Like I did last year, I had a great time at the Sundance Film Festival. It’s tough to complain about weather conditions or getting around when you have the privilege to watch and discover new movies all day. Even better, plenty of Sundance 2012 films turned out to be pretty damn good. For me, there weren’t any quite as excellent as Martha Marcy May Marlene or Project Nim from last year, but those movies set an incredibly high bar. Many of my peers felt they saw something truly special with Beasts of the Southern Wild and I can understand the love even if it didn’t hit me with as much emotional impact. Most of my peers also loved Liberal Arts and Sleepwalk With Me, and I’m sorry I missed those. But all in all, the festival ran as smoothly as last year, the volunteers (especially those in the press tent) were awesome, and it’s always a joy to hang out with people from other movie websites.
Hit the jump for my festival scorecard where you can see an organized list of my ratings for the movies I saw (although I highly encourage you to read the full review rather than just glance at a letter). While this is my wrap-up, Steve will be posting his Sundance interviews throughout the week so keep an eye out for those.
If you have followed our Sundance coverage over the last week and a half, you know how massive the festival can feel from afar. These are the movies that will fill arthouses over the next year, so perhaps the best place for those who could not make it to Park City to start is at the end, with the announcement of the awards. In terms of the major awards, the Grand Jury Prizes went to Beasts of the Southern Wild (Dramatic), The House I Live In (in the Documentary category), Violeta Went to Heaven (World Dramatic), and The Law in These Parts (World Documentary). Beasts of the Southern Wild, the consensus critical darling, also won for cinematography and a producers’ award. Thankfully Fox Searchlight made a deal to bring Beasts to a theater near you soon.
The Audience Awards went to The Surrogate (Dramatic), The Invisible War (Documentary), Valley of Saints (World Dramatic), and Searching for Sugar Man (World Documentary). The cast of The Surrogates—led by John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, and William H. Macy—doubled up with the Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting. Fox Searchlight also picked up The Surrogates. Love that studio. Hit the jump for the press release with the expansive list of award winners.
It would be nice if justice was always just. But just for whom? Whom is it meant to serve? Ideally, it’s meant to serve the governed. In a democratic society, a majority agrees to the laws by which they’ll be governed, and it’s up to judges to make sure that those laws provide protection for all citizens. But what happens in a society divided between citizens and people living in an occupied territory? This is one of the key issues surrounding the complicated Israel-Palestine conflict. Rather than go directly for the audience’s emotions and strong opinions regarding this decades long battle, Ra’anan Alexandrowicz‘ documentary The Law in These Parts brings about its emotional impact via an academic argument. Despite unnecessary apologies about his filmmaking, Alexandrowicz still manages to clearly lay out a thoughtful argument and raise difficult questions about the perversion of justice and the pervasiveness of denial.
I had a blast at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and I can’t wait to go again next year. Today, Sundance announced their In-Competition line-ups for 2012 and already I’m trying to plan out how I’m going to see all of them (which is impossible, but it’s nice to dream). The U.S. Dramatic Competition features For Ellen, Nobody Walks, Safety Not Guaranteed, Smashed, and more. There are also some interesting-sounding films in the U.S. Documentary Competition including Finding North, The Invisible War, and The Other Dream Team.
Hit the jump to check out the full press release, which includes the in-competition line-ups for U.S. Dramatic Competition, U.S. Documentary Competition, World Cinema Dramatic Competition, and World Cinema Documentary Competition. The 2012 Sundance Film Festival runs from January 19 – 29th.