catch an 8:30 AM flick.

The first light touches the tops of buildings scattered along the drive to the theater.

Here we go!!!!!!!!!

Screencap taken from Sundance website
I Origins by Dir. Mike Cahill
This film was really the whole package. Endearing, but complex characters. A follow-able, yet completely surprising story. And discusses deep spiritual and logical conundrums that are relatable yet creatively taken to a new place. It’s beautiful, sooo deeply patient and heart wrenching. I highly recommend seeing this once it’s out in theaters. I don’t feel bad giving it a 10 out of 10.

Screencap taken from Sundance website
Fishing Without Nets by Dir. Cutter Hodierne
This film chronicles the enduring hardship in East Africa that presents circumstances that lead to widely covered international piracy. From the perspective of a struggling fisherman (who fishes in the waters that have been heavily polluted by freight and dumping) with no money and a family to support, this film attempts to point no fingers and hear many voices. The actors were cast locally in East Africa, and the crew were also from on-location villages. While the film itself drags in a few points, it makes clear the issue is not as good/evil as western media presents. I gave this a 7.25 out of 10.

After two heavy films, walking out into the daylight can feel so refreshing.

We had some time for lunch before the next screening, so we walked over to nom.

And of course have some brews.

Zach had to make a stop at Bed Bath for some b-day gifts for his ma.

And in the flower shop, had to play with these adorable owls.

I just had to take one home.

I even like sewer water snow, you guys.

Screencap taken from Sundance website
God Help The Girl by Dir. Stuart Murdoch
Written by the lead singer of Belle and Sebastian, this indie-pop semi-musical features familiar English actors from the UK show Skins. I find this particular aesthetic/sound charming, quirky and fun, but I know many did not (including Zach). It delves into a bit of drama and coming of age mental issues, but between all the upbeat songs and half-choreographed awkward (in a good way) dance routines, those feel like an afterthought. I gave this film a 6.75 out of 10.

Screencap taking from Sundance website
Happiness by Dir. Thomas Balmes
This slow and quiet film documentary that records the process of getting roads, electricity and the T.V. out to the last remaining village without in the tucked away Himalayan hills of Bhutan. The story follows an 8 year old, who becomes a monk to lessen the financial burden on his mother. He wants to be social, to run free and his wide-eyed sensibilities sure make for a charming subject. The sweeping cinematography and the very articulated composition in very intimate moments did pull me out of documentary viewing mode as it felt a little inauthentic. But the setting, the subject and the pacing really does make you consider how “happiness” and “progress” are defined. I gave this a 7.75 out of 10.

Left Happiness in a rush to get to the next film. We’re meeting up with Marie and we gotta get there early!

Screencap taken from Sundance website
Dinosaur 13 by Dir. Todd Miller
This documentary follows the complex legal, emotional and financial aftermath of uncovering the largest, most-complete tyrannosaurus rex fossil in known history (at that time in 1990). The T-Rex, “Sue”, became a passion project for the Black Hills Institute, a tiny museum and research center in South Dakota. It was a very well made documentary, with commentary from almost ALMOST all sides of the “Sue” issue. “Sue” currently lives at the Field Museum in Chicago. It was an insane story! I gave this an 8 out of 10.

Back onto the shuttle with Marie to get to the midnight showing for the night.
I won’t review Cooties, I fell asleep about 2/3 of the way into the film. I’m a very sleepy person.

And the next morning it was pretty hard to wake up. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE UP MARIEEEEEEEE!
Midnight films (even when you sleep through the end) are hard to recover from!!!

But you gotta git uuup, chug alooooong…

Parking and walking is great in this weather!

Screencap taken from the Sundance website
Dear White People by Dir. Justin Simien
This film is all about the caricatures and stereotypes present in media and reality and how misguided, color-blind interpretations of this world produce grossly racist institutions, people, and perceptions. Really emphasized the drama that can arise between identity and the self. Characters that at first appear one-dimensional reveal their flaws, their depths, and their complexities that aren’t aligned with the talk they are talkin’. Was interesting to think about the ways in which identities handed to us, built up by society, or misidentified by others can sometimes seep into our actions and lives without our selves truly wanting it. And this film explores the new relationship technology that allows for building an image (YouTube, reality tv, etc.) guides thinking on an individual level. Oh. And there’s a big ol’ black face party. TOO BAD THAT SHIT ISN’T ALL FICTION. T___T Giving this film a 7.5 out of 10.

Screencap taken from Sundance website
Web Junkie by Shosh Shlam
This documentary takes us into a rehabilitation center (run by the military) for teens in China that have been diagnosed with an internet/gaming addiction. The director actually lived and slept in the facility, so much of the camaraderie between the boys and the difficulties of their treatment were captured beautifully. It really is difficult to say what is right and wrong in this situation. The root appears to be communication in the household, and the director of the facility relates this issue to one child act and the cultural norm of parents/children’s relationships in China. I gave this a 7.75 out of 10.

After this we quickly ran out to grab a bite to eat.

Furiously scarfing down food between screenings.

Screencap taken from Sundance website
Boyhood by Dir. Richard Linklater
I thought it might be gimmicky to shoot a film with the same actors for 12 years, but man, was it totally and completely fascinating. This film is just so relatable and HUMAN and delightful and interesting, I felt stupid doubting its formula. The plot follows a family as they change and grow and learn from the drama lives serves up for them, and it really is as simple and lovely as that. It’s just nice to be reminded that a great story doesn’t have to mean huge budget, big name actors, crazy editing or melodramatic circumstance. And how charming is it that this project is a time capsule of his daughter! I gave this a 9.5 out of 10.

Ah magic hour.

Alright here we go…

Screencap taken from Sundance website
Whiplash by Dir. Damien Chazelle
This was a short last year, and this year won both Jury and Audience Awards. It’s about a 19-year old first year at a competitive New York music conservatory. Fueled by the need (not want) to be as famous as the jazz legends before him, he practices intensely to the detriment of his family, friends, and romantic life. He’s noticed by a cutthroat conductor at the school, and is then emotionally and physically pushed to show him he’s the best. And this film is NOT cormy. It’s not about mentorship. It’s not about living and learning. It’s about two absolute psychos, played by magnificent actors, and compelled by stunning music and visuals. It’s so well done. I gave this a 9 out of 10.

The next morning we started off with a late lazy morning. Hung around, snacked, etc.

Screencap from the Sundance website
Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory by Dir. Michael Rossato-Bennett
This documentary is about a social worker (Dan Cohen) and his pursuit to bring personalized iPods to the elderly, especially older folk in convalescent homes with Alzheimers and dementia. While the key message is about music and its power to bring out memory and extreme reaction from deeply introverted and sick patients, it also touches on the way Western society treats old age. As a society, we kind of tuck it away, viewing aging as a weakness and thinking of the elderly as done with nothing to give. It really touched me as I recently went through the loss of my Grandmother, who suffered from dementia. They talked about the touch an older person develops, through years of living and giving. And I remember my Grandmothers touch so clearly. This film really resonated. I also cried throughout the WHOLE thing. I gave it a 9.25 out of 10.

Screencap from the Sundance website
Rich Hill by Dir. Tracy Droz Tragos and Dir. Andrew Droz Palermo
This film is about a tiny town in Missouri, a town that isn’t too well off. The documentary follows three boys as they come of age in this town with limited opportunities, cyclical problems, and absent parents. It seemed like such a hopeless story, children dragged into limited opportunities by parents who also had limited opportunities. It was really just a profile on a kind of place that does exist across the United States (even if it’s not often the center of the news). I gave it a 9 out of 10.

After two heavy HEAVY documentaries, I opted out of seeing the final two films for the day. I convinced Zach to come sledding with me…
which was VERY thrilling, especially in this lime green snow suit.

All bundled up and ready to hit the ski slope with the sled!
It was very exhilarating. We were on the hill for a solid 15-20 minutes. Some parts were REALLY fast, some parts were scenic and lovely, it was just an awesome end to what was a very emotionally exhausting fest.

And of course I said goodbye to Utah in my sparkly sweater.

I hope my ramblings weren’t too boring and annoying.

Thanks for reading, and as always…

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

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