Sundance Insider



Sundance Insider
January 21–30, 2005 • Printed On Recycled Paper • Available At Festival • Sunday, January 23, 2005
Fred Hayes/
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Park City yesterday, you might
have thought each one of them
was driving. Take the shuttle!
An American accustomed to watching the nightly network news could be
forgiven for thinking that the war in Iraq is
by now a routinized engagement and not
the viciously uncertain conflict that it is.
Reports of seven dead soldiers appear one
day, five the next, nine the day after that.
It is a slow and unnerving trickle of death,
but through the television, at least, the
news from Iraq now has a humdrum quality to it. War, prolonged conflict, occupation: America is now entangled in all three,
but American news broadcasts can feel
removed and reassuring — as if war were
waged by correspondents standing there
in the sand with a microphone.
Screening Change:
Joy of Life replaces Tropic of Cancer
6:15 pm
Holiday Village Cinemas 3
The war documentaries at Sundance this
year, which are screening in the World
Documentary Competition, are a bracing
antidote to all that nightly cage rattling
from the broadcast networks. Even calling
them “war documentaries” seems odd:
They do not feature archival footage from
the wars they depict, and they do not educate their audiences about the chronology
or the battles of the wars they cover.
All of them, though, are told from deep
within conflicts, in indelibly personal and
idiosyncratic ways. It is not so surprising
that they are all made by European filmmakers. Why We Fight by the American
filmmaker Eugene Jarecki is a cogent analysis of war, but its topic is the American
military-industrial complex. American wars
tend to happen far from American soil, and
it seems natural that American documentaries about war tend to be analytical. The
idea that a documentary about war could
be poetic, incantatory, elliptical, unflinchingly grim, or blatantly refuse to entertain
has not yet flourished in America.
“We received a lot of work that focused on
conflict and the aftermath of war, but not
from the United States,” said Diane Weyerman, Director of the Sundance Documentary Program. The films selected for this
year’s Festival that cover conflict are “very
human,” she commented. “They’re not
didactic; they’re about war and conflict
Screening Change:
Duane Hopwood replaces Kekexili
6:00 pm
Trolley Theatre A
affecting an individual, affecting a family, affecting a village. There’s tremendous humanity in the work we’re seeing, even though
it’s dealing with something very harsh and
It may seem obvious that human stories are
the ones that end up at the Festival – those
kinds of movies, and not academic ones,
tend to be the ones we want to see – but the
filmmakers at this year’s Festival who depict
war, occupation and prolonged conflict
have done everything they can to avoid approaching those topics in a direct, stentorian
British filmmaker Sean McAllister’s inroad
to covering occupied Iraq arrived via the
inscrutable logic of chance. Six months
after the fall of Saddam Hussein, McAllister (Working for the Enemy) decided that
it might be useful to go to Hotel Baghdad,
amid the grenades and rocket launchers. “I
wanted to make a film about what liberation meant for ordinary Iraqis,” McAllister
explains at the beginning of The Liberace
of Baghdad. He was then “led astray,” as he
says in the film, by Samir Peter, a passionate, open-hearted Iraqi concert pianist who,
in his heyday, earned $10,000 a month from
his performances.
The viewer immediately senses that McAllister’s hunch to follow Peter rather than pursue
his earlier, more sociological notion is the
richer path. McAllister stumbled upon a telling family drama: Peter’s daughter supports
The following changes occured after the
Film Guide was printed:
Finding Poetry in Conflict
H 41 L 30
Each year the Festival attracts
over 35,000 people. If you were in
41 L 28
Screening Change:
Mitchellville replaces Live-in Maid
9:00 pm
Trolley Theatre A
Screening Change:
Swimmers replaces Grizzly Man
9:45 pm
Broadway Centre Cinemas 5
El Inmortal.
Hussein, and she adamantly disagrees
with her father, an unabashed admirer of
America in a place where being tagged as
a Western collaborator invites death. There
is a world of commentary, as well as human interest, in the impatient sighs of their
“In the evenings I’d sit and have a drink,”
McAllister said of the hotel where Peter
had a room in the basement and would
occasionally perform. “The tendency is
for these people just to appear,” he said.
“That’s what I’ve learned. Instead of going
out to Falluja to find a story, it’s right there,
While Peter seemed to emerge from nowhere and, with the force of his personalCONTINUED ON PAGE
{4 }
How to Wait List
Show up at a screening one hour before
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receive two cards. Thirty minutes before
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02 Stalking...
03 Culture Wars Panel
05 Romantico
07 Q&A
07 From the Street
10 Music Café
12 Flotsam/Jetsam
13 Seen & Overheard
14 The List
Liberace of Baghdad.
2005 Sundance Film Festival
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Stalking... Shelby Knox, documentary subject
Each day The Daily Insider tracks a different person
through the Festival. Today’s column was contributed by the dynamic young woman whose story is
documented in The Education of Shelby Knox.
2:58 am: I just woke up and ran to my suitcase to
check that my black sweater is indeed tucked safely
inside. I am not sure why I thought it wasn’t, but
maybe I can sleep now.
3:24 am: Now I am boiling water for some tea in
hopes of calming the butterflies in my stomach and
salvaging any hope of sleep before my alarm goes
off at 5:00 am.
4:15 am: The butterflies must find tea invigorating
because they are flapping harder than before. I give
up. I am definitely awake now. I am going to go get
in the shower and try to calm down. I have never
been so excited or nervous in my life.
5:45 am: I can’t get my suitcase closed. I have way
too much stuff. I just don’t know what I’ll want to
7:45 am: On board the plane now, still shaking with
excitement. I can’t believe I am finally leaving. I am
headed to the Sundance Film Festival. I keep thinking things like “this don’t happen to little girls from
Lubbock, Texas.” I am so lucky, so grateful and so
Shelby Knox.
11:00 am: I am in the air somewhere over Utah.
The snowcapped mountains are beautiful. I’ve
never seen so much snow. I am getting antsy and
restless. I am so ready to be in Park City. I have
redone my makeup, again. I want to look semihuman when the Sundance Channel crew picks me
up at the Salt Lake City airport.
11:36 am: Just landed, in the fog! It was really
scary and really interesting landing. I am so excited to finally be here. I have been waiting since
November. The Sundance Channel crew picked me
up, and now we are driving to Park City to meet
the filmmakers, Marion and Rose, at the condo.
12:14 pm: It’s so fun to see Marion and Rose, and
to see all this amazing snow. There are so many
people in this condo and they all are going in different directions at the same time. Rose and I are
going to go swimming to escape all this craziness.
2:15 pm: We miss the pool hours. Now we’re
heading over to headquarters so I can meet our
publicist, Susan Norget. She gave me an update
and schedule.
4:00 pm: I went to get a MAC makeover. It was so
amazing. I got false eyelashes! I look older, I think.
I hope I look like myself for the premiere!
5:55 pm: My screening starts in two minutes and
we’re stuck in traffic.
6:19 pm: Arrive at the screening only to be ushered into a corner, so no one knows I am here.
Problem is, there is a film crew following me and
a guy trying to take my picture. I am shown to my
seat after the theater is dark.
8:00 pm: I absolutely loved the film. I’ve seen a
rough cut, but this is the first time I’ve seen the
finished film. I am proud to be part of such a wonderful project. The Q & A is amazing. I love connecting with an audience that just saw my film. I
can’t wait to see what other audiences think.
10:30 pm: At some restaurant, trying not to fall
asleep in my salad. It feels an hour later than it is
to me, and I have been awake a long time. These
people came up to me and said they had seen
the film and had been watching me all through
dinner. They wanted my autograph! I was very
nice and signed their notebooks, but inside I was
wondering why they would want the autograph of
a teenage girl from Texas. Maybe this is all bigger
than I thought. Whatever it is, I love it and can’t
wait to see what happens next.
Shelby Knox is currently a sophomore at the
University of Texas at Austin majoring in political
science. Her birthday is the same as Bill Clinton’s.
2005 Sundance Film Festival
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Are We at War With Ourselves?
The Sundance Film Festival on Saturday afternoon
launched the first of several panels scheduled this
week at the Yarrow Hotel Theatre exploring issues
pertaining to filmmaking and its impact on society.
As introduced by Festival programmer Caroline
Libresco, The Culture Wars delved into the aftermath
of last year’s presidential election, positing a general inquiry into how culture informs moral values
in this country in the wake of an election that was
supposedly won on moral values.
Marty Kaplan, associate dean of the Annenberg
School of Communications at the University of California and a former motion picture and television
producer, moderated a panel that included writer-director Don Roos, whose current feature Happy Endings opened this year’s Festival; best-selling novelist Walter Mosley; musician and filmmaker Michael
Franti; Byron Turk, the White House Correspondent
for the National Review as well as the author of The
Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy; Hamburg Cell director
Antonia Bird, a last-minute replacement for Killer
Films producer Christine Vachon; and former Clinton
White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, who is
currently the director of the Center for American
Progress, a nonpartisan research and educational
institute promoting civil liberties that co-sponsored
the event.
The conversation opened with Kaplan’s insistence
that the so-called cultural wars that have come to
divide the country into red and blue factions are, in
fact, wars that have existed for some time. “There
are old themes, in our country and in all of thinking
about society,” Kaplan said. “When we talk about
these wars, there are deep roots sunk.” Subjects
examined during the 90-minute panel included such
wildly diverse topics as F.C.C. censorship, the success of the African-American publishing industry,
Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction, same sex
Editorial Director & Publisher
civil rights, new distribution channels for documentary
films and the eternal struggle for access to funding for
independent filmmakers.
Kaplan kicked off his argument with remarks made
during President George W. Bush’s recent inauguration
and questioned the President’s insistence that Americans are experiencing more personal freedoms right
now than at any other time in history. Turk, the lone
conservative panelist responded, “The state of civil
liberties has been perfectly fine under Bush, considering the aftermath of 9/11,” prompting vocal disagreement from some members of the audience.
Roos, who is openly gay and recently obtained a civil
union in Vermont with his companion of twelve years,
surprised the audience by agreeing with Turk’s claim,
adding that he has not noticed any reductions in his
civil rights despite so much chatter from the Left indicating otherwise. “I feel perfectly fine and freer than I
did when I was in my 20’s, when you were more free
to denigrate homosexuals,” Roos said, adding that he
would still not patronize the states that would have
denied him the right to marry his significant other.
Later, after it was revealed by Podesta that the popular
ABC series Desperate Housewives is just as popular
among so-called red states and blue states, the Los
Angeles-based Roos proclaimed that all Americans
were sexual hypocrites. “It’s a very human thing,”
{4 }
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2005 Sundance Film Festival
Sunday, January 23, 2005
{1 }
ity, usurp McAllister’s original plans, being taken over by
a subject (or subjects) is precisely what Simone Bitton
had in mind when she began shooting Wall, her searching and spare examination of the Israeli construction of
a gargantuan and extended wall between its own nation
and Palestinian territory.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict may be the most well-recorded conflict in modern history, but for many people, it
is far from clear what either side demands from the other,
or hopes to attain. “People see it on the media every day,
every night,” said Bitton, who has made more than 15
films about the Middle East and North Africa. “They all
say, ‘We don’t understand anymore.’” The issue is complex, “there’s no real explanation; the media makes things
more complicated than they are,” Bitton said
So Bitton, an Israeli and French citizen who also speaks
Arabic, decided to construct a document that would provide ruthless clarity on the matter. One of her techniques
while filming the land around the wall was to leave the
camera and microphone on in long, long takes. People
would approach the crew out of curiosity. “Oh, you’re
filming the fence,” they would say. “What do you think
about it?” the filmmaker would ask. And then the people
would begin talking about themselves and their own perceptions of the stark edifice before them. In many cases,
Bitton decided not to film their faces. Instead, she lets
them talk. “They think about the wall and they meditate
about it with the spectator,” she pointed out. “It’s the truth
of the shoot. It’s not an edited manipulation.”
Bitton’s stylized take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
does not feature any stock footage of the war, and its only
talking-head interview is left wholly intact, interspersed
throughout the film in long, eerie takes. There is a spare
poetry to it. “A poetic aesthetic has existed for a very long
time in documentary in certain parts of Europe,” Weyerman said. “But it hasn’t been exposed in this country that
To say that a film is “poetic” makes it sound like it is
something you should watch rather than something you
want to watch. But poetic documentaries, like other
movies, can entertain. Mercedes Moncada Rodríquez
has learned that lesson well, but that may be because
she doesn’t think of herself as a poetic documentary
filmmaker. El Inmortal, her incantatory and haunting portrait of a rural Nicaraguan family still reeling from that
country’s civil war in the early 80s, reveals itself in elliptical layers of increasing tension. After interviewing scores
of families in rural Nicaragua, Rodríquez found a family
whose siblings were forced to fight against one another
in war. “So when I shot at someone, I would say, ‘Please
Lord, let my bullets never hit anyone in my family,’” one
of the daughters says. “That is what I would say, but I
had to defend myself.” Coming across the corpses of
enemy soldiers on the battlefield, she would turn them
around if she couldn’t see their faces – that way she
could determine if one of them was her brother.
Grim stuff, but El Inmortal is a visual wonder: Rodríquez,
who lives in Madrid but grew up in Nicaragua, captures
the death rattle of a just-slaughtered pig, but rather than
display the carnage, her camera sticks tight to the bloody
knife the pig’s killer dangles eerily above its head. A
strange and ominous bus named El Inmortal appears in
odd spots in the village, and appears to call forth mala
suerte, more insidious than mere “bad luck,” its English
But do not call Rodríquez a poet. “I don’t think my intention is poetic; my intention is cinematic,” she said. “The
way I try to make a film is to keep in the abstractions,”
she said. “In some cases, if you are only filming the
reality and talking heads, that’s very limited. I am talking
with real people, and I have a responsibility to the things
they are saying to me, but I can’t clearly separate the line
between fiction and documentary.”
If there is one war documentary at the Festival this year
that is emblematic of a “European” sensibility, it is
Finnish filmmaker Pirjo Honkasalo’s The 3 Rooms of Melancholia, an unreservedly bleak, and affecting, portrait
of the children caught in the conflict between Russia and
Chechnya. The three “rooms” of the title are the film’s
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That particular drama – the kind that makes you want
to look away it’s so painful – can easily cross over into
maudlin territory, but Honkasalo’s patient eye follows the
children beyond that moment of crisis into the more settled life that ensues. They were taken from their mother
by a woman named Hadizhat, who “collects children”
and gives them new homes. She is the quiet mover of
this film, never interviewed or explained, although her
work and her personality are gripping. Partly because of
its refusal to over-analyze what it depicts, The 3 Rooms
of Melancholia has the power to leave a viewer quite
literally speechless.
It almost goes without saying that “these are not films
that will likely have a huge commercial potential,” as
Weyerman pointed out. That may be the grim reality,
all the more grim because all of the war documentaries
at the Festival this year manage to express something
universal through the details of their subjects’ lives, and
deserve large audiences.
But Weyerman thinks the future is positive for documentaries like these whose style may seem so foreign to
Americans. “Distributors are taking a chance on docs in
general that are not commercial, but will appeal to a limited audience and are more artistic,” she said. “It would
not be unlike many feature films that are not going to
reach a large audience, but will reach a smaller, target
audience. With the theatrical marketplace opening up,
there is room for these kinds of films.”
{3 }
Roos said. “We like to watch Desperate Housewives but if
you quizzed us about it the next day, we’d say we object.
We’re always at war with ourselves.”
One of the more thoughtful questions that surfaced during the panel was whether the majority of the country
was more tolerant and open-minded than the current
political climate would lead to believe. Could this perception be more of an issue of grandstanding politicians
trying to push a conservative agenda? In response to the
ratings success of Desperate Housewives, Podesta indicated that the so-called red states hardly seem offended
by the prime-time hit. “People aren’t exactly rising up and
demanding change,” he said of the program.
Bird, a native Britain who holds a green card that permits
her to work in the United States, criticized the American media and the way it covers world events before
condemning capitalism and its tendency to disenfran-
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three sad sections (“longing,” “breathing” and “remembering”), and in each one Honkasalo portrays, with very
little dialogue, the ways in which conflict works itself
into daily life: a child playing in a gas mask even though
there’s no evident war going on around him; a boy who’s
shunned at the Kronstadt Cadet Academy because the
other boys think he’s Chechen. But the scenes that have
the power to make viewers shuffle and cringe in their
seats involve a group of young siblings who are taken
from their mother because she is too sick to take care of
them. They are very young, but they all seem to sense
that they will probably never see their mother again.
chise those without access to power. “I’m not a fan of
capitalism,” Bird said. “I don’t think it works and I’d like
to see it ended.” She also spoke out against the small
number of media organizations who hold the power to
determine what audiences can and cannot see. Mosley
agreed with Bird, “There’s such a small group of people
who make those decisions that those decisions start to
[resemble] a caste [system],” he said.
Other topics addressed included the recent attack on
the popular children’s cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants
by the conservative Focus on the Family leader James
Dobson, who claimed that the television series supported a pro-homosexual lifestyle rooted in personal choice
and encouraged the idea of tolerance for other sexual
identities. Amid laughter from the audience, Podesta
reminded his fellow panelists that sponges do not have
even sexes and therefore could not be held accountable
to Dobson’s assertions.
Sundance Institute President and Founder Robert
Redford welcomed
filmmakers and other
guests to Sundance
Village for the traditional
filmmaker’s brunch yesterday, emphasizing that
Sundance is first and
foremost a filmmaker’s
festival. On a Clear Day
director Gabby Dellal,
Juror Jehane Noujaim,
and Sundance Documentary Program Director Diane Weyermann
were among those who
escaped the hustle and
bustle of Park City to
attend the event.
2005 Sundance Film Festival
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Like the Mexican mariachi singers in his documentary Romántico, director Mark Becker (Jules at
Eight) used to walk the streets of San Francisco’s
Mission District. He would approach the mariachis,
introduce himself, chat with them, and ask them
if they would mind answering a few questions for
a short, character-based documentary he wanted
to make about mariachis in the Mission District.
Becker, who co-edited The Lost Boys of Sudan,
wanted to comment on “the nature of how people
risk their lives to come to the United States. And the
U.S. in so many ways encourages and also tries to
prevent it.”
musical partner; in Mexico, he began “belting it out,”
as Becker said. “There was something very moving
about the beauty of having a revelation about Carmelo. Instead of having that be a voice-over, I let the
viewer see it. I tried to make the whole film a series of
revelations about Carmelo.”
But that’s almost an accident; by the time he got to
Mexico, Becker knew that overt commentary about
immigration was not what he was after. “When my
film is working at its best,” he said, “it’s about Carmelo
striving to find peace and happiness.”
Those revelations are small, specific, compelling,
charming, and sometimes sad. “There’s no enormous
drama in the film where something’s happening and
you want to know what’s going to happen. Will they
live? Will they win the big basketball game?” Becker
pointed out. The bittersweet little details of Carmelo’s
life are, in fact, indicative of the confused immigration policy between the United States and Mexico.
Carmelo Muñiz Sanchez.
Potential subjects were not difficult to spot —Hispanic men loaded down with guitars; Hispanic men
peering into restaurant windows to see if their
services were needed; Hispanic men who may not
have spoken a word of English. But pinpointing one
trusting and engaging subject who would talk about
his illegal status remained, for a time, elusive. “If I
put myself in their shoes, it seems like it might be
pretty random for them when I approached them,”
Becker said. “I’m always a little shy about it.”
And then one afternoon, Becker came across
Carmelo Muñiz Sanchez, a genial and earnest 57year-old man who revealed to him that he had been
waiting to tell his life story for some time. “I hope
I don’t disappoint him,” Becker thought, because
the filmmaker wanted to depict the ways in which
U.S. immigration policy had fomented an “amazing bachelor culture” of mariachis that Sanchez was
only one member of — a group of men “all living
together sort of like surrogate families.”
Five days after Becker started shooting, Sanchez
announced that he was going back to Mexico, torn
between the good money he could make in the U.S.
and his regret at being an absentee father and husband. Sanchez’s decision ruined Becker’s notion that
Romántico would be “a film that was going to hold
Mexico at bay” and changed it “to one that very
much lets you experience Mexico.”
“I knew that I wanted to follow him, but I didn’t
have the money,” Becker recalled. Two months later,
after raising more funds, Becker watched as Sanchez
revealed more aspects of himself in Salvatierra, his
little hometown in the state of Guanajuato. In San
Francisco, Sanchez was always la segunda voz, the
back-up singer, when performing with Arturo, his
Clayton Chase/
But personality quickly trumped any overt discussion of immigration policy in Becker’s formulation
of his documentary. “It was definitely Sanchez’s
openness that was the catalyst for the film being
about him,” Becker said. And there were the “little
surprises” Sanchez kept throwing Becker’s way:
Sanchez disclosed that he had been cursed at one
time, and used to think he was an awful father and
husband. Even though he felt supremely in charge
of his own destiny, he bathed in garlic water, just
like the spiritual curandera adviser told him. Sanchez —uneducated and wanting to carve out only a
tiny niche in the world for himself — was becoming
a poetically complex man.
2005 Sundance Film Festival
Sunday, January 23, 2005
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2005 Sundance Film Festival
Sunday, January 23, 2005
The Talent Given Us
Question: If you could meet one person at
the festival, who would it be? Why? What would you
say to them?
Judy and Allen Wagner’s quiet Upper West Side life of
Q: How much was improvisation and how much was
Andrew Wagner: This is a scripted narrative. That being said,
there were moments when we certainly made discoveries.
Particularly with my mom and dad, who are non-actors
— whereas my sisters and Bumby [Judy Dixon] and Billy
are actors — I wanted to let them have some latitude in
finding their way in the scenes. So rather than having my
dad fixated on the script, if he needed to find some word for
something, it was certainly okay. But from start to finish it’s
a script.
Q: How long did it take you to convince your parents to
do this?
Andrew Wagner: The better part of three to four months. I
think they said “no” about six different times. My mom’s
first answer was, “Who wants to look at my fat face?”
Photos by Andrea Meyer
crossword puzzles and Zabar’s turns upside down when,
during a contentious trip with daughters Emily and Maggie
to their beach house, Judy suddenly decides they will drive
cross-country to see their son Andrew. But wait, isn’t he the
man behind the camera? In his first feature, Andrew Wagner
used the talent given him, casting his family and friends,
actors Judy Dixon and Billy Wirth, in a road movie in which
the Wagners are forced to confront their strained marriage
and two very neurotic daughters. At an audience Q&A after
the premiere of The Talent Given Us, Andrew Wagner and
his cast spoke about the challenges of making the ultimate
home movie.
Andrew Wagner directing All the Talent Given Us.
Doug Sadler, Director, Swimmers:
Emily Wagner: It wasn’t for me because I just think it’s fun.
I really enjoy going to those places. The more weird and
scary and challenging and uncomfortable, I think as actors
you kind of get more out of it.
“Steve Buscemi and I would say, ‘Buy me a pint.’
He would be a good guy to drink a pint with.”
Maggie Wagner: For me it was just fun to be me in a movie.
I guess I’m kind of interesting, now that I watch myself. I
guess we all are — more than we really thought. It was
fun just to be who you really are. You don’t really get that
chance when you’re an actress —you’re playing parts,
you’re bringing yourself to the role, but you’re not really
Andrew Wagner: You are very interesting. I’ve always
felt that.
Q: How was it directing your family?
Allen, Judy and Emily Wagner.
Q: How much of it is autobiographical?
Andrew Wagner: It draws heavily from an emotional and
a historical truth. Definitely for me it was genre-bending.
Without a doubt, coming out of the gate our intention was
to make a film, and for it to survive as a creative work, but
in no uncertain terms it was very important to me that we
really try to be as vulnerable as possible to bring reality to
that story.
Q: How come you’re not in the movie?
Andrew Wagner: I did peek in at the end of the film. I have a
mild confession of sorts — there was a smaller scene where
I tried a little bit to participate in the story, but I’m better
behind the camera. And ultimately it’s not about me. I hope
it doesn’t seem like I’m taking potshots at anyone. In the
event that it seems that way, I have my ex-girlfriend bringing me down a few notches.
Q: Were some of the scenes you did difficult for your
sisters, like talking about sex with your parents? Was it
ever uncomfortable, or were you just in the mode of “I’m
Andrew Wagner: It is amazing because in the last 12 hours
of being here together, I have wondered how we did this
for 37 days. I can’t for the life of me imagine what was happening inside of me that drove me to pull this all together
and stay with it, but that’s with reflection and time. In the
making of it, it was a really dynamic and vital experience.
Had I made this 10 years ago, I probably would have been
much more blinded by all the emotional and psychological ties that we all have in the family, but at the ripe age of
41 – well, 40 when I was making this – I stepped back a bit
and really treated it as a story. So it didn’t take long for me
directorially to find that observational posture and just see
where this story would bring us — toward intimacy and
exposure and possibly some revelation — and to that end
I can only say that the actors just availed themselves in the
most surprising and complete way. My mother, her style
is to get hysterical about things before she does them but
then just go totally into them, and from the moment we
started shooting she had her script out and was memorizing her lines and was very concerned about continuity
and wardrobe. With my father I had some suspicion that
if he could just forget that the camera was there, he might
portray some of that beautiful and heartbreaking life force
and affliction. It was just like life for him. And my sisters,
they’re just pros, love to work, ready to just get busy and be
involved in something creative and artistic. And of course
Bumby and Billy, I’ve worked with these guys for years, and
they’re just always ready and always 100% there.
Chris Thrasher, Publicist, Billy's Dad is a
Fudge-packer : “The lift ticket guy on the ski slopes.
‘How ya doin'? Nice to get away from the festival for
a change.’”
Rebecca Sekulich, event director, Queer
Lounge: “Nicole Kidman, she’s the most beautiful
person I’ve ever seen in my whole life. She’s amazing. I’d say that she should come visit us, because
she embraces the community.”
Q: Were there other filmmakers whom you looked to for
Andrew Wagner: When it came to using my family, no,
I can’t say I looked to anyone for that — that came from
pure desperation. You’re 40 years old and teaching public
school — great kids, I love them — and I just could not
find the door into my career. I’ve been at this for 20 years.
There were certain circumstances that led me to this story,
but what came after that was, “My God, I have to use my
parents!” I fought that off for months until it proved irresistible, in spite of the warnings from all my friends. The second
part of the answer is about my professional heroes, and
there’re so many, but I certainly look towards the films of
Mike Leigh and John Cassavetes in terms of their attention
to the detail and intimacy, finding the extraordinary in the
ordinary and celebrating small moments. I have a sneaking suspicion and hope that the aggregate of these small
moments might lead to something that hopefully can make
you feel something.
Germaine Lewis, aspiring actor and
student: “I'd like to meet Mr. Robert Redford himself
because he started it all. What would I say to him?
‘Great job!’”
2005 Sundance Film Festival
Sunday, January 23, 2005
2005 Sundance Film Festival
Sunday, January 23, 2005
2005 Sundance Film Festival
Music Café: Sunpants
Sunday, January 23, 2005
by Bob Moczydlowsky, Contributor
“Raz Mesinai, Gary Louris, and Pete Fitzpatrick are three
very different musical personalities and come together as
performers in a unique way,” said Peter Golub, Director,
Sundance Institute Film Music Program. “They each come
from a different part of the present musical terrain, but each
has an uncanny ability to bring the narrative, storytelling
element into their music.”
That challenge—to sublimate individual expression in favor
of collaborative service to a director’s images and emotions—is part of what attracted the three musicians to the
Composers Lab master class. That, and the opportunity to
be influenced by the musical processes of the program’s
accomplished creative advisors Osvaldo Golijov, Thomas
Newman, and Bill Bernstein.
“Osvaldo Golijov is one of my favorite composers, so to
work with him, and to take criticism from Thomas Newman
after trying to score scenes from Road to Perdition, it was
a great learning experience,” Mesinai said. “I’m a loner.
I work on my own. I never used to trust anyone with my
ideas. But directors have to trust composers, and they are
going to let you know if it isn’t working. I understand that
feeling, and learned that we musicians have a lot to learn
Pete Fitzpatrick.
is not often that a band plays its first-ever show in
the Festival’s Music Café, especially with just a single
rehearsal. But that is exactly what happens tonight when
Gary Louris, Pete Fitzpatrick and Raz Mesinai—three of
this year’s Film Music Program Composers Lab fellows—
take the stage for a loose, experimental performance of
each members’ songs and compositions. “It is going to
be like what we were doing in the Lab, off the cuff,” said
Louris when asked about the performance. “We may
even, God forbid, just jam a bit. I don’t even know if I’m
going to sing. We probably won’t have a set list.”
“The idea is to have a little show of how these three
diverse guys can get together and make some beautiful
harmony,” Fitzpatrick added. “We truly did influence each
other during the Lab program. So we’re feeling some
pressure to make music that represents the program. It’ll
Raz Mesinai (left) and Gary Louris.
be a party atmosphere. We want to get into some killer
grooves, have fun, and ideally a few people will like it.”
But do not fret. These guys are not Johnny-come-lately
indie rock darlings. Louris is a prodigiously gifted singer/
songwriter who helmed the pioneering alt-country band
The Jayhawks, enjoying a near 20-year run beginning
with the rise of the No Depression scene and ending with
the universally praised 2003 album Rainy Day Music. He
is also a founding member of the roots-rock super-group
Golden Smog, loosely comprised of musicians from
Soul Asylum, Wilco, and The Replacements. Mesinai is a
Middle Eastern-influenced composer, percussionist, and
engineer who has released albums under the monikers
Badawi and Sub Dub for John Zorn’s avant-garde label
Tzadik. He also recently contributed to the score of director Mark Becker’s documentary Romantico, screening in
the Festival’s American Documentary Competition. Fitzpatrick is a guitarist and multi-instrumentalist for the art
pop outfit Clem Snide, and he also writes and records
with his own band, The Pee Wee Fist. He recently added
his signature bowed-banjo sound to the score of director Hank Rogerson’s Shakespeare Behind Bars (also
screening in the American Documentary Competition),
along with writing, directing, and scoring his own short
film, Iris.
{ 11 }
2005 Sundance Film Festival
{ 10 }
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Sundance on Any Budget
from directors. If we can let go of some ego and support
what they’re doing, we can get a lot out of that process.”
For Louris, who found significant inspiration in the talents
of the other fellows, the lab experience solidified his desire
to work outside of a touring band’s constraints — hence,
tonight’s adventurous and collaborative performance.
“When I was asked to perform at the Festival, I thought
we should exhibit the spirit of the lab,” Louris chuckled. “It
was this intensive schooling — learning about the process,
working with other lab — participants, and growing close to
them all. We learned to be a little more subservient, more
of a complement to other ideas than our own self-centered
expression, which can be hard for a songwriter, you know.”
Onstage tonight, Louris, Mesinai, and Fitzpatrick will attempt to “score” each other’s songs. Expect a dizzying array
of sampled beats, electric banjo, guitar effects, and hand
drumming. There will also be country-twinged vocal harmonies, an occasional electronic beep or blip, and a recurring
Middle Eastern vibe. “We’re all contributing something, and
we’re all ready to do some deconstructing,” Fitzpatrick said
with a laugh.
“We will sort of remix each other’s songs as we play live,”
added Mesinai. “It’s going to be really diverse from one
song to the next. We’ve never played together, and there
will be only one day of rehearsing. It is really going to be
fun.” Gary Louris, Raz Mesinai, and Pete Fitzpatrick take up
the wry new band name Sunpants for tonight’s 9:15 p.m.
performance at the Music Café.
Sunpants is playing tonight from 9:15 ro 10. Also scheduled
are alaska!, Andy Tubman and The Jane Does, and Calexico.
For evening events at the Music Café, credential holders
and pre-paid tickets receive priority admittance (tickets can
be purchased at the main box office). The general public will
be admitted on a space-available basis for a $10.00 cover
charge. The Music Café is located at the Star Bar at Plan B,
268 Main Street.
Sundance on 0 Dollars
Sundance on Unlimited Dollars
On the floor in the condos of
push-over Sundance staff.
The house where Greenlight put up
J. Lo and Ben.
Trudging home at 3 am in
frozen sneakers.
Free party hors d’oeuvres
and vodka.
Free party hors d’oeuvres and vodka.
Pick-up Line
Do you know where
Albertson’s is?
Naomi’s having a little get-together later.
Want to come along?
Selling popcorn at the ArcLight.
Hollywood phony.
Role Model
Sundance Directing Award winner.
Whoever is currently top dog on
EW’s A-List.
Jansport backpack (filled with
free energy bars).
Small dog wearing sheepskin coat.
Cell Phone Ring Tone
Deathstar theme song.
Can’t figure out how to change it.
Favorite Sundance Venue
Eccles (balcony).
Eccles (lobby).
Festival Crush
Volunteer distributing cute
Festival Programmer with the
disarming smile.
Extracurricular Activity
Room service.
Skeleton in Closet
Never saw Primer.
Said Napoleon Dynamite would flop.
2005 Sundance Film Festival
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Merry multimedia pranksters with a flair for the
absurd, the Austin, Texas-based filmmakers Nathan
and David Zellner dare you to question the veracity
of their outrageous cinematic universe. In their short
film Flotsam/Jetsam, a man adrift at sea suffers a gar-
David (left) and Nathan Zellner.
ish freak accident that the actor/producer Nathan and
writer/director David insists really happened during the
shoot. “Naysayers challenge the notion of a cinema
verité, but we beg to differ,” David said, coyly. “Film is
the purest, most truthful and untainted art form to have
ever existed. The same goes for videotape, which some
studies indicate being 24% more pure and truthful even
than film.”
The Zellners are no strangers to rollicking absurdity in
both life and art. The siblings’ professional bio indicates
that both appeared as featured extras in Pasolini’s
orgiastic 1976 “coming-of-age” drama, Salo, which
would have occurred when both were children. But
wait, this is a true story. “Thanks in part to a summer
filmmaking camp, Salo was our first exposure to all
the components that combine to create movie magic,”
David boasted. “I was ‘Mangia Victim #17’ and Nathan
was ‘Mangia Victim #11.’”
The brothers arrive in Park City with several short films
and two features to their name, including the self-financed 1998 drama Plastic Utopia, hailed by Film Threat
as “David Lynch meets the Zucker Brothers meets the
Coen Brothers,” and 2002’s Guy Maddinesque Frontier,
in which the Zellners painstakingly (and side-splittingly)
created the quasi-fictional kingdom of Bulbovia, nestled
at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. “We wanted
to make an Eastern-European surrealist war movie,”
insisted Nathan. “So we employed the language of
the little-known country of Bulbovia, which is the most
downtrodden country in the history of the world — one
that has been occupied by almost every nation of any
significance including Switzerland. It’s based on an old
folk tale we adapted for the big screen — the first U.S.Bulbovian coproduction.”
Colorado born and Texas bred, the Zellners share a scant
year-and-a-half age difference that has fostered a close
working relationship ever since Nathan joined David in
Austin after his brother completed a film studies degree
at the University of Texas. They started a production
company, Fortified, and threw themselves into the vibrant Austin film scene that counts Richard Linklater and
Robert Rodriguez as founding fathers and patron saints.
Like the denizens of Linklater’s Slacker, the Austin film
scene is densely interwoven, with key players sharing
actors, crew members, and equipment. In true Austinstyle, the Zellners obtained the services of star animator Bob Sabiston (Waking Life, A Scanner Darkly) for a
grueling day’s shoot in the Gulf of Mexico. The brothers
have also collaborated with actor Wiley Wiggins (Dazed
and Confused) on several films. “It’s an easy place to
get stuff made on a small scale,” said Nathan of the
duo’s home base.
To view more of the Zellners’ work, visit their website
at, their webzine POI at
or view their music video for Bulbovian technoclash
superstars Precarious Warehäus Dwellers at www.
2005 Sundance Film Festival
Sunday, January 23, 2005
William Greaves and Louise Archambault at
the "Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take 2 1/2"
Fred Hayes/
Rebecca Sapp/
Jemal Countess/
Billy Boyd, Peter Mullan, Benedict Wong, Gaby Dellal, director of "On A
Clear Day" and Brenda Blethyn at Opening Night Salt Lake.
Randall Michelson/
Mark Duplass, writer/director of "Puffy Chair", Steve Lawson, executive
director of the Williamson Film Festival, Jay Duplass, director of "Puffy Chair"
and Kathryn Aselton, at the Opening Night Reception.
Rebecca Sapp/
Clayton Chase/
La Nina, Miss Prissy, and Daisy at the
Rize premiere.
Ziad Doueiri at the“Lila Says” Premiere.
Rebecca Sapp/
Geoff Sands and David Cole at the
Sundance Patron Council Reception.
Joey Pantoliano and Martin Luther at the VW Music Party.
Jennifer Hathorne at Opening Night Salt Lake.
Rusty White/
Fred Hayes/
Soren McCarty/
Ken Brecher and Margaret Wilkerson.
Richard Edson and Sara Driver, producer of "Stranger Than Paradise" at the
"Stranger Than Paradise" Sundance Collection Screening.
2005 Sundance Film Festival
Sunday, January 23, 2005
The List
Panels and Events
The List:
Sunday, January 23 and
Saturday, January 24
All events take place in Park City unless
otherwise indicated.
Sunday, January 23
8:00 am – 9:30 am
Yoga, offered by Aquafina
Sundance House
10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Adobe Systems Incorporated Filmmaker Workshops
Digital Center
10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:30 am and 3:30 pm
Filmmaker Workshops: Hewlett-Packard/Avid
Digital Center
11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Panel: The World is Watching
Filmmaker Lodge
12:00 pm
Panavision Filmmaker Workshop
Digital Center
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Meet the Foreign Press
Filmmaker Lodge
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Stella Artois beer, Aquafina water, live music and a sponsor giveaway from CESAR Food for Small Dogs
Sundance House
2:30 pm
Dresden Dolls
Music Café, Day Café programmed by ASCAP
3:00 pm
Panel: Imaginary Worlds: Animation and Computer-Generated Reality
Egyptian Theatre
3:00 pm
Online Frontier Project Presentations from the Sundance
Online Film Festival (
Digital Center
3:10 pm
Nellie McKay
Music Café, Day Café programmed by ASCAP
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Stella Artois beer, Aquafina water, live music and a sponsor giveaway from Cingular Wireless
Sundance House
Festivalgoers camping outside the Main Box Office in order to be the first in line for tickets the next morning. “We’ve
been here since 8:00 tonight and it opens at 8:00 in the morning. We want to see movies!” exclaimed Katie Field (far
left). Michael Perez next to her continued, “Sundance movies are the best. We go to Hollywood Video and all we rent
are Sundance movies.”
w11:15 pm
Music Café (ticketed event)
Monday, January 24
8:00 am — 9:30 am
Yoga, sponsored by Aquafina
Sundance House
10:00 am, 4:00 pm
Adobe Systems Incorporated Filmmaker Workshops:
Digital Intermediate Workflow for Desktop PCs
Digital Center
2:00 pm — 4:00 pm
Stella Artois beer, water from the Aquafina Hydration Station and live music
Sponsor giveaway: DirecTV
Sundance House
2:30 pm
Linda Perry
Music Café, Day Café sponsored by ASCAP
3:00 pm
The Sex Stays in the Picture (ticketed panel)
Yarrow Theatre
3:00 pm
Sundance Online Film Festival (SOFF)
Digital Center
3:50 pm
Peter Cincotti
Music Café, Day Café programmed by ASCAP
10:00 am — 12:30 pm
Meet and Greet the Commissioning Editors: U.S. and
International Documentary Strands (advance sign-up
Filmmaker Lodge
4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Wine Escape, hosted by PBS
Filmmaker Lodge
10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm
Hewlett-Packard/Avid Filmmaker Workshops
Digital Center
3:50 pm
Peter Cincotti
Music Café, Day Café produced by ASCAP
8:30 pm
Music Café (ticketed event)
12:00 pm
Forum: The New Digital Market
Digital Center
4:00 pm — 6:00 pm
Wine Escape, hosted by HBO
Filmmaker Lodge
9:15 pm
Sunpants (Gary Louris, Raz Mesinai, Pete Fitzpatrick)
Music Café (ticketed event)
12:00 pm, 2:00 pm
Sony Filmmaker Workshop
Digital Center
4:30 pm
Nellie McKay, Day Café produced by ASCAP
10:00 pm
Andy Tubman and The Jane Does
Music Café (ticketed event)
2:00 pm — to 3:30 pm
Panel: The New Doc Market
Filmmaker Lodge
3:10 pm
Billy Currington
Music Café, Day Café produced by ASCAP
5:10 pm
Michael McDonald, Day Café produced by ASCAP
2005 Sundance Film Festival
Sunday, January 23, 2005
2005 Sundance Film Festival
Sunday, January 23, 2005
RED JETTA, concerned, turns to WHITE JETTA.
Don’t let him get under your skin.
White Jetta motions toward Black Jetta.
This town ain’t big enough for the two of us.
Oh, please be careful. You don’t know what he’s capable of.
What must be, must be.
Cont’d. tomorrow...
Introducing the new Volkswagen Jetta. A new character and proud participant of the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.
To meet our latest protagonist in person or get a ride, come by The 2005 Sundance Volkswagen Main Street Lounge at 301Main Street.
While there check your email, charge your cell and maybe catch a celebrity interview as you relax in our cool space, designed in
part by Todd Oldham. And oh yeah, we have s’mores.
Spice Red Jetta shown available in Canada only at time of launch.

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