By: Monteque Pope-Le Beau
Images By: The Sundance Film Festival
Here in the beauty that is Park City surrounded by tall snowcap mountains The 2015 Sundance Film Festival has returned with an outstanding selection of films, filmmakers and artist of which has made this years festival one to remember.
From Robert Redford’s wonderfully fun film “A Walk In The Woods” to Director Adam Salky’s shockingly real film “I Smile Back” about redemption. There has been some wonderful films this year with something for everyone; even for the children with wonderful films like “Shaun The Sheep” and “Operation Arctic”.
It has now been two weeks since the the beginning of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and the real enjoyment for this year has been finding those wonderful hidden gems in the mist of a cinema fest, but here they are.
What Happened, Miss Simone? 102 min
Showcase tortured artist Nina Simone a classically trained musical genius and civil Rights icon; Nina Simone is one of the most gifted and loved artist, but at the end of the day she is also the most misunderstood. Known for her deep soulful sound. There was no thought given or help to her (dark night of the soul) she was going though as an artist, in her family and in a racist time as a black women, yet she struggled to hold on to that which was most important to her…. her art as she gave all she had to give to the movement.
Director Liz Garbus Masterful shows the trapped and tortured world of Nina Simone by using never before heard tapes, rare archival footage, and interviews with close friends and family. Director Liz Garbus paints a rare and almost unbelievable riveting story of a true artistic icon
How To Change The World 112 min
This is the story of how Greenpeace started. When a small eclectic group of young journalists, scientists, and hippies saw that something needed to be done to stop the devastation being cause to the environment; they stepped up to make a differences and to change the world. With their opposition to a U.S. atomic test on an Alaskan island, they jumped into the fight in an aging fishing boat heading straight to the test site. With nothing, but hope and faith on their side they began the long journey which would be the building blocks of the world wide organization we now know as Greenpeace. The only weapon they had was the power of images, which changed the way people saw the way others treated nature and the environment. “How To Change The World” is a well told inspirational story of how a group of dreamers with nothing to lose saw a problem and tried to become the solution.
Bronze 115 min
It is a long way from when Hope Ann Greggory won the bronze medal for the women’s gymnastics in 2004. Once an American hero, today she is a washed up nobody living in her small hometown. Stuck in the past she is bitter and upset trying to deal with how the world has forgotten her. Hope is given a chance to come back by way of a young adoring protégé. Now she must choose whether she is going to become mentor to the promising young gymnast or stay the bitter witch and destroy the last chance Hope has left. “Bronze” is Director Bryan Buckley’s comedic masterpiece which is both fun and thoughtful.
Slow West 84 min
What you do when your young and in need of the one you love? Well if you are Jay, a 17 year old Scottish aristocrat you go on a quest to the American to find the one you love. He travels to the wild west of the nineteenth century where life is rough and it does not take much to lose ones life. When a mysterious stranger comes along and starts to travel with Jay, it is made clear that this could be a blessing or the beginning of a nightmare where Jay is pushed to the edge of losing everything he holds dear. With the wonderful western landscape as the backdrop, “Slow West” unfolds. It is a surreal story of love and lost that is both heartbreaking while uplifting.
Call Me Lucky 105 min
Bobcat Goldthwait’s brilliant documentary, about Barry Crimmins is lightning bolt of change with his brand of in your face comedy. He is know for being a outspoken political activist, but few know is also reason we have powerful child abuse laws on the books today. He fought for change on many levels; political, social, cultural and U.S. policy for decades. As Barry Crimmins’s life unfolds the many layers of who the public thought he was falls away revealing a man who has gone thought a lot in his life time which is the driving force of his activism. Barry Crimmins is just a man who want to make the world a better place for others and “Call Me Lucky” is a moving experience you will never forget.
Homesick 102 min
Charlotte is looking for love. She is not getting it from her distant mother nor her alcoholic father. Charlotte lives in place of lacking and searching. Even though she is dating her best friend’s brother and teaching young children to dance there is a hopelessness to here life until Charlotte find out she has a half brother. As they pursue a relationship and get to know each other the boundaries of what they are and what they want to becomes is blurred; allowing the pair to explore the forbidden and dark side of their sexual attraction. This is a complex and intriguing film from Director Anne Sewitsky. “Homesick” is well told, but it is also a cautionary tale about self destructing behavior when the love at home is no where to be found.
Chorus 96 min
The loss of a loved one is hard, but the loss of a child is even harder.
When a couples year old little boy goes missing. Their life begins to fall apart little by little, brick by brick the world that they know is destroyed. As the pressure mounts along with the anger and frustration their marriage begins to crumble. Leaving them to go their separate ways. Christophe escaped to the beaches of Mexico where he lives in a hut. Irène copes with her lost by being apart of an ancient music choir It is when the remains of their child is discovered 10 years after his disappearance in Montreal that the couple must come back together one more time to finish the journey they had started together and heal the pains of the past. Director François Delisle tells a profound story which is beautifully poetic with sad notes.
The Hunting Ground 102 min
When your child goes off to college are they truly safe?
Chances are, they are not!
From the creators of “The Invisible War” comes the documentary “The Hunting Ground” which is a monumental exposé of rape culture on college campuses where one in five women in college are sexually assaulted. This is a hard nose look at the epidemic that reaches into the very soul of our universities, colleges, and elite institutions of learning. Where only a fraction of rapes are reported. With a revealing look at the brazen coverups, victim blaming and the ultimate insult in which perpetrator are never punished for their crimes. Very few if any are ever punished for their crimes. “The Hunting Grounds” gives you an insight look at what it feels like to be a victim isolated and alone with no one to turn to; it also shows and captures the courageous and bold survivors who decided to fight and not let those who have harmed them along with those who stand by their perpetrators get away without justice anymore. This is a courageous and a must see documentary.
The Stanford Prison Experiment 122 min
What happens when someone is given power over another in a controlled environment?
The Stanford Prison Experiment is a disturbing documentary which focuses on the study of psychology imprisonment by Dr. Philip Zimbardo in the summer of 1971. Twenty four male undergraduates were apart of the study. Set in a simulated jail. The Twenty four male undergraduates were divided into their study role with some assigned to be guards and others assigned to be prisoners. With the stage being set what follows is absolute horror with power hungry and sadistic guards and prisoners who are doing everything they can to survive. “The Stanford Prison Experiment” is a harsh look at how human beings can suddenly become monsters in the light of day and in the name of science.
There has be such diversity among the films and filmmaker this year. With a wide range of fresh new voices, Sundance continues to live up to its mission.
The Sundance Film Festival®
The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Whiplash, Boyhood, Rich Hill, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Little Miss Sunshine, sex, lies, and videotape, Reservoir Dogs, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, An Inconvenient Truth, Precious andNapoleon Dynamite, and through its New Frontier initiative has showcased groundbreaking media works by artists and creative technologists including Chris Milk, Doug Aitken, Palmer Luckey, Klip Collective and Nonny de la Pena. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. 2015 Festival sponsors to date include: Presenting Sponsors – HP, Acura, SundanceTV and Chase Sapphire Preferred®; Leadership Sponsors – Adobe, Airbnb, Grey Goose® Vodka, LensCrafters, Southwest Airlines and YouTube; Sustaining Sponsors – Blundstone Australia Pty Ltd, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Chobani, LLC, Omnicom, Stella Artois® and VIZIO. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. sundance.org/festival
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and new media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Sin Nombre, The Invisible War, The Square, Dirty Wars, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. JoinSundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.