Sundance 2019: Day 13

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Sundance Film Festival from January 22nd to February 3rd.

Festival Day 11

Happy to say that not overindulging last night made getting up to pack at 8:00am much less painful than last year. Nevertheless, the work and play and disrupted sleep and eating schedules of the past two weeks are all finally catching up with me. My roomie Bryan and I were able to get out by 10:00am but didn’t spot our other housemate Chad. I’d barely seen him during the festival but assume he got out okay.

Bryan was staying one more night with friends at a different Park City condo, so we said goodbye somewhere on Empire Avenue with him hauling his luggage through the freshly fallen snow, and me on my way to HQ for one last goodbye. I spent about 15 minutes having a chat with Bobby and it was sobering to see the Artist Relations office almost completely taken down. We sat with a few of the rest of the team and just chatted before I made my goodbyes. Hoping to work with everyone again next year.

I had the idea to use the last of my “grub stubs” at the Grub Steak’s salad bar but discovered it was closed on weekends for lunch. And I was too early (11:30am) to grab some last slices at Este Pizza, too, which didn’t open until noon. I wanted to get to the Holiday Village cinemas by then to grab a volunteer ticket for The Sharks which won the World Cinema Jury Award for Best Direction. This small Uruguayan film turned out to be my favourite of the festival. 14-year-old tomboy Rosina lives in a beach town and works with her Dad doing landscaping. One day she spots what she thinks might be a shark in the ocean near home, and soon rumours are swirling that there are sharks offshore. This hinted but unseen danger makes a great background for Rosina’s own budding attraction to her co-worker Joselo, who seems uninterested. A series of actions that seem halfway between cries for attention and cruel pranks leads Rosina to a final act that leaves her walking toward the camera and flashing her first and only smile. It’s a really assured debut from Lucia Garibaldi, and I hope more people get to see it.

After that, I grabbed some lunch at Fresh Market with my grub stub (chicken tenders and potato wedges) before heading to the Prospector to see The Infiltrators, a documentary-fiction hybrid that won two awards: Audience Award for the NEXT programme, as well as the NEXT Innovator Award. I enjoyed this one a lot, too, which features activists breaking INTO an immigration detention facility in order to try to get detainees scheduled for deportation freed. The hybrid form is a little unwieldy in places, but overall it adds urgency and tension to an issue that most of us know little about.

At the shuttle stop afterward, a woman was attempting to engage people to see what they thought. When I said I liked the film, she started talking about the need for people to obey the law and not jump the (immigration) line, etc. so I sort of tuned her out. It’s a huge issue but the film is clearly focused on people who have done nothing illegal and who are being unfairly detained. Hopefully it gets a wide viewing, particularly among young people, who will be inspired by the youth of the activists portrayed.

The film ended around 5:00pm and was followed by a short Q&A with one of the producers, who was generous enough to stick around so long, but it made getting back to the Park City Mountain Resort to pick up my luggage a bit of a race.

I was scheduled for a 6:00pm shuttle pickup with Susan, and then she was early. It had also started snowing again. I got a shuttle back to the Fresh Market stop but was waiting a while for the connecting one back to the condo, so I walked, only to be passed by two busses just a few minutes from home. Then I got a message that Susan had gone on to HQ to pick up more people and would come back. I had to wait outside and had a bit of trouble finding her, but soon we were on our way to Salt Lake City.

Another volunteer named James (whom I had met last year and who I bumped into a lot over the past few days) was in the seat right behind me, but nobody really talked much. We were all exhausted by this point and looking forward to our flights, or in my case, a quiet night at an AirBnB. For me, it’s off to LA for some much-needed sunshine and time and space to plan our upcoming screening season!