Friday, January 17, 2014

Sundance Day One: Doc Crazy

I think this is the first Sundance where I began things with two docs on day one.  It was sort of an accident since I'd originally picked a different first film but it was sold out.  Not to worry - I totally realize that's how some of the most exciting discoveries are made at festivals.

And how true that ended up being! I grabbed a ticket for THE GREEN PRINCE only through process of elimination - it being, you know, not sold out.  Lucky me, because it was fucking great.

Simple, direct, linear story-telling.   But you really have no idea what's coming next.  I went back and forth thinking at first the film has a solid opinion on who the good guys and the bad guys are - particularly sensitive in an Israel/Palestine doc.  But I stuck with it and was so pleased to see there was far more to it.    I found it hopeful without being sentimental, and most importantly and increasingly important in this competitive documentary landscape - it was a super compelling story.   I'd really love to see this remade as a narrative feature, too.  Great stuff.

Next up was DINOSAUR 13, which was on my original list.  This was the tale of a handful of paleontologists in the Black Hills who stumbled upon the find of a lifetime - the world's most complete T-Rex. And then, the unbelievably shitty things that happened to them as a result.  

I couldn't help but think as I watched this what a fascinating mostly untold story it was. Great access, gorgeous photography, and tons and tons of footage including shot on video stuff from the day of the actual find.  Ultimately, though, it was as missed opportunity. I'm glad I watched it - it gave me lots to think about - but there was a much tighter film in there, and a much more suspenseful way of telling that story.  I think it needs a restructuring and a little bit of trimming, and then it could do well on television.  I will say that Louie Psihoyos (director of THE COVE and renown photographer for National Geographic) had some particularly insightful contributions as an interview subject.    

Tomorrow is either five or six movies, depending on my luck with ticketing.  Fingers crossed.

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