Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Sundance Epiphany.......

This one will be short, I promise.....

Earlier this evening, I attended two screenings at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Both films were world documentaries, one being from Romania and one being from the Ukraine.  The Romanian film, "Chuck Norris Vs. Communism" examined Romania in the early 1980s, and how their government made pretty much any form television or film illegal, unless it was shown on the countries' one television channel that only broadcast government censored propaganda for two hours a day, and how a guy went to Germany, bought a VCR for the same price as a car in Romania, and would make frequent trips back and forth to acquire and smuggle in tons of VHS tapes of American and Foreign films, the most popular being American action films, where a lady who would help the government censor their programming, but go over to this other guy's house and dub and copy movies, which were secretly passed around and slowly, but surely, helped the people of Romania stand up to their corrupt government and fight back, winning and gaining their independence.

The second film, The Russian Woodpecker, was about the horrible Chernobyl Nuclear Plant disaster, and how it may not have been an accident at all, but an event to cover up a huge mistake made by a high ranking Russian Government official. There was a lot more to it, but it would take a long time to describe everything. Anyway, it was brilliant.

Every year when I cover Sundance, I have a lot of chances to interview celebrities or go to fancy parties and everything, which I did for the first three or four years I have covered the festival, but tonight I realized something that I hadn't really thought of.

Every year, the news or entertainment industry sends people to cover Sundance, and they always try to talk to the big celebrities that come, or do "red carpet" ceremonies and things like that. I am not saying it't dumb to do that, that's what a lot of people like about the festival, but I realized tonight, I am the opposite.

This year I turned down a few interviews and canceled one yesterday. Tonight, I watched two documentaries that show the power of film and how it can inspire people to be better. How it can inspire people to rise up against evil dictatorship and governments. How film can present information to expose the truth, or at least show and explain someone's points of view. The ideas presented to me this evening were incredible and life changing, yet I get home, and the first thing I see on the news about Sundance is celebrities walking around red carpets in Park City doing celebrity things.

Sundance kind of has a funny cliche' people talk about, like, if you want to get a film into Sundance, make it dark, depressing, and have your characters either be gay, on drugs, or gay and on drugs. It's sad, but the cliche' is real. Not that those films don't have artistic value or themes to agree or disagree with, but the celebrity aspects to the films at Sundance drive me crazy. I hate it. The premiers that the stars come out for are premiers, meaning, they are already going to come out in theaters some other time in the near future. The films worth seeing, most of the time, are the ones without the big names attached to them.

I say it every year, the documentaries at Sundance are the bread and butter of the festival. You get real people experiencing real things, and you get their point of view on the subject. They aren't always awesome, and you can tell bad, biased docs when you see them, but for the most part, they are really interesting and a lot of fun. My Sundance Epiphany this year is that I could care less about who comes to the festival and for what reasons. I go because I love film, and I want to experience, learn and discover something not only new or interesting, but see how those things, though different, relate to me as a human being and how I can use that new knowledge to make me or the world around me a better place.

Again, not that the "celebrity" films are always bad, but there is so much people don't know and skip over at Sundance for the chance to see a snooty celebrity smile and take some pictures to look good so that they can make more money. That's just the nature of the entertainment industry. I hope this inspires you to watch a lot of different kinds of genres and also to give documentaries a try. There are a ton that have debuted at Sundance over the past three years that are brand new on Netfilx. I would be happy to recommend some if you are interesting. Just let me know.

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