I did pick up a ticket to C.O.G., like I hoped I would. I also ran into one friend at random, who I did not even know would be in Park City, which is part of the beauty of Sundance. And, for the first time in my experience: It flurried at night, but it did not snow once! The weather was cold, but not having to wade through a blizzard was welcome weather. All in all, this was a great trip.
I will say, however, that the tone of the festival felt different this year. I saw some amazing movies, and some that will undoubtedly be successful, but the level of buzz surrounding me while I was there seemed different. Maybe that’s because I missed Spectacular Now and Fruitvale (winner of the Sundance Audience Award). Or maybe, the different energy matched the different types of films. Not every year can feel as magical as the year Beasts of the Southern Wild played.
This year, it seemed magic and wonderment were replaced with a hardnosed look at character relationships, and specifically, at sexuality in relationships. Whether it was a comedic, well-edited romp through Jersey clubs with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Don Jon’s Addiction, a more serious, dramedy about complacent housewives in Afternoon Delight, a mumblecore film that uses enough nudity to earn its hippy-vibe and then some in Crystal Fairy, a look at the life of Allen Ginsberg and a 1950s “honor killing” of a homosexual man he was associated with, or an extremely beautiful and well directed story about a young woman’s blossoming, but perhaps perverse, sexuality in Stoker (I could go on), sexual themes were all over this festival. I don’t think that is a good or bad thing, but rather, simply, a reflection of what is on the minds of filmmakers this time around.
The festival doled out a best U.S. Documentary award to a film titled Blood Brother. The film follows the life of a young man who moves to India to work with children with HIV. Other films that were on my list that won awards: Ain’t Them Bodies Saints for best cinematography (Bradford Young) and Jill Soloway won the award for best direction for Afternoon Delight.
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Kill Your Darlings topped my list this year with Stoker, C.O.G., Lovelace, and several others not far behind. For me, Amanda Seyfried’s performance in Lovelace was the best breakout performance for a leading lady while Jonathan Groff gave an outstanding performance as Samuel, a David Sedaris character come to life on screen.
A good amount of films obtained distribution this year, with Don Jon’s Addiction acquired for 4 million with a whopping 25 million P&A (Prints & Advertising) commitment by Relativity Media and a scheduled summer release.