The key, for those of us who festival, is not to fall prey to either the hype that is thick and floating as heavily in the air as the particulate that causes the inversion to hang over the Salt Lake Valley in those last two weeks of January nor the germs which, honestly, are EVERYWHERE and will absolutely cut you down and lay you flat and cause you to miss the film that everyone, and I do mean everyone, is talking about and that you just happen to have tickets to see.
I fell for the hype this year. I did not fall for the germs. I don't regret that I fell for the hype simply because I at least can contribute to the conversation and I always like to be able to contribute thoughtfully to the conversation, especially about film. I'm grateful, honestly, that I did not fall for the germs. They were NASTY this year and those who did get them were not happy. Not happy at all.
I feel as if I should review all the films that I saw, but honestly, the reviews of every single film screened at Sundance this year are available elsewhere and my reviews tend to be particularly personal and we all know I'm rather a strange little fairy and the fuzzy way I see film is rarely the way that others see them.
Moments. Connections. Convergence. Those are the reasons that those of us who festival, festival. I know this, I believe this, I get my soul re-charged every time I jump in and participate. Because we all really do participate. We're not simply observers standing on the edges, sitting in dark rooms with light flickering on the screens before us, the passionate years work of filmmakers unfolding before us, while they hold their breath and hope that we might just applaud their effort. No, we're collectively there to celebrate, to hope together that one more story might inspire us to perhaps be an even better version of ourselves.
While I sat on a cold stone floor, in the darkest moments just before dawn, waiting for the ticket office to open, I chatted with a stranger about the films I had seen and the films he had seen. About our lives. Somehow the conversation became one of pornography and farming. Bondage and GMOs. Kink and Monsanto. Favorite dildos and favorite seeds. You can't make this stuff up.
Negotiating our way down Parley's Canyon, I concoct a picnic between the front seats. Crackers and olives and imported cheeses and arugula and beets and raw sprouted goodness. Kombucha. Real napkins and a tablecloth. We're rushing from one film screening to another. I throw my head back and cackle that we can thank all those years with Jerry for this movable feast. If there's one thing I know how to do, it's to keep you well fed while you festival.
I woke every morning to fresh oatmeal with a plethora of delicious mix-ins and fresh squeezed beet juice. While I was out until the wee early morning hours, my professor was keeping our home, the dogs, his son, and even me, all in one piece. There was extra love and presents on the morning of my birthday. My professor willingly and graciously and unselfishly shared me with the festival that so fiercely claims my heart for those ten days. I know it was not easy to do. I love him for loving me that much.
Five films that I believe every single one of you should go see:
FRUITVALE. I gave this film a standing ovation the evening I saw it. I also said, that night, which was only the second night of Sundance, that it was possibly the best film of the festival. It actually did win the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award. It is a film about humanity and how we treat the people we love as well as the people we do not even know. You know, a film a girl like me is going to wrap her arms around and hug fiercely. Go see it.
THE MACHINE WHICH MAKES EVERYTHING DISAPPEAR. I have no idea if you'll ever be able to see this documentary. However, if you can. See it. Please. It's the most beautiful and delicate film and it literally made my own heart explode. That's all I need to say.
DIRTY WARS. One of the most intriguing and honest documentaries I have seen in a long time. I was happy to bear witness to this film.
THE STORIES WE TELL. Sarah Polley. Her own story becomes all of our stories. We all have a story to tell. This is one beautiful film. Go see it.
THE CRASH REEL. This one is really personal for me. I just think we all need to be better informed about the after effects of TBIs and how those of us who experience them might, perhaps, think differently.
AFTER TILLER (okay, one more!) Because I'm a doula, because I believe that this is a conversation we must continue to have, because this film was done so carefully and beautifully, I believe that everyone should see it so we can continue to keep talking about it.
So how will I now live the next 300 odd days until the next Sundance? I have some ideas. There are OTHER festivals, you know? Lots of real life living to do. Lots of love and glitter to share far beyond the edges of film reels and the stories told on a screen.