Politics in Play at Sundance, A Report from Slamdance and Krumping Hits Park City
by Eugene Hernandez, Jonny Leahan, and Karl Beck
With just 364 days until the inauguration of the president of the United States, politics is on people's minds here in Park City. Al Gore has been spotted at various events around town this week, while some attendees buzzed Tuesday about the results of the Iowa Caucus at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser Monday night at East Street Brasserie in honor of David Petersen's "Let The Church Say Amen," about a Washington D.C. church.
A number of Sundance docs tackle politics and social issues this year, including "Farmingville," which looks at immigration, "Control Room," an examination of media coverage of the war in Iraq, "Persons of Interest," about the pursuit of Muslim American's in the wake of 9/11, "Deadline," about the death penalty, "Chisholm '72 - Unbought & Unbossed," which offers a portrait of the congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, and "The Hunting of the President," an examination of the pursuit of former president Bill Clinton.
A group of leading producers and filmmakers have joined forces to support the activist website and political action committee, MoveOn.org. MoveOn's "Bush in 30 Seconds" campaign is recruiting ten filmmakers for the second phase of the initiative, an effort that will involve the creation of a series of ten 30 second commercials directed by well-known filmmakers. The spots will be released every two weeks starting this spring. The winning entries and the top finalists in phase one of the "Bush in 30 Seconds" campaign, which asked filmmakers to "tell the truth about their experiences under the Bush Administration," will be screened at the party.
Later this week, Howard Dean supporters will host "Dean Dance," a fundraiser in support of the candidate's campaign, with screening of ads participating in a competition.
Winners were announced Tuesday in the annual Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Awards. Selected for 2004 are Gyorgy Palfi ("Taxidermia") from Europe, Andrucha Waddington ("House of Sand") from Latin America, Miranda July ("Me and You and Everyone We Know") from the United States. This year, a winner from Japan was not selected, but Kosuke Hosokaim ("Tepid Love") was awarded an honorable mention. The winners receive a $10,000 cash award and a guarantee from Japanese broadcaster NHK to air their completed project. [Eugene Hernandez]
DISPATCH FROM SLAMDANCE
After a successful opening on Saturday, Slamdance continued this week with more sold-out screenings and special events. Sunday's screening of choice was the world premiere of Bryan Poyser's "Dear Pillow," which tells the story of porn writer Dusty Meyer and his unusual relationship with Wes Slack, a 17-year old grocery boy who becomes his protege.
Rusty Kelley, who plays Wes, is a real-life high school student who makes his own short films, but has a promising future as an actor after this wonderfully awkward performance.
On Monday, festival-goers were buzzing about "Graveyard Alive - A Zombie Nurse in Love," written and directed by Elza Kephart. The campy horror comedy chronicles the gruesome adventures of nurse Patsy Powers, who is bitten by a zombie patient and subsequently develops a taste for human flesh. "I think the lack of money was the biggest challenge in getting the movie made," Kephart told indieWIRE. "But we decided we were just going to go ahead and do it no matter what... we just knew that we had to."
Yesterday attendees packed the house for a screening of Nany Hower's "Memron," one of several films having its world premiere at the festival. This timely picture chronicles the downfall of Memron, once the world's most successful company, and follows its former employees as they foolishly attempt to rise from the ashes of corporate fraud.
Slamdance has announced that its annual surprise special screening will be festival co-founder Dan Mirvish's real estate musical "Open House." The ensemble cast includes Sally Kellerman, James Duval, Jerry Doyle, and Ann Magnuson. It will screen today at 8:30 p.m. in the festival's main screening room at the Treasure Mountain Inn at 255 Main Street. Several of the cast members will be attending the screening, including the Oscar-nominated Kellerman. [Jonny Leahan]
KRUMPING ON MAIN ST.
Fashion and pop photographer, commercial music video director and now documentary filmmaker, David LaChapelle is making his debut at Sundance with the stunning short film "Krumped." Screening in shorts program six, a program of doc shorts, "Krumped" offers a stylized portrait of south Los Angeles youth who turn to dance as an alternative to the pervasive violence that surrounds them.
Krumping is aggressive, rapid, theatrical and often resembles fighting despite its lack of physical contact. Taking its origins from Clowning, pioneered by Tommy the Clown and also originating in South L.A. in the mid-'90s, krumping not only involves freestyle dance but incorporates costumes and face paint, which vary in styles from traditional circus clown to abstract styles which evoke Salvador Dali or an airbrush gun.
"I hadn't ever considered making a documentary before, but when I saw these kids I knew that this needed to be documented," LaChapelle told indieWIRE Sunday night at the film's party, which featured performances from several of the short film's featured dancers. Also on the dance floor were the highly sought-after choreographer brothers Rich and Tone Talauega, who produced the film and brought the story to LaChapelle after working with him on music videos.
Shot on a color-rich HD format, the film is prefaced with a statement that the speed has not been altered in any way, increasing the impact on viewers as the krump dancers move in what seem to be impossible motions at breakneck speeds. LaChapelle said that he already has more than an hour of edited content and plans to make a longer documentary about krumping.
LaChapelle added, "I just wanted to let the kids tell their story... it only gets more dramatic as they talk about their own personal stories and lives." [Karl Beck]