SUNDANCE Film Festival 2009


We Live in Public (United States)
Another documentary from Ondi Timoner, director of 'Dig' a film about two rock bands, this one about internet pioneer Josh Harris. You might not recall that particular internet pioneer but he made his fortune by being the first to track internet data and sell it to advertisers. Lucrative as you might imagine, he made enough to become an Andy Warhol for the 90's, creating his own version of the Factory but this time everything is filmed, all the time. With that kind of material to start with I would think that it would be next to impossible to make a bad film, in the hands of Timoner it's a great film.

With 'Dig' it was natural that the music be great. For 'We Live in Public' it was even better although Timoner said that at the time of the Sundance screening she had obtained only 'festival rights' for the music and so if the film finds a distributer the music might change some. And, it might be 'edited for content' since having cameras on people 24-7 as Harris did means some of the footage is not 'family friendly'. Interesting then that families, those we come from and those we make, are an underlying theme in both Dig and We Live in Public. Especially when those we come from are not all they should be.

Sundance 2009

Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire (United States)
There is a thriller called 'Push' already in theaters. That is not this. In fact this is one that I thought would not make it to theaters, not because of its quality but because of its hard-to-watch subject: A girl is severely abused and tries to make her way in the world. In spite of the hard to watch subject I presume that this movie will eventually be in theaters since it won both the Audience and Jury Prize at the festival.

There are great performances all around in this film including the actress playing the lead, Gabourey Sidibe and a small role as a welfare counselor played by Mariah Carey. But Mo'Nique , in the role of the mother, is astounding. She won a Special Jury Prize for Acting from the festival and she deserves to win many more. This Push will be in theaters, it was announced at the festival that it had been purchased. Oprah Winfrey had a hand in it so there will be plenty of publicity. This film deserves it.

The Maid (Chile)
Even though this was the winner of the Jury Prize for World Cinema at this year's Sundance it wasn't one that we were trying to see. But, it was the last day and it was still crowded, we didn't have advance tickets for this time slot and we couldn't make it across town in time to see the movie we had rated higher (whatever that was). Well you can't go too wrong with Sundance prize winners.

This movie was based on the real life childhood experiences of the director. Chile has a growing middle class and they are keen to hire live in maids from poorer parts of Chile as well as other Latin American countries. Even a middle class lifestyle is overwhelming to those who have come from poverty and in this case the maid Raquel , determined to keep her position is unable to accept the idea that additional maids hired by the family are there to help and not replace her. There are some light moments and some serious ones and like the best indie films a humanitarian heart is at the core. Raquel is played by Catalina Saavedra, famous in Chili as a TV and film actress as well as a comedienne. She was awarded a Special Jury Prize for Acting. One of the new maids is played by Mercedes Villanueva, the actual maid who inspired the story.

Sundance 2009