Sundance 2017: The Story So Far | Buzz Blog

Friday, January 27, 2017

Sundance 2017: The Story So Far

One week in, a summary of this year's biggest festival stories.

Posted By on January 27, 2017, 11:48 AM

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click to enlarge CAROLINE HARGRAVES
  • Caroline Hargraves
Only a few days of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival remain, and it's been an odd year for the event. From the weather to the intrusion of real-world political events, Sundance often felt like the movies were less at the forefront than usual. Great stuff has still risen to the top, however (with the caveat that a couple of the festival's most talked-about films, A Ghost Story and Call Me by Your Name are still ahead for me). Here's a quick look at the top stories and best films so far.

It's all about Trump.
 A colleague joked before the festival began that the inauguration—which took place on the fest's first full day—would frame every wrap-up piece. It's hard to imagine he'll be proven wrong. A march denouncing the new administration, headlined by celebrities including Chelsea Handler and Charlize Theron, took over Park City's Main Street on Saturday, part of a series of nationwide protests. And the filmmakers themselves couldn't help themselves from including Trump's election as part of their entries: An Inconvenient Sequel, Quest, Dina and Nobody Speak were just a few of the documentaries that  seemed to have included 11th-hour edits to include Trump's ascendance.

Blizzards aplenty. Festival director John Cooper claimed that this was the snowiest year in his 28-year run with Sundance, and nobody was about to argue. From opening Thursday through Tuesday, the precipitation piled up through wave after wave of storms, making Park City streets that are difficult to navigate in the most ideal Sundance circumstances an ongoing nightmare of slush and traffic. Cue the chuckleheads who will make ironic observations about the snowy cold in a year when "New Climate"—focusing on issues of global warming—was one of the festival themes.

Yes, there were still movies. As streaming providers Netflix and Amazon continued to change the economic landscape of the festival by snapping up rights to Sundance films, there were plenty of great movies to be found. The best so far: Columbus ,  a beautifully delicate story of the friendship between a young woman and a visitor to her unique Midwestern town, anchored by the remarkable performance of Haley Lu Richardson. Dina marked the best of the documentaries, following two people living with Asperger's Syndrome as they prepare to get married, and face unique relationship challenges.  Other highlights: the satirical dark comedy Thoroughbred; the World War II-era drama Mudbound and its compelling narrative of two soldiers, one black and one white, returning to the segregated South from war; and Tokyo Idols, one of those "what a strange" world documentaries introducing a concept (teen Internet celebrities in Japan and their (often much) older male fans) that's part of why Sundance, as geographically isolated as it might be, is still a window onto—and still part of—a much wider world.

Check out the E-reader version of our 2017 Sundance Film Festival issue here. Read our daily dispatches and reviews here.

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