Sundance has done a very good job of recreating the scarcity, the excitement of seeing films at the actual festival with their online format. To further replicate the Park City experience I intend to go about three miles from my house, take a bus back to it, and watch all the films with my windows open. As far as the Press access, as with years past, there are often conflicts between what you want to see and when you want to see it, at least the way they’re doing screeners for us. They are also encouraging us to watch everything we really want to watch as a Premiere. We have to “Favorite,” then “Reserve” these tickets. They’ll have limited amount of seats to these, much as you would any premiere in the Park City. If you miss that film you have a second chance the next day to catch the film in a Secondary Screening. You only get 10 of these. So, again, much as Toronto wisely did with their fest it's a limited window.
I typically chose Narrative features over Docs, mostly because narrative features tend to be seen by more people and have more cultural resonance than docs, though this is changing. I usually pick the Premieres over everything else because getting into the Premiere category means that your film is good enough to have beaten out, literally, thousands of other movies. With Tabitha Jackson now running the show as Festival Director I’m keen to see what her Premiere category looks like. Senior Film Editor, Keith Simanton
1/28: 5:00PM - Director Heder has been in Sundance before with TALLULAH in 2016 (where I was fortunate enough to interview her, Elliot Page and Allison Janney) and she's a wonderful light. She's been keeping herself busy on ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and GLOW so watching how her storytelling has matured with be fascinating.
1/28: 9:00PM. I'm such a wimp. I'm already squirming at the thought of watching this Midnight section selection. But the film stars the intriguing actress Niamh Algar (the android "mother" from RAISED BY WOLVES) and the film is co-writer and director was one of Variety’s "10 Directors to Watch."
1/29, 2:00PM - Writer/director Shaw was at Toronto in 2016 with his earlier animated effort, MY ENTIRE HIGH SCHOOL SINKING INTO THE SEA. His voice actors here are stellar and include, in all this uniqueness Angeliki Papoulia, the lead actress from DOGTOOTH. Because of course she is.
1/29: 3:00 - If I was stack-ranking these movies, instead of putting them in screening order, this would be my #1 film. And it's entirely because it's done by one of my favorite people in the movie world, Lucy Walker. Yes, the twice-Oscar-nominated Walker. Yes, the maker of THE CRASH REEL, a favorite doc. of mine.
1/29, 6:00. Which Ben Wheatley are we going to get here? A FIELD IN ENGLAND Wheatley? Or the upcoming director of THE MEG 2 Wheatley (actually, I kind of love that he's directing the MEG sequel)? The main image, of a person in shadow, carrying an ax, might mean a bit of both.
1/29, 9:00PM - Another film from the Midnight program this has such a bizarre plot outline but I feel compelled to watch it. Plus the only other thing playing at 9:00 at night is REBEL HEARTS, a documentary about unconventional L.A. nuns (Don't get mad at me, I'm sure it's great and I'll feel terrible about missing it on its Premiere...I'll do a few "Hail Mary's" to make up for it.)
1/30, 9:00AM - This will be my fourth "Sesame Street" documentary at Sundance (including BEING ELMO, about Kevin Clash, which didn't age well) because Sundance and I seem to love "Sesame Street." This looks like the definitive origin story so I'm excited to learn more.
1/30, 12:00PM - If you didn't get to see deservedly Oscar-nominated CORPUS CHRISTI, please do. Bartosz Bielenia, the mesmerizing lead from that film is also the headliner here, from a first-time director.
1/30 Alternate (we have the day, essentially, to watch this if we change our mind) I said last year that apocalyptic movies have a tough time at Sundance...and then I saw SAVE YOURSELVES!. This film looks much more somber than that lark.
1/31, 12:00PM - I include this because, whenever I was talking to someone from Sundance, including the demonstrations on how to use the ticketing service this title kept being used as an example. "So, say you want to see TOGETHER TOGETHER..." I think it's subliminal. Plus I like Ed Helms.
1/31, 9:00PM - Alternate - Vassilopoulos based this feature on his short of the same name from 2016. While some of the results of these heavily-work-shopped Sundance films don't actually work and can't be shopped around sometimes they are honed films, with a considered finesse to them.
2/1, 3:00PM - So, someone at Sundance realized that 2/1 is a Monday and some people have other work to do. Thus this film and BLACKJUDAS are the only Narrative Premieres scheduled for today. I hope to catch JUDAS another way.
2/1, Alternate (we have the day, essentially, to watch this if we change our mind) - I think we're all struggling with the fabulists of the world. What motivates them? This doc looks utterly fascinating.
2/1, Alternate (we have the day, essentially, to watch this if we change our mind) I don't have any other films from the NEXT section at Sundance (which programs the alternative films that just wouldn't play well with a general audience. Shoenbrun is a 1st time director.
2/2, 12:00PM, I'll just quote the Sundance guide here for my reasons: "Mona Fastvold’s rugged period romance, The World to Come, is adapted from Jim Shepard's 2017 short story of the same name and premiered in competition at the Venice International Film Festival."