Monday, 12 January 2009

#6 Sundance Film Festival 09

We are well into the new year now and it looks like it will be a promising year for cinema. I have talked about the mainstream films that are coming out, so know it’s time to talk about the independent cinema and most importantly the film festivals. From the 15th to the 20th January, Park City in Utah will be playing host to the ‘Sundance Film Festival’ which is the largest independent film festival in the US and attacks film makers from around the world.

Sundance Film Festival has been going since 1978 however was first called the ‘Utah/US Film Festival’ in an attempt to bring film-makers to Utah. The goal of it was to showcase the potential of independent film making. Some big name movies were first shown at the Sundance including ‘Saw’, ‘Blair Witch Project’, ‘Reservoir Dogs’, ‘Clerks’, ‘Thank You For Smoking’ and ‘Napoleon Dynamite’. The new talent that has poured out of the festival such as Kevin Smith (‘Clerks’) , Steven Sodervergh (‘Sex, Lies And Videotapes’) and my favourite Quentin Tarantino ('Reservoir Dogs'). The link to the official website is below.

Sundance Film Festival Official Website

But what does 09 hold for the event? Which films look to grow and expand in popularity? First lets stars on a good note, ‘I Love You Phillip Morris’ is a… well rom-com of sorts, staring Jim Carrey and Ewen McGregor as two gay inmates at a prison. Based on true events it follows the story of Steven Russell (Carrey), a con artist and imposter who was found guilty and sent away to prison. Whilst in prison, Russell falls for cell mate Philip Morris (McGregor). After Russell is transferred to another prison he is intent on escaping to see Morris. From the trailer the film looks to be a black comedy and after success of Carrey’s last outing ‘Yes Man’ it’s shaping up to be a pretty good year for the Ace Ventura.

Now from prisons to hair salons, ‘Good Hair’ is a documentary by non other then American comedian Chris Rock. Sounds strange doesn’t it? A comedian making a documentary around African/American’s hair? In an interview with the people at Sundance, Rock said he wanted to do it after his daughter asked him “daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?” A question, I’m sure I never want to hear from my children. Anyway it inspired him to make a movie where he searches for the answer, with director Jeff Stilson behind the camera. He journeys to hair salons, styling battles and scientific laboratories. From what I have heard it sounds like it has a good chance of walking away with a Sundance award for best documentary and I know that if Rock brings his comedy to life it will be a success.

Mickey Rourke has had a pretty good start to the year. With a well deserved win at the Golden Globes for Aronofsky’s ‘The Wrestler’ things seem to be shaping up for him. ‘The Informers’ is an adaptation of a novel by Bret Easton Ellis, set in LA in the early 80’s and follows a multistrand narrative between a variety of different characters. Billy Bob Thorntan and Kim Basinger join Rourke in the story about sex, drugs and new wave, and aims to show audiences the ugly side to the glamorous face of LA. The reason I think this will be a great adaptation because the writer of the book also wrote the screenplay with Nicholas Jarecki, also the director Gregor Jordan is no stranger to the Sundance Film Festival with the films ‘Two Hands’ (1999) and ‘Buffalo Soldier’ (2001) previously showing at the festival. This sounds like a good combination to have for an independent adaptation. The director with his experience of film festivals and the writer of the book writing the screenplay just the way he likes it. ‘The Informers’ will feel right at home at the independent film festival.

I can’t wait to see coverage of the festival over the next couple of days and who walks away with the awards. So much talent has been born at this festival it will be interesting as to see the new geniuses of film making start their life in cinema.

Oliver Hunt

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