Seeing it

This morning, I enjoyed a cosmopolitan brunch in the crowded Morning Ray Café. I sat at the counter and had to pull my worn out copy of Lolita up to eye level in order to avoid exchanging glances with Paul Giamatti. You know those actors, always trying to strike up a conversation with any and every lonely looking girl.

I then ventured onto the hard packed beginner’s slope at Park City Ski Resort for my first ever snowboard lesson. Ouch. I got lucky in that our group was small and our instructor, Tak from Okinawa, Japan, was fantastic.  I got unlucky in that I was not instantly amazing. Nothing a bottle of wine can’t make me forget.

I then hurried onto a bus, hoping that it would take me to my next destination, the Prospector Square Theatre, for the one event I have been impatiently waiting to see- the Shorts Program V. Sundance received a record number of shorts submissions this year, over 5,000, probably in part because of this quiet revolution everyone here keeps talking about, the affordability of video production thanks to cheaper cameras and cheaper editing software. They pick a couple dozen and break them into easily digestible programs.

The shorts lived up to the hype. Most popular were the three one-minute pieces by Isabella Rossellini entitled Green Porno. There are eight in total of these ingenious little niblets about the reproductive habits of certain insects (dragonflies, spiders…). They were made and paid for by the Sundance channel and, I presume, will be available for download at some point, since that is what they were made for.

The best, however, were three films by people you’ve never heard of. The first, Force 1 (TD), the title never being explained, was a series of unexpected and thoroughly amusing comic situations revolving around three New York City youths and a miniature horse wearing expensive sneakers. These things never sound as good when talked about as they are when you watch them. But, I’ll give it a shot. Two young kids in New York City convince their friend to steal his brother’s precious SUV in order to pick up a pair of hard to find baby kicks from a store in Jersey for—I bet you didn’t see this coming—a miniature horse. One of the kids is blind and allergic to dogs. So, his service animal is a tiny horse (a real horse, mind you) that he pimps with expensive shoes and a cape with a hands-off warning. He needs these shoes for the horses’ prom outfit. Not laughing yet? My fault, because it was brilliantly directed by Randy Krallman, who admitted that he had to be coaxed into making it by his boss. Don’t we all wish we had that kind of boss?

Second up was the haunting and enthralling August 15, a subtitled Chinese film made as a senior thesis by the very talented Jiang Xiang (I apologize if the spelling is off). Based on true events, it is about the of the hijacking of a bus in rural China by two brutal thugs who, after robbing everyone, rape a woman while all but one of the passengers remain silent. Though Ms. Xiang never met the sole survivor of the incident (am I giving too much away?), her ability to create distinct characters that make unspeakable choices demonstrates a rare gift, and one that I hope will give us a feature one day as engaging as this short.

Finally, the super polished I Love Sara Jane. An adolescent love story set in a post-apocalyptic, zombified Australia, this is the one short that I could see as a feature.  With the highest production value of all the pieces in this program, Jane delivers on content as well as pastiche with the charming story of an adult-less world where violence is just whatcha gotta do, cuz there are zombies out there and some of them are mom and dad. Wouldn’t you pay $9 to see that? Your kids would, and that’s what counts.

I’m getting too tired to write. So, I’m going to sign off, once again, without saying all I have to say. Hope you are all enjoying the blog.

Explore posts in the same categories: Philly@Sundance

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