In the week that follows the Sundance Film Festival, two things arrive with regularity: Articles about how the festival has succumbed to (or advanced toward) commercialism, and previews for the Superbowl, America's premier commercial entertainment event. Though I heard many rumors of at least one Bay Area football star roaming the festival and did watch a playoff game on Main Street, there was another reason football comes to mind as the best metaphor for Sundance '07: It felt more like an NFL draft than any other year. And I mean that in the best of ways--independent films of unknown future potential commanded massive sums from suits seeking franchise gold. It was, as Anne Thompson noted in The Hollywood Reporter Jan. 26th, the biggest seller's market of all time. "Thirteen movies--10 features and three documentaries--sold to distributors, both foreign and domestic, over six days, with many more smaller deals expected to close at festival's end and beyond."
EDITORS NOTE: This story was originally published in SF360, a website for the San Francisco film community that is jointly published by the San Francisco Film Society and indieWIRE. For more, visit SF360.org.
What, with Sundance hit "Little Miss Sunshine" headed into the swimsuit competition phase of the Oscars, it was no small wonder that buyers were eager to swallow many next big things and obscure the beauty of small films outside the competition roster. Manohla Darghis raised her complaint to the level of poetry with her New York Times closer: "Independence is a boom market. It's a lifestyle choice, a state of mind, a backward baseball cap, a magazine feature, an Oscar hopeful, a mirage, a nostalgia trip. Each January it is a collective fantasy that even a doubter like me finds hard to resist because every so often a film cuts through the noise to hit you smack in the solar plexus."
Over at Movie City News, Ray Pride found that film in "Once," a film he admits he saw twice. Everyone else is talking about a love between horses and humans that, unbelievably, did dare speak its name, as the San Francisco Chronicle's Leah Garchik notes with a nod to the Film Arts Foundation's blogger Eric Henry--who somehow found a way to "act like an adult" while paying witness to the pic.
"Psycho" and psychology
While we're shining light on the after effects of "Sunshine's" Oscar nom at Sundance and for the multiplex, Lincoln Spector at Bayflicks offers this bit of sense to the Oscar discourse: "The [Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] doesn't have a single mind to think with. It contains hundreds of minds, of various levels of brightness, that choose who to vote for under the influence of sentiment, personal friendships, exposure to heavy advertising, and, odd as this may seem, what movies they actually liked. Margins of victory are top secret, but I doubt that anything like a consensus is common." Then he gets to picks for the week, always rated, and geographically diverse, including "Psycho" at the Cerrito. See you there.
[Susan Gerhard is Editor of SF360.]