POV’s series producer Yance Ford is at the Sundance Film Festival. She has been blogging and twittering from Park City this week.
I’m back from Sundance, wrinkled from the red-eye and in full possession of a Sundance sore throat. Right now it’s snowing in New York, and if you squint hard, Gotham looks a little like Park City, Utah, did all week. My Sundance 2010 wrapped with two fantastic panels, and a reception for the Sundance Institute/Skoll Foundation Partnership.
Skoll and the Sundance Institute came together to support the development and production of documentaries that examine “social entrepreneurs” and the work they do to affect change in their communities. The first film to come of this partnership is Gayle Ferraro‘s To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America. Featuring Dr. Muhammad Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace prize and a pioneer of micro-financing, To Catch a Dollar chronicles the first year of Grammen America in its first U.S. location (in Queens, New York) and the women who receive loans from the organization. If you’re still in Park City, make time to catch this inspiring film.
I hinted at the Web 3.0 panel in a previous post, but now that I’m back, it deserves more thorough coverage:
The Web 3.0 panel was amazing! Moderated by Wendy Levy, geeks from Google, Seed.com, AOL and others presented examples of what Web 3.0 will look like: “à la carte functionality fueled by raw data with Wherever, Whenever, Whatever portability.” Rooted in what the panelists described as “data-driven storytelling,” Web 3.0 will be a candy store for filmmakers in general and documentary filmmakers in particular. Built on the guiding principle that all raw data should be accessible and available, 3.0 can enhance a film about say, urban education, with dynamic user experiences driven by data about urban education. It’s hard to explain without sounding like an idiot, but the clearest example was a map of the growth of Walmart presented by the Google geek. Imagine a graphic of the continental United States; then imagine a pulsing green dot that pops up in a corner of Arkansas. That dot is the first Walmart store. Then imagine a pulsing green dot appears on the map every time a new Walmart store opens. This map begins to fill up with the green dots and they spread across the country. The speed at which the dots appear is proportionate to the actual span of time between store openings. So Walmart begins as a single sleepy green dot in 1962. Soon, dots are popping up all over the map soon and the last/next dot is — 2010. Get it? With real world data behind this cool image, Web 3.0 has enabled both a contemporary and a historical look at the growth and expansion of the largest retail chain in America. Knowing about the growth of Walmart and seeing the growth of Walmart are two different things, and frankly, seeing it is astounding. If you’re confused by my convoluted explanation, keep an eye out for the podcast &mdash it’s exciting stuff that anyone interested in storytelling should be learning about now.
Every year, the problem with Sundance is that you can’t get to everything you want to see. I wish I had made it to Joan Rivers—A Piece of Work by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern (In My Corner, POV 1999). Joan Rivers—A Piece of Work was edited by Penny Falk, my neighbor and editor of the films Smile ’til it Hurts, Election Day (POV 2008), Toots and others. Yay Penny! I also missed Waiting for Superman by Davis Guggenheim, Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child and Catfish. Check out Sean Farnel‘s mysterious and brief write-up on Catfish. The list of things I wish I had seen also includes two narrative films, The Dry Land and Blue Valentine. If you’ve seen either one, post a comment with your take below (but no spoilers please!)
Though POV has returned to NYC, the Sundance Film Festival continues through Sunday. The official Festival website has great content that you should know about like the Meet the Artist video interview series. You’ll also find a host of other video content, interviews and articles at the Festival’s main site. Finally, the ever- reliable doc blogs will continue to cover the festival through Sunday. Check out www.indiewire.com , Karina Longworth‘s new gig, www.voicefilm.com, Filmmaker Magazine‘s coverage and the venerable AJ Schnack at his blog All These Wonderful Things. If you’re at the festival, tweet @povdocs with news on any of our films: The Oath, My Perestroika and Last Train Home. The jury and audience awards are handed out Sunday — fingers crossed.