Sundance 2016: Day 9

Shorts Award Winers - Sundance Film Festival 2016

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Sundance Film Festival from January 19th to 31st.

Festival Day 7

I got to sleep in until almost 9:00am this morning, and surprisingly had no hint of a hangover. My Film Office shift was 10:30am until 4:00pm, and there were a few small crises to sort out, which kept things interesting.

I was very happy to be able to get a ticket for the Shorts Award Winners screening at the Yarrow at 6:00pm. I sat in the row right in front of the reserved section and before the film started I felt a pair of hands grabbing my shoulders. It was Thunder Road director Jim Cummings (far right in the photo), who’s been remarkably nice to me the entire festival. I was happy for him and his team for their Grand Jury Prize win, and it was even more satisfying once I actually saw the film. It’s just an extended take of a police officer breaking down while delivering the eulogy at his mother’s funeral, but Cummings blends awkward humour and naked grief in a really unique way. He mentioned during the Q&A how people laughed constantly at the first screening, but in the context of this lineup, the audience were able to absorb the sadness a little more. I can’t wait to show this in Toronto!

All of the films in the lineup really shone, and even ones I’d seen before seemed to resonate more. Maïmouna Doucour√©’s Maman(s) really hit me hard emotionally on second viewing in an unexpected way. It’s the story of an 8-year-old girl whose father returns to France after an extended absence in Senegal with a second wife and a baby, whom he moves into the family’s small apartment. She tries to fix the situation the only way she knows how. It’s all seen through her young and unknowing eyes, and features some great music, too.

The selection also featured less serious fare. Calvin Lee Reeder’s The Procedure is only four minutes long but I think I laughed for at least another four minutes into the next film. Unforgettable.

Also: great bit of serendipity. I had an empty seat next to me and the guy who eventually sat in it started chatting with me. He programs for the Key West Film Festival and we talked about Art House Convergence and the Facebook group for Film Festival Organizers. Neither of us had a business card so I asked if I could friend him on Facebook. And then I noticed that he had already sent me a friend request some time ago. I didn’t know who he was then, so I didn’t respond. What are the chances of us sitting next to each other like that? In any case, Quincy Perkins and I are now friends!

None of the other films showing later in the evening appealed to me so I stopped in at the Volunteer Appreciation Party that was being held at the ASCAP Music Cafe on Main Street. Three Stellas and an alarming amount of lukewarm macaroni and cheese later, I joined my housemates at an informal gathering where I enjoyed much more delicious food (turkey chili and bacon wrapped dates!) and played beer pong for the very first time in my life. I was actually pretty good! But another 8:00am morning shift loomed, so I headed for bed somewhere around 2:00am. Hopefully I’ll see more films in the next few days.

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