Sundance 2012 Final Wrap

Ryland Aldrich, Festivals Editor

A new year of indie film has officially kicked off with the completion of Sundance 2012. Will it be the fest faves like Beasts of the Southern Wild or The Surrogate that make big waves over the next 12 months? Perhaps challenging critical darlings like Compliance and Room 237 will find a way to break through. Or will it be the more commercial titles with big dollar sign deals like Arbitrage and Red Lights that we remember when we think back on Sundance 2012? No doubt, there has been plenty to talk about and everyone at Twitch is proud of our most robust Sundance coverage yet. While a few more interviews are yet to trickle in, here is a recap of all our festival coverage, followed by a few thoughts on the fest from our waterproof boots on the ground.

Previews:
Dramatic Competitions
Documentaries
Premieres & Spotlight
Midnight & Next
Short Films

Reviews:
About the Pink Sky by Ryland Aldrich
Arbitrage by Ryland Aldrich
Beasts of the Southern Wild by Ryland Aldrich
Black Rock by Ryland Aldrich
Bones Brigade by Chase Whale
Filly Brown by Alex Koehne
Grabbers by Alex Koehne
John Dies at the End by Alex Koehne
Oslo, August 31st by Ryland Aldrich
The Pact by Alex Koehne
Robot and Frank by Alex Koehne
Safety Not Guaranteed by Alex Koehne
Sleepwalk With Me by Alex Koehne
Smashed by Chase Whale
Shut Up and Play the Hits by Ryland Aldrich
Under African Skies by Alex Koehne
V/H/S by Ryland Aldrich
West of Memphis by Andy Jurgensen
Wrong by Chase Whale

Interviews:
Kat Candler talks Hellion with Chase Whale
Don Coscarelli talks John Dies at the End with Alex Koehne

News & Features:
Sundance Juries Announcement
Curtain Raiser - 15 Top Picks
Sundance Awards Coverage
Sundance 2012: The Big Roundup

And don't forget about Slamdance 2012:
Slamdance 2012 Preview
Slamdance 2012 Roundup by Andy Jurgensen

Sundance 2012 Wrap from Chase Whale


What was your overall favorite film?
My favorite thing about Sundance is going into a film completely blind and wind up loving it. This year that film was Beasts of the Southern Wild.

How about your biggest disappointment?
Safety Not Guaranteed. This has a great cast and the buzz surrounding it was nothing but great, but the story didn't do it for me. The script felt rushed.

Who gave the best performance?
Mary Elizabeth Winstead. She knocked it out of the park in Smashed; most adorable alcoholic ever! My review

What was your favorite documentary?
Bones Brigade. Growing up skateboarding, this film felt right at home. My review

What was your top discovery of the fest?
Beasts of the Southern Wild!

Finally, what was your favorite Sundance moment?
Hanging out with the Twitch guys for the party Ryland set up. Twitch reminds me of what GATW was - everyone involved feels like family.

Sundance 2012 Wrap from Alex Koehne


What was your overall favorite film?
Beasts of the Southern Wild has to be my pick for favorite over all film. It's a rare feat that a film could be unlike anything I've ever seen before in almost every way, and yet still have as strong of an emotional resonance as this film does. The story telling, the location, the types of characters, the environments and the music all feel entirely unconventional and yet it doesn't come off as trying to be arty or experimental. The underlying story feels honest, even in the more whimsical moments, and that honesty is the core of the humorous moments as well as the heart wrenching ones.

How about your biggest disappointment?
Simply because I was excited about the cast, I was really looking forward to Save the Date. Okay, perhaps I was clouded by my crushes on both Alison Brie and Lizzy Caplan, and ever since Freaks and Geeks, I can't help but love Martin Starr - but man, this movie just fell flat for me no matter how much I wanted to like it. It wasn't very funny or moving. It felt blandly conventional in almost every way and in the end I just couldn't get into it.

Who gave the best performance?
I'm going to go with Gina Rodriguez from Filly Brown. Her "girl from the ghetto" performance felt so raw and real. Her spunk and sass were so fun to watch, and then seeing her during the Q&A being a bubbly NYU grad hit home how good of a performance she gave. Her rapping was phenomenal and the fact that she had never rapped before preparing for this film shows how dedicated she is and I think it's just the beginning of a long list of standout performances. My review

What was your favorite documentary?
Out of the two documentaries I saw, Shut Up and Play the Hits was definitely my favorite. Between the music, the fervor of the live show and the interesting side story lines, I thought this was a very clever take on the well-established form of concert documentaries. There were a lot of creative shots that took this a step above a standard, recorded concert and put it in the upper echelons of the genre along with Stop Making Sense and The Last Waltz.

What was your top discovery of the fest?
This is a hard one because so many of the films at Sundance could be my answer to this question. One of my favorite films this year was Mike Birbiglia's Sleepwalk With Me. As a comedian, he has really honed his voice and it translated so well to this form of storytelling. The tale had developed from a stand up bit, to a one man show, to a segment on This American Life and now here, to film. I know Birbiglia has a lot of hilarious and touching stories in his arsenal and I'd love to see more of them get the big screen treatment. My review

Finally, what was your favorite Sundance moment?
Coolest moment at Sundance for me had to be escorting Alison Brie to the bathroom (an unnecessary gesture, sure, but I justified it as being easier to show her rather than explain its location). We chatted and bantered a bit on the way and then while I was waiting outside for her, out of nowhere Lizzy Caplan appeared and we had our own solid banter session (in which I totally held my own) until Alison got out and Lizzy went in and I resumed bantering with Alison. Clearly we're on a first name basis now.

Sundance 2012 Wrap from Ryland Aldrich


What was your overall favorite film?
A bit of a broken record around here, but this is another easy call for Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild. Such a rare and beautiful film. Just read what Alex wrote above. My review

How about your biggest disappointment?
I had very high hopes for Katie Aselton's Black Rock. Unfortunately, this effort just felt unimaginative and rushed. My review

Who gave the best performance?
I could very easily echo Alex's sentiments on Gina Rodriguez, but for the sake of variety, I'll give my nod to Frank Langella's turn as the geriatric cat burglar with a robotic pal in Robot and Frank.

What was your favorite documentary?
Damn Alex is taking all of mine, but it's pretty hard to not to call Shut Up and Play the Hits my favorite doc of the fest. I also liked The Imposter quite a bit as well. My review

What was your top discovery of the fest?
My discovery of the fest goes to winner of the Grand Prize for Short Film, Cutter Hodierne's Fishing Without Nets. This awesome short film is best described as City of God in Somalia. I can't wait to see if they make a feature version.

Finally, what was your favorite Sundance moment?
After a pretty hectic first few days of the fest, I finally got a good chance to unwind Tuesday night with an amazing party at Bing DJed by LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy. It was a great time with great friends and one of those Sundance moments where you just stop and say, "fuck yeah!"

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