Daily | Previewing Sundance 2014

'Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter'

‘Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter’

Chances are, you’ll have heard that the Sundance Film Festival is opening today. Over the past week or so, editorial teams have been compiling lists of the films they’re most excited about catching in Park City: (eleven titles), Filmmaker (21), HitFix (13), (14), Playlist (30), Thompson on Hollywood (10), Twitch (13), Vulture (15) and Indiewire (14), where you’ll also find Kim Adelman on five “must-see” shorts, Taylor Lindsay highlighting “10 actors to watch this year,” Sean Axmaker explaining how the impact Steven Soderbergh’s sex, lies and videotape (1989) on the festival is still being felt today, and Robert Cameron Fowler talking with Mark Duplass about Sundances past and the two projects he’s presenting this year as executive producer, Craig Johnson’s The Skeleton Twins and Charlie McDowell’s The One I Love, in which Duplass also stars.

At Filmmaker, Jenni Olsen previews the “hefty slate of LGBT films” (similarly, Peter Knegt at Indiewire); in the Wall Street Journal, Barbara Chai notes that Sundance will be making 15 of this year’s shorts freely available on its YouTube channel; at the Dissolve, Jason Guerrasio presents a thorough oral history of one of the two 1994 films from the Sundance Collection at UCLA being screened, Steve James’s Hoop Dreams (the other is Kevin Smith’s Clerks); at Sundance Now, Anthony Kaufman discusses “four trends to look out for” with regard to the docs; and at Vulture, Kyle Buchanan presents a gallery of photos from past editions of the festival.

As for interviews, the New York TimesBrooks Barnes and Variety‘s Peter Debruge both talk with festival director John Cooper; HitFix‘s Gregory Ellwood interviews Cooper and programmer Trevor Groth; and the Hollywood Reporter‘s Stephen Galloway speaks with Mr. Robert Redford.

And let’s not forget Slamdance. In fact, Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn explains why we most certainly should not; and Twitch offers a preview.

Here at Fandor, you can watch over 100—seriously, well over a hundred—films that have premiered at Sundance over the years. Today, though, for a couple of reasons, I want to focus on three. First, because they’re making their Fandor debut today; and second because each of the filmmakers has a new film premiering at this year’s edition.

In 2009, Scott Foundas wrote in the Voice: “Moving briskly through a stranger-than-fiction, serpentine narrative that is still unfolding, Joe Berlinger‘s remarkable documentary, Crude, recounts an infuriating litany of South American exploitation, backroom glad-handing, and bureaucratic dead ends that has, among other collateral damages, created a Rhode Island–size ‘death zone’ of toxic pollution in the middle of the Ecuadorian Amazon.” Berlinger’s doc went on to win 19 international awards, and we’ve got high hopes for his new one, WHITEY: United States of America v. James J. Bulger. From the festival: “Berlinger utilizes this past summer’s sensational trial against Bulger as a springboard to explore corruption within the highest levels of law enforcement.”

Nominated for an Oscar and a DGA Award and winner of top awards at festivals such as Locarno and San Francisco, Sam Green and Bill Siegel‘s The Weather Underground (2002) also scored 3.5 out of 4 stars from Roger Ebert. And Elvis Mitchell, back when he was still reviewing for the New York Times, wrote: “This terrifically smart and solid piece of filmmaking lets the former Weathermen, now in their 50’s and older, speak into the camera and reveal a bit of their personal histories as well as what the peace movement meant to them…. Mr. Green and Mr. Siegel have made Underground a film of passions, showing what a turbulent period the late 1960’s were and slyly contrasting the peace-and-love vibe with events of the time.” Sam Green’s new film is The Measure of All Things, which the festival calls “a playful and beautifully poetic meditation on humanity, loosely inspired by the Guinness World Records book series.”

In August, I posted an entry on David and Nathan Zellner‘s Kid-Thing (2012). I particularly like Noel Murray‘s review for the Dissolve in which he calls it an “elliptical, deadpan art-comedy” and likens it to “a 1960s-style pastoral youth movie with a serrated edge…. This movie is, at times, aggressively odd…. Beneath the affectations, there’s poetry in Kid-Thing, and truth in its depiction of how absolute freedom can be a kind of trap.” The Zellner Bros’ new film is Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, starring Rinko Kikuchi in the title role. Sundance tells us that Kumiko “soars to transcendence as it reveals the beauty in the quest for reality, even if that reality is just your own.” And today, we learned that Kumiko will also be screening in the Berlinale Forum.

Update: Looking to follow a film at Sundance and/or its makers on Twitter? Ioncinema‘s got your guides: U.S. Documentary Competition, U.S. Dramatic Competition, Documentary Premieres, Premieres, Park City at Midnight, Next and New Frontier.

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