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Sundance Recap: Interviews, Reviews and the Films that Made Me Fall in Love with Cinema Again

The 2019 Sundance Film Festival took place in Park City, Salt Lake City and Sundance, UT from January 24th through February 3rd. There were 112 feature-length films from over 30 countries, 45 of which were first-time filmmakers. This year’s festival proved to be a more inclusive one as 40% of the films were directed by 1 or more women and 36% were directed by people of color. With these statistics, audiences can look forward to 2019 films that embrace storytelling that expands across a variety of narratives and perspectives. As a result, it has been one of the best Sundance Film Festivals in recent years, and it will only continue to get better.

My experience covering the Festival can be summarized in one word: hectic. It’s not because I didn’t enjoy myself or I took on more than I can handle, but it’s because I recall thinking, “man, I wish I could clone myself and be everywhere.” At times, I would go to back to back press screenings then run across town to attend a panel. Then, I would rush to attend the red carpet press line at World Premieres, and I still ended up missing films that I wanted to see and events that I wanted to cover. Pretty hectic, huh?

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The Egyptian Theatre on Main Street in Park City, UT.

But out of this experience, I learned one thing: I was hooked! There was no possible way that I would trade this experience for another. In fact, I’m already planning for next year. But before I do, I wanted to share with our readers some awesome panels I attended, interviews that I conducted and, of course, the films that made me fall in love with filmmaking again. So without further ado, here are some exciting experiences that summarize how great of a time I had at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival:

One of the best parts about Sundance (besides the films) is having the directors, casts and crews coming to talk to audiences about their work in either panels or World Premieres. I attended a panel of Little Monsters, where Lupita Nyong’o discussed how she came to be Miss Caroline in the film:

In between panel hopping, I also got the chance to attend red carpet events. One of my favorites was for MOPE. I previously shared my interview with lead actor Kelly Sry (read here), and he was such a gem. The cast and crew had amazing chemistry, and their discussion of the film was enlightening. In between the ballbustin’ and the condoms that were thrown into the audience (Yes. That happened), this was one of my favorite world premieres to attend.

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Cast & Crew of MOPE during the World Premiere Q & A. Photo by Brittany Witherspoon

Another red carpet event I attended happens to be one of my fondest memories from Sundance. I attended the world premiere press line for Troop Zero starring Mckenna Grace, Allison Janney and Viola Davis. I don’t ever recall in my life being overtaken with such joy being in someone’s presence, but that is the kind of effect this cast had on me. Here are some short clips of interviews:

 

Cast & Crew of Troop Zero

Cast & Crew of Troop Zero, ahead of the World Premiere

I also got the opportunity to talk with Mckenna Grace, and yes, she’s as adorable as she looks. When I asked her what made her take on this role, she gave the sweetest answer:

When I had some rare down time, I would trek over to main street and try to take everything in. Surprisingly, I ran into a couple of familiar faces and took some time to chat with some filmmakers and actors/actresses. One of these people was Boots Riley, director of one of my favorite films of 2018: Sorry to Bother You. And Yes. He is as cool and suave as he looks.

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EIC Brittany with Director Boots Riley. Photo credit: Carl Broughton from The Film Era

We also stumbled upon the funny and talented Wendi McLendon-Covey, who talked to us about her upcoming film Imaginary Order… Trust me on this, she takes her humor where ever she goes.

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Wendi McLendon-Covey, lead actress of Imaginary Order, talking to fans on Main St Photo credit: Brittany Witherspoon | Pop Culture Reviews

When I wasn’t busy in Panels or running into celebrities on Main St., I had the opportunity to see an incredible amount of films from extremely talented artists at this year’s festival. So, to say I’ve been lucky is an understatement. Some of my favorite films include Luce (read my spoiler-free review here), Little Monsters and The Death of Dick Long. I will certainly be checking them out in theaters again. But overall, there were so many that I didn’t get to cover.

Despite this, the 2019 Sundance Film Festival reminded me of one thing: and it’s that I love film. From the horrors that keep me awake at night to the feel good stories that remind me to always believe in myself, this year’s festival proved that low-budget filmmaking is in! But before I end this article, I’d just like to give a special shout out to four films that I haven’t had the chance to discuss in detail over the last couple of weeks. However, they’ve surely made me fall in love with cinema again:

4) Troop Zero

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courtesy of Amazon studios

There’s nothing that said heartwarming more than Bert & Bertie’s Troop Zero. The film follows a group of young misfits who band together in hopes of proving their worth as young girls, and it’s a concept that will appeal to so many young kids and parents all over the world. Even better, the kids eventually come to understand that being who they are is exactly what makes them special. It’s the kind of film that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face and the kind of feature we desperately need as film lovers.

3) Greener Grass

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Courtesy of Sundance Institute

There weren’t too many films in this year’s lineup that showcased an absurd and outrageously funny take on suburban culture such as DeBoer and Luebbe’s Greener Grass. What’s incredibly attractive about the film, besides its production design and the people in it, is its ability to present ideas that so many of us are familiar with in new ways. Though its script is “out there,” audiences will certainly appreciate its silliness, but also its willingness to shed light on the importance of being grateful for what you have. It’s the perfect blend of entertainment and purpose, making it one of my favorites of the festival!

2) The Farewell

Courtesy of the Sundance Institute

One of my top 5 favorite films of the festival was none other than Lulu Wang’s The Farewell. It tells the story of a Chinese-American girl who learns her grandmother is not only terminally-ill, but everyone is keeping this information from her grandmother. It’s one of the best heartwarming and humorous films of Sundance, and it truly makes you appreciate family. For that alone, I highly recommend that everyone see this when it premieres.

1) Honey Boy

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Natasha Braier

Sometimes, movies offer entertainment and laughs, and then there are times when they’re used as a method for healing. Shia LaBeouf’s Honey Boy is exactly that. It’s a cinematic therapy session regarding his relationship with his father during his rise to stardom. But it’s exactly the kind of storytelling we appreciate at PCR. And we can’t thank LaBeouf and Har’el enough for bringing this type of story to life on the big screen.

So, this here ends my Sundance Film Festival recap! To read full length reviews, be sure to visit our website (popculturereviews.com) and follow us on Twitter (@PopCultureRevs). Thanks for reading 🙂

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