In just a few hours, it will all be over; but here’s a quick look inside Sundance Film Festival 2017, in case you were not able to attend!
First, VR stole a lot of the show with everything from panels, to special VR screenings, and more. Look for a little VR music video called Chocolate, which debuted at the Festival, to top the list of every cat lover worldwide. As part of the Viacom Next initiative, the project takes the viewer through a cat-centric world in all chrome and glory. Augmented Reality was also present through such projects as The Journey To The Center Of The Natural Machine that looks at the natural evolution of the brain. Traditional names in image took it to the next level, as well. Canon’s Creative Studio was an impressive host to filmmaker panel discussion, and a full display of some of the company’s state-of-the-art equipment for film making. The intersection of technology and film-making is becoming more exciting every year:
Bonus: People have the impression that flying cameras are costly, difficult to operate and unwieldy. AirSelfie redefines the space with a device that's small, light and easy to use.
The Festival also featured a number of events and presentations. Philanthropy made a particularly nice appearance through this year’s ChefDance. The highly-acclaimed dinner series was back for its 14th run, and certainly did not disappoint. Of the four-night series, celebrity Chef Cat Cora’s was stand-out with new, flavorful dishes like chocolate ravioli. Actor Kevin Bacon was on hand to support that evening’s event which benefited Operation Smile. The extremely exclusive event was well attended and included other celebs such as Keanu Reeves and Nicole Murphy.
Another stand-out event was IMDb’s Starmeter Award ceremony which honored the amazing Peter Dinklage from “Game of Thrones” (see title image). The award recognizes stars who are breakout fan favorites on IMDb's STARmeter chart, which is determined by the actual search behavior of IMDb's more than 250 million unique monthly visitors worldwide. The company beautifully created an intimate setting in which to fete Dinklage and create new relationships. On hand were notables inlcuding Julia Ormond and Kevin Smith.
During each day of the Festival YouTube House set up shop on Main Street in Park City where panel discussions on such topics as the future of comedy and film took place. But that’s not all! The company marked its biggest footprint to date with the world premiere of This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous, the first YouTube Red Original film to premiere at the Festival as an official selection. No doubt YouTube is positioning itself as a deeper distribution player in this area, and is out to prove it. The company also returned as the official sponsor of the Shorts Programs for the fifth consecutive year.
Some of the stand-out films were Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The Word, Hold On, Gook, and The Last Word. Winner of the Special Jury Award For Masterful Storytelling, Rumble is a powerful documentary about the role of Native Americans in contemporary music history and popular culture. Featuring everyone from Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler to directing legend Martin Scorsese, this film is definitely not to be missed. In addition, “The Last Word” starring Shirley MacLaine and Amanda Seyfried premiered to a standing-room only theater. “The Last Word” is a delightful yet meaningful film about a once successful business woman who examines legacy and perception. When asked on the red carpet if she thought women today are re-evaluating work-life balance and more, especially in light of the Women’s March in Washington just a few days prior, MacLaine said, ”This movie is like a megaphone of the same emotional alignment as the March. Because when you are in alignment with other women, and you have bonded in your diversity, it’s the future. And even the feminine in each of the men.” Gook is a truly compelling feature that tells the story of two Korean-American brothers who own a struggling shoe shoe store in the ‘hood. Their friendship with an 11-year old African-American girl reveals various truths, challenges racial stereotypes, and is often times, just plain hilarious. But once the LA Riots hit one night, the trio must not only defend the store, but contemplate what family really means. The ability of the lead actors is nearly overwhelming. It is organic is the very best sense of the word. Director, screenwriter, and actor, Justin Chon is seriously one-to-watch in Hollywood.
Finally, a poignant short entitled Hold On demonstrates what brilliant minds can achieve in only 9 minutes. Filmmaker Christine Turner and starring runway icon Bethann Hardison tells the story of young millennial and his ailing grandmother in a moment where they must learn to communicate with each other. The film strikes a definitive chord as a statement on generational divide and the need for communication and understanding. Hardison said, “The fact that the grandmother didn’t have any dialogue meant that I’d really have to work, and it was amazing. The film reminds us that it’s a crucial thing to take care of someone who can’t take care of themselves. We have to be certain that the filling-up of technology does not de-sensitize us to caring for each other.”
Sundance continues to make strides in diversity and inclusion as well, though somewhat under the radar. From the announcement of a new partnership with the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation to celebrations around the Festival's Native American Program more faces of color and the perspectives which accompany them are expanding.
This is just a snapshot of some of the highlights that took place all within the heaviest snowfall of Park City in at least 10 years, according to locals. Snow boots were certainly de riguer, but one could spy a few ultra-luxe Ecco sneakers in the lobbies of key hotel resorts where agenda were planned by certain fashionistas-in-the-know before hitting the snowy terrain. But you got to enjoy some of the best highlights here without ever having to brave the cold. Now you’re in the know!