Sundance came to an end this week but it is not one to be forgotten! This year’s festival took place in the midst of political protests throughout the US and it made an amazing job reflecting on all issues at stake from climate change, black lives, LGBT and women’s rights.
The US Dramatic and Documentary Grand Jury Prizes could not better reflect today’s political climate.
I Don’t Feel At Home In This World (US Dramatic), is the directorial debut of Macon Blair. It follows, Ruth (Melanie Lynskey), whose house just got robbed and joins forces with her eccentric neighbor (Elijah Wood) in the violent quest to recover her missing possessions. With a strong female voice at its core, Blair found no better time to show what it is to find your own way in a f***** up world.
Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini brought home the US Documentary Jury Grand Prize with Dina. Dina is a 48 years old woman living with Asberger’s Syndrome rediscovering romance with Scott, who has intimacy issues of his own. Isolated, Dina looks for a way forward in the current fragmented cultural landscape.
Women were the true winners of this year’s edition, gathering the most awards in the directorial section and throughout all other categories. Eliza Hittman landed the US Dramatic Directing Awards with heartbreaking gay drama, Beach Rats.
“There’s nothing more taboo in this country than a woman. I’m going to work my way through a system that’s completely discriminatory towards women. Hollywood, I’m coming for you”.
World Cinema Documentary Directing Award went to Pascale Lamche for Winnie, about the life, battle and underrated contribution of Winnie Mandela. US Dramatic Special Jury Award For Breakthrough Director went to Maggie Betts for Novitiate , one young women’s decision to become a nun. Many other Jury Prizes were awarded to female filmmakers from Inspirational Filmmaking, Commanding Vision, Editing and Screenwriting.
Women were at the forefront of the festival, taking part of the Women’s March right along Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chelsea Handler, Bobby Doherty, Jessica Williams and Maria Bello.
Strong lead roles were not scarce from the 1950’s activist Dolores Huerta in the documentary, Dolores, or as kick ass female rappers in Patti Cake$ and Roxanne Roxanne, for which Chante Adams won the breakthrough performance award.
Sundance is definitely a platform to success for independent filmmakers. We can only hope the career of all these terrific filmmakers will take the same turn as many of the successful filmmakers whose career started at Sundance.
Examples include Ava Duvernay who started at Sundance with Middle Of Nowhere and ended up directing the acclaimed Selma and Academy Award nominated documentary, 13th.
Then there was Catherine Hardwicke, who premiered Thirteen at Sundance and later worked on Lords Of Dogtown and the Twilight Trilogy, but also Ryan Coogler with Fruitvale Station which also launched the career of cinematographer, Rachel Morrison (Mudbound).
Sundance 2017 was not explicitly political but it did reflect today’s political and social climate. This year’s selection of unique characters and portrayals were strong, full of perseverance and fearlessly looking for some dash of hope.