Sundance Film Festival

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“It Ended Up Being the Toughest Edit of My Life”: Director/Editor Bill Ross on Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets

Documentary filmmakers Bill and Turner Ross depict a mosaic of fleeting American dreams and the resilience of community in Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets. The film centers on a nearly defunct bar outside of Last Vegas, The Roaring 20s, as its patrons grappling with the uncertainty of a future without their beloved dive bar. The subjects often teeter between dismay and debauchery, offering glances into masculinity, vice and a culture of anxiety. Director and editor Bill Ross explains the nuances of editing a film to make an audience feel present, grappling with one’s own internalized imperfections and why this film was […]

“Turquoise’s Old Pageant Crown”: Channing Godfrey Peoples | Miss Juneteenth

Whether capturing or creating a world, the objects onscreen tell as much of a story as the people within it. Whether sourced or accidental, insert shot or background detail, what prop or piece of set decoration do you find particularly integral to your film? What story does it tell? Turquoise’s old pageant crown is integral to the film. It represents her past as a former “Miss Juneteenth,” but also her hope for the future in passing it onto to her daughter, Kai. It also serves as a reminder of her dreams deferred, while simultaneously being the symbol of hope for […]

“The Moon”: Natalie Johns | Max Richter’s Sleep

Whether capturing or creating a world, the objects onscreen tell as much of a story as the people within it. Whether sourced or accidental, insert shot or background detail, what prop or piece of set decoration do you find particularly integral to your film? What story does it tell? The moon. We did not schedule our filming or events around the full moon, but she was always there—a beacon for the night. A constant reminder of her singular influence no matter where in the world we found ourselves. Sundance Responses 2020

Sundance 2020 Dispatch 6: Yalda, a Night of Forgiveness; Time; Panels and Mixers

As I hinted at in my first dispatch, co-creation has been buzzy in documentary circles of late, with gatekeepers and filmmakers both interested in finding ways of working that challenge the decision-making processes of nonfiction filmmaking. This year’s Sundance was also chock full of filmmakers who started out in documentary and have recently moved into fiction; Canon even sponsored a panel featuring Matt Heineman on this very topic. One of these films was Yalda, a Night of Forgiveness, an ingeniously conceptualized, impeccably acted and tightly shot single location piece, it both buys into and subverts crucial elements of thriller, reality […]

Sundance 2020 Dispatch 5: Shirley, The Mountains are a Dream That Calls to Me, małni – towards the ocean, towards the shore

In one of those freak festival viewing coincidences that don’t really mean anything, Sunday started with two movies in a row opening with the sound of a reiki bowl. The higher profile one, Shirley, marks multiple firsts for Josephine Decker: first directed from someone else’s screenplay (by Sarah Gubbins, adapted from Susan Scarf Merrell’s novel), first period piece and—most crucially to my mind—first without DP Ashley Connor. The subject is Shirley Jackson; I’ve read two of her short stories (I’m not proud of that) and would be curious to hear how this plays for knowledgeable admirers. Adaptation or no, visually this is […]

“The Vibrant Color of the Spilled Ketchup on the White Floor With the Broken Bottle was the Best Way to Describe What the Movie was All About”: DP Jean-Philippe Bernier on Dinner in America

Punk rock and suburbia collide when Simon meets Peggy in Adam Carter Rehmeier’s Dinner in America. As the two traverse the Midwest, Peggy unwittingly assists the lead singer of her favorite band in evading the police, all the while uncovering the unforeseen connections between them. DP Jean-Philippe Bernier constructs two distinct cinematic styles that function in tandem with the film’s contrasting central characters. Drawing upon a background in film score composition, as well as an early career rooted in the punk scene, Bernier discusses the process of melding content and medium to create a distinct cinematographic look, drenched in the […]

“A Simple Jog by the Water”: Writer Craig Borten | Sergio

Whether capturing or creating a world, the objects onscreen tell as much of a story as the people within it. Whether sourced or accidental, insert shot or background detail, what prop or piece of set decoration do you find particularly integral to your film? What story does it tell? The two main characters, Sergio and Carolina, always took a simple jog by the water every morning. The first time, they both noticed each other turning around as they jogged, taking one another in. No words were spoken, and they continued on their separate ways. The second chance jog encounter, they […]

“As the Stories the Characters Tell Begin to Come to Life, the Camera and Lighting Begin Working in Tandem to Alter Reality”: DP Brendan H. Banks on Scare Me

When Fred settles into a secluded cabin intent on completing his first novel, a power outage prompts a horror storytelling competition between two strangers. Josh Ruben’s horror-comedy, Scare Me, delves into the artistic tensions between two writers and the insecurities they face on a greater social scale as the stories they tell begin to come to life. DP Brendan H. Banks breaks down the process of balancing two distinct genres while maintaining a sense of reality within the film’s photographic style. Filmmaker: How and why did you wind up being the cinematographer of your film? What were the factors and attributes […]

“I Was Determined to Find a Home That Had a Pass-Through Window Separating the Kitchen From the Eating Area”: Liz Garbus | Lost Girls

Whether capturing or creating a world, the objects onscreen tell as much of a story as the people within it. Whether sourced or accidental, insert shot or background detail, what prop or piece of set decoration do you find particularly integral to your film? What story does it tell? “But does it have a pass-thru?!” At one point during our location scouts, someone suggested this be put on our film’s t-shirt. Why? When looking for one of our main locations, Mari’s (Amy Ryan) house, I was determined to find a home that had a pass-through window separating the kitchen from […]