From Park City to Brooklyn

Last night, as a new extension of the Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival U.S.A. screened eight different Sundance films throughout the nation. The film selected to screen in New York at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) was Daddy Longlegs, a film directed by Benny and Josh Safdie about a single father who struggles to balance his hectic life with his desire to be the ultimate dad when he is permitted to briefly care for his children.

I was lucky enough to have attended the opening weekend of the Festival in Park City, and was excited to be able to continue the Sundance festivities in my New York hometown. The screening was completely sold out. The first thing I noticed when I walked into the BAM Rose Cinemas was the familiar giant Sundance background playing on the movie screen. The second thing was the lack of Sundance paraphernalia (banners, nalgenes, and friendly volunteers in Sundance jackets).

As the BAM staff member who introduced the film didn't carry the same level of enthusiasm as a Sundance Film Festival programmer in Park City, I began to feel a bit wary that the magic of Sundance might be lost. As the film began, however, the excitement of Sundance quickly permeated the cinema.

Daddy Longlegs was quintessentially Sundance: breathtaking storytelling, low budget, and outstanding acting. I saw eight films in Park City over the course of last weekend, and this was the perfect film to communicate the meaning of Sundance to a Brooklyn audience. The film not only took place about a twenty minute subway ride from BAM, but it was shot on what felt like a handheld camera in constant motion, reflecting the mental state of the protagonist. It reminded me that you don't need a multimillion dollar set and a cast of celebrities to make a movie. You need a camera and a story.

Almost every audience member stayed for the Q&A, which provided great insight into the making of the film. The directors seemed thrilled to be there, and shared that they randomly found the actors who played the sons in the film while walking around New York. The Q&A showed the New York audience how a movie experience can be more than walking into the closest Regal or Lowes cinema, buying a big box of popcorn, and strolling out as the credits begin to roll. I'm looking forward to 2011.

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