Wrapping Up the Sundance Film Festival

The last few days here have been amazing. Since I last checked in, I’ve seen six more films, some of which pushed my boundaries and expanded my worldview. I also had the ability to further immerse myself in some of the other events the festival had to offer, such as the Music Cafe, industry panels, and Sundance’s “Ignite” events.

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My tickets and credential for Sundance 2016

One of the extraordinary things about being here is simply the quantity and quality of people I’ve met. I’ve met film students from across the country, from Atlanta to Ohio to Portland. This allowed me to recognize how far-reaching film is and how many people outside of LA want to do the same things that many of us at SCA want to do. This revelation also made me feel privileged to go to a school right in the beating heart of the industry, and thankful for all of the opportunities I’ve had because of SCA’s reputation, location, and education.

Meeting people at Sundance also allows you to recognize just how small the town is. Twice, I’ve met people at events and then run into them on the bus the next day, jovially greeting each other and catching up on the films we’ve seen. I’ve also randomly met directors, editors, and actors simply waiting in line or sitting in the filmmaker lodge getting coffee, making every experience in Park City an opportunity to meet people.

Yesterday I attended “Speed Dating with the Filmmakers” where I sat around a table with four other young festival attendees and we had fifteen minutes to talk to whichever filmmaker was sitting at our table. After that time the filmmakers rotated, allowing us to hear the stories of those in the festival in an intimate setting where we could have a conversation and it was easy to ask questions. We talked with the producers, writers, and directors associated with the successful films at the festival, listening to their stories and advice.

Lastly, I’ll just give you another quick run down of the movies I saw since I last checked in, in case you ever come across these titles and want to know what to watch!

Newtown – A poignant, difficult documentary about the families affected by the Sandy Hook school shooting tragedy. The subject matter was worthwhile, but perhaps it was a little too soon for this documentary to be made, as the director’s respect towards her subjects at times limited her story’s ability to grow.

Mi Amiga Del Parque – A story by Argentinian director Ana Katz (no relation) about the difficulties of motherhood in a big city. It was a bit wacky and had a stream of consciousness feel at times, but overall was decently enjoyable to watch.

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John Krasinski talking about his experience directing “The Hollars”

The Bad Kids – A powerful documentary about the at-risk students and teachers that inhabit Black Rock High School in San Bernardino county. It beautifully balanced telling the students’ often tragic tales of hardship with the story of the woman who passionately runs this high school to give her students a better future.

The Hollars – A heartwarming film directed by John Krasinski about how family deals with the big moments in life. It had me laughing and crying at the same time; it was an enjoyable feel-good movie that seemed to bring back faith in humanity and family.

Between Land and Sea – A story about a man with muscular dystrophy living in a rural Latin American swamp and his mother’s love for him. It moved very slowly for me, which lessened the emotional impact it was trying to create.

I also saw a shorts program that had an interesting variety of short films.

Overall, Sundance was incredibly inspiring, and I can’t wait to get back to LA and start implementing all the ideas I’ve had while I was here!

– Jennifer Katz, Class of 2016

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