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Sundance 2011 | En Route. Literally.

Sundance 2011 | En Route. Literally.

On the flight to Salt Lake City from my home in New York City, and having my first experience with in-flight WiFi, which, you know, revelatory. Headed to Park City and to Sundance for what I think is my tenth or eleventh trip to the festival. I have always enjoyed Sundance; I think the programmers do a tremendous job culling a lineup of state of the art American independent film from what has become an absolute avalanche of submissions. I like the way the cold weather and public transportation tend to bring people together, giving the event, which is otherwise pretty spread out around Park City, a sense of community and small town energy. I know people tend to see the festival as a celebrity cluster fuck or an orgy of sponsors, gifting and privilege, but unless you’re operating a camera for Entertainment Tonight or something, I just don’t think that perception is reality for 99.99% of attendees. It really is the finest showcase for independent American movies that we have and the staff should be proud that they have maintained the important sense of discovery that drives so much interest and growth in film culture. If you doubt the impact of Sundance on the film festival universe, I encourage you to watch the lineups of major and regional film festivals from here on in; Sundance movies will be everywhere.

This year’s festival is particularly exciting for me because it is the year where I feel that, finally, my own work and collaboration as a programmer has come home to roost; there are at least a dozen films playing at the festival that were made by directors and producers whose previous films have played at my own Sarasota Film Festival; Erica Dunton, Michael Tully, Andrew Rossi, Todd Rohal, Peter Richardson, Azazel Jacobs, Kelly Reichardt, David Sington, Madeleine Olnek, Joe Swanberg and on and on. I am not only excited for these filmmakers to step into (or, in many cases, back into) the Sundance spotlight, but their validation in having their new films selected for Sundance is also empowering for a programmer like me who is hopeful that my own little event has and can continue to play a role in supporting the good work of these artists. It is the same feeling programmers get when the films they show win awards or box office recognition; a sense of pride and ownership that you somehow got it right, that your own festival contributed to the life of an important film in some small but meaningful way.

My schedule is already a shambles (too many films to see and things to do) and I think I have every hour of the next ten days roughly scheduled, but there is a long list of films I am very much looking forward to seeing. I will be writing when I can; I know myself and I know that I want to make time to write, but sometimes, it is very hard to meet al of my obligations. Still, I hope I can find the time. If you’re interested, check back often or add me to your RSS and I’ll do my best to offer my opinions when I can. In the meantime, it’s time to use the in-flight WiFi to the fullest which, for me, means listening to public radio. I remain who I am…

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