Films Seen and Main Street: Day 1 at Sundance

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click to enlarge Beasts of the Southern Wild Director & lead cast - Jennifer Dietz
Jennifer Dietz
Beasts of the Southern Wild Director & lead cast

We begin our first day at Sundance with a visit to Squatters, Chris’s favorite Utah brew pub. Then it’s time for our first SFF12 screening, Beasts of the Southern Wild at Eccles. A Sundance Institute project, this film had significant assistance to get it into the festival. There is a large group of filmmakers sitting front and center cheering for the film. The accolades are not without merit: we both enjoy this surreal story of a young girl (impressively played by Quvenzhane Wallis) and her ailing father living a fictional wetland outside New Orleans called “The Bathtub.” The opening scene of the film felt like a cross between Mad Max and Arthur. That said, the film manages to pull off a seemingly impossible story line that includes the rise of ice age creatures called Aurochs. During the Q&A, one actor talks about being discovered and trained in acting while doing his work at a bakery. How indie!

click to enlarge Beasts of the Southern Wild Director & lead cast - Jennifer Dietz
Jennifer Dietz
Beasts of the Southern Wild Director & lead cast
  • Jennifer Dietz
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild Director & lead cast

The sunny weather and the lure of Main Street leads to a change in our earlier plans to sit in a 2 hour wait list line for That’s What She Said. Instead, we stroll through the chaos of Main Street. This is the image that comes up so often in Sundance footage and it is the hub of festival activity. After stopping in the Sundance Filmmaker’s Lodge, we are disappointed to find they have discontinued the afternoon wine receptions. A volunteer suggests we try another location she heard was providing a happy hour. All she was able to provide was an address, which turned out to be the Fender Music Lodge. At the door, they have a list and we are not on it. After Chris chats with the gatekeeper, his charm or business card must have worked because we were issued a couple of wristbands. After some refreshments, we wandered around more of this back alley mall and stumbled into the Celebrity Gifting area and a couple of pop up shops selling some hip art and handmade jewelry and bags, plus what everyone seems to be sporting here - Spirithoods.

Our evening selection is Red Lights, which Jenn wanted to see due to the paranormal story and Chris figures it will be packed with stars since Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy, Robert De Niro and Elizabeth Olsen round out the cast. Unfortunately, this $17 million dollar film (look for it in theatres on March 2) feels entirely average and the ending is less than satisfying.

click to enlarge Red Light Cast - Jennifer Dietz
Jennifer Dietz
Red Light Cast

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