Hello from the Sundance Film Festival in frigid Park City, Utah, the place your devoted Projectionist will spend the subsequent week answering necessary questions like: Are we about to find the subsequent nice filmmaker? Is it doable to look stylish in a puffer jacket? And wait, there’s a Neon party tonight? Why didn’t I get an invitation?
The competition is celebrating its fortieth version this 12 months, nevertheless it’s a Hollywood 40, that means some efficient nips and tucks have stored Sundance seeming recent and very important even because the business it’s part of has modified significantly. In the ’90s, each unbiased filmmaker dreamed of launching their profession at this competition because the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh had. Now, with the independent-film market in a precarious place, expertise involves Sundance to schmooze and say, “What I’d actually love to do is make a restricted sequence.”
And hey, the competition applications these now, alongside the documentaries, shorts and narrative movies that stay Sundance’s bread and butter. Some films have premises so outrageous that you may solely discover them right here: In “Love Me,” Kristen Stewart and Steven Yeun play a buoy and satellite tv for pc who fall in love, whereas “Sasquatch Sunset” casts Jesse Eisenberg and Riley Keough as an unrecognizable pair of Bigfoots and, I’m instructed, performs issues completely straight.
Other films evoke previous Sundance classics. On Thursday, I watched “Ghostlight,” a couple of troubled household that finds solace by staging Shakespeare: It jogged my memory of the Sundance hit “CODA,” all the way down to the third-act efficiency that had audiences weeping. Then I booked it to the documentary “Girls State,” a distaff sequel to Apple TV’s 2020 Sundance pickup “Boys State.” The new one follows a whole bunch of teenage ladies as they attempt to craft a mock authorities.
The opening evening’s hottest ticket was “Freaky Tales,” a gonzo anthology starring Pedro Pascal, Jay Ellis and the pop singer Normani. Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who’d beforehand introduced their movies “Half Nelson” and “Mississippi Grind” right here, “Freaky Tales” follows 4 interconnected tales set in 1987 Oakland that every one are inclined to climax in outrageously bloody scenes of revenge. Whenever the crimson stuff spurted, the viewers hooted.
Though Sundance has launched a digital portion to its competition that might be out there subsequent week, folks stay desirous to attend in individual. Pascal, one in every of Hollywood’s most overbooked actors, made the briefest of journeys to Park City simply so he might attend the raucous “Freaky Tales” premiere. “Ghostlight” administrators Kelly O’Sullivan and Alex Thompson have been much more decided to make it to the competition: Though they have been nonetheless capturing their movie simply three months in the past, because of fleet work from their editors, the 2 have been capable of submit a primary reduce to Sundance in early November, simply 4 days after they’d wrapped.
It helped, O’Sullivan stated, that she had one other ticking clock that demanded fast work: She shot the movie whereas eight months pregnant.
“I stated we had a tough out,” she joked on the premiere.