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Sundance: Films to See (Whether They Won or Not)!


The Sundance Institute organizes the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah each year as a way for independent filmmakers to get their projects out there amidst the sea of redundant Hollywood blockbusters, movie adaptations and sequels. Independent filmmakers often struggle with funding and promotion for their films, so being included in Sundance is a huge opportunity for all of the films chosen to receive acclaim and attention regardless of winning awards. This year’s awards lasted from January 17-27 and included tons of familiar faces and some that were not-so familiar!

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

Pussy Riot is a documentary about Russian feminist punk-rock collective Pussy Riot. Outspoken on issues such as gay rights, feminism and Vladimir Putin, interchanging members sport bright bandanas and perform protest-style in public areas around Moscow. They bring attention to the staggeringly sexist reflections of Russian society in which women are paid significantly less than men, among other issues.

A recent study on gender inequality in the film industry conducted by the Sundance Institute revealed that “gendered financial barriers”, “male-dominated industry networking”, and “stereotyping on set” comprised 43.1%, 39.2% and 15.7% respectively as the top three reasons why women directors only make up a mere 4.4% of directors across the top 100 box office films from 2002 to 2012.

Contrary to what popular culture would have us believe, being a feminist isn’t something that should evoke negative connotations! It encompasses ideals that all women should hold as women. Sundance acts as a huge support system for upcoming female directors and has supported the majority of those who have gone on to be the top-grossing directors of the past ten years.

The East

The East is a promising, action-packed portrayal of an anarchist group who vows to take down morally unsettling corporations through series of covert attacks. Trailer: http://youtu.be/Bn1hnzlClew?t=1s

Noteworthy actors: Ellen Page (Juno), Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood)


The Grand Jury winner for best drama, Fruitvale, revolves around the true story of 22-year-old Oscar Grant who was shot and killed on New Year’s Day by a police officer at the Oakland, California Fruitvale transit station. It was the first film since Precious in 2009 to take home both the Grand Jury Prize as well as the Audience Award. 

Noteworthy actors: Early-2000s teen heartthrob Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill, Freaky Friday), Octavia Spencer (The Help)

Other Cool Sundance films!

Catnip: Egress to Oblivion?: A funny and unique film that is only seven minutes long, won the Best Short Film Audience award and is on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

Sound City: Directed and produced by Dave Grohl, this doc chronicles the impact of Sound City Studios in Los Angeles, CA through interviews with the legendary musicians (Rivers Cuomo, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, Paul McCartney, and Neil Young – to note a few) that recorded there.

Stoker: Directed by Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance) and co-produced by Ridley Scott (Prometheus, Alien), the film Stoker has been depicted as a gothic thriller that follows mother and daughter (the psychotic mother played by Nicole Kidman) following the death of their husband/father. When mysterious uncle shows up following the death, both mother and daughter develop obsessive feelings towards him that are bound to end bloody.

Afternoon Delight: Winning the directing award for best U.S. Drama, Afternoon Delight is a “dramedy” that revolves around the sexual awakening of a woman in a marriage lacking just that. It stars Kathryn Hahn, who has played hilarious roles in the past, most notably as Will Ferrell’s brother (Adam Scott)’s wife in Step Brothers.

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