AFP, published on Thursday, January 19, 2023 at 04:47
Indie filmmakers and Hollywood stars put on their après skis and set out for the first time in three years for the mountains of Utah, where the Sundance Film Festival will return after the pandemic from Thursday.
Co-founded by actor Robert Redford, this event will be held until January 29 at a station more than 2,000 meters above sea level. It was an important launch pad for many independent films and documentaries.
After several online editions, Sundance is now the last major film festival to return to a classic format.
About 110 films are on the bill this year. Their creators are “very excited” to finally meet in person, according to festival programming director Kim Yutani.
“At the end of the day, that moment when the work meets the public is something we all really value,” he explained. “The filmmaker’s trepidation before the screening, the reality of being in front of this audience, to experience the reaction and the questions and answers (…), nothing can replace that.”
– Documentaries –
Documentaries have traditionally been a cornerstone of the festival.
This year, one of the most anticipated is “Deep Rising”. Narrated by Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa, it deals with a troubled race that mines under the sea in search of rare metals useful for “green revolution” batteries.
Another American star, Dakota Johnson, lends her voice to the script of “The Disappearance of Shere Hite”. The documentary traces the forgotten story of the author of the “Hite Report”, a pioneering study on women’s sexuality that sold millions of copies, but provoked a violent misogynist reaction.
In the same vein, “Judy Blume Forever” tells how the American author introduced a generation of girls to puberty and sex, but was attacked by conservative activists.
Ukrainian and Iranian women were also honored with the festival.
“Iron Butterflies” examines the downing of flight MH17, which was shot down in 2014 by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine, and relates the lack of consequences for those responsible in the current war. The conflict is the subject of “20 Days in Mariupol”.
The deeply personal “Joonam” follows three generations of women from director Sierra Urich’s Iranian family. The feature films “The Persian Version” and “Shayda” also explore the stories of women in Iran and its diaspora, as the country is rocked by massive protests.
– Hollywood stars –
On the fiction side, Sundance focuses primarily on low- and medium-budget films. But dozens of Hollywood stars will make the trip for some previews.
On Thursday, ‘Game of Thrones’ star Emilia Clarke and actor Chiwetel Ejiofor will perform on the opening night of ‘The Pod Generation,’ a social satire set in the near future, where a company has -invention of a detachable womb, allowing couples to share their pregnancy.
Among other big names, the actress Emilia Jones is also returning to the festival, where she was seen for the first time in the film “CODA”, the Oscar-winning adaptation of the French film “La famille Bélier”.
This time he is acting in two new feature films; “Cat Person”, adapted from a popular New Yorker short story, and “Fairyland”, inspired by a bestseller on the AIDS crisis in San Francisco.
For many films, the challenge of this festival is finding buyers in the major American studios, in order to be widely distributed. But the bid may be short-lived: giants like Netflix and Warner Bros are currently imposing budget cuts on themselves, after spending an unlimited amount to expand their streaming offering.
In this context, the directors can once again become the real stars of the event. Many of them are from the “Sundance sector” and present their first feature film, after discovering the festival with a short.
“It’s exciting for us to present so many new filmmakers,” said festival director Joana Vicente.