Sundance 2013 First Impression: UPSTREAM COLOR is Filled with Big, Confusing Ideas

Ryland Aldrich, Festivals Editor


It was nine long years ago that Shane Carruth wowed Sundance audiences and took home the Grand Jury prize for his innovative and minimalist time travel tale Primer. Rumors of a follow-up have circulated for years, but the announcement that Upstream Color was done and would premiere at this year's Sundance Fest was met with an avalanche of excitement. Quite possibly the most anticipated film at the festival, Upstream Color is just as bold as Primer, though far less accessible. Like Primer, this is the kind of film that is better to go into without knowing much. Unlike Primer, it might not be possible to give away much at all. This is an experience movie with many big confusing ideas. Some will likely find brilliance in these ideas. Others will be frustrated.

What will be less divisive is the strength of the haunting performance from Amy Seimetz. That along with Carruth's score are two easy positive takeaways. The rest might need to dwelled on a bit further. Carruth has made a bold decision to self distribute the film though his production company ERBP. It will hit theaters in limited release on April 5. Individual mileage may vary,

Around the Internet:
  • HDSLR4EVER

    You should mention that Carruth shot Upstream Color on a $500 dollar Panasonic GH2 camera.

    Now that is indie!

  • robertlongoria

    I am definitely intrigued by Carruth's output and his refusal to be compromised, at least in terms of translating his vision across the screen. The screening in Houston is gonna be worth driving to. Though I doubt 'A Topiary' will ever be made, I cannot wait for his next film 'The Modern Ocean' to make it to Sundance in two years' time or even growing beyond the festival as he seems to want to sidestep it as a primary means of selling it, since he's self-distributing across the country.

    In terms of developing his own approach to DIY Filmmaking and Distribution, what do you think this means for the indie scene? As far as developing extremely low-budget films with high-concept ideas and producing them through digital means?

  • KOF

    Nicely summarized. I would add that this is the kind of indie filmmaking we need more of, regardless of whether we're awed or frustrated.

    Filmmakers like Carruth are pushing the possibilities of the medium and that's the stuff that will influence and be remembered many years from now when "The Little Miss Sunshines" of the indie ilk are long forgotten.

    Heck, it's a tough sell but kudos to filmmakers who find ways to do this. David Lynch, Cassavetes, Malick et al. But, their influence on the mass marketed grammar of the mainstream is undeniable.

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