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Sundance Collection: Zan McQuade on ‘Harold and Maude’

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Zan McQuade

No one could believe me when I said I had never seen Harold and Maude. I honestly don’t know either how it slipped by me. It’s the perfect film for me: about how life is so amazing and at times so horrible that you have to seize every minute. Do somersaults. Scream. Steal a car.

I think I’d always thought it was an entirely different film. When I got my ticket for the Collection screening, I tried to remember what I’d heard about it, and only remembered that it involved a controversial relationship between a much older woman and a much younger man.

But, you guys, this film: it’s the best thing ever. Because of a woman called Maude.

I instantly identified with her. It was me — Maude was me. Or at least exactly how I hope to be at almost eighty, in love with creating art and chaos and whimsy. For me, the film was completely life-affirming, reminding me that it’s okay to feel so completely passionate about the wonderful things in life.

(On a side note, everything here at the Festival seems to have a sheen of goodness and wonder. Even the things that are difficult — standing in four feet of snow waiting for a ride, sleeping less than four hours in order to catch an early screening after a later night than you’d expected — are part of this great, magical experience of the Festival. I think I’ll call it “The Maude Principle.”)

Maude is my new favorite character, my new favorite outlook. Seeing her looming large up there on the screen, in a field of daisies, with wide-eyed, leisure-suited, “suicidal” Harold, watching her march ahead of a stranger’s funeral procession with her bright yellow umbrella to Cat Stevens — I fell in love.

I need to started making a list of things I’ve fallen in love with at the Festival, the things I didn’t expect: robots, the lights of the ski slope in the distance, and now a woman called Maude.

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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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