Vincenzo Natali's Sundance Diary: January 27, 2010

Todd Brown, Founder and Editor
[Our thanks again to Splice director Vincenzo Natali for an inside look at his Sundance experience.  He checks in here with his final word from the festival.]

A few days have passed since the last entry. The feverish pace of the festival is waning. Tired, bloodshot eyes peer out from sallow faces as the full effect of countless screenings and parties extract their toll on the hapless denizens of Park City.

After another 2 AM post-screening Q & A for Splice (my third), I too am feeling the giddy crush of too many waking hours and unhealthy doses of rich food, coffee and alcohol.  I can't discount a day of skiing (my first ever), which mostly entailed body-and -ego-crushing nose-dives into pristine snow.  Age is no longer on my side, and I have to admit that this life-style is not sustainable.  Thankfully, this is the end. Tomorrow, Sundance 2010 will be a pleasant memory, evidenced only by the fading bruises gifted to me by my ski poles.

Splice had a pretty good run here. The reviews have been very positive, smattered with a few stellar ones and a few not so stellar. Good things are in the works for US distribution. And best of all I was able to share my mutant child with a very generous and intelligent festival audience. These are the salad days, as they say. A reward for years of toil in the laboratory.

And what of the films? Well, here is the sad truth, I saw virtually nothing. My entire time has been devoted to Splice, save for my one ski adventure/disaster. The only film that I was able to enjoy was a little gem from my native country of Canada. It's called Grown Up Movie Star and it hails from Newfoundland. Weirdly, it shares similar themes of dysfunctional family and gender confusion that are present in Splice. But instead of a creature Movie Star features the equally exotic and magnetic presence of Tatiana Maslany, a young actress who I suspect will live up to the title of her film. She leads a wonderful cast who play out a charming and mildly perverse coming of age story set against the stark Maritime landscape. It's everything you would want from a Sundance film. And the audience ate it up.

While I have seen very little, I hear that this is a strong year for the films.  It's encouraging to know that even as independent film suffers from the twin swords of the economic meltdown and the growing expense of distribution, it is still able to thrive. Perhaps, the effect of hard times makes the art better. Maybe we are at our weakest when we are overwhelmed with resources. And maybe we are at our most creative when we are forced to outsmart the limitations of time and money. ...Or maybe this is just a fluke and we are totally screwed!

In either case, that philosophy embodies the spirit of this festival. Regardless of what might be said of the tug of war between independence and corporate sponsorship, you need only wander through the Sundance catalogue to know that this festival exists far outside the mainstream.  Especially so now that the template for successful Hollywood movies has become so outrageously facile and bland.  Filmmakers need this festival. The world needs it. 

So, thank you Mr. Redford. And thanks Twitch, the true independent spirit captured on-line. And most of all, thank you dear followers of this blog for your generous comments. Now I'm off to more scandalous adventures in the mountainous environs of the Gerardmer Fantastic Film Festival, where Dren will make her debut en français. If you're there stop by and say hello.

V

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