Sundance Film Festival 2012 started on Thursday night, January 19, in Park City ski resort, Utah. It will run until January 29, and it will have shows in Park City, Salt Lake City, and Ogden.
This 28th edition will introduce 117 feature films from 30 countries, including 45 first-timers (24 in competition) and 91 world premieres. Featured in four different competition categories are 58 individual films.
The snow fell over the city when the festival started and made Mayor Dana Williams to mention a last year bill that officially disavowed the idea of climate change. Since then it has not snowed in Park City until this week.
On Thursday, the opening press conference of the Sundance Film Festival was held at the David Eccles Conference Center and Peery’s Egyptian Theater.
Robert Redford, wearing jeans and a black sweater, said about the films they were products of “dark and grim” times and the “suffering from a government that’s in paralysis.” However, “they’re breathing life into fresh, new stories.”
“In terms of what’s going on there… in terms of Mitt Romney, I mean, I’m not going to get into politics. The fact is you can see the (Republican) debates going on, this mushroom cloud of ego hovering over everybody... It’s kind of silly and stupid and I’m sorry about it… Mitt Romney can go and see what he wants to see. If he likes ‘Transformers,’ great, it’s there for him, but that’s not where we are… For years and years and years, you’ve all experienced what we had to live with, the fact that other countries are far more supportive of their artists than we are… But when you have congressional narrow-minded people, people who are afraid of change when change is the only thing that succeeds, the only thing we know is going to happen is that things are going to change,” Redford said.
Robert Redford then talked about the state of independent film.
“It’s true that independent films now are healthy. That doesn’t mean that it’s easy. It’s never been easy…What I’m seeing now is that… independent film is growing. You have people who used to work more exclusively in the mainstream that are now coming into the independent world…The reason I think this community is growing, I think, is because it’s offering more possibilities and more freedom and control for the artists themselves,” he said.
Robert Redford, 75, is the founder and the president of the Sundance Institute, that was created to promote the production of independent US and non-American cinema. He played with Paul Newman in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969).
Sundance Film Festival has no specific theme, the films are various.
“Independent film is the theme,” said festival director John Cooper.
One of the opening-night films was “The Queen of Versailles” by Lauren Greenfield, a chronicle of a couple that tried to build a palatial 90,000-square-foot mansion inspired by Versailles, “a movie about dreams, both collective and individual, and what happens when things go wrong,” as Greenfield described it. David Siegel and his wife, Jackie, lived a life of incredible luxury even before they decided to build the biggest single-family house in the United States. Siegel sued Greenfield and Sundance over a press-release description that said his house was foreclosed; the suit is ongoing.
“Hello I Must Be Going,” by Todd Louiso is about a love story between a 19-year-old man and a 35-year-old divorcee, and stars Melanie Lynskey. “Wish You Were Here,” by Kieran Darcy-Smith is a dark story of a vacation gone wrong that stars Joel Edgerton and Teresa Palmer; “Searching for Sugar Man,” by Malik Bendjelloul’s is a documentary about promising 1970s singer-songwriter Rodriguez and his fade into obscurity.
“All the film press in North America is at Sundance to discover films,” said Michael Barker, co-president of Sony Pictures Classics. He is showing “Where Do We Go Now?” by Nadine Labaki and “The Raid” by Gareth Huw Evans at the festival.
Others works at the festival are “Red Hook Summer” by Spike Lee; “Lay the Favorite” by Stephen Frears starring Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Rebecca Hall; “Under African Skies” by Joe Berlinger, a documentary on Paul Simon portrait; Julie Delpy with her relationship comedy “2 Days in New York,” in which she stars with Chris Rock.
The Sundance Film Festival has put nine of its short films online. They can be watched at www.sundance.yahoo.com. The films can be voted, and the winner will receive the Yahoo! Audience Award.
Sean Penn, Kate Bosworth, Peter Jackson, Bradley Cooper, Bruce Willis, Dennis Quaid, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Sigourney Weaver, Richard Gere will be present this year at the Sundance Film Festival.
Sundance Film Festival press conference (video):