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Live From The Sundance Film Festival

From the Sundance Film Festival, stories of complicated relationships—and hard times.

Snow falls on the Egyptian Theatre on Main Street during the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012. (AP)

Snow falls on the Egyptian Theatre on Main Street during the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012. (AP)

Ah, to be in the mountains right now!  Snow-covered peaks.  Park City, Utah.  Gorgeous in winter.  Funky and fabulous for the Sundance Film Festival.  Sundance has turned out years of indie films that are now part of the cool canon.  sex, lies and videotape.  Reservoir Dogs.  American Splendor.  Hoop Dreams.  Super Size Me.  The Blair Witch Project.

This year, big themes are complicated relationships and hard times.  You can mock the Sundance swag and hip tones.  But it’s in the tough stuff, too.

This hour, On Point:  we go live to the Sundance Film Festival, 2012.

-Tom Ashbrook


Krista Smith, the West Coast Editor for Vanity Fair, she has spent the last week at the Sundance Film Festival.

Steve Zeitchik, arts and entertainment writer at the Los Angeles Times.

Mark Duplass, a filmmaker with three films in this year’s Sundance Festival.

From Tom’s Reading List

L.A. Times “Step inside any theater at the Sundance Film Festival this week and you’ll find directors unspooling tales of economic despair, food shortages, collapsing healthcare and a broken justice system. But if the troubles of so many American have-nots leave you in the dumps, the festival’s corporate hangers-on have just the cure: endless canapés, on-the-house snow boots and iPads, and enough Grey Goose vodka, Sugar lip exfoliations and Paul Mitchell hairstyling touch-ups to make you feel like a million bucks.”

Boston Globe “Tracy Morgan was briefly in the Park City Medical Center after collapsing Sunday outside an event here. A weekend blizzard had moviegoers staggering and limousines spinning through the worst weather in festival memory. And Spike Lee is mad as hell.”

GQ “Mark Duplass is the unofficial prom king of Sundance. He had his first film at the festival back in 2003, and has been back to Park City almost every year since—with the improvised bro-comedy, Humpday, the John C. Reilly-Jonah Hill face-off Cyrus, and now again this year with at least three films (that we know about, anyway).”

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  • Anonymous

    How will theaters get movie fans to come back?  Theater attendance keeps dropping due to high ticket and concession prices.

    • Anonymous

      They need to do a better job of banning texting and talking during the movies.  I don’t mind paying for a ticket but I don’t want to watch them if I’m being annoyed. 

      • Sam

        And talking! And children! And kicking the seat in front of you! And laughing off key!

        That’s a big reason why I don’t go to the movies anymore.

  • Chris

    The problem with the way the industry is structured and festivals work is that so many of the movies are inaccessible to those of us who can not take time off and fly to Sundance.  How many of these movies will the wider public ever have the opportunity to watch?

    • David

      Check out the “Sundance USA” program:


      I went to the Boston show last night. Not only did I get to see a new indie film months before its general release, the director and co-writer were there for a Q&A.

      I’ve never been to the “real” Sundance, but last night felt pretty close to me!

  • Guest

    More documentaries please.  I’d like to see a film on the black market of human organ trafficking.

  • Caroline Ferris

    I’m a year-round resident of beautiful Park City, Utah.  While I definitely appreciate the economic benefits of having the festival here, I try and avoid downtown and all the “people in black” like the plague, although day to day life usually forces me to venture into town. 
    I’d love to see the films, but not enough to deal with the crowds.
    First, Sundancers, you are SO RUDE.  You stand and walk in the middle of the street, or anywhere else you please, with no regard to any of the people or vehicles around you.  Especially in the snow, it’s hard to avoid hitting you, even in your bright pink jackets.  Some of you non-snow people made the mistake on renting cars.  Don’t honk at me.  The reason I am not driving as fast as you want me to is because there are 3,765 other cars in front of me, 99% of which are being driven by other out-of-towners who have no idea how to drive in the snow.
    Try and respect the fact that some of us are actually working/ picking up kids/ grocery shopping/ etc.  You are guests in our town.
    Second, let me give you a fashion tip: You look like TOTAL jerks in short skirts, tights, and stiletto boots.  Stop trying so hard.  Snow = pants and warm boots.
    With specific regard to the festival, and without snarkiness, I’d like to see more of the discussion panels focus on the social issues addressed by the films.  Two years ago I took my teenage son to an excellent panel featuring the founders of the Harlem Children’s Zone and the Grameen Bank, among others.  It was a wonderful experience and my son still talks about it today.

  • Tncanoeguy

    Yes, Detroit and Michigan in general got the message a long time ago.  We left Michigan in 2001 for better opportunities.  Where do people go if economic malaise settles in permanently all over the US? 

  • Sam

    to truck driver that just called in.

    don’t despair, you’re not the only one.

    I bring home exactly the same amount as I did 10 years ago.
    I am making 1K more at my present job that i had for 6 years, than when I started here.
    I work as a programmer in an office.

    I think the only way I would ever make more, is if I leave to go to another job.

    I think that’s how things are everywhere though. It sucks, majorly, but at least I still have a job and able to afford food, rent and day care payments, but not much more. :)

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Most CEOs are crying all the way to the bank, several times a day!

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Congressmen ‘feel your pain’, at $180,000 per year, plus PERQS!

  • Sam

    I just saw a preview for “Surviving Progress” … WOW!

  • Ann O’Brien

    I’d like to see more realistic discourse on what effective leadership and governance look like (cooperation, action, successes AND failures, etc.).  With negative campaigns and comments distorting and successfully overriding balanced evaluation of leaders, its become nearly impossible to create constructive policy.
    On a related note, we need history lessons on governance and how, as a civilization, what democracy means.  Maybe a spoof or movie on a modern day equivalent of the French Revolution or Nazi Germany or the Roman Empire.  Humor is always a good way to convey a message.  Perhaps the writers of “The Onion” could be hired.

    • Patrik

      I agree Ann.  Perhaps follow a two or three Romans in different levels of class/position in the years leading up to the fall of Rome, the similarities to our situation are quite stark.

  • lulu

    Perhaps this exists and I don’t know about it — but I’d like to see Sundance offer a Netflix-style instant download service so that folks who live in small markets — as I do — can watch some of these films online.  I’d subscribe to such a service, even if it only ran for a month each year around festival time.

  • Christie Boby

    Any thoughts on “John Dies at the End?” 
    I enjoyed the book!

  • Osullivan

    Is there anything better at the moment than TV series like: Justified, Mad Men, Deadwood, Luck, Game of Thrones, Curb your enthusiasm?? Also the HBO movies are very good like John Adams, Game Change, Mildred Pierce…… I honestly think that TV is better than movies at the moment and has been for the last 10 years….

  • Knash53

    Tom was very dismissive of the man that called about child support.  There is always two sides to every story.  Not every man is in the arrears because he does not want to pay child support. However, if you are under employed or unemployed.   Putting the father in jail does not help.  Cant find a job if he is in jail and now with a criminal record it makes it even more difficult to find a good paying job.

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