Friday, January 28, 2022

Sunbloggin’ from Sundance

Vickie Kelber

Vickie Kelber

With opening night of Sundance 2010 just two days away, it is a balmy 29 degrees in Park City, Utah and snowing furiously.  So far, 12 inches and counting, with five storms stacked up in the Pacific, ready to make their way here.  In the  distance is the boom of avalanche crews dynamiting the accumulated snow to prevent disaster. Historic Main Street in this former mining town is festooned with film festival banners and traffic is at a standstill blocked by rental trucks setting up lounges, party sites, and commercial venues.  Most of the locals are tolerant of this pre-festival mayhem as last year Sundance had a $92 million economic impact for Utah. However, at least one local, frustrated by not being able to move, was observed to roll down the window of her SUV and shout to no one in particular, “Go back to California”. Volunteers scurry to pick  up their Kenneth Cole designed uniforms and lines are down at the ticket office as almost all films are now wait list only.

While in-between movies, (and snowstorms) you can always — go shopping!

Typically, art galleries and stores on Main Street rent out their spaces for the makeshift hospitality lounges that spring up during the festival. Some of them are by invitation only and many of them offer food, giveaways, and a chance to promote a particular brand. These tend to be the bane of Sundance organizers as most of them are not official sponsors of the festival.
Because of the current economic situation, there are fewer of

While in-between movies, (and snowstorms) you can always -- go shopping!

While in-between movies, (and snowstorms) you can always — go shopping!

these ventures this year. Sorely missed will be  the wine company that used to offer unlimited free wine tasting to festival attendees. With less glitz and swag, perhaps there will be more focus on what Sundance is all about: the films.

Pre-festival audience buzz is all about the film Howl. A biopic about Alan Ginsburg, it stars James Franco, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeff Daniels, and Treat Williams  and promises to feature ‘mind-expanding’ animation that reflects Ginsburg’s originality.

Until the hot films of this year’s Sundance are revealed, here are some recommendations from last year’s film festival. You’re certain to hear about some of them at Academy Awards time as some are in theaters now; all of them will be out on DVD in the future.

Last year’s buzz film was titled, Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire.  Retitled Precious, it  received a lot of publicity once Oprah Winfrey signed on as a promoter.  It’s tough to watch, but worth it.  In a recent edition of Newsweek, Barbara Bush urged everyone to see this film.

Arguably, the best film at Sundance in 2009 was An Education, with a screenplay by  author Nick Hornby.  Carey Mulligan is a delight to watch as a schoolgirl seduced by the exotic life of an older man. Set in the early 60’s, the film also features Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, and Emma Thompson.

In the Loop is a British political farce with memorable performances by James Gandolfini, Mimi Kennedy, and David Rasche. You have to pay attention to the dialogue as the jokes come fast and furious. This might be a good film to see on



DVD so that you can watch it a second time to appreciate fully the repartee.

With outstanding performances by Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster, The Messenger is a compassionate story of a military notification team. Although some feel it is slow paced, it’s worth a view.

For a light, off-beat, romantic comedy, try 500 Days of Summer.  Spoiler alert: be prepared for a quixotic  dance scene reminiscent of a Disney film; it’s unconventional, but fun. Uma Thurman graces Motherhood as a talented mother of two, somewhat overwhelmed by the challenges of modern domesticity. Minnie Driver adds humor and balance.

Amreeka is a heartwarming portrayal of a Palestinian single mother trying to reinvent her life in a small town in Illinois. A real, but amusing story, it  gives clarity to and appreciation of today’s immigrant experience.

For foreign film enthusiasts, The Maid and The Anarchist’s Wife are recommended.  The Maid (“La Nana”) is from Chile, Spanish with English subtitles and won both the Grand Jury and Special Jury Prizes at Sundance.  The Anarchist’s Wife, which takes place during the Spanish Civil War, is also in Spanish with English subtitles.

Vickie Kelber is familiar to many as an ex-City councillor as well as one who has served in many volunteer positions including work with Christmas Island Style, the Marco Island Film Festival, Citizens for a Safer Marco, the Marco Island Historical Society, and the Collier County Environmental Services Turtle Monitoring Program. Before establishing permanent residence in Marco Island with her husband George in 1999, for 25 years she was School Psychologist and Director of Special Services for the New Jersey Department of Education.

Vickie currently enjoys travel, photography, and as you can see, is an avid fan of films.

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