POV series producer Yance Ford has been at the Sundance Film Festival all week. She files one last report from Park City.
Sundance ’09 has come to an end for me. It’s 6 a.m. and I’m sitting at the Salt Lake City airport, exhausted but exhilarated from the past seven days. Oscar nominations will be announced shortly and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the POV film on the list: The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) by Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath, which will air on POV during our 2009 season.
I know that the blogosphere will have a lot to say on how “quiet” Sundance was this year. In this context, “quiet” means the lack of high-profile bidding contests for films and the requisite buzz they generate. Despite that, distribution deals for several narrative films were made at Sundance this year. If you’re interested, you can check out the wonderfully revamped Indiewire.com for more information.
I’m leaving Sundance felling good about the state of documentaries. Distribution challenges and persistent struggles for funding aside, I saw some amazing work this week. I’ve already mentioned El General and William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe — both of which POV has acquired — as highlights of the first week. The Reckoning was another film that stood out for me. Docs that I wanted to see, but missed, included The Cove, We Live in Public and No Impact Man, because the Park City Screenings were all sold out. I’ll reserve my analysis of those films until I see them. I would also point to Boy Interrupted by Dana Perry and Art & Copy by Doug Pray as standouts in the Feature Docs lineup. The Short Documentary category was also outstanding. Among my favorites were Steel Homes by Eva Weber, So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away by Annie P. Waldman and Utopia Part 3: The World’s Largest Mall in China by Sam Green and Carrie Lozano. Many of the short films from this years’ festival are available on Itunes for free for a limited time. Don’t miss them!
The doc lineup at Sundance ’09 was aesthetically varied (Lunch Break/Exit), topical (Reporter) and revealing of international struggles for justice (Burma VJ and Tibet in Song). Even though it was quiet, Sundance has jump-started the 2009 festival season with a thoughtful, provocative bang. Next up are the film festivals True/False, South by South West and others. See you there!
NOTE: It’s 7:25 a.m. mountain time, and The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) has been nominated for Best Feature Documentary! Smile Pinky by POV alum Megan Mylan (The Lost Boys of Sudan, POV 2004) has been nominated for Best Documentary Short. Congratulations to all the nominees.