Our programming team — David Holbrooke and Emily Long — spent several days at the recent Sundance Film Festival, seeing documentaries to consider for Mountainfilm in Telluride. One pre-festival assessment of the overall programming by The New York Times stated, "If the Sundance Film Festival is a mirror of America, this year's installment depicts an unusually stark image of a broken place filled with broken people." Films that reflected the condition of the country — a wicked recession, two wars, political divisiveness — were in abundance with titles, such as Queen of Versailles, Finding North and The House I Live In (which won the Grand Prize).
What was also in abundance were films funded by Kickstarter, the crowd-funding website that many filmmakers have turned to for their budgets. Kickstarter’s party, according to The New York Times, was like other parties thrown by studios there, but it was also very different given that a remarkable 10 percent of the slate of Sundance films were funded by Kickstarter.
One party was different than any other: HBO celebrated their documentary Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present, which is about Abramovic, the performance artist whoshowed at the Museum of Modern Art last year, with something unforgettable — a silent party. Yes, silent — as in no talking, which was nothing short of bizarre in the schmooze capital that is Sundance. Mountainfilm Festival Director David Holbrooke (seen in this photo with Abramovic and filmmaker Stacey Reiss) put on the silent garb and became mute.
As odd as it was, it was also delightful to be quiet and experience an enhanced awareness, especially as we realized that not talking didn't mean not communicating. As the NY Times account of the HBO party said, "Guests walked around with a range of emotions on their faces: fascinated, uncomfortable, bored, amused — though no on seemed metamfiezomaiphobic" (which, of course, means a fear of mimes or pantomime).