Do you live you in Utah? (If no, proceed to paragraph two.) Do you love movies? (If no, proceed to paragraph two.) Can you successfully sit for a couple hours? (If no, reflect on your unusual inability and its possible causes for a moment and then proceed to paragraph two.) If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, why don’t you go to the Sundance Film Festival? The Sundance Film Festival, unlike polygamy, is an actual perk of living in Utah so why not enjoy it?
Jason and I have been attending Sundance for many years now. Through it we have seen both obscure indies that have never been heard from again and shows that have gone on to earn Academy Award nominations. This year we saw five films, which is our typical Sundance load. They ranged from science nonfiction to science fiction but were all worthy of a watch.
Our first festival film was Plastic China. Plastic China is a documentary that focuses on one family in a little Chinese village where thousands of small recyclers barely get by through melting down the world’s wastes. We thought it a poignant commentary on both the costs of global consumerism and the social norms in China. We attained some interesting insights from the film’s director and producers following the show.
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power was our second show. Yes, as the name suggests, it is a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth and has a similar theme. We quite enjoyed this cinematic call to action. As a bonus, Al Gore himself did a Q&A at the end of our screening; it was cool to hear from him personally. I have a policy against waxing political in public places so, without deviating much from that dogma, allow me to bring up one discussion point that’s been bothering me for some time: Why is there resistance in parts of the political arena to the possibility of global warming? If there is even a small chance that global warming is happening, why not embrace changes to counteract it? For if it isn’t happening and we act as if it is, what is the consequence? Cleaner air. Hmmm… cleaner air sounds okay to me. However, if we act as if it is not happening and it is, what is the consequence? A whole lot of catastrophic and horrible things… oh and, in the end, we run out of fossil fuels anyway. So why would any politician deny the possibility of global warming? Sadly, the answer is obvious. You fight against the notion of climate change if oil companies and other fossil fuel industries fund your career. And that is why I never trust politicians that proclaim global warming is irrelevant or a hoax; they either lack simple reasoning skills or they are looking out for their own best interests instead of those of the people they allegedly represent.
Chasing Coral was the third show we saw and our favorite film this year. It won the Audience Award in the U.S. Documentary category so we weren’t the only ones captivated by this vibrant movie. It provides a bittersweet look at the mysterious underwater forests of coral that have been dying at an unprecedented rate in recent years. (Spoiler alert: it’s global warming that’s killing them.) Chasing Coral is both a beautifully wondrous and incredibly distressing show.
Marjorie Prime, our fourth movie, won the Sloan Feature Film Prize, an award given to outstanding pictures with a science or technology focus. It offers a thought-provoking, and somewhat depressing, look at the science and science fiction of memory.
The last screening we went to was for Rebel in the Rye, an excellent way to finish up the festival. This well-done film is about J.D. Salinger, the cloistered author of Catcher in the Rye. Jason and I both appreciated its themes about the process and price of creation.
The Sundance Film Festival supplied ample company, commentaries, and curiosities of thought this year. Good thing this event is for real, unlike Utahans extra wives.