Sundance 2015 came to a close last night with the awards ceremony, which was streamed live via YouTube, and hosted by comedian Tig Notaro, who had a documentary called TIG in the Festival as well. The big winner was ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL, which not only has bragging rights for the biggest sales in Sundance this year, it swept both the Grand Jury and Audience award prizes.
This year’s edition of Sundance brought a sense of reinvigoration in the American indie film scene with a broad cross-section of strong titles that ranged from commercially viable to straight up experimental. Perhaps 2014 was an off-year for indie cinema, but if Sundance is any indication, it looks like we’ll have a strong crop of films to populate the growing and emerging distribution channels and platforms for indie cinema via SVOD, iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, VHX, Vimeo, YouTube, and many more.
I’ll be highlighting some of my favorite films from the Festival in the next few blog entries. First off, here were some of my screening highlights:
After taking a break in 2014, the APA Filmmakers’ Experience in Park City came roaring back for its 11th edition at the Mountain Trails Art Gallery on Main Street, in the heart of Park City, Utah. A fixture during the annual Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals, the reception, hosted by Visual Communications, David Magdael & Associates, and Irene Cho, celebrates the achievements of Asian American and Pacific Islander filmmakers whose works screen at these two fine film festivals. Over 200 people celebrated new works by the likes of Raimin Bahrani, Wally Chung, Benson Lee, JiYoung Lee, Prashant Nair, Jennifer Phang, Mora Stephens, Tony Vainuku, Steve Yu, Chloe Zhao, and many others. Here are more photos from the event, which was held last Sunday, January 25:
With the Sundance Film Festival coming to a midpoint, it’s ironic that snow blizzards are not here in Park City and dumping major powder on the East Coast (hang in there, friends). The weather has been fantastic here, so I really can’t complain, especially when there’s been a high caliber of films playing this year.
On the Asian American front, ADVANTAGEOUS, a smartly written sci-fi film by Jennifer Phang, is one of my favorites at this year’s festival. Placed in the U.S. Dramatic competition section, the film stars Jacqueline Kim (deeply missed on the big screen) in a nuanced and career making performance as a single mother who goes through extreme strides to “better herself” via genetic manipulation for the sake of her daughter’s future. The film is set in a dystopian near future where women as a gender are straddled down by the government and their rights limited for the betterment of society. Although this film is sci-fi, it’s timeliness mirrors what women go through today around the world (yes, and this is 2015) from the GOP’s attempts to pass an abortion bill on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade to sexual assaults on college campuses, to the destructive culture of plastic surgery in Asian cultures.
Go ahead and click the photo above to view a larger file. Yesterday was an auspicious day as Asian Pacific filmmakers from the US and around the globe were honored at the 2015 Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience in Park City, and it was a fun party. With an open bar, including some dangerous yet delicious moonshine, and appetizers, the annual party that celebrates Asian representation in Park City was held at the Mountain Trails Art Gallery at the top of Main Street.
Over 40+ artists had official films at both Sundance and Slamdance, which may seem not like much, but it was a stark improvement and shows that more quality Asian and Asian American films are being made. I’ll post official photos from the party, but in the meantime, here’s some shots from yesterday:
Although today is Day 3 of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, it feels like I’ve been here a week already. Sundance is always a major scene and I’ve seen almost a dozen films already. If there were emerging themes from this year’s film program, then it would definitely be coming-of-age titles and a strong horror and midnight section.
THE WITCH broke out of the gates with rave reviews and a verisimilitude and authenticity, and also well crafted scares and slow burn horror that fits perfectly with this Salem era period piece that doesn’t do any smarmy metaphors and immediately sets in stone that yes, the witch is a witch, she’s evil and she’s there to tear some shit up.
It’s always great to return to Hawaii and to do so for the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) which my fellow Offender Anderson programs. For the past three years, YOMYOMF has been facilitating HIFF’s New Media Camp (NMC) and this year is no different with our sponsors AT&T, InterTrend and Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC) onboard to show their support.
Seven local high school and college students were selected to participate in this year’s camp and for the past week, these seven—Christopher Ahn, Joseph Chang, Jacoby Cid, Dylan DiMarchi, Troy Enoka, Christian Guiterrez and Mari Otsu—have met every day after classes to collaborate together to write, shoot and edit a short video that will screen at our annual and free HIFF New Media panel taking place this Sunday afternoon. This year, due to our partnership with PIC, the students had the requirement to produce a short that incorporated some element of the native Hawaiian language and culture.
For the third year in a row, YOMYOMF is back at the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) to facilitate the New Media Camp (NMC) program for HIFF’s Creative Lab. This year’s week-long camp will end with a FREE New Media panel on Sunday, Nov. 9 at 2:15PM moderated by YOMYOMF’s Philip Chung and featuring a distinguished list of digital media experts including Greg Siegel (SVP Legendary Digital), YouTube beauty/lifestyle guru Weylie Hoang (who has over 1.2 million subs on her channel), Mylen Fe Yamamoto (CliqueNow) and Neil Sadhu (InterTrend). In addition to a lively discussion about the current state of digital media, the event will feature the premiere the short video produced by the NMC class of 2014.
OK, folks, here’s my final wrap-up report on the films I saw at Sundance this year. Like I said in previous posts, this was definitely one of the better editions I’ve attended. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 of my Festival wrap-up, as well as my previous post about Asian American representation in Park City this year.
For Part 3, I am highlighting what Sundance does best — presenting amazing documentaries and 2013 was no different. The 4 docs I am highlighting are truly the best, chronicling life in all its intricacies, with unique perspectives to create agents of change and awareness in today’s world. I know, sounds cheesy, but this is so true. And Sundance is the pinnacle of the social justice documentary.
Well, the award winners were announced yesterday at the Sundance Film Festival Awards Ceremony and all were worthy choices. Great to see FRUITVALE and BLOOD BROTHER win both grand jury and audience awards respectively. Like I said before, this was one of the most solid lineups at Sundance in years. Part 1 of my film wrap-up can be read here.
Moving forward, here’s another round-up of films that I saw at the Festival:
STOKER – This was probably my most highly anticipated film at Sundance. The first American film from Korean master filmmaker Park Chan-wook, he of such classics like JSA, OLDBOY, SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE, and THIRST (just to name a few), I wanted to see his patented gothic and macabre look and feel in an American setting.
It’s my final night here at the Sundance Film Festival and I have to say, the second half of the festival really redeemed my stay here. I saw some amazing films that really impressed and moved me. The first few days were a bit rough, where I saw some highly anticipated films that ultimately were big letdowns. If “doing business” is any indication, 2013 was a record year for film sales, with several titles getting seven-figure payouts. EW has a great running list of what films have been bought and for how much.
All in all, I would have seen 23 films this year. Some good, some bad, some excellent. Therefore, here is my first film wrap-up with more to follow this coming weekend, and I will also comment on the award winners, which will be announced this Saturday night as well.
It’s the midway point of Sundance 2013 and it’s been a very busy few days. Aside from covering the Festival, which includes watching as many films as I can (my next reports will be capsule reviews and highlights), I wanted to frame this report as a current state of Asian American representation at Sundance.
We kick off with Offender Justin (and head honcho of YOMYOMF) participating in a panel this past Saturday called THE POWER OF STORY. He was in distinguished company including Jane Campion (THE PIANO and her new miniseries TOP OF THE LAKE), Richard Linklater (SLACKER, DAZED AND CONFUSED, BERNIE and in town for BEFORE MIDNIGHT, third chapter to BEFORE SUNRISE & BEFORE SUNSET) and Mike White (CHUCK & BUCK, FREAKS AND GEEKS and currently producing and acting in HBO’s ENLIGHTENED).