Top three films at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival

For me, the Sundance Film Festival begins when I sit down for my first movie. The festival trailer rolls by and I morph into a manic movie-goer. Seeing 2-3 movies per day. Reading magazines about cinematography and shooting locations. Breaking down plots and deeper themes. I love it!

Here’s the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Trailer:

By Klip Collective

 

At this year’s festival, I watched 11 movies and went to 3 filmmaker panels. Here are my favorites from that group.

Whiplash

Andrew, a promising 19-year-old drummer at a cutthroat Manhattan music conservatory, has little interest in being just a musician. Andrew dreams of greatness. Determined not to follow in his father’s footsteps, he practices daily until his hands literally bleed. The pressure of success ratchets into high gear when…

The buzz had been building for Whiplash all week. Thousands of Sundancers were waiting to see it. And when I finally watched it, I’m shocked. Is this abuse? Should I be watching this? At one point I wanted to leave the theatre. Then the final act begins and I’m gripping my seat for 15 minutes. It is thrilling, tense, and powerful. And I leave feeling exhilarated.

This movie is going to be big, having already won the top two prizes at Sundance (audience & jury) and picked up by Sony. I would say Oscar contender but I’m not sure how America will feel about the pressure and abuse elements of the story.

Dear White People

At prestigious Winchester University, biracial student Samantha White begins her radio show, “Dear White People, the amount of black friends required not to seem racist has just been raised to two. Sorry, your weed man, Tyrone, doesn’t count.”

…a witty and whip-smart satire about black militancy, postracial fantasies, and the commodification of blackness. Nothing is black and white in this playful portrait of race in contemporary America.

I love that Dear White People portrays Harvard, or all the Ivy League schools, and lays bare all the pretension of having to belong, impress your parents, and over-succeed at everything. Add in the humorous radio show “dear white people” and the strong brand identity of the film (i.e. multiple quick animations that pace the movie). What you have is a fun movie about race that leaves you smarter, calmer, and not feeling ashamed.

Look for this movie to go big sometime soon.

Living Stars

In Buenos Aires, they are dancing. Dozens of real people, identified simply by name and occupation, are presented in their kitchens, living rooms, offices, and streets—each dancing to a fairly well-known pop song. Young and old, alone and with others, they perform for the camera with a rawness usually only reserved for the bathroom mirror.

Living Stars is such a fun movie. No plot, no script. Just Argentinians dancing. And boy do they love to dance. I think dancing is one of their top sports/hobbies.

It’s only 60 minutes long, so if you happen to find it, sit down and laugh/smile/whoop in joy for an hour!

Must-See Films

For three more Sundance hits that I also loved, check out this writeup by Amy Senger.

 

About Steven Mandzik:
I'm a geek at large who blogs at http://1x57.com
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