Favorite

Reel Life 

Documentary days at Sundance show the public's ongoing obsession with reality.

Not surprisingly, much of the coverage of the recent Sundance Film Festival complains of overly formulaic filmmaking in the dramatic competition. First-time filmmakers have been particularly chided for succumbing to the cliché of making a movie about themselves. If an alien landed its spaceship at the festival, A.O. Scott of The New York Times writes, it probably would have concluded "that the United States is populated mainly by high school students whose consuming interests are drugs, sex and killing themselves and each other." Coming-of-age stories and tales of domestic woes also dominated. Ira Sachs' Memphis-based family drama "Forty Shades of Blue," about a lonesome Russian woman, her husband and his son, took home the grand jury prize in drama.

More universally applauded were the selections in the documentary competition. "The Trials of Henry Kissinger" director Eugene Jarecki (brother of "Capturing the Friedmans" director Andrew) won the grand jury prize in documentary for "Why We Fight," a look at the connections from Eisenhower's foreign agenda to the war on Iraq. Jessica Sanders' "After Innocence," which follows the lives of cons released because of new DNA evidence, got a special prize from a jury aware of the trend in documentary filmmaking. Other docs included films about the war in Iraq, the Enron scandal, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and quadriplegic rugby players. No formulas here — not in content, anyway.

A topical trend was world politics, and this was the first year to include a world cinema competition. It also included documentaries of note, such as Simone Bitton's "Wall," about life on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide, and "The Liberace of Baghdad," Sean McAllister's ode to an Iraqi musician. "Shape of the Moon," Leonard Retel Helmrich's exploration of life in Indonesia, took grand prize, though the audience gave its nod to Peter Raymont's "Shake Hands With the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire," about the Canadian commander of United Nations forces during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

While the focus was on the documentary, world cinema also produced a respectable selection of drama. The grand jury prize winner was the Angolan submission "The Hero," a multilayered tale echoing Italian neorealism and the French new wave. The film's director, Zézé Gambao, noted that his country is entirely lacking a film industry. We can hope this proves, if nothing else, that there will always be independent films, at least wherever there is a necessity. S
Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

  • Re: Review: Richmond Triangle Players' "The View UpStairs"

    • Thanks for coming to the show, Claire! Just a small edit, my last name is…

    • on August 18, 2017
  • Re: The 13 Most Haunted Places in Richmond

    • The Sutherland Tavern..... I've been there personally.

      https://www.petersburgarea.org/events/sutherlands-tavern-ghost-spirits-tour

    • on August 17, 2017
  • Re: Here's Where You Can Watch the Eclipse in Richmond

    • Or you could look from your sidewalk or front yard. :-) Don't have solar eclipse…

    • on August 16, 2017
  • More »
  • Latest in Arts and Culture

    More by Wayne Melton

    Copyright © 2017 Style Weekly
    Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
    All rights reserved
    Powered by Foundation