Mountainfilmin Telluride sent Festival Director David Holbrooke and Program Director Emily Long to Park City, Utah, to the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Holbrooke’s report from the festival follows:
Dazzling and intense, enervating and exhausting, there’s nothing quite like Sundance. It’s a convention of sorts for the indie film industry with big parties and bigger deals happening all around town. This makes it hard to focus on the films, but Emily and I saw as much as we could. We were both impressed with the quality of this year’s documentaries. Many of the non-fiction films at Sundance this year are big, muscular films — well-crafted, quick-moving docs that tell stories in a compelling way.
Several Mountainfilm alums premiered their film at Sundance 2013: Greg Barker (Sergio 2009, Koran by Heart 2011) screened Manhunt about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden; Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side 2008, Gonzo 2008, Magic Trip 2011) brought a film about Wikileaks; Lucy Walker (Waste Land 2010, Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom 2011) directed The Crash Reel about pro snowboarder Kevin Pearce and his struggle with a traumatic brain injury; and Roger Ross Williams (Music by Prudence 2010) presented God Loves Uganda.
Each year, we find a few films at Sundance that would play well at Mountainfilm, but this year the number was particularly high. I can’t mention which films we will invite to screen at Mountainfilm (because the program changes a lot between now and the festival), but Emily and I must now examine our list of options, prioritize which films we want and secure them. During this process, we look at a couple of factors, including quality of the filmmaking, importance of subject and whether a guest from the film would resonate with the Mountainfilm audience.
Some films will be easier to acquire because we already have strong relationships with the filmmakers or the distributors. Others will be in high demand after Sundance and require harder work. We have yet to ever get all the films we want from Sundance, but we aim to come damn close this year and bring some of these brawny films to you in May.