Sundance Film Festival

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Sundance 2020 Final Dispatch: Softie, Farewell Amor, A Machine for Viewing, Infinitely Yours

Previously, when attending a premiere heavy festival like Sundance, I was usually lucky enough to be present as part of a team of programmers. We divided the screenings between all of us to cover as many of the films as possible. (There are spreadsheets and rating systems involved.) Watching films as a freelancer, I realized over the first few days at Sundance that I was playing it safe by watching films by filmmakers I was already familiar with for the guarantee that at least the film would appear finished at the screening. For programmers working at festivals like Sundance, what […]

Sundance 2020 Dispatch 9: Dick Johnson is Dead, Tesla

I don’t have anything like Six Takeaways From This Year’s Sundance to structure my final dispatch: The most I can offer is my general peer group’s consensus that the fiction side was relatively quiet while nonfiction work was stronger and more attention-getting, including the four-film launch of Concordia Studio. They arrived with, among others, my personal best-of-fest Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets and Time, and ended their first Sundance with the (reported) $12 million sale of verité doc Boys State to Apple and A24. Also high on the nonfiction priorities list, via Netflix, was Kirsten Johnson’s Dick Johnson is Dead, which premiered with the director […]

“We Learned to Lean into the More Lyrical Aspects of the Story and Let the Emotion Carry the Day”: Editors Michael Taylor and Jeff Betancourt on Nine Days

In an alternate reality, Will (Winston Duke) carries the burden of choosing which among nine candidates has what it takes to be born into the world as a full-fledged human being. Nine Days follows these souls through a series of trials designed to determine who among them will receive the gift of life and personhood, and who must resign from existence once the nine days are complete. Editors Michael Taylor and Jeff Betancourt delve into the many screenings, cuts and reworks that went into shaping director Edson Oda’s  film. Filmmaker: How and why did you wind up being the editor of your […]

“I See How Prevalent Transphobia Was and Still Is All Over the Media We Consume”: Editor Stacy Goldate on Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen

Director Sam Feder grapples with the legacy and representation of transgender actors and characters onscreen in Hollywood. While these depictions have been overwhelmingly negative and lacking in a nuanced understanding of trans identity, the reality of American anxieties surrounding gender are explicitly conveyed through these depictions. Featuring interviews with Laverne Cox, Lily Wachowski and Yance Ford among other trans thinkers and creatives, Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen chronicles a difficult legacy of trans characters in the industry, while also pointing to a more fruitful future for trans actors and representation on screen. Editor Stacy Goldate speaks about the use of […]

“There Was So Much to Shoot in Such Little Time”: DP Matt Maio on La Leyenda Negra

In Compton, California, a teenage girl named Aleteia copes with being the new girl at school by immersing herself in underground activism. Aleteia grew up in the United States, but as an immigrant from El Salvador, she suddenly finds her protected status under attack. During this tumultuous time, Aleteia unexpectedly falls in favor with one of the most popular girls at school, Rosarito, and as their friendship blossoms, Aleteia finds it more important than ever to find a way to stay in her hometown. DP Matt Maio talks about the advantages of working with director Patricia Vidal Delgado and the […]

“Not Playing Any Moment Expressly for Laughs Without Emotion”: Editor Rob Wilson on The 40-Year-Old Version

Radha Blank writes, directs and stars in The 40-Year-Old Version, about a woman named Radha who struggles with the stigma of being single and struggling with her art at the age of 40. After what seems like a barrage of rejections from theater companies, Radha finally feels reinvigorated when she revisits her long-forgotten love of rapping. She eventually feels torn when interest is finally shown for a play of hers when she is in the midst of working on a rap demo tape. Editor Rob Wilson talks about his own love of hip-hop, his own professional trajectory as an editor […]

“Pretty Much Everything in Life Influences My Shooting”: DP Reuben Aaronson on The Cost of Silence

On April 20, 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling unit experienced a deadly explosion that would be the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Over the course of 87 days, 130 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, and deadly chemicals were used in the lengthy clean-up process that civilians and workers were not warned about, leading to the effective poisoning of those in close proximity of the disaster. The U.S. government and the petrol companies have not been held accountable for the misuse of this chemical nearly a decade after the incident occurred. DP Reuben Aaronson […]

“It Was Primarily a Process of Just Grinding It Out. And Grinding…And Grinding”: Editor Joe Beshenkovsky on Into the Deep

On August 10, 2017, journalist Kim Wall accompanied Peter Madsen on his homemade submarine in order to report a story about the charismatic inventor—but she never emerged to write the story, as Madsen murdered her while the submarine was submerged in the waters outside of Copenhagen. The murder shocked the global community, prompting discussions about protections for journalists and the underlying cruelty of Madsen. Director Emma Sullivan had actually began documenting Madsen the year before he murdered Wall, eventually culminating into the documentary Into the Deep about the culture surrounding Madsen and what led to Wall’s murder. Editor Joe Beshenkovsky […]

Sundance Institute Announces Tabitha Jackson as New Festival Director

During the festival’s 2020 awards ceremony tonight, the Sundance Institute announced Tabitha Jackson, the Director since 2013 of the Institute’s Documentary Film Program, to be the new Director of the Sundance Film Festival. Jackson will succeed John Cooper, who, after 11 years as Director of the Festival, will move into a newly created Emeritus Director role. Said the Sundance Institute’s Executive Director, Keri Putnam, in a press release, “Tabitha is fiercely devoted to independent artists, has been a visionary member of the Sundance Institute’s leadership team for the last six years. Her authenticity, experience and perspective will serve her well […]