Director of Programming Trevor Groth, Director Chris Smith, Subject and Filmmaker Mark Borchardt, and Festival Director John Cooper. Photo by Mark Davis.
Nate von Zumwalt, Editorial Manager
Last night Sundance Institute lifted the curtains on the first-ever NEXT WEEKEND film festival with an outdoor screening of the hilarious, idiosyncratic doc American Movie (1999) at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. (For those unfamiliar with the popular Cinespia summer screening series, yes, this means screening a film in a cemetery at night). Director Chris Smith and the film’s subject, quirky independent filmmaker Mark Borchardt, were in attendance along with a vibrant crowd for a double feature that saw a screening of Borchardt’s short horror film Coven, the making of which is documented in American Movie.
Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper and Director of Programming Trevor Groth ushered in the evening with a note about the conception of NEXT WEEKEND and the value of showcasing quintessentially Sundance films beyond the 10 days of the Festival in Park City. “American Movie and Coven exemplify what NEXT is all about, which is an undying passion to make movies against all odds,” said Groth.
Following the screening of American Movie, which drew nearly incessant laughter and cheers from the 2,000+ cemetery crowd, Smith and Borchardt fielded questions from Groth about the film. Smith briefly lamented having his first documentary, American Job (1996), rejected by the Sundance Film Festival, only to be accepted upon re-submission the following year. He expressed his gratitude to Borchardt for the filmmaker’s steadfast vision and unique character that made American Movie the Grand Jury Prize winner at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival.
Upon his introduction, Borchardt received a rambunctious reception from the moviegoers, and gesturing towards the audience, commented that “there are a lot of amazing people out there.” In his trademark speaking style—apprehensive, and often bouncing between hilarious bombast and a casual use of “man”—Borchardt appeared noticeably moved by the response and thanked the crowd for embracing the film over the years. He then introduced Coven, the short he famously describes as “a 35-minute direct-to-market thriller film shot on 16mm black and white reversal.”
NEXT WEEKEND screenings continue throughout the weekend in Los Angeles. Click here for screening times and tickets.