Sundance is a 10-day event that celebrates global cultural experiences, told through film, that are sometimes tragic and humorous and most always provocative. The films range from dramatic narratives to suspenseful world premiers and eye opening documentaries that make you mad, cry, laugh and wonder. But more importantly, Sundance is about risk taking and storytelling from artists and film makers that move us emotionally. And this year’s event made the point of risk taking and “failure” the breaking point between good and great, and celebrated this point with a daylong series of panels called “Free Fail”. The panel was not run by big corporations or film companies, but instead by artists that inspire entire cultures of people through their works. Over 8000 works were submitted with only about 65 making the cut for this year’s festival.
Some of my favorite films were the short programs, most of which had average run times of about 15 minutes. The shorts program is interesting because its only real limitation is its run time; forcing the artists to tell their story quickly, drawing you in immediately and blowing your mind before the film ends abruptly. One of my favorites was a film called “I Think This Is The Closest To How The Footage Looked” by Directors Yuval Hameiri and Michal Vaknin from Israel. This particular film was described as “A man with poor means recreates a lost memory of the last day of his mom. Objects came to life in a desperate struggle to produce a single moment that is gone.” The tragic story was about the filmmaker’s own personal experience where his father had filmed the last day of his wife’s life. At the time, the filmmaker, as a young teenager, rewound the film to see it without returning the film to its original position. After the mother dies, the father picks up the camera to film her empty room and overwrites all but a small clip without realizing. Anxiety, fear and depression set in. The artist uses inanimate objects to represent each character in the story in an awkward and somewhat crude manner to depict what the tape may have depicted if not destroyed.
I found the shorts program to be the most creative, imaginative and cutting-edge because these film-makers needed to be unconventional in their approach and take incredible risks in the eyes of their peers, the industry, and audiences. They took risks and broke the rules by following their own creative vision resulting in great works of art that were imaginative, innovative, provocative, and unconventional. And most of all, successful.