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in Filmmaking
on Feb 1, 2009

I discovered while in Rotterdam that Karina Longworth at Spout tagged me to take part in the Sundance 8 Favorites Meme. So, I’m a bit late with this, but here it goes.

First, the rules:

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with listing their Sundance favorites, separated into 8 categories.
3. People who are tagged write their own blog post about their 8 favorites and include these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose 8 people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged and that they should read your blog.

Now, the 8 Questions…

1. Favorite feature: Oren Moverman, The Messenger.

2. Most problematic/interesting/thought-provoking feature: Dana Perry’s Boy Interrupted. I feel like I’m in the minority on this one, and I probably wouldn’t have responded to it as positively if I had seen it at the festival and then rushed into another screening. But, I saw it via a screener a few days before Sundance and my opinion of it went up each day following. In brief, it’s a documentary made by a mother about her own son’s suicide, and what seems to be problematic about it for a couple people I spoke to is the filmmaker’s formulation of herself as a character in the film or, perhaps, the relationship between Perry the filmmaker and Perry the subject (or witness). I, however, found it truly moving and also fascinating in the way it paid testament to her teenage son as a multi-faceted and unique person, made a sad connection to the suicide of her husband’s brother years earlier, acknowledged the complexities of mental illness, and, through its editing rhythms, captured cinematically the process of grieving.

3. Favorite short film: I liked the winner, Destin Daniel Crettin’s Short Term 12, a lovely portrait of a conflicted counselor at a home for at-risk teens that feels influenced by both Harmony Korine and Half Nelson.

4. Film most regrettably missed: The Grand Prize Winner, Push. Missed for no other reason than a fluke of scheduling.

5. Most fun party: Parties (or at least the ones I went to) were not that wild at Sundance this year. I mean, about ten years ago I went to a Sundance party up in Deer Mountain where a Famous Rock Star had sex on a bed with two girls while partygoers streamed in and out of the room. So, can a dinner count? If so, I’ll vote for the Strand Releasing 20th Anniversary dinner party, featuring a wonderful speech by James Schamus and a visibly moved Marcus Hu and Jon Gerrans (and good swag — a pre-paid Fandango/Visa credit card). If not, I’m going to vote for the Arthouse Convergence party for exhibitors that Filmmaker co-hosted just because it was a quiet and mellow place where I wound up connecting with a few filmmaker friends I hadn’t seen in a little while.

6. Best post screening Q &A: I don’t know — I mostly attended press and industry screenings. I went to a public screening of the very entertaining The Yes Men Fix the World but had to run to another screening right after. But I bet the Q&A was good.

7. Favorite non-fiction character: The increasingly crazy (in the film) Slovenian swimming star of Big River Man.

8. Most memorable moment: This year’s Sundance was for me a pleasant one thankfully lacking in what I sometimes find are are a series of bipolar highs and lows. For me, the most memorable moment was realizing I was too slow on the uptake to have figured out how and when to see Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience… and what lousy film I was watching while it unspooled nearby at the Eccles.

I’m supposed to tag eight more people, but in surveying the bloggers who have already posted I see they’ve tagged all the folks I’d think of. So, the eight people below, I don’t know if you were at Sundance — in fact, I’m pretty sure you weren’t — but you are all super-interesting and if you were, consider yourself tagged!

Charles Platt
Paul Krugman
Kevin Kelly
Mark Cuban
Susannah Breslin
Bradford Cox
Scott Kirsner (okay, you I know were there)

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