POV’s series producer Yance Ford is at the Sundance Film Festival. She’ll be blogging and twittering from Park City throughout the week.
I’ve been looking forward to Sundance 2010 … never mind that my own procrastination and late-night laundry nearly wrecked my travel plans. But as a wise and witty producer pointed out to me this morning, I’m fortunate enough to have clothes to pack and a home to return to, and in the end I made it onto Jet Blue flight 87.
If, like me, you’re flying off to Sundance Land, where the real world is light years away, don’t forget to make a donation to your organization of choice to support relief efforts in Haiti. (And of course, give to the relief effort even if you’re not coming to Sundance.) It took me two minutes to donate via text message. Read more about ways to give.
So I’m writing this blog post on the flight. Along with 200 or so other industry folks, I’m at 34K feet, and headed to the snowy slopes of Park City, UT. The associate producer of Memories of Overdevelopment, Yukiko Niigata, is seated next to me. (The first two screenings of that film have sold out already — exciting stuff.) Journalist Amy Goodman is also on board my flight. She is serving on panel organized by the Sundance doc fund titled Saving Democracy, which takes place on Wednesday, January 27, at 1:30 p.m. at the Filmmaker Lodge. Moderated by Michael Ratner (President, Center for Constitutional Rights), the panel features Goodman, filmmakers Alex Gibney (Casino Jack and The United States of Money) and POV alum Laura Poitras (The Oath). It should be a fascinating and provocative discussion, given the recent Supreme Court decision on corporate and union spending in political campaigns. I can’t wait to hear what all the panelists have to say about the Supreme Court, democracy and implications for documentary film and the folks who make them.
Speaking of which, might the Supreme Court decision, which ruled that corporations and unions can spend freely to support political campaigns, actually be a boon for independent filmmakers? Imagine all the commissioned “docs” (remember the one about Hillary Clinton?) from all points on the political spectrum that could go into production right now. The mid-term elections aren’t too far off — and neither is the next presidential election! I think motivated filmmakers should begin pitching ideas to political ad makers, lobbyists, their favorite investment banks or local union; this could spell payday for the funny, smart but almost always broke doc community. So sharpen up those pitches, filmmakers! Your work-for-hire could be at the center of the next election! Seriously, though, anyone interested in the constitutional granting of rights reserved for human beings to entities that don’t breathe air should check out the Canadian doc The Corporation from a few years ago.
But I digress…and now I want to turn my attention back to the festival.
I’m excited to jump into Festival Director John Cooper‘s vision of Sundance — it’s his first year at the helm. The run up to Sundance 2010 has had the industry buzzing. With the pronouncement, “This is the renewed rebellion. This is the recharged fight against the establishment of the expected. And this is your call to join us,” Sundance 2010 has thrown down a gauntlet, and the film industry has responded in droves. The doc lineup is stacked with filmmakers whose collective work has set an incredibly high bar. The narrative lineup — which includes the much anticipated Howl, based on the life and work of Allen Ginsberg, is also humming. We’ll see how the sales frenzy (or lack thereof) is affected by this Sundance “Re-________.” I hope we all respond by ratcheting down the market vibe and ratcheting up old-fashioned film festival fun (imagine that!). In yesterday’s opening conference, Robert Redford described Sundance 2010 as a festival that’s “going back to [its] roots“. The NEXT track — a selection of no-budget or lowbudget films — is the festival’s clearest reach back to these roots, by reminding us what a “low budget” really is. I’m looking forward to what the rest of this reinvention feels like.