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4 Sundance Films For Spring Break

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Joel Schumacher’s Twelve

Nate von Zumwalt

Spring break is, for most, but a faded reverie marked by fond (even if not lucid) memories of beach parties and similar presages of summer. While the sheer bliss of spring break is not likely to be recaptured anytime soon, these five films will help you summon the nostalgia of those carefree days.

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Spring Breakdown

Before there was Spring Breakers, Ryan Shiraki’s Spring Breakdown offered a similarly absurdist take on the infamous week of college revelry. Judy, Gayle, and Becky (played by Rachel Dratch, Amy Poehler, and Parker Posey, respectively) are three less than chic women, all pushing 40, and collectively in over their heads when they arrive at South Padre Island unwittingly the same week as Spring Break. Between various acts of depravity, each manage to find their niche among the younger partygoers and quickly assume a god-like reputation around town.

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and… Spring

In a stark departure from the decadence exhibited above, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and… Spring (don’t’ ask), is catered to the philosophical, Zen-obsessed spring breaker. Sundance Institute Senior Programmer John Nein encapsulates the intentionally hazy plot in his description of Kim Ki-duk’s 2004 Sundance selection:

“Kim Ki-Duk’s serene rumination on the cycles of life follows the spiritual evolution of one man from boyhood to old age, drawing from the sparsest elements a resonant experience of joy, sorrow, anger, and enlightenment.”

Twelve

There is little about Joel Schumacher’s Twelve that conjures the spirit of Spring Break: it’s the Upper East Side of Manhattan, ominously dark, and violence runs rampant. But, 50 Cent plays second-billing to a drug-dealing Chace Crawford, who finds trouble when all of the silver-spooned boarding school students return to the city for Spring Break—that’s good enough for inclusion on this list. Check out the trailer for the 2010 Festival selection below.

Psycho Beach Party

Robert Lee King’s 2000 SFF selection is about as madcap as they come. A disorienting hybrid that melds the tackiness of 50s surfer films and the tautness of Hitchcockian psycho-thrillers, Psycho Beach Party mangles together a cacophony of bizarre events that take place at a Malibu beach party. Lauren Ambrose, Nicholas Brendon, and Charles Busch star in this murderous beach party classic.

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Sundance Institute Piloting Direct Individual Support for Mediamakers Through the Sundance Institute | Humanities Sustainability Fellowship

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic upended life in general, and halted production and distribution for many creatives, the nonfiction field was plagued by issues of sustainability. For several years, sustainability has been an urgent and vigorous topic of study, debate, and organizing, as more and more filmmakers find it difficult, if not impossible, to make a living solely on the basis of their creative work. 

In Memoriam: Diane Weyermann (1955–2021)

A singular force within the documentary film world with a global reach, Diane Weyermann passed away at age 66 after battling cancer. Over the course of her 30-year career as a funder and an executive, her work elevated the documentary form and expanded its cultural impact.

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