Archive for February 25th, 2014


by Sachin Gandhi

2014 marked the 30th anniversary of the Sundance Film Festival, a festival that has been the launching pad for many exciting cinematic voices over the years. The festival’s importance in discovering new directors was nicely highlighted by the trailer shown before all the films which gave a glimpse of some of the stellar titles that played at the festival. The first Sundance was held in 1985 but it is acknowledged that the festival shot into the limelight in 1989 with Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies and Videotapes which changed the perception of the festival. Besides being the launching pad for Soderbergh, Sundance ushered the discovery of many other American directors including Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, 1992), Kevin Smith (Clerks, 1994), Kelly Reichardt (River of Grass, 1994), Paul Thomas Anderson (Hard Eight, 1996) and Darren Aronofsky (Pi, 1998). All of these directors, plus many more, have made the jump from Independent to Commercial cinema thanks to their discovery at Sundance. Even James Wan’s Saw premiered at Sundance before it transformed into a multiplex franchise.

The success of certain Sundance films or genre means the media attention seems to gravitate towards a similar subset of the festival’s output. One hears plenty about how a certain work is a “Sundance film”, words which paint the festival in a single light. In recent years, that term has been associated with Little Miss Sunshine or Sunshine Cleaning, two films that seem to embody the kind of films that Sundance loves. But these films are not representative of the entire body of carefully programmed films that make up the Sundance film festival. Over the years, documentaries and a growing list of foreign films have premiered at the festival. Although, one would not know that from the media coverage. As this year showed, the films at Sundance represented a multi-tiered global outlook, not only in terms of the foreign film selections but the topics covered in many American films as well. Even though many films were American productions, they were shot in foreign locations or featured topics that were universal in theme. And as it turned out, through a series of intriguing choices, I ended up with many films which were tied together despite coming from different parts of the world. The 13 films I saw can be grouped together in the following 5 categories. (more…)

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