Saturday, January 30, 2010
Tinsel & Tine: Because it's impossible for me to attend has many festivals as would be my wish, I would really love to spread the word to Film Festival Attendees around the world to send post to Tinsel & Tine. Please feel free to blog about what ever part of the film festival is of interest to you and do it in your own style.
Just be sure to rate each film with Tines - Rating System:* Excellent - 4 Tines * Great - 3 Tines * Good - 2 Tines * Fair - 1 Tine * Poor - Tarnished
With that being said - T & T is happy to present Carol Coombes Blog from Sundance!
I fess up. I had every good intention of writing a daily blog live from the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, but the fact that I’ve viewed 19 feature length films in 4 days – an average of 5 films a day - provided little time between watching films and sleeping to gather my thoughts and write coherently.
But let’s back-up. Sundance, hosted in the renowned ski-resort of Park City in Utah, is a 10-day annual event, and the largest independent film festival in the U.S. Famous for being famous, Sundance is not just a hub to see the best new independent and world cinema, it’s also become a destination, judging by the comments the three Texan “gals” who were sat behind me on the flight from Dallas Fort Worth to Salt Lake were making. They were traveling for celebrity spotting and partying – no films!
For those of us who make the annual pilgrimage to Sundance each year – distributors, acquisition executives, publicists, press, programmers and of course movie enthusiasts, its difficult to imagine Park City without Sundance and even more impossible to imagine this picturesque mountain town without a frosty coating of glittering flakes and elongated sculptural icicles hanging everywhere you turn. Before reviewing some of the films I managed to view this year (in part I of this review which concentrates on the LGBT titles) it’s important to digest some statistics. According to the last census count in 2000, Park City is officially home to less than 8,000 full-time residents. Sundance 2010 processed, viewed and considered a staggering total of 9,816 film submissions. Clearly the odds, if you are a filmmaker, are against you. For those filmmakers lucky enough to be accepted, Sundance offers mind-blowing exposure and attention. (photo: by Carol Coombes)
The impact of Sundance and the tourism dollars it generates for the State of Utah and specifically for condo management companies, restaurants, bars, stores and taxi/shuttle operators in the vicinity of Park City is incalculable. If you are inspired to plan a trip for yourself in 2011 make sure you put your plans into motion early. Park City does not have the hotel infrastructure of Philadelphia and the nearest airport, Salt Lake City, is a good 45 mins away. Bad weather can impact your travel and its best to plan to arrive a full day before the festival actually starts. Warm clothes, waterproof boots and a steady stock of power-bars are essential. For a minimum fee of $5 you can register for a “ticket-purchasing” time slot (usually late fall) where you have a designated on-line window of one hour to try and secure tickets to films that haven’t already been exhausted by executive pass holders and sponsors who have first dips at the tickets Without hard tickets (or an industry/press/sponsor or filmmaker pass) be warned, wait-list lines are long, the festival itself recommends a minimum of two hours. Don’t worry they don’t make you wait outside in 20 degree temperatures, but you will be asked to stand in long lines in heated tents or in the bowls of the venues themselves.
Sundance said adios to long-time head honcho Geoffrey Gilmore in 2009, and promoted respected Senior Programmer, John Cooper, to take the reigns and ride into the new decade. Under his leadership, and in a break from tradition, Sundance opened their 2010 event with one narrative feature, one documentary and one shorts program from their competition lineup.
Carol's Film Reviews- this post features Gay and Lesbian themed screenings:
HOWL selected as the Opening Night narrative feature, directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (Paragraph 175 (2000), The Celluloid Closet (1995)) stars James Franco as a young Allen Ginsberg. Mary Louise Parker and Jeff Daniels also star in minor roles. Sewing together three different but interconnected threads, HOWL marries the oratorical skills of Ginsberg as he lifts his words from the page bringing his poem “Howl” to glorious life in a pokey beat-hang out. Juxtaposed against the euphoria of Ginsberg’s reading to his peers, is a recreation of the actual obscenity trial in 1957, set in a San Francisco courtroom, where the originality and literary merit of Ginsberg’s prose is ripped apart, questioned and defended. Vibrant animation provides additional depth and meaning to the originality of Ginsberg’s “Howl”. The film succeeds on many levels, but it fails to explore in any depth Ginsberg’s character and the sexual relationships he had with other famous members of the beat generation, particularly Jack Kerouac and Neil Cassidy. While queer film programmers will be salivating to exhibit HOWL and it is 100% programmable, its difficult to gauge what audiences outside the cities of San Francisco and New York will make of HOWL because the film is wordy and clearly specific to these cities. Rating: 3 Tines
For audiences seeking a greater understanding of the “counter-culture” beat generation, it might be sensible to pair “Howl” with WILLIAM S BURROUGHS: A MAN WITHIN a new, and some could argue, the definitive documentary on the Beat Generation, the directorial debut of Yony Leyser which world premiered in Slamdance. Leyser’s in depth exploration of William S. Burroughs, a 20th Century literary icon, a self-defined homosexual, drug addict, gun enthusiast, notoriously known for shooting an apple off his wife’s head while they were both drug fueled – he missed… she died – contains never-before-seen archival footage with many of Burroughs colleagues, lovers, friends and confidents, including Allen Ginsberg, Patti Smith, Genesis P-Orridge, Gus Van Sant and John Waters. Richly researched and lovingly constructed, you really get a sense of Burroughs, the man behind the gun and the cut-up literature. Gus Van Sant was spotted in attendance at the public screening. Rating: 3 Tines
CONTRACORRIENTE (UNDERTOW) written and directed by Javier Fuentes-León and set in a tiny Peruvian seaside village will easily find a home in mainstream or queer film festivals. Set in a picturesque fishing village where everybody knows everybody’s business, life is defined by the ceremony and traditions surrounding birth, marriage and death. Blue eyed artist, and handsome outsider; Santiago (for short Tiago) has a muse, and lover, Chino, a respected and macho member of the village. Enamored and clearly taken with each other, Tiago and Chino spend secret time in each other’s embrace, but Chino is leading a double-life, his wife is in the last trimester of her pregnancy with their first child. Sensually photographed, and cleverly dramatized CONTRACORRIENTE, which secured a distribution deal with Wolfe Releasing at Sundance, is heartily recommended. Run to catch this film. Rating: 4 Tines
THE FOUR-FACED LIAR A delightful coming-of-age story about a group of twenty-something friends, and the chances they take to find true love. When Bridget and Trip meet Molly and Greg at their local hangout “The Four-Faced Liar” - an actual Irish bar in New York’s Greenwich Village, which is named after a clock in Ireland that has four faces, none of them telling the right time - tested and solid relationships are thrown into disarray. Solid performances and a cleverly crafted ending will appeal to bisexual/lesbian audiences. All the cast were in Slamdance and they are all adorable and engaging – young adults discovering who they are will eat this film up– no lie! Rating: 4 Tines
Sadly I could not get to see Lisa Cholodenko's (Laurel Canyon (2002), High Art (1998)) new film THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT which stars three-time Academy Award nominee Annette Bening, and four-time Academy Award nominee Julianne Moore, – whoopee – Julianne Moore playing a lesbian…. again…. this writer loves Julianne Moore. This film’s Sundance premiere resulted in the festival's most visible bidding war between Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics, The Weinstein Company, and Summit Entertainment; however, Focus Features (the specialty film unit of Universal Pictures) confirmed on Thursday that they had picked up distribution rights for the United States. …. look out for this film in the summer or in the fall of 2010.
Festival Note: Sadly QueerLounge, a stable respite in Park City for all visiting queers (and the local LGBTQ community of Utah) since 2004 was absent this year, a distinct lack of sponsorship dollars necessitated a year’s respite though adorable Executive Director Ellen Huang promises that QueerLounge will be back in 2011.
Food Footnote: Yippee for QueerBrunch hosted by the lovely folks at Outfest and hosted once again at GrubSteak.
Spotted: Christine Vachon of Killer Films, the entire cast of THE FOUR-FACED LIAR, Mark Reinhart of Here Films, Kathy Wolfe of Wolfe Video/Releasing and Derek Curl of TLA Releasing.
Stay tuned for Part II
Carol Coombes/January 2010